The following post contains a LOT of spoilers!
The second series of A Discovery of Witches sees Matthew and Diana hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London. Here they must find a powerful witch to help Diana master her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Enemies are everywhere, the threat to witches is growing, and Matthew and Diana’s romance faces a barrage of new threats – from within as much as without. Diana’s unleashed magic takes a dark and frightening turn, while Matthew struggles to re-inhabit the dangerous life he led over four centuries ago. They must overcome deep personal fears and jealousies, baring their darkest secrets to one another if they are to stay alive, stay together and find a way back to the present day.
Back in the present, their reappearance is keenly anticipated. Diana’s beloved aunts, Sarah and Em, must take shelter with notorious witch hunter Ysabeau de Clermont at her ancestral home, Sept-Tours. Meanwhile, in Oxford, Marcus and Miriam take on Matthew’s mantle to protect daemons Nathaniel and Sophie, whose pregnancy is advancing. If news that her baby is a witch reaches their enemies on the Congregation, the consequences could be catastrophic. And Gerbert and Knox are determined to hunt down every clue they can as to Matthew and Diana’s disappearance, and the secrets their allies are keeping from them. Danger is closing in on all sides, not least in the form of a vicious foe from Matthew’s past, one whom no one expected to see again.
The show was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content, Sky UK and Ireland, and Cameron Roach, Director of Drama, Sky Studios. Kara Manley is the executive producer for Sky. Made by Bad Wolf, A Discovery of Witches has been adapted for screen by Pete McTighe (Doctor Who) and Susie Conklin (The Musketeers), who are also executive producers. The co-founders of Bad Wolf, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, and Lachlan MacKinnon are executive producers along with Deborah Harkness and Farren Blackburn. Farren Blackburn (The Innocents), Philippa Langdale (Harlots) and Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) are the directors. Filming took place in South Wales and on location in Oxford and Venice.
In Madison, Satu, Knox and Gerbert arrive at the Bishop house to find that Matthew and Diana have disappeared only moments earlier, and based on the fact that they have abandoned their modern-day clothes deduce they are hiding in time. Matthew and Diana crash into 1590’s London and are immediately confronted by a face from Matthew’s past: Kit Marlowe. Diana realises instantly that the 16th century Matthew Roydon is a different man to the one she fell in love with… There is no time to settle in, as Matthew must report to his boss, William Cecil, who pressures Matthew to resume his former occupation – spying for the Queen. At her new home of the Hart and Crown, Diana’s mind turns to finding a teacher, as she stumbles upon Sophie’s ancestor – Susanna Norman. To Diana’s dismay, Susanna rejects Diana and refuses to help after Diana’s magic frightens her with its power. Diana and Matthew bring home an orphan boy, Jack, who they find in Water Lane, and Diana discovers Matthew’s secret; he is a spy, hiding his Catholicism whilst hunting fellow Catholics on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. Kit warns Diana that inhabiting his past self will have untold effects on Matthew and he may change beyond recognition.
Diana meets the elegant and intelligent Mary Sidney, a wealthy alchemist, in the hopes of furthering the search for a mentor for Diana’s witchcraft. Mary warms to Diana instantly but reluctantly tells her that she cannot involve herself in creature business. William Cecil puts further pressure on Matthew to torture an innocent Tom Caldwell, a witch suspected of treason, in order to extract a confession. Diana and Matthew are forced to pay fealty to Andrew Hubbard – the vampire ruler of London – who is unnerved by their sudden arrival in the City. They are unsure as to whether he can be trusted. Diana convinces Susanna to help her, and she is introduced to Goody Alsop, the head of a local coven and a powerful witch. To Diana’s shock, Goody Alsop tells her that they are both weavers, the rarest breed of witches who create spells rather than learning them; things begin to fall into place for her. Meanwhile, Matthew grows more at home in his old life and goes on a night of raucous gambling with Kit. Kit, privy to Matthew and Diana’s secret timewalking, convinces Matthew to embrace his old self and execute Tom Caldwell in order to allay Cecil’s suspicions that there is something fundamentally compromised about Matthew’s loyalties.
