The best, presumably, is yet to come, but A Discovery of Witches Episode 3 spent too much time developing a trite romance rather than the much more interesting magical conflict at the show’s core.
We’re almost there. By the end of A Discovery of Witches Episode 3, I finally felt like the show was really going somewhere – even if getting there requires a certain tolerance for dopey decision-making that many viewers won’t have. But the bulk of the episode was spent on a Twilight-style forbidden romance that just won’t take yet, and a lot of the magical shenanigans were shunted into the background.
This, if you ask me, is probably the wrong approach for a story which includes disappearing alchemical texts, thousand-year-old vampires, and “witch’s wind”, whatever that is. The fact I don’t know – it’s a spell, obviously, but beyond that I’m clueless – speaks volumes about the show’s priorities; I should know, really, because that’s much more interesting than Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) trying to decide which cut of meat she should prepare for Matthew Clairemont’s (Matthew Goode) dinner.
Without a meaningful conflict between witches, vampires and increasingly demons, it’s difficult to buy into the stakes (sorry) of the central romance. In A Discovery of Witches Episode 3, Diana agrees to flee to France with Matthew, which is intended as a momentous romantic development but played more like a teenage strop. Diana’s head-over-heels infatuation undermines her apparent status as a witch of singular talent; her newfound loyalty to vampires (and the willingness of Peter Knox (Owen Teale) to turn against her) undermines the idea that these two ancient, powerful races are ideologically opposed. Everyone involved just seems prone to throwing a tantrum.
It’s not all bad. I actually think Matthew Goode is excellent here, and the show continues to be a handsome one. My frustrations mostly lie with how potentially compelling I find the world and its mythology – and how vaguely those things have been treated thus far. Perhaps I’m asking for more from the material (the show is based on a book series, after all) than is strictly reasonable, but the vampiric romance seems a played-out concept these days, especially when held against the limitless potential of the urban-fantasy world behind it. Let’s just say it isn’t casting any spells on me just yet.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.