‘A Discovery of Witches’ season three premiere review: A moody and romantic beginning of the end

To say there’s a lot to catch up on is an understatement: A Discovery of Witches’ third and final season proceeds with breakneck speed through the plot of Deborah Harkness’s The Book of Life, the last installment of the All Souls Trilogy.

A Discovery of Witches follows a witch, Diana (Teresa Palmer), and her vampire husband, Matthew (Matthew Goode), who are investigating an enchanted manuscript known as the Book of Life. Season 3 picks up immediately after Season 2’s finale, when Matthew and Diana traveled back to the present day after looking for traces of the manuscript in 1590s England.

There are a lot of storylines to return to upon Matthew and Diana’s return to the 21st century. Diana’s aunt Emily (Valarie Pettiford) has been murdered by fellow witch Peter (Owen Teale) for refusing to hand over a page from the Book of Life. Nathaniel (Daniel Ezra) and Sophie (Aisling Loftus) have had a daughter, who has turned out to be a witch despite both parents being daemons. Diana learns she’s expecting twins, and the possibility of vampire-witch children raises concerns. The Book of Life remains unfound, leaving key answers about the magical world unrevealed to witches, daemons, and vampires alike.

If that’s not enough to keep track of, there’s an entirely new actor playing Matthew’s brother Baldwin (Peter McDonald, taking over the role from Trystan Gravelle, who’s off to Middle-Earth).

Most of these plots are mere stepping stones to main plot of this season premiere. Diana and Matthew take a scientific approach to understanding “blood rage,” a rare illness in which vampires experience violence and loss of control. Calling upon Diana’s contacts from her days in academia, the pair search for answers among science to explain the nature of blood rage. Matthew has a personal history with blood rage, and hopes science can help him understand it while the Book of Life is still elusive.

It’s a wealth of ground to cover, though some plots feel lost in between Matthew and Diana’s romance and scientific inquiries. Still, it’s a compelling and vivid world, framed in muted blues and grays. Palmer and Goode continue to anchor the show with heart, and McDonald’s Baldwin is a welcome addition to the cast, handling Baldwin’s tense relationship to Matthew with steely glances of disdain.

It’s the closing minutes of the season premiere that set up the season’s villain, as Diana learns one of Matthew’s darkest secrets (he’s a 1500-year-old vampire, of course he has a major secret!). The reveal has devastating implications for Diana, Matthew, and their growing family, as well as their network of supernatural allies. With a dark course ahead for the series’ final episodes, A Discovery of Witches is an ideal moody, romantic show to catch up on in the coldness of wintertime.

A Discovery of Witches drops Saturdays simultaneously on AMC+, Shudder, and Sundance Now.



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