Witches and vampires and libraries, oh my. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES ticks all of these boxes.
A Discovery of Witches opens with vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) overlooking a beautiful river. The camera cuts to below the bridge and Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a historian and secret witch, is seen canoeing.
Keeping up with the theme of beautiful cinematography, we are next shown the Hogwarts-like grounds of Oxford University. Diana is portrayed giving a lecture to some students and we learn about her work on alchemy, her anchor that keeps her grounded while she hides her secret identity as a witch.
The real star of this show, however, is the Bodleian. The Bodleian is Oxford's grand library that houses a bewitched manuscript that magically (no pun intended) shows up when Diana asks for it. This is when things begin to take a turn for the worse.
When Diana opens the book, all sorts of magical voodoo begins to happen and Diana grows fearful, even making a call to her aunt to ask for advice about what to do. When her aunt suggests that she check the book back out, Diana finds any reason to deny her true calling.
Throughout the next few scenes, Matthew starts to follow Diana wherever she goes and that isn't even the strangest thing that happens in this particular episode. A doctor gets run over and another vampire fails to bring him back to life (not for the squeamish). In Finland, an unruly witch creates a circle of fire that encases a ranger inside.
It is clear throughout the episode that Diana doesn't trust Matthew, partly because he's a vampire and because he's some weird man who keeps following her around. Even when he tries to bond with her over his professorship, she tries to find every excuse to leave, still denying her ancestry as a witch. If Diana had any reason to hide her powers before, she really does now.
While I initially thought that this episode was a slow burn, the ending changed my mind. The unconventional encounter between Diana and Matthew that ends the episode definitely kept me on edge and the suspenseful music in the background only made the experience even more confusing. With Matthew telling Diana to slowly walk past him, it is still unknown what she saw when she turned back around after following his orders. It seems like Matthew has an infatuation with Diana that he wants to protect her from.
Overall, this episode wasn't bad. It did have a slow start and a slightly cliche plot, but the development of the characters made up for it. The message was clear and thorough - the writers fearlessly delving into the world of the supernatural, while giving us some hints about the mystery surrounding Diana's parents and the book.
This suggests that there is a lot more in store for these characters and a lot more to be revealed in the future, which we will only have to discover next week.
- Watched on Sky One. 14/09/2018