Thursday, April 15, 2021

Film review: Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (SF FILM)

SF FILM festival offered up a documentary in their schedule called Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché. Sadly, Styrene is no longer with us. She died from breast cancer on April 25, 2011 at the age of 53. She was the lead singer and songwriter in the punk/new wave band X-Ray Spex. Her birth name, Marianne Joan Elliott-Said soon became Poly Styrene after she opened the yellow pages and saw the words. Gosling Way Estate in Vassal, London, UK, was her home but she felt like an outcast all of the time. She was a mixed-race child and was raised by a single mom. Styrene was half Somali/half British.

The doc is narrated by her daughter Celeste Bell, co-directing with Paul Sng and co-written by Celeste and Zoe Howe. Styrene's diary entries (read by Oscar nominee Ruth Negga) along with the footage of Young National Front (YNF) a far-right, fascist political party in the United Kingdom, reveals how people in the UK mistreated mixed-race people; "a threat to [England's] genetic existence." Styrene elaborates on what the half-caste label means. In the end, she sought out how her ancestors really lived. She was seeking a place to belong; she knew too well how it felt like to be treated as an alien in her own country which resulted in writing the song "Identity!" She was looking to carve her own identity as a woman of color trying to get into an industry "run by high-class white men." The narration by Bell and Styrene's sister, Hazel Emmons, is more than insightful. They lived the repression along with Poly/Marion.

The doc thoroughly explores the song, "Oh, Bondage Up Yours." It was ahead of its time with the concept of men suppressing women from having any power. Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché delves into Styrene's fashion and vocal technique especially from the perspective of other women vocalists such as Kathleen Hanna and Neneh Cherry and actor Pauline Black, Vivienne Westwood. Women were repressed. She was way ahead of her time. The Tops of the Pops footage and the record cover showing her to be slimmed down; altering her image when nothing was wrong with how she looked just to sell more records. Her voice inspired Neneh Cherry; Styrene was her role model. Cherry started singing because of her. Celeste Bell's perspective was that she was unfazed by people stopping her mom on the street when she was recognized because it was all she knew. Styrene declared that "being famous but broke was the worst of both worlds." She was confident with her looks up until she was recognized; with becoming famous, she became "insecure from the public scrutiny -- insinuating she was unattractive and overweight."

The documentary includes footage of X-Ray Spex's first trip to New York City for a residency at CBGBs  Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth said that this was one of the first new wave, punk bands to visit New York. The tape cassette label date "3/17/1977" offers a perspective about X-Ray Spex on the punk rock timeline. They were influencers before it was as known today in social media. Paul Weller of the Jam and Debbie Harry of Blondie both were in the front row cheering the band. Styrene even-handed Thurston Moore the microphone and it was like an initiation when he got to sing "Oh Bondage Up Yours." Styrene had never been exposed to the level of capitalism that she observed in the first visit to New York. She just saw everything as plastic and questioned everything after seeing all the consumerism, which impacted her creative choices. Fame was creating a lifestyle and she hated the artifice of the music industry. She had acquired a dystopian view of the future. "Burgers will be cruelty-free veggie rubber buns." She saw a lot of the dark side of New York City. The party scene was more caustic than it was in the British scene. Her insecurities about how people treated her was an additional pressure with which she struggled mentally daily. Saying, "It isn't normal for people to be surrounded by people telling you that you're great." She had to find a way to be authentic to herself and be Marion Elliott again. She was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when she really had bipolar disorder. Maudsley Hospital became her new home until she discovered Gaudiya Vaishnavism aka the Hare Krishna movement; Hinduism.

SF Film's Q&A follows with filmmakers. Overall, as a fan who knows mostly X-Ray Spex music and little about its members, the documentary was very eye-opening. The filmmakers' intent was to keep their focus on making an intimate story about a mother and daughter. They succeeded in doing that, plus go check out the book about Poly Styrene, Dayglo!: The Poly Styrene Story, it precedes the making of the documentary. 

The film can be screened through April 18, 2021 -- tickets.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Songs from S2 "A Discovery of Witches"


via GIPHY (Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop and Matthew Goode as Matthew Roydon)

Now that you've watched all of the episodes of S2 of "A Discovery of Witches," check out the songs on the artists' pages (source: Deborah Harkness). Rob Lane is the composer for the score on all three seasons; two seasons have aired so far. Further below is a link to the Spotify page for season two's score.

E1 "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" is quite fitting because of Matthew being burdened as a spy--a secret from Diana. Matthew Roydon is answering to his responsibilities put on him by the Crown to torture witches at the Tower of London's jail cells. He gets into moods and takes his frustrations out on the person he loves.
E1 
Lyrics
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
Sometimes I'm up
Sometimes I'm down
"Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" read about its origins
Cover by AG X Valerie Broussard 
Valerie Broussard on Spotify
   

E2 has Matthew deciding to kill the witch in the prison cell rather than drag out the torture. He tries to placate Lord Cecil Burghley by saying what he thinks will keep him off of his back as well as the queen. Oh no, not me / I never lost control / You're face to face / With the man who sold the world.

"The Man Who Sold the World" original by David Bowie, cover by Torii Wolf & FWD The Man  

Steven Cree as Gallowglass


via GIPHY (Valarie Pettiford as Emily Mather)


E3 - Domenico has not had negotiating power so giving Gerbert a pathway to take down the de Clermonts may help him take Venice, Italy out of its dull reputation of only being valuable for tourism. He suddenly has a reason to negotiate for more power.
Excuse me, but can I be you for a while
My dog won't bite if you sit real still
I got the Anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin' at me again
Yeah, I can hear that
I don't care 'cause sometimes, I said sometimes I hear my voice
And it's been here
Silent all these years
"Silent All These Years" original by Tori Amos, cover by Kat Leon