In the present day, Domenico finds a brutalised body in Oxford and suspects a mysterious affliction called blood rage has returned. In 1590, Matthew is forced to beg forgiveness from Father Hubbard for executing Tom Caldwell – the sort of conflict he had hoped to avoid. Diana and Matthew are introduced to John Dee by Mary Sidney. They explore his library, hoping to find clues to the whereabouts of the Book of Life. Dee tells them his scryer Edward Kelley stole a valuable book from him and is now hiding in Bohemia, and Matthew and Diana suspect it must be the Book of Life. Goody Alsop teaches Diana about weaving and knots, and Diana is overwhelmed to discover a new world of magic open up to her. In the present, Em practises higher magic to try and reach Diana’s mother, Rebecca, in order to help her niece get closer to the Book. Matthew suspects that Kit has betrayed Diana’s identity to Cecil. A cautious Matthew and Diana meet with Queen Elizabeth I, who accuses Matthew of betraying her by marrying Diana. As a test of loyalty, she orders them to bring Edward Kelley home from the clutches of King Rudolf, so that she can claim the Philosopher’s Stone, the secret to eternal life which Kelley had promised. Before they can leave however, Gallowglass arrives with a message from Matthew’s father Philippe – summoning Matthew and Diana to France.
In present day Oxford, there is another vicious vampire murder. Marcus tracks down the only tangible evidence of Matthew and Diana’s journey to 1590: miniature Elizabethan portraits of the pair. Though his attempts to buy them outright are unsuccessful, he is totally charmed by auction house employee Phoebe Taylor. There is an immediate spark between them and he asks her out. At Sept-Tours, Ysabeau tells Sarah and Em that the miniatures signal that Matthew and Diana arrived in 1590 safely. Gerbert and Knox scheme together to further their search for the Book of Life, and Sophie goes into labour. A worried Sarah asks Em to not do any more higher magic, it’s far too dangerous. Phoebe and Marcus’s date is interrupted by Domenico, who is sniffing around the de Clermonts to find the perpetrator of the vampire murders in Oxford. Marcus and Phoebe nevertheless end up spending the night together. On the outskirts of Sept-Tours, Gerbert confronts Ysabeau about harbouring witches. Em secretly continues to try summoning Rebecca. At Marcus’s flat, Phoebe finds evidence of Marcus’s immortality. He confesses that he is a vampire, but she doesn’t believe him and breaks off their romance. The next day, Baldwin comes to see a dejected Marcus to suggest he takes over as Grand Master of the Knights of Lazarus, since Marcus is failing to make the most of the role. Going to see Ysabeau for advice, Marcus is told that he is a carrier of blood rage – the violent affliction Matthew passed down to him.
Matthew and Diana arrive in France on their journey to face Philippe; Matthew is nervous about seeing his dead father again, and warns Diana of his mercurial nature. It is for the best that Ysabeau won’t be there. Matthew’s sister Louisa arrives in London and meets Kit who reveals his feelings for Matthew. Louisa suggests they cause some chaos to take Kit’s mind off things, and they cut a swathe through the city. Seeking comfort on the hard journey, Diana looks to Matthew, but he refuses to have sex with her. The next day, they finally face Philippe, and Diana tells him that she is a weaver and a timewalker. Philippe has a revelation of his own for Diana – she and Matthew are not mated as she believed. Matthew has held off making that full commitment to her. Diana feels hurt and betrayed, and she and Matthew have a terrible argument. As an agitated Matthew hunts, Diana gets to know Philippe better, and she proves herself to him as a worthy partner to Matthew. A witch seer arrives at Sept-Tours to examine Diana and test her powers, but when he tries to take her memories against her will, she kills him in self-defence.
Philippe discovers that he is not alive in the time period Matthew and Diana have travelled from when he realises that Diana is wearing Ysabeau’s ring. In the present, Ysabeau, Em and Sarah start to look for a message from Philippe in the bookshelves of Sept-Tours, convinced that Matthew and Diana’s journey will prompt one last missive from him across time. Confronted with his mortality, Philippe provokes Matthew into a sword fight and then pushes him to reveal his blood rage to Diana. Philippe argues that Diana needs to see every facet of Matthew in order to understand him; that their bond will be tested. He tells Diana about the prophecy which predicted her arrival, and a raw Matthew tells Diana how Philippe died, and his own role in it, revealing the depth of the guilt that has haunted him for decades. Philippe decrees that Diana and Matthew will be married, and on the wedding night they finally consummate their relationship, and are finally mated. As they prepare to leave for Bohemia, Philippe offers Matthew his forgiveness for whatever will happen to him in the future. In the present day, Ysabeau finds a letter from Philippe, telling her of the wedding and giving Diana his blessing.
