Television

A Discovery of Witches – E04 Review

A cinematic breakdown of everything in the fourth episode of A Discovery of Witches. Recap of plot & more importantly, an analysis and breakdown of all the different ideas behind it, the symbols integrated into it and the social commentary gleaned from an in-depth dissection of every part of the episode, from the cast and script to the cinematography and mis-en-scene.

This week’s episode begins with the journey to Sept Tours in France, needless to say, we have already garnered that Ysabeau and witches don’t get on too well. So, understandably, tensions are a little fraught awaiting the inevitable confrontation. Mirroring this anticipated interaction, we see another tense moment, Miriam finds Juliette Durand in her rooms. After the fight turns physical, Marcus turns up and the two overpower Juliette. We get more into her history with Matthew when Miriam tells her “Eternity is a long time to be chasing a man who doesn’t want you.” This after witnessing her incredibly strange and downright creepy moments with her father/maker. After he bathes her, which is done in an insidiously ritualistic way, he sends her off on her way with an equally disturbing chaste kiss. Easy to deduce some Freudian Oedipal complex is happening in her head.

GIF made by Mia for TGON

The theme of this episode is perhaps Symbolism, specifically the Circle. Their structure, purpose, meaning, references and allusions. The philosophy behind the shape, and its implications.

For anyone who’s read the book series, the image of the Ouroboros is something that comes to mind when we think of circles. The name ‘Ouroboros’ stemming from the Greek word “Oura” meaning “tail”, and “Boros” meaning “eating”. It’s an ancient symbol, that generally depicts a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail. Representing birth, death, life, renewal. The infinite cycle that is life. It’s been interpreted as life enveloping itself. It mostly takes the form of circles, sometimes represented as the infinity sign – the mathematical symbol for ‘infinity’ was actually derived from the Ouroboros image. The symbol has been associated with life, death, time itself, continuity. Depending on how the ouroboros is represented it can comment on the dual nature of things, the duality of choices and paths followed. The introductory speech that each episode begins with even features the topic, with Matthew commenting that “In every ending, there is a new beginning.”

The symbolic circle seems to be highlighted in this episode again and again. We see the members of the Congregation meeting up – connecting their keys together in order to open the door to their meeting chambers. (IMAGE A) The chambers was a circular room with a window in the ceiling – allowing a circular slice of light to shine down onto the room. (IMAGE B) The scene changes to Matthew examining the photo’s that Knox had sent Diana of her parent’s bodies, mutilated. And through some inspection, Matthew sees the faint outline of a witch’s circle. (IMAGE C) Suggesting that it perhaps wasn’t humans who had killed her parents as she had been led to believe. After this we jump right back to the Congregation – and this time we have a Birds-Eye view of the room. All the members of the Congregation (three from each species) forming a circle with the slice of light landing directly in the center. (IMAGE D) What’s more, when Satu challenges Knox, asking him how he could have possibly missed her power when he examined her as a child. Knox takes out some sort of spelled object that holds Satu in thrall, he chastises her for looking up information and using it against him. Throwing her onto the table while he finishes out his threatening speech. (IMAGE E) We even see a birds-eye view of Sept Tours, clearly showing the seven towers of Sept Tour encircling the main body of the castle. (IMAGE F) – Click to enlarge the picture/ GIFs*

Diana’s dreamscapes make more appearances, again iterating the same images, a ghostly apparition of her mother, spiders, and Diana herself being bound up in spiderwebs. The Congregation’s meetings are representative of typically bullshit politicians who deceive and manipulate for their own nefarious purposes. Knox accuses Matthew de Clermont (whose brother is a member of the Congregation) of abducting a witch. This accusation is countered by Baldwin when he announces the fact that Diana managed to find the Book of Life* Which descends the meeting into somewhat organized chaos. Interestingly [on a complete side-note] we learn from this meeting that it was Phillipe de Clermont [Matthew’s father] who set up the Congregation. During a recess from the meeting Agatha calls Sophie to ask about the statue her family has been minding for a mysterious someone, the conversation ends up delving into a lot more than just chess pieces:

Agatha: That statue of the Huntress that you were given by your family. Why do you link it to Alchemy?

Sophie: Because the moon in her hair reminds me of the White Queen in the book, and, the person I have to give it to, she’s in Alchemy too. I’ve had visions of her. She’s in a castle with seven towers. Seven’s a big number in Alchemy, seven planets, seven metals, even the transformation process has seven stages. It hasn’t started yet though, it must be beginning, she’s with her Dark Prince.

Agatha looking at alchemical pictures

Domenico arrives at Sept Tour to tell Diana she is being summoned for questioning regarding the Book of Life. This spurs Matthew to vehemently deny Domenico the possibility of bringing her anywhere. Not too surprisingly he quickly comes to the conclusion that Matthew and Diana are breaking the Covenant. Their budding relationship is literally against the law. Afterward, Matthew is informed that there was a break-in at his labs in Oxford. And leaves Diana at Sept Tour, telling her that nothing bad will happen, because they’re not going to break the covenant. Their relationship is over. Broken from the days’ events, finding out it was other witches who murdered her parents (not humans as she’d been led to believe and lived her life away from magic because of that knowledge) and Matthew leaving her and breaking their relationship apart. Diana begins to cry, and the heavens open up, a deluge of rain comes down upon Sept Tours, but it is actually coming from Diana herself, not from above. This, we witness, is Witchwater – a second elemental power that Diana possesses.

GIF made by Mia for TGON

What we learned about the ADOW world in this episode*

-Phillipe de Clermont (Ysabeau’s husband) started the Congregation himself – supposedly to avoid drawing human attention and to keep the peace among species.

-There exists an unbreakable law about inter-species relationships. An accord called “The Covenant” was agreed upon thousands of years prior – stating that no romantic relationships may exist. Ever. Between the species. This is something that we the audience (and Diana) learn in this episode.

-Diana has the ability to control a second elemental magic. WitchWater.  Having shown us her use of Witchwind in the third episode.

-Whilst Matthew and Diana dance after enjoying a relatively relaxed dinner with Ysabeau and Marthe, a luminous outpouring begins to show through Diana’s skin and moves through her limbs. From the reactions of the three vampires in the room we can assume that this is not a common occurance. This is representative, i would argue, of the extraordinary power that is lurking and swimming around in her veins. A Power that is now slowly being revealed more and more each day. (see this in the featured image*)

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