E4  Marcus meets, falls in love with Phoebe. He tried to get miniature art pieces of Diana and Matthew. A vampire who is murdering people in Oxford broke into the auction house. He is trying to prove he's not a disappointment; be a grown up. His loyalty to the de Clermonts, particularly to Matthew, and also The Knights of Lazarus is tested and almost gives up the role of Grand Master in E8. Marcus has lived in Matthew's shadow and never being forced to lead. But now he knows that Matthew kept the secret of the blood rage from him; the reason why his children were assassinated. Matthew let him live, too. Protecting him from the truth was as if he was being coddled. He has to prove he can lead the Knights and it is time for him to make a difference; save the creatures from The Congregation.
New Order's "True Faith" plays in E4 and E8
I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A certain sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much
[Chorus]
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see the light in the shade of the morning Sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning Sun

E4
Those one-track minds
They took you for a working boy
Kiss them goodbye
You shouldn't have to jump for joy
"Shout" original by Tears for Fears, cover by Losers
  

E5 ends with Diana defending herself against a witch that was a bit greedy for her memories. The night before, Diana tossed Matthew out after he thought he could come out with a wisecrack about how she should bed his father. Oh, yeah, he refused her interest in having sex with him because he's holding back on telling her he has blood rage and what it would be for her to let him "possess her completely."
"Me and the Devil " original by Robert Johnson "Me and the Devil Blues", cover by Soap&Skin with different lyrics, And I'm gonna see my man / Until I get satisfied


via GIPHY (Elaine Cassidy as Louisa de Clermont)

E6 after Matthew has a duel with his father, Philippe, he comes to terms with how he was part of his death. He also marries Diana and the lyrics are perfect for the wedding scene, the wedding night and the closing song as they depart for Bohemia with a sad farewell as Philippe bears no ill will towards Matthew. The new arrangement is refreshing to hear.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save everyday 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend it with you

And if I could make days last forever
And if words could make wishes come true
We'd walk through the fields of ripening corn
And time would flow through us and you
And I'd save everyday like a treasure and then
Again and again I'd spend them with you

And I've looked around enough to know
You're the one I wanna go through time with (ooh-ooh)
Through time with (ooh-ooh)
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

So if only I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save everyday 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

And I'd save everyday like a treasure and then
Again and again I'd spend them with you (spend them with you)

I've looked around enough to know
You're the one I wanna go through time with (ooh-ooh)
Through time with (ooh-ooh)
Through time with
"Time in a Bottle" original by Jim Croce, rearranged/covered by Rob Lane, Julia Church, Jim Croce + Full Season 2 score.

via GIPHY (James Purefoy as Philippe de Clermont)

E7 Edward Kelley is hearing things from inside The Book of Life
I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark
"A Forest" original by The Cure, cover by Kye Kye

The Cure "A Forest" 12" single

E8 Emily and Sarah are not on a path to contacting Rebecca about The Book of Life
Stop the things you do
Watch out, Watch out
I ain't lyin'
I love you
[chorus]
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine
"I Put a Spell on You" original by Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins, cover by Alpines

via GIPHY (Aiysha Hart as Miriam Shepherd)

E9 "We've Only Just Begun" original by The Carpenters, cover by Welshly Arms (reworked by Rob Lane) (the cover has two versions and then there's also Rob Lane's reworked version that is not yet available to download). 
The lyrics are, again, perfect as Matthew and Diana discover how they can strengthen their relationship; establish that they trust each other. Diana accepts Matthew's desire to want to possess her body and soul. He should be who he is and not feel ashamed and resentful about what it means to be a vampire with blood rage; always having to be in control. He has finally decided to tell her and she doesn't resist him.
Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin' it over, just the two of us
Workin' together day to day
Together
Together
And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there's room to grow
And yes, we've just begun
"Transcendence" by Rob Lane. Video shared above should not be used without permission from this blog's writer. S1 & S2 footage to honor the artistry of beautifully crafted scenes. 

E10 Heartbreaking ending with Emily succumbing to Peter Knox trying to take the page from Ashmole 782 away from her while she conjured the spirit of Rebecca, Diana's mother. Sarah holds Emily and Marcus tries to stop Peter from escaping. Ysabeau is inside Sept-Tours holding the emblem of The Knights of Lazarus. Em sacrifices herself to protect everyone else from Knox.
Under blue moon I saw you
So soon you'll take me
Up in your arms, too late to beg you
Or cancel it though I know it must be
The killing time
Unwillingly mine
Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
"Killing Moon" original by Echo & The Bunnymen; cover by Roman Remains
 

It was a brilliant choice to allow the songs to fade in at the most gripping moments as each episode comes to an end, and then continues along with the scenes of the next episode.

"A Discovery of Witches" | S2:E10 | An Analysis (contains details of E10)

The following analysis is solely my own. Some of it offers an opinion while recapping portions of the episode. The focus is usually on a particular aspect of the story or aspect of a character. Anything in this post is created by the blog's author who is an inspired fan wanting to promote the work. Feedback is welcome. Let me know if you like or don't like something. Please leave a comment here or on Instagram @thataddamsgirl.

For those keeping track of the directors and writers of season 2 episodes:

Directors: 

  • E1, 4, 7, 8, 10: Farren Blackburn 
  • E2, 3, 5: Philippa Langdale 
  • E6, 9: Jonathan Teplitzky
Writers:

  • E1: Sarah Dollard
  • E2, 10: Susie Conklin
  • E3: Polly Buckle
  • E4, 6, 8, 10: Peter McTighe
  • E5: Lisa Holdsworth
  • E7: Joseph Wilde
  • E9: Michelle Gayle

If you haven't watched episode 10, you will be spoiled if you read any further. I'll only refer to the book when it is significantly relevant.


Shudder description: Diana completes her training with Goody Alsop in order to return home. Surprise encounters ensue.

Before beginning to watch the finale of S2 "A Discovery of Witches," one just needs to look back on where the journey of Matthew and Diana has taken us. 

