In episode 9 of A Discovery of Witches, Diana remembers she’s supposed to be learning magic, Matthew goes head-to-head with the Queen, and Louisa springs a trap with Kit’s help.
Note: this review contains spoilers. Jump down to the spoiler-free Bottom Line to avoid them.
Diana brings the fire
Now that we’ve nabbed the Book of Life, Diana is ready to focus on her witch training again. And it seems like they’ve arrived back in town just in time, because Goody Alsop isn’t doing too well.
Diana’s meant to create 10 knots to master her magic, and prior to this episode only managed 3. So you’d expect it to be sort of an uphill battle, but she makes it to knot 7 and unleashes her familiar: a firedrake.
I love familiars in witch stories, and the firedrake is pretty damn cool. I didn’t love that the entire familiar arc happened in a single episode though. Diana discovers her familiar. Then it disappears, since it’s supposed to come out only when she truly needs it. But you don’t even have time to forget about it and get that big “surprise” factor when the firedrake reemerges to help Diana, because those two things happen practically back-to-back. (Don’t get me wrong, the firedrake save was still cool. I just think it would have been more impactful if there had been more space between “discovering” Diana’s familiar and seeing it in action.)
Also, I wish the concept of weaving magic and these knots was explained a little better. At this point, we don’t really understand how tying these knots translates to Diana learning to do powerful magic. It seems like one of those things where she’s really just getting in touch with her magic as a “stepping stone” to greater things. But with only one episode left in the season, it looks like Diana’s not going to get much further than that first stepping stone before she heads back to the present with Matthew.
The Queen confronts Matthew
So, Matthew and Diana were supposed to rescue a political prisoner. Instead, they ignored him and stole a book, pissing off the Emperor and again…not freeing the prisoner. So understandably the Queen’s rather miffed about all this.
For some reason Matthew doesn’t seem particularly concerned with the Queen’s anger, nor what it might mean for his wife or the Very Important Book they’ve stolen. He also seems surprised when the Queen orders a search of his home for this book that made him betray her.
Fortunately for Matthew, his charm (and a little vampire blood) manages to sway the Queen. He tells her he’s time-travelled from the future and wins her over with descriptions of how she’s left her mark on history. And how her real Matthew, the one from this time, would never betray her.
Somehow, the insane defense of “I’m a worse, less loyal person now” is one the Queen accepts whole-heartedly, and she lets Matthew go.
Jack is the only character with sense
I’m not gonna lie – a lot of my notes on this episode are “[character] is being so dumb right now” or “obviously this was going to happen” or “how did they not see this coming??”
And it is a little frustrating sometimes to watch a show full of magical, ultra-powerful creatures making very dumb, very human mistakes. Kit believing murdery, unpredictable Louisa just wants to “exile” Diana? Come on, dude! Matthew, strolling up to the Queen, apparently expecting zero consequences for failing her? That’s practically treason Matthew! Hiding the Book of Life under a floorboard in your home??? Apparently hundreds of years of life can’t teach you common sense (or better hiding places).
That’s why this episode’s MVP goes to Jack. This child managed to save everyone’s necks by somehow stealing back the book from the Queen’s men. Why this boy managed to accomplish what tons of creatures failed to do for centuries is beyond me. But hey, someone has to move the plot forward, right?
The Bottom Line
A lot of the things we’ve been waiting for happen in this episode, and it’s satisfying to see things finally come to a head. There’s a lot of good drama, and Diana and Matthew’s relationship reaches new heights. I am docking points for characters making obviously bad decisions and getting on my nerves, though.