Matthew and Diana arrive in Bohemia to search for Edward Kelley and the Book of Life, which they believe to be in his possession. They meet Emperor Rudolf II, who immediately expresses a lascivious interest in Diana; she uses his interest to get inside his fabled collection of magical artifacts in search of the Book of Life, but Gallowglass can only find chilling evidence of Rudolf’s morbid fascination with creatures. Matthew’s protective jealousy causes problems as he and Diana are invited on a grouse hunt: pushed to the edge by the Emperor’s advances, Matthew sets his bird on Rudolf’s and inflames the Emperor’s wrath. At dinner, Diana chooses to reveal her power to Rudolph when provoked by the manner in which Rudolf treats a Rabbi, and she magically animates a serpent. Knowing her power is exposed, Matthew, Diana and Gallowglass make a daring bid for the Book, and discover it in the hands of a raving Edward Kelley. He tears three pages out before they can steal it from him and flee, and Matthew realises that the Book is made from the skin of creatures. In the present day, Knox arrives at the Emperor’s lodge, and sees evidence that the Book was once there; he is getting closer.
In 1590, Diana is transfixed by trying to deduce what the Book of Life is trying to tell her, but it appears to be inert after it was damaged by Edward Kelley. Matthew worries that the Book of Life is making Diana ill. Back in the present, Marcus isn’t ready to give up on Phoebe and makes an impassioned plea that she believe him about being a vampire. Phoebe comes to accept the truth of creatures and commits herself to her relationship with Marcus, who is still reeling that he is a carrier of blood rage and it was kept from him by the people he trusted most. He is spurred to action, however, when Baldwin reveals to Gerbert that the daemons Nathaniel and Sophie have given birth to a witch baby, in order to draw attention away from the secret of blood rage inside the de Clermont family. Tipped off, Knox threatens Sophie and Nathaniel’s baby, prompting Marcus to relocate the family to Sept- Tours for their own protection. Em and Sarah come to an agreement about her higher magic – Sarah pledges that if Em is so desperate to try, then she will stand with her. A stunned Sarah is by Em’s side as she succeeds in summoning the spirit of Diana’s mother Rebecca, Sarah’s sister.
As Diana and Matthew return to London in 1591, Diana discovers that she is pregnant with Matthew’s child – a seeming impossibility. Matthew is forced to account for his disruptive visit to Bohemia and failure to return with Edward Kelley by the Queen, and realises that his situation is becoming increasingly precarious as William Cecil is despatched to search the Hart and Crown for the Book of Life. A poppy juice- addled Kit tells Diana that Matthew has been taken prisoner and that only together they can free him, but he instead leads her into a trap. A blood raged Louisa attacks Diana, intending to kill her, but Diana saves herself by conjuring her firedrake Corra in an awesome show of power. Kit and Louisa are dragged off to Bedlam, where Matthew pursues and torments them in a fit of his own blood rage. Diana is able to talk Matthew out of his altered state by reminding him of the bright future they have to look forward to – proving that together they can overcome anything. Returning home, they reach a new level of intimacy when Matthew drinks from Diana’s heart vein and she performs the witch’s kiss, giving them a window into each other’s soul.
Realising that the time has come to return to the present day, Diana makes plans to complete her training with Goody Alsop – perfecting the ninth magical knot she needs to make the journey home safely. Goody Alsop also teaches her about a final, tenth, knot whose power even she cannot control. Matthew and Diana meet a timewalking Stephen Bishop – Diana’s father. He warns them that they have already changed history and insists that they cannot risk returning with the Book of Life and must leave it in the past. Diana is overwhelmed to have this time with her father, a fellow weaver. Both she and Matthew are heartbroken at the prospect of leaving Jack, and Matthew makes plans to safeguard his future by having him join Henry Percy’s household. Unbeknownst to Matthew, Diana makes contingency plans on a creature footing too, by asking Father Hubbard to watch over the boy after they leave, in return for a drop of her blood. Diana completes the ninth knot and she and Matthew step into their future. At present-day Sept-Tours, a gathering of species are taking refuge, aware of the coming battle soon to take place. As Em makes one final attempt to summon Rebecca, she is attacked by a frenzied Peter Knox and her fate is left in the balance as Knox escapes the grounds.