They were running for their lives at the end of S1 from The Congregation. 
S1 E8 The Congregation - Gerbert (Trevor Eve) and Baldwin (Trystan Gravelle) in a heated confrontation.
Diana had to find a teacher and luckily she found Goody Alsop soon enough. 
Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop/Roydon and Sheila Hancock as Goody Alsop
Matthew had to fit into the old ways of spying for the monarchy of England in 1590 while not raising suspicion of the queen. His old friends accepted him, except for Christopher "Kit" Marlowe. They had to tell him that they came from the future. They adopt a child off of the street named Jack Blackfriars.
Matthew Goode as Matthew Roydon with Jack played by Joshua Blue Pickering. Matthew quells the boy's fear after having a nightmare.
Tom Hughes (center) as Kit Marlowe
Matthew could not continue to have a witch tortured, so he snapped his neck. But Lord Cecil Burghley sent him to deal with the queen. The witches are being persecuted for allegedly plotting against her. He definitely lost his cool quite a few times over the things Burghley made him do.
(Steven Cree) Gallowglass making an entrance; it's only a game that his uncle Matthew plays with him.
The arrival on the beach of France (S2, E5).
Soon they had to contend with both the queen, Fr. Hubbard, the search for Ashmole 782 all the while having to report to Matthew's father, Philippe, at Sept-Tours, arriving in E5. 
The last time Matthew saw his father, it was when Philippe was insane and in pain from being tortured by the Nazis. Old wounds are reopened. He was Philippe's assassin. (E4, informed us via Ysabeau that Matthew was commanded by Philippe to wipe out all of the vampires sired by Marcus because of the bloodline being infected with blood rage. Marcus was clueless, but everyone else knew this well-kept secret, even Miriam.)
Matthew could no longer hold back his blood rage tendencies while at Sept-Tours. Diana was strong for Matthew with their faith to each other was tested.
They mated finally after marrying. Diana was anointed by Philippe as his blood-sworn daughter. Ysabeau in the present receives a new, but also the final message from Philippe in a touching end to E6.  Matthew found closure with his father and they moved on to Bohemia. 
Philippe de Clermont (James Purefoy) giving a wedding present to his son Matthew (Matthew Goode).
A vampire's nose knows.
Benjamin Fuchs introduces himself, sort of. He's the emperor's collector. He will figure as a significant character in future episodes. He sensed the blood vow between Philippe and Diana.
The emperor wanted Diana for himself, which made Matthew furiously jealous but also enraged in learning that the emperor was a little too fascinated with collecting parts of creatures, thanks to Gallowglass accessing the secret collection in Rudolf's Kunstkammer.
Diana sets fire to the floor and door to stop Matthew from leaving.

Michael Jibson as Emperor Rudolf (far right).
Diana made a scene in seizing hold of Ashmole 782, so they had to flee quickly and lost three pages to Edward Kelley's madness. Once out of Bohemia, Diana had a nightmare that the tree in the book is made of dying creatures. In E9, she met with Goody upon her return and continued her training. She found her familiar, a firedrake named Corra.
Louisa de Clermont (Elaine Cassidy) and Kit cannot compete with Diana's firedrake, Corra.
Diana and Matthew also found out that she's carrying a baby that they both thought to be inconceivable, literally. 

Queen Elizabeth took Matthew's cure and he revealed to her that he was "a future Matthew" and that she would be known forever as one of the greatest rulers of England. 
Matthew Roydon arrives at Whitehall to tell the queen he lost the book and that he left Edward Kelley, the alchemist, back in Bohemia. She doesn't take it well and has all the books at the Hart and Crown confiscated. Jack heroically saves Ashmole 782.
Matthew's blood is a cure for pain. (Barbara Marten as Queen Elizabeth I)

via GIPHY

Matthew's sister Louisa and Kit Marlowe schemed a plan to try to do away with Diana, but with the help of Corra, Diana was protected. She stopped Matthew from killing Louisa and Kit--his blood rage was out of control.
Louisa's throat gripped by Matthew in Bedlam.
"The witch's kiss allows me to see inside your soul."
It allowed them to grow closer when he admitted to her how he is in a battle with himself to control the need to possess her and was ashamed of this need he's had his entire life. She accepted him and he owned his identity as a vampire, finally giving in to his desire. Her witch's kiss and his drinking from her heart vein helped them have insight into each other's thoughts and her seeing into his soul.

The story also continued for Marcus meeting Phoebe at the auction house in Oxford, while a vampire is killing people in a blood rage.
S2 E4 before Phoebe (Adelle Leonce) learns that Marcus (Edward Bluemel) is a vampire.
Domenico and Gerbert are scheming to accuse and take down all of the de Clermont family members if they can prove a de Clermont is behind the murders. Peter Knox is gaining ground on finding the page in the possession of Emily Mather at Sept-Tours. Ysabeau is instructing Marcus to be the Grand Master of The Knights of Lazarus that can save the family; protect the creatures. Baldwin is informing Gerbert of the new baby witch, Margaret, born to the two daemons Sophie and Nathaniel Wilson. 
S2: Emily (Valarie Pettiford) calling on the dark magic to bring forth Rebecca, Diana's mother.
I'm honored to recap and analyze the last 44 minutes of S2. E10 is about all moments that make our hearts swell with love and deflate with sadness. "Endings and beginnings," says Diana. Each person that Matthew and Diana bid adieu to is a tear-jerker moment to be savored. Furthermore, each woman character portrayed in this episode demonstrates how they are in command of their life, which is not by accident. Women have proven their power of endurance through the last 5 centuries. 

The episode opens with Diana learning her last weaver's knots; numbers 8 and 9. Goody senses the presence of another weaver arriving in London. 

We then see Matthew teaching Jack about the constellations. He clearly enjoys this moment being a father to Jack. Diana, Matthew, and Jack are outside observing the night sky over London. This is one of the last few happy moments they'll privately share with each other as a family.
Matthew and Jack inside the Hart and Crown in London, 1591.
Congregation member Agatha Wilson (Tanya Moodie) joined the witches--Sarah & Em, the vampires--Marcus, Ysabeau, Marthe and daemons--Sophie and Nathaniel with their newborn Margaret, a witch, at Sept-Tours. Sarah and Em were trying to get more information from the spirit of Rebecca in E8 by using dark magic.

