TV Review: A Discovery of Witches (S2) | Improving On A Solid Base

The hit TV series staring Teresa Palmer and Matthew Goode is back for a second season that covers the second book in the All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness. This season sees the introduction of new characters Gallowglass, Philippe de Clermont, Phoebe Taylor, Kit Marlowe, Father Hubbard and Goody Alsop portrayed respectively by Steven Cree (Outlander), James Purefoy (Pennyworth, John Carter), Adelle Leonce (Flack, C.B. Strike), Tom Hughes (Victoria, Red Joan), Paul Rhys (Da Vinci’s Demons) and Sheila Hancock (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). They are joining the already established cast in this ten hour journey into the world of witches, demon and vampires.

Last season: Diana Bishop, a historian and non-practicing witch, unknowingly accesses a coveted long-lost book, Ashmole 782. This draws the attention of all creatures in existence, who want it for themselves. She must solve its mysteries and understand why this book is so sought-after. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampire.

Season premise: As Diana and Matthew grew closer, they had to face prejudice and animosity from witches, vampires, and demons alike. Wanted by the congregation, the governing body of all creatures, who is also after the book, Asmole 782, Diana and Matthew have to flee. In the hopes of finding the book, hide from the congregation, and find a teacher for Diana’s magic; the pair goes to the late 16th century to last known location of Asmole 782 and a time when witches were plenty and powerful.

Review: In season one this creative team made the story in A Discovery of Witchesbook and made it leaner, effective, and exciting. So I dove into the second season with a lot of trust in their creative vision. The season premiere did not disappoint, it was engrossing and beautiful.

Going in I was ecstatic to see how amazing the 1590s scenes look. The production design on those scenes, and the rest of the show, is great. They’ve done a fabulous job in transporting us to the late 16th century, the backgrounds and costumes are just incredible. The scenes in the past also seamlessly blend with the present time. The past and the present work in tandem, it’s not jarring when an episode switches between the two, in fact they complement each other.

The story unfolds faster but it doesn’t feel rushed. They’ve cut some of the drama and a lot of the padding that plagued the source material and replaced it with juicy entertaining scenes that give so much more meat to the characters and the situation they are in. The plot is not weighted down, it gives the show a nice pace, and it made character development a lot richer. Some changes were made but they were smart, they raised the stakes, added the right amount of tension, and sometimes added an interesting side to a character. With our eyes also on the present, they’ve cleverly put some pieces in place for series 3, not the obvious one – Jack – but some that only appeared in The Book of Life.

Like I mentioned earlier, this season we’re introduced to important characters, some of these introductions were so sleek I almost didn’t catch them. We got to meet Philippe, who was more intense than I expected him to be, he is cunning and it shows right away. He’s the right amount of scary and caring; James Purefoy nailed it. Speaking about another great performance, Tom Hughes as Kit Marlowe is just impressive. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Edward Bluemel and Adelle Leonce is on point. I love their rapport and Phoebe’s inquisitive mind really shines through Leonce’s performance. That said, there is difference between being inquisitive and snooping.

I love Diana being strong, I love when she shows some teeth, and I love seeing her rowing in 1590 garb. She had many great moments this season, among them there’s a “we’re still talking” moment that I’m living for! Teresa Palmer‘s Diana is the best, she made me like the character since day one and has amazing chemistry with Matthew Goode who’s also been killing it this season.

Season 2 of A Discovery of Witches beautifully builds one the first, improving on what was already great. it’s bingeable, rewatchable, totally engaging.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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