I am obsessed with this series, which you can tell from my last review of season one.
It’s got everything a girl could hope for — a modern-day witch historian trying to unlock her powers (“Diana”, Teresa Palmer), and a brooding, geneticist vampire full of secrets (“Matthew”, Matthew Goode), both entangled in a forbidden romance rife with politics and plots to keep them apart. It’s like a more cerebral, less nude, more slow-burny romantic version of True Blood before it got super weird and went off the rails in the later seasons.
The second season transports our heroes back in time to Elizabethan England as they race to find an alchemical book to save the magical species. It delivers another heady dose of sweeping scenery, atmospheric tension, and stunning production value just like the first season.
I’ll confess this series has made me aware of the holes I have in my European history knowledge. Diana is a history professor, and she knows the social and political context around the era, historical figures, and major events on the horizon when she is transported back in time.
I, on the other hand, had a passing familiarity with some of both (apologies to my AP Euro teacher in high school!) and felt like I was missing out on some key information as a result. Sometimes the second season felt like a history lesson — unfortunately, the trip to the past dragged down the story between the characters a little. The places where that drag became really apparent were in the episodes that flashed back to modern-day — the storylines in the present really soared since they weren’t weighed down by time travel conundrums and royal skirmishes. The pace felt much more comfortable. The modern-day story also gives me major Torchwood and Moonlight (gone but not forgotten) investigation vibes, which I love. Overall though, I was still happy to go along for the ride and focus less on the history and more on the character development without lessening the thrill of being back in this universe.
My absolute favorite thing about this series is how well it nails the romance between Diana and Matthew.
A Discovery of Witches gives me capital ‘R’ Romance. Genteel, I-would-die-for-you, heart-skittering Romance, and I am HERE for it.
It manages to feel intimate and emotional without being sexual (even though there are sex scenes!) It feels thrilling and heady and like all the best parts of attraction. Matthew Goode is an absolute star at delivering earnest lines about his unwavering love, and he doesn’t need the U.S. Postal Service to send me All the Feelings. Teresa Palmer as Diana is a good counterbalance to Matthew Goode — her character is so deeply competent and drama-free that the Romance doesn’t turn into a cringey ooze-fest.
If you love history, or vampires, or romance, or beautiful costumes and well-written dialogue, if you miss True Blood, or Moonlight, or Torchwood, you have to stream A Discovery of Witches. Go learn about Elizabethan philosophers and witch trials! Go watch Diana as she unlocks her powers! Go stare longingly into Matthew Goode’s eyes!
A Discovery of Witches airs Fridays on AMC, Sundance Now, and Shudder!