Marcus (Edward Bluemel) introduces Phoebe (Adelle Leonce) to Ysabeau (Lindsay Duncan), his grandmother. She is much warmer towards this warmblood than she was, at first, to Diana -- maybe it's the fact that Phoebe is not a witch. There's a risk in letting humans know that vampires exist, however, Phoebe is a forward-thinking modern woman who openly accepts Marcus as a vampire. Wait until he talks about drinking from the blood vein. I think she'll be fine with it as long as there's always ice cream to eat. Marthe probably already has a recipe for salted caramel with French vanilla bean.

Diana and Matthew go strolling around the market searching for a book to buy Jack since all of the books were confiscated by Lord Cecil Burghley. Matthew smells coffee. "Coffee won't arrive for decades," Diana says. It's straight from Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Matthew senses another timewalker and rushes out of the bookstall with Diana following. Matthew doesn't ever take the friendly welcome approach to witches, but luckily Diana recognized the man. Her father, Stephen Proctor, is standing right in front of her.
"Timewalker, Diana."
"Dad?!" (David Newman as Stephen Proctor, center)

Stunned by seeing her father, but also another beautiful costume for Teresa Palmer.
The best parts of Shadow of Night with Diana being with her father are adapted to the screen version. It addresses several key moments for the story:
  • Diana is with the vampire that Rebecca saw in her visions.
  • He has the chance to see her as an adult; he timewalked from when she's a child.
  • Stephen meets Jack; notices how Matthew treats Jack as a son--their adopted son.
  • Jack's bag of marbles that Matthew hands him is in the book but is adapted for the screen to demonstrate he will need the guidance of someone with parenting skills when they're gone.
  • Diana tells her father that they have Ashmole 782. She describes which pages were ripped out.
  • They find out that Rabbi Loew probably held onto the page of the alchemical wedding to have it delivered to Stephen by Jewish witches so that it would reach Diana in the future. Recall that this is the page that came through the wall in Madison, NY in S1, E7.
  • Matthew reveals that the DNA in the vellum can also contain secrets as the reason they need to take it with them.
  • Peter Knox seeks this book and Stephen tells them that Peter is obsessed with the dark arts.
  • Stephen admonishes Diana and Matthew for being too long in the past. Their impact is too significant. Adopting Jack, stealing a book. Matthew says that he was there before. "We screwed up," says Diana. Stephen says that they have to go and leave the book behind. "You can't timewalk with a powerful object you don't understand," says Stephen.
Stephen talks with Diana about the magic she's using with weaver's knots. He asks Diana if she's afraid of it. She says she's not, but we remember when it scared her to see her magic want to come out and she didn't know how to contain it. Witch wind, witch water, and witch fire, for example. Stephen tells her, "Lack of ability will never be your problem. But desire, maybe. If you complete it, you have to go." They meet Goody and she knows who the weaver is now. She helps her get through the ninth knot. Her father and Matthew observe. Matthew is on the balcony above as she completes the ninth knot in front of Goody and Stephen. Diana hears her father say "Some witches would kill for that kind of power." 

This scene with her father is much heavier to watch with a delicate piano score playing than it was in reading it in the book. She admits she's "terrified of changing anything, and yet I'm desperate to change everything." He knows his life with his daughter will not last for long, but he's the one character that doesn't try to learn how he dies. He says, "It's part of a whole tapestry, like your child to come." Rebecca could see Diana's pregnancy with Matthew. It is one of the most important moments for Diana to hear him say, "You're everything we dreamed you'd one day become."

"I'll see you later," he says. She watches him walk and she starts to run after him and stops. She and Matthew both found closure with their fathers this season. Matthew acknowledges that they don't know what their families -- his being Marcus, Ysabeau, Miriam, and hers being Sarah and Emily -- have gone through by their timewalking to London 16th century. Diana wants to find the missing pages as soon as they return to prevent them from getting into Congregation's hands. They decide that Henry Percy will be the safest person to take care of Jack. She knows that someone else has to look out for Jack.

When they left Madison, it was Matthew's intention that Marcus protects this merged family including the daemons at Sept-Tours. Harkness's All Souls Trilogy is about bringing together the creatures including the human partner to Marcus. They all live under the same roof; have a symbiotic relationship. Why should they let The Congregation stop them? The Covenant is an outdated policy that should be torn up. I'd even say The Congregation should have all its members against integration removed. 

Matthew tells Gallowglass that he's about to leave and that Gallowglass will get the old Matthew back, but Gallowglass says he prefers the future Matthew. Gallowglass and Matthew are close so, of course, he would best understand the transformation of a man he's known for hundreds of years. I look forward to more of their scenes together in S3 both as actors and characters. Shadow of Night contains a little more of Gallowglass, which understandably couldn't fit into the adaptation.

Gallowglass thinks he's escorted Diana to see the coven, but she really has schemed a plan to have Fr. Hubbard meet her in secret. Teresa Palmer is inspiring to watch her character take charge in portraying Diana as strong, independent and telling Hubbard, essentially, this is how it's going to work.
Fr. Andrew Hubbard, the vampire priest (Paul Rhys).
Recall back in E2, Fr. Hubbard asked that Matthew bring his witch to see him in his cloisters. He warned Diana never to let Hubbard get a drop of her blood. He would know her secrets. Hubbard recognized the scar on her neck and said that her letting Matthew feed on her was breaking the rules. She confessed at that time that she saved Matthew's life by forcing him to drink her blood.

She asks if she were one of his brethren would he protect Jack? She said that she could give him her blood without Matthew knowing. She opens her vein in her wrist by use of magic. She lets one drop hit Hubbard's tongue and he sees the truth she revealed earlier about having saved Matthew's life. However, he also sees that they timewalked. He promises to watch over Jack. "Farewell, Diana Bishop." Now he knows her real name; he will be able to locate her anywhere in the future.

She returns to Goody Alsop and Susanna Norman (Aisling Loftus). It seems that she told them both of the decision to have Andrew Hubbard watch over Jack even though he's going to live with Henry Percy. But if you think about why she needs Hubbard in addition to Henry, it is because Henry is mortal and Jack will outlive him. What happens when he has no parents? 

