We finally make our way back to the current timeline where we see a body lying under a sheet, with the area cordoned off by police cars and tape. We see Domenico telling the human policeman that he was right to call him, and to send him the autopsy results. However, after the intro we jump right back in time to Matthew, who’s seeking forgiveness from Father Hubbard, which feels rather like a gambit or a scheme. We see Diana and Jack’s relationship building, having informally adopted him from the streets. And Diana also receiving an exciting invitation, to work with Mary Sidney in her laboratory. Relishing the opportunity to work alongside one of the historical figures she had read about and studied at length.
Matthew takes Diana to the Queen’s Astrologer, on Mary Sidney’s recommendation as his library is extensive. Whilst she doesn’t find the book she does find an intriguing object, that seems to be shimmering with a little magic. The colours along some of the central lines appear to be glowing. The pattern itself is a Sigillum Dei – also referred to as the Symbol of the Living God, is a magical diagram. Composed of two circles, a pentagram, two heptagons and one heptagram. According to myth it allowed the magician to have power over all creatures. Which is an interesting addition to the series, as the mysterious Book of Life apparently contains all the knowledge in the world. An omniscient manuscript/ book. And an Omnipotent book. We don’t see any other glimpses of it through the episode but it could be something to keep an eye out for in the future.
We finally get to see Diana in action with the legendary Goody Alsop. Getting Diana to use her Witches Sight, she starts to see threads of light encompassing her. These, we find out as Goody tells us is the “Warp and weft of all life in the cosmos made visible.” This is how Weavers create new spells. They select a thread, or several and shape something new. Surprisingly, things don’t go to plan. She fails to be able to take hold of any of the threads. Having been told to choose the one that calls out to her most. Goody explains “Most witches have one element in their blood, and they only see the threads of those elements. So, it’s easy for them to choose between them. But you saw them all. After asking why, Goody aptly responds…. “I think you know…”
Alchemy & The Philosophers Stone in A Discovery of Witches
Back in time, and in London. Diana gets to meet another juggernaut of the day. Queen Elizabeth herself. Who is less than pleased that Matthew (or as she calls him, her ‘Shadow’) has married, and even more so that it was done without her knowledge or permission. Her majesty being quite preoccupied with the ever-elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Throughout history (Real world, and fictional within the series) Alchemists have researched and attempted to create something they called the Philosopher’s Stone. It was considered by many Alchemists to be an elixir. (a magical/ medical potion). Promising vitality and immortality to those capable of creating it. At its core, it has the ability to transform base metals. The quest to find this stone/ elixir is called the Magnum Opus. Whilst some label alchemy a pseudoscience, others have said it is simply chemistry.
Alchemy itself is an ancient branch of Natural Philosophy, and it has saturated the entire series (and book trilogy) that is A Discovery of Witches. The very first pilot episode of season one starts out with Diana working on Alchemical Manuscripts, predominantly by Elias Ashmole. We learn that the book Diana manages to summon, is one such manuscript, which proceeds to brand her hand with the shape of the vessel that holds the image of the Alchemical Child. The lecture we see Diana giving in the same pilot was entitled “Visualising Alchemy” where she analyses the metaphors of alchemy and brings them to life. With Alchemy being an allegorical symbol of transformation, it’s worth noting that Vampirism seems to encapsulate the so-called powers of the Philosophers Stone. Power and time are endless for vampires. And one that even human Queens can become fixated on. With Emperor Rudolph spreading the rumour that he has been successful in getting Edward Kelley to successfully create the stone. Which Matthew quickly corrects. Edward Kelley being one of her subjects, she wants him back in her charge. Something that the Emperor has denied. Matthew offers to go to Bohemia and procure him and return him to her majesty.
Diana & her Weaver’s threads
Diana takes another stab at casting her first spell with her Weaver’s threads. Now knowing that all of the element’s threads are available to her, she carefully selects one and begins on the Weavers Knots. Which we see her construct and murmur, With Knot of one, the spells begun… Things get perilously interesting when she completes the third knot, each one more complex than the last. On completing this third knot, we see magic burst forth out of her in a spectacular display. A tree appears, and not just any tree. A Rowan Tree. “A Crossing between worlds. A union of opposites.” We know that this isn’t the last knot. There are many more to come, but we got a pretty impressive first attempt. We also learn that when she finishes her forespell in the near-future, her familiar will be revealed. Anyone who’s read the books should be getting extremely excited to meet this particular creature, should it grace our screen’s with it’s presence.
Gallowglass FINALLY makes his appearance on our screens. We’ve literally been waiting what seems like a lifetime to meet the embodied personification of this glorious vagabond character straight from the pages of Deborah Harkness’s trilogy. As other characters have strongly missed the mark in their book to series adaptation (COUGH… Andrew Hubbard). This couldn’t be farther from the reality when we see Stephen Cree fill his significantly-sized shoes effortlessly. Bringing news from Matthew’s home in France, from the hand of Phillipe demanding that Matthew return to Sept Tours with Diana. Phillipe always puts a coin in the wax. The coin being his calling card of sorts. Demanding immediate conversing in person. This new plot development no doubt throws their plan into disarray. Diana only just starting to learn about her Weavers powers. Needing to find Ashmole 782, the Alchemical Manuscript. After a tear-jerking parting moment between Diana, Matthew and Jack, they set off on their journey to France.