Goody explains that the tenth knot is a "weaving of creation and destruction." A knot that even Goody Alsop cannot accomplish. "Endings and beginnings," Diana adds. Goody continues, "Only a weaver who stands between worlds can complete it." 

The goodbye is emotional to watch. But here Diana gives to Susanna the chess piece of the goddess Diana and tells her that one of her descendants will give it to her in the future. We get one last look at Goody and Susanna.

Fr. Hubbard is in the street and senses a presence. Benjamin approaches him and asks about Diana, but Hubbard is not going to discuss anything because she is part of his flock now. "That's no way to speak to your sire. Now, tell me about Matthew's witch." And so it is revealed that Benjamin was the one who turned the dying Hubbard into a vampire during the plague that was meant to kill him. It wasn't a divine resurrection after all! This sets up what we can look forward to in S3 when Benjamin comes looking for the de Clermonts. We can assume he learned about who was married to Diana through Emperor Rudolf. We still don't know why Diana hasn't yet told Matthew about her being recognized in Bohemia because the blood vow revealed her identity.
Jacob Ifan as Benjamin
Diana gives Ashmole 782 to Gallowglass to deliver to Dr. Dee. She tells him that she's going to miss him. Honoring the words of Deborah Harkness, the adaptation gives us a line so meaningful, "Keep the other Matthew safe for me so that he can find me one day." 

Steven Cree as Gallowglass has a remarkable way of showing the character's emotions. Eyes closed tight, he and Teresa end their hug, but as she walks away, you see what the character of Gallowglass faces--that he won't see her again for 430 years. Could it be that this Scottish vampire has feelings for a witch, nevermind, a warm-blooded woman of the New World? 
Matthew waits in the background while Diana bids farewell, which in Scottish Gaelic is "mar sin leat". A moment we won't see again until S3, when he will call her "Auntie", which will be sometime in 2022, according to SKY TV, hopefully, that means the same for U.S. viewers.
"I've got some mopping up to do," says Gallowglass. Ironic because we're all leaving puddles of tears during all of the farewell moments. Our hearts are exploding with the love between these characters.

They have to say goodbye to Jack. When he says, "I don't want to go, I want to stay here," it is just too much for this blog writer to bear. Joshua Blue Pickering plays Jack and he is so profoundly genuine with a sweet face, but cleverly portrays Jack who has a tendency for sleight of hand style of theft. The piano score, again, is like it's carving a new gorge for a stream of tears to flow. This is the same overwhelmingly sad feeling I experienced while they each said farewell to Philippe. 

In a way, Matthew saying goodbye to Jack is somewhat near to his having to lose his first son who had an illness. It was devastating for this character as we learned in S1 E5, to lose his wife and son. However, he feels assured by the fact that Jack will be with Henry Percy's family. The concern Diana has, however, is if Fr. Hubbard can protect him. But aren't we all concerned about how well Fr. Hubbard can keep Jack a secret from Benjamin?

Later, Matthew and Diana are in the bedroom, preparing to timewalk. She thanks him for sharing Matthew Roydon's realm with her. He tells her that he's had so many roles in his life, but that he always wanted to be a husband and father again. "Endings and beginnings," she responds. Saying this earlier to Goody is still resonating with her when she says it to Matthew. They have the shared experience in saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future. They kiss. He walks to the door, and as viewers, our POV is again, of backing out of the room as he closes the door. We know Diana can take Matthew anywhere. "Magic is in the heart; magic is desire made real." She who stands between two worlds is without a doubt going to use the tenth knot to get them to Sept-Tours in the future.
The theme of endings and beginnings calls back to the opening of the first episode of season 1.

Back in the present, Gerbert (Trevor Eve) and Peter (Owen Teale) conspire to get the missing page from the witches at Sept-Tours. Peter says, "I'm not your hunting job, Gerbert." 
"Fetch," is the single command from Gerbert.

Indeed, Sept-Tours has been quite a hub of activity. The creatures are breaking bread altogether at one table. Marcus thinks he can stop the segregation of the creatures by repealing the Covenant. The rules are dividing the creatures; discrimination is not a means to survival. 

Phoebe and Ysabeau meet up in Philippe's library. She recognizes the age of the furniture. Ysabeau is impressed by Phoebe being so much better than the average human. She agrees with Marcus to take a stance on thinking progressively. In answering Marcus saying that he wishes Philippe was still here, "Grief carves a place in the heart and sits there forever. but when focused, it can be a powerful motivator. Sadness becomes resolve and pain becomes action."

Peter is briefly reunited with Satu (Malin Buska) upon her returning to Venice. She tells him she's been busy. We last saw her in Finland with her mom. She wants to go to Sept-Tours again as his ally. He tells her he doesn't want her "pyrotechnics" and that his "confidence will be his downfall." Why does Satu appear in the last episode at all if they weren't going to show her performing magic?

Remember Matthew's lodge in Oxford? Domenico (Greg Chillin) is hiding in the darkness as the killer vampire enters. Domenico asks the mysterious stranger to let him help him. But the stranger attacks Domenico, yet only injuring him. He must have seen his face. The vampire leaves quickly so we can probably assume that this is someone who wants something from Matthew and Diana. Domenico soon after is being caught entering a hotel by Benjamin lurking nearby. What does he want with Domenico or is he looking for the murderer?

In E10, the man in the shadows this time is not Matthew, but someone else being a predator; aiming to gain an advantage by siphoning the life out of a much-loved character. We see Peter at the sacred space outside of Sept-Tours where Em and Sarah (Alex Kingston) had previously gone the night before to conjure the spirit of Rebecca Bishop. He calls to whoever was using that space to return. Em wakes to his call. She doesn't wake Sarah. She conjures Rebecca (Sophia Myles) who tells her that the book will change everything and that she's in danger. In the nick of time, Em makes the alchemical wedding page disappear. Peter seizes Em's head with his hand firmly holding her in place. He's using his power to try to get Em to turn the page over to him. She's brave and tells Peter that "I will always fight for Diana... she will reunite all creatures against bigots like you." She collapses and he tries to escape before being seen. 

At the same time, Margaret, the baby, wakes up. One should assume her witch powers sense danger nearby. It wakes up Marcus, Sarah, Sophie (Aisling Loftus) and Nathaniel (Daniel Ezra). Ysabeau senses another creature and Marcus takes off to find Knox. Marcus fails at attacking him. Knox uses his device to put Marcus to sleep while he escapes. Sarah finds Em unconscious and cradling her, trying to rouse her.

We close on Ysabeau holding the Knights of Lazarus symbol and looking like a woman with a new agenda; a new plan forming to save not just the de Clermonts, but every creature, too. Let's hope we see Ysabeau play a role to help free the wild creatures from the persecution of The Congregation.

The series ends on a cliffhanger, but all the best shows leave us with the feeling of wanting more. E6, E9 and E10, are equally deserving of awards for directing, performance, and writing out of all the ten episodes. The entire season undoubtedly deserves technical awards for production design, costumes, cinematography, special effects, sound, stunts, and music. Name the category I missed and the team should get the award for that, too. 

We can look forward to season 3 in 2022, but it feels terribly so far away. Currently, the post-production work is going on. Every performer in this series, even as they portray other characters outside of ADOW, is worth following on other TV and film projects. I'll be checking out what else they're working on until season 3 brings the story to a close next year.
Does anyone else need a hug besides me?


Sunday, March 07, 2021

"A Discovery of Witches" | S2:E9 | An Analysis (contains details of E9)

The following analysis is solely my own. Some of it offers an opinion while recapping portions of the episode. The focus is usually on a particular aspect of the story or aspect of a character. Anything in this post is created by the blog's author who is an inspired fan wanting to promote the work. Feedback is welcome. Let me know if you like or don't like something. Please leave a comment here or on Instagram @thataddamsgirl.

For those keeping track of the directors and writers of season 2 episodes:

Directors: 

  • E1, 4, 7, 8: Farren Blackburn 
  • E2, 3, 5: Philippa Langdale 
  • E6, 9: Jonathan Teplitzky
Writers:

  • E1: Sarah Dollard
  • E2: Susie Conklin
  • E3: Polly Buckle
  • E4, 6, 8: Peter McTighe
  • E5: Lisa Holdsworth
  • E7: Joseph Wilde
  • E9: Michelle Gayle

If you haven't watched episode 9, you will be spoiled if you read any further. I'll only refer to the book when it is significantly relevant.

Shudder TV episode description: Matthew must account for his visit to Bohemia. Matthew and Diana reach a new level of intimacy.

Tell me if you are reading this and felt the need to brace yourself because this episode is one of the last two episodes of the season. Episode 9 is 44 minutes of everything being a matter of life and death. In The Hart and Crown, Diana (Teresa Palmer) hides Ashmole 782 aka The Book of Life, wrapped carefully, securing it inside a space below the floor of the bedroom. She tells Matthew (Matthew Goode) that she can see how they could build a life together with Jack by remaining in London 1591, but she doesn't know the reality of what it would really mean for Matthew. He says, "But we don't belong in this time. Perhaps we've been here too long." How have they impacted life in 1590-91 by traveling to that time?

A major storyline bombshell drops before the opening credits. The stakes are higher when Goody Alsop (Sheila Hancock) sees Diana after she's been married and mated with Matthew and it is revealed that Diana is pregnant. Her hands hover over Diana's abdomen and we can hear a heartbeat. How has Matthew missed this or was she not far along yet for him to detect it until she saw Goody?

In Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, Matthew is first to discover that she is pregnant because he had his head up against her abdomen while seated. I like that Goody senses it because she is mentoring Diana and it seems fitting that witches would know. In fact, midwives at that time had medicinal knowledge and were often accused of practicing witchcraft. 

Having a child with a vampire wasn't ever thought to be possible, but if Diana and Matthew are meant to be together -- her mother and father saw her with the Shadow Prince -- then perhaps the miracle of life through their mating means that both of their bloodlines won't die out. Maybe the baby won't continue to carry the de Clermont blood rage. 

They are both astounded by the news. They have to timewalk to the 21st century as soon as Diana can get her final training in weaving those knots. We watch her train with much less anxiety and with much more confidence. The fifth knot formed first with a star in the shape of the five-pointed pentagram, but without the circle around it. The sixth is first shaped from a heart and then forms a vertical infinity symbol before the knot is tied. 

She finds her familiar in this episode with the seventh, which has been long anticipated by fans of the book Shadow of Night. The familiar is a firedrake named Corra and Goody tells Diana that her familiar will be there when she needs it. The special effects team did a fantastic job in the detail because it appears similar to a dragon, the face has the details and its wings and body is made entirely of fire. You can read more about the familiar and what role they play with witchcraft in the Wicca Wiki.
As complications arise, Matthew has changed in such a way that he's able to roll with complex problems easier than before he left London to see his father. Goody sees his attitude has changed and so has Queen Elizabeth. A lot has happened between episode 3 and episode 9 to help his character gain more perspective. However, he was supposed to return with Edward Kelley and the queen is forcing him to turn over The Book of Life so that Emperor Rudolf gets it back. Lucky for Matthew and Diana that they have Jack (Joshua Pickering) who swipes the book back from Lord Cecil Burghley's (Adrian Rawlins) box of confiscated books with a little distraction effort in the street by Gallowglass (Steven Cree). 

The fate of Jack is still to be settled before Matthew and Diana timewalk out of there. His value has increased incredibly by saving the book. I'm guessing that before they leave, they will turn over the book to John Dee so that his collection is preserved for them to find the book in the future in Oxford.
The bars of this doorway's gate is a reminder of what happens if someone betrays The Crown.
The music that plays in the background when Matthew first greets the queen provides an atmosphere of importance; the queen appearing rather edgy. His influence and power represented as his face is center screen under the high arches of the ceiling above him as well as in parallel to the tall support column. The sobering setting of the great gothic hall adds to the heavy idea of her threatening that he'll lose his head and Diana will be imprisoned and probably tortured. She's sucking on clove oil because she has an aching tooth. She's also still dealing with the worry that witches are rising up against her. Matthew is held at White Hall while every nook and cranny of The Hart and Crown are being searched for books.
Barbara Marten as the aging Queen Elizabeth is most authentic in playing this character. There's so much intricate detail in the makeup and costume, but the words are always delivered with determination. And then there is the enchanting Matthew Goode as Matthew Roydon, particularly when he has the queen essentially in the palm of his hand. When her fingers gently grace the side of his face,  he softens his eyelids for her. This is the last time they will be in each other's presence while he's not the Matthew Roydon that he used to be. Rather than feed her more lies, he knows how to set her at ease. In fact, his first action is one of mercy. He offers her a drop of his blood as the antidote to her pain. Indeed, he reveals that he and Diana came from four centuries into the future. She believes him saying, "You are a future Matthew." When he says that everyone in the future remembers her name and using, "Gloriana, the greatest monarch in English history," she is finally satisfied and pleased at hearing a most valuable secret from her spy. We're looking up at her with the big arches of the gothic ceiling above her head and the light from the windows behind her, framing her on either side. She is royalty from head to toe. She thanks him and he turns back to say "You're welcome...Bess." Nice, too, how the camera slowly backs out of the hall -- we won't turn our back on the queen as we leave. Later we see her telling Burghley that she forgave Matthew and she wants to be left in peace.
Matthew Goode (left) hearing Sir Walter Raleigh portrayed by Michael Lindall (right) is not on the greatest terms with the queen. Here's why.
Vampires who offer alternatives to dentistry: don't call 1-800-DENTIST -- call 1-800-VAMPIRE!
Having been detained at Whitehall also meant that he was unable to retrieve Diana from Goody's. She didn't return to The Hart and Crown on her own. Pierre (Milo Twomey) and Gallowglass didn't find her either. Kit Marlowe (Tom Hughes) schemes a story to make Diana think Matthew was sent to the dungeon. She's suspicious but she still gets in the boat. 
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero
When she arrives at a wet and muddy cave, Louisa de Clermont (Elaine Cassidy) with a ferocious "whoosh" of incredible speed, swoops in and restrains Diana in a headlock. While the water drips all around them, Diana attempts to convince Louisa that Philippe accepted Diana as his blood sworn daughter; has Philippe's blessing to be a member of the de Clermonts. Every moment of the scene shows Diana as powerful. Maybe the best part is when she recites Marlowe's words from "Hero and Leander." Kit is vulnerable to Louisa, not wanting to disappoint her, he is forced to point a gun at Diana. It is a profound moment when Diana has convinced him she'll tell him all he wants to know about his future. She plays into his desire to know his fate. Louisa knocks him out, but her gunfire fails to hit Diana twice. Calling forth her firedrake, Corra rises up from behind Diana and adds flames to encircle Louisa and Kit. Diana tells them that they have no future and that they both die soon. Matthew, Gallowglass, and Fr. Hubbard (Paul Rhys) arrive to quite a sight of Diana in control. This is the first time they all see Corra and are mesmerized at what Diana can do. Hubbard tells Diana that he's got this and takes Kit and Louisa to Bedlam. Matthew is relieved to see Diana unhurt.

It is night, a full moon shines brightly so, naturally, nice long shadows surround bright beams of light as Matthew tortures his old friend Kit and his sister Louisa. Diana demands that Gallowglass take her to Bedlam because if Matthew is in a blood rage, she can pull him out of it. Of course, he is; blood is running down his face. He's been torturing Louisa. Kit chained up, cowers in fright. Louisa tries to tell Matthew about the Witch's prophecy -- the old story that the witches want to destroy the vampires. It seems that Louisa didn't get the memo that Philippe saw a different prophecy of a witch with the power that inspires everyone to see the world differently.

Bedlam is based on the hospital for the insane called Bethlem Royal Hospital. Take a look at the book called This Way Madness Lies.
Diana is successful again. Her coaxing Matthew back is depicted differently in the adaptation, but both versions, in their unique way, reach the same conclusion. Her soothing words remind Matthew that he's no longer an assassin. He has the feral-like mannerisms that we saw in E6 and 7; growling and about to eviscerate his prey. Her touch and her taking his hand guide him back. She is his "anchor." They depart for home leaving his victims on the floor. As they reach Water Lane, he spots The Hart and Crown, she takes his hand to assure him. They look in on Jack asleep. They're a family. Matthew wraps his arm around Diana with his hand resting over their baby in her womb. 

In the morning in the bedroom, we arrive at the scene which we have been waiting for in the adaptation (any book followers know what I mean). I'm certain most fans thought it would occur in E7 at the point in which Matthew tells Diana that he wants to "possess [her] body and soul." My theory is that the producers and writers thought that the scene was already intense. I previously acknowledged that the adaptation is different for television. Its image is never associated with exploiting sex or violence for ratings. The book primarily drives the adaptation, so I'm not expecting anything in which you can see lips on the skin slurping up the blood. I accept that this is made for younger adult fans. However, if you are searching in the book, the scene begins in Shadow of Night's Chapter 30 and you can see how parts of E7 and E9 were adapted from that chapter.

Something very unique has to occur for this blog writer's jaded heart to palpitate as a result of viewing exceptional material. Such was the case for scenes in ADOW's S1 E3, E7, and S2 E5, i.e., the night we meet Philippe. I'd definitely say that such was the case for E9, specifically at the end. It is magnificently executed -- every second of their intimate ritual is dignified. 

Maybe it was the blood rage hangover, but Matthew is covering his eyes and exhaling. He is steady on the idea that he will finally tell Diana how he really feels. We're watching from the other side of the canopy bed's thin veil of a curtain and as he begins to speak, but when Diana appears onscreen, we're on the inside watching and listening as if we're in the bed with them.

"Every day of my life is a battle for control. A war with myself of the need to possess you in ways that no warm blood could possibly fathom." This is from the book, but more is explained in the book about how he doesn't "believe it is right to take blood from other creatures." 

One can draw the parallels of how an addict speaks about trying to maintain control. In my opinion, it is similar, but I feel the character of Matthew has been humbled by the many actions of Diana during their relationship. Whenever she steps up to speak, she has saved them from something worse. Think back to how she would have no part in destroying the vampires when Peter Knox told her that Ashmole 782 held the secrets to the creatures; that the witches could unmake the vampires. She explained to Fr. Hubbard why Matthew drank from her. She fought Juliette to save him. She asked to see the book and got Rudolf to take her to Kelley. His being with her means everything to him as he has said to Marlowe, "I'm nothing without Diana."
He explains that blood rage consumes him and he's always been burdened by it; ashamed. Diana watches as he speaks, listening to the man she loves, whom she has married. Now she's carrying their child, and she accepts his truth without question. She says nothing and lies back on the bed. 
He takes a moment in which he observes intently that she doesn't resist the idea. He is silent, facing forward, he closes his eyes and then lies back next to her. He then turns to look at her as she touches her neck.
"No." He points to her heart vein. She is gazing at the top of the canopy serenely listening. She's out of focus and Matthew in focus. It is as if we're allowed to lay on the bed next to them. It is at this point at which I felt my heart stop and start as he says, "The heart vein, they say it tastes sweeter." His words imply that he hasn't tasted blood from any person's heart vein himself. Well, of course, because he hasn't mated with anyone until Diana. We know from early on he craves her blood, but he was always in control and only drank from her because he would have died if he hadn't. He did it only because she forced him to and he knew when to stop. In the book, it elaborates that someone with blood rage who is drinking from the heart vein "requires complete control...not to be swept up in the strong emotions that result." Controlling his blood rage during this ritual is not in the adaptation, but we know the danger that comes with a vampire feeding vs. a vampire sampling the blood for information.

The score by Rob Lane is called "Transcendence." consists mainly of stringed instruments and not like what we've heard typically for their intimate scenes, often with vocals. Exultingly special, the score reminds me of works by my two favorite composers, Angelo Badalamenti who scored "Twin Peaks," and Ennio Morricone, particularly his love theme in Cinema Paradiso.

Matthew softly explains, "To drink from one's mate is to know that nothing is hidden and all that is left is complete belonging and honesty." In my opinion, saying that drinking from this vein is about their trusting each other, and it says as much in the book, but also says that they experience "a deeper intimacy" in seeing each other's thoughts. The ritual is done to connect to each other's truth, and not solely about being jealous in thinking of E7.
 
Her face comes back into focus and she's still on her back. "Drink, then."

Dried blood on edge of his hairline; wearing his blood-stained shirt from the torture he dealt the night before at Bedlam. We're watching from above while he is telling her everything. "But I'll know your secrets and you won't know mine."

"I could." She turns to face him pointing to the spot at the middle of his forehead and says, "The witch's kiss allows me to see inside your soul."
Read about the third eye aka sixth chakra. 
Read more about the forehead kiss
.
He answers with something similar to what he said in S1 E5 when she's about to see the scars on the surface of his skin, "You might not like what you find." 

"You first." 
"You always smell like honey." (the line is in Shadow of Night)
"Are you ready?"
"I trust you." 
The sound of the music gets louder. In the book, Diana's perspective is that she feels his bite, and then her "skin went numb from the pressure of Matthew's mouth on my flesh." Onscreen her face reads of pleasure with little gasps when he releases his mouth. He only has a little taste, then stops, returns to lay on his side, and he lovingly gazes at her. 

When Diana goes to touch him to turn and kiss him, Matthew reacts slightly startled, like he was in another state of mind. "It's okay," she says, and then she kisses him with her lips glowing. It's the spot of the third eye between the eyebrows. The light remains when she removes her lips and a thread of light connects from his third eye to the spot where he drank from her heart vein. The volume of the music rises again to complete their ecstatic reaction and the camera positioned next to Diana, our POV, has us watching Matthew ask her, "What did you find?" 

She answers, "You. Only you." In Shadow of Night, this is his answer to her when she asks, "And what did you find?" The role reversal is something to consider. Here Matthew is concerned about what his partner detects regarding his honesty. Diana's honesty is unquestionable.

From the moment she says "I trust you" in which we're above looking down at Matthew about to put his mouth on her, from this point, I timed the entirety to last 1:48. 

Their performance, Goode and Palmer, is so realistic; their intimacy so natural. In character, I believe that they're high on each other and their bodies react in unison -- together climaxing without the act of sexual intercourse -- when the thread connects his third eye to her heart. It is better to show us than tell us, but having any insight into their thoughts would be like a breach of privacy. 

I'll be watching for any future episode in which their connection is more telepathic in nature. In Shadow of Night, Diana's lips touch his third eye and she sees Matthew in the forest, which appears in the adaptation in E6, having a moment of joy while he's there to hunt. The adaptation omits, during her kiss, who Benjamin actually is -- the man who approached her in Bohemia when she was at Rudolf's lodge waiting in line. I predict that the topic will enter into the conversation in episode 10.

There's nothing I would change for the adaptation of the storyline in E9. Their connection far supersedes the intimacy of sexual intercourse, which is what happens in the book. If you disagree, think about it -- we watched something much more emotional on a deeper level, which already simulates an orgasm.

All of the cast -- regulars, guest stars, and stunt performers -- are stellar in every scene throughout season 2. Their level of commitment no matter how fantastical the story is a gift to us fans. I know I'll follow their work in months and years to come. The same goes for the production team, writers, and the directors. I love the attention to all of the details.

Episode 10 gives us the remaining 44 minutes of season 2 and we all should expect a breathtaking cliffhanger based on the previews. How can one prepare to wait for season 3, which is currently being edited? 

You can watch the show on Shudder or Sundance Now. In the U.S., subscribing to AMC+ provides four networks in one bundle that includes those two mentioned as well as AMC and IFC Films. More photos, videos, and other updates on the A Discovery of Witches Facebook site.