We start Episode 2 in Venice where an attractive woman is drinking a coffee at an outdoor cafe while a cover of “White Rabbit” plays. This scene is a cold open, meaning that no credits of any kind occur before the scene starts. She hears a woman nearby call out, “Mattieu” which immediately gets her attention. The woman then follows the French Matthew, hooking up with him. As she tells him that she used to know a Matthew (which is not that uncommon a name), we know that Matthieu is a substitute for Matthew. The woman ends the hookup by biting Mattieu and killing him.
Then…credits, but we have no idea what’s going on. Matthew has a crazy stalker in Venice?
“Once the world was full of wonders, but it belongs to humans now. We creatures have all but disappeared. Demons, vampires, and witches, hiding in plain sight, fearful of discovery, ill at ease even with each other. But as my father use to say, ‘In every ending, there is a new beginning.”
Matthew arrives in Scotland where he meets Hamish. Matthew is there to go hunting, and apparently critique Hamish’s decor. (“It looks like a wedding cake”). We learn that Hamish is a daemon, and Matthew reveals that he’s craving Diana.
Meanwhile, Diana is having creepy spider dreams. Once she wakes up, she goes to her mailbox and finds Matthew has returned her blue jacket, neatly folded in the box.
Back in Venice, a man (vampire?) shows up at the morgue to see the body of the tourist (Matthieu) and immediately seems to make a connection.
In Scotland, Hamish is driving Matthew to go hunting. Yay? (I love watching people, or people looking creatures, eat animals with their bare teeth. What ever happened to stealing blood from a blood bank or getting it from a butcher like vampires used to do?)
We then go back and forth between the stag that Matthew is hunting and Diana. In the visual metaphor, Diana is the prey. A man named Peter Knox shows up in the library and introduces himself to her. She is initially wary and brushes him off, but he lets on that he knew her mother, and like the stag, Diana succumbs. She goes to talk to him over coffee or tea. Knox tells her that he has thought about her a lot over the years and had wanted to introduce himself but her aunts are “very protective”.
At the cafe, Knox is inquiring as to how Diana got Ashmole 782 out. He tells her he tried that very morning and Diana is puzzled. He implies that she may have not returned it, and Diana is horrified at the suggestion that she would have stolen a book from the library. As he keeps asking questions, Diana becomes suspicious and Knox reveals that he wants the book to uncreate vampires. So yeah, this guy wants the book to essentially commit genocide. He grabs her arm, which doesn’t go over well either, and Diana leaves. Knox confides to Satu that they may need to use “firmer tactics” as Diana wasn’t as cooperative as he had hoped she would be.
In Venice, the man shows up at the home of the attractive woman with the coffee and Matthews. Her name is Juliette. Her father (Gerbert) is obviously important because the man (Domenico) kisses the hand of Juliette’s father.
Diana is at Gillian’s, telling her about the situation, including the fact that she doesn’t want Peter Knox to have the book. Diana wonders aloud how Knox even knew she had the book. Gillian says, “These things get out.” Diana then asks Gillian for advice, and she advises Diana to just get the book out for Peter Knox and forget about the whole thing. When Diana is asked about Matthew, she starts thinking aloud about the fact that Matthew seemed to know more about the book than anyone else. In the course of the conversation, Gillian again expresses her bigotry against vampires.
Back in Scotland, Hamish tells Matthew that demon suicides and homelessness are on the rise. He wonders if the book might help.
In the lab, Marcus inquires about the bloodwork. Miriam tells him that James blood tests were normal. It really seems to have a sexual/impotency metaphor in it.
On her run, Diana runs into Satu, who tells her that, “This isn’t about just the book. It’s about you.” She seems to be hearing that it’s about her a lot. Hmm… Satu comes off as very intimidating, but Diana doesn’t back down.
She calls home and finds out some information about Peter Knox. Emily tells her that he got into dark magic and that both Steven and Rebecca distrusted him.
Back in Venice, Gerbert is unhappy to have heard about Juliette’s activities, killing the tourist. Gerbert clearly scares her, and then he bites her. Here we learn that in this world, vampires can see a person’s past activities through drinking their blood. Gerbert confirms Juliette killed the tourist and locks her in a cell, where she screams, “You taught me to crave Matthew!”
In Scotland, Matthew and Hamish are discussing the book and the possibilities that come with finding it. There is also discussion about the place of daemons in society, and they clearly rank lower. After Hamish says, “There’s more to the game than protecting your queen,” Matthew has a bit of an epiphany regarding Diana and heads back to Oxford.
Diana is at a university event, where she is introduced to Peter Knox as someone who specializes in the occult sciences. Diana is shocked to see him, and less than happy about it. He nags her about the book some more. Diana tells Knox that she isn’t going to call the book up for him. She’s not really into genocide towards other species. Then Knox invades her mind, continuing the tirade to convince her. She leaves the party and starts to freak out, causing her magic to go a little crazy and break the window that Knox is standing in front of. As she leaves, we see Satu has been watching her from the shadows.
Gillian is entertaining Knox in her home, where he suggests that Diana may have used her magic to forward her career, and has kept her magical aptitude secret from Gillian for that reason. Diana stops by, and upon seeing that Knox is there, Diana feels betrayed and leaves. She begins thinking about what everyone has said to her about the book: Knox telling her they could uncreate vampires, Gillian telling her that Knox knew she took the book out because ‘these things get out’ as Diana realizes it got out because Gillian told, Satu telling her it’s about more than the book, it’s about her, Matthew telling her it’s about much more than alchemy, that the book has been missing for centuries, asking her if she’s curious why she was able to call it up, Matthew warning her about the danger she’s in, which has proved true, with Knox and Satu after her. This leads her to realize the only person to be honest with her, and to have any concern about her well-being has not been any of the witches, but has been Matthew.
She then goes to All Souls College to find him. He isn’t there, and she looks disappointed but as she gets to the stairs she finds Matthew standing there, looking up at her in a recreation of the scene when they first met in the library, Matthew a level below her, looking up. In a reflection of the change in their relationship, she smiles, relieved to see him, though he still looks uncertain.
In Matthew’s rooms, we see the theme of blue is back, as Matthew’s walls are blue, his shirt is blue, his chair is blue. Diana is about to leave as Matthew isn’t overly welcoming, when he asks her about Knox. She tells him that Knox wants her to get the book, but she doesn’t want him to have it. Matthew gets a book off of his wall-length bookshelves, which contains a letter from Charles Darwin. Matthew wondered how Darwin’s theory of evolution might relate to creatures. He had already heard about a book and read every text from Ashmole, except 782.
Realizing that Matthew has been searching for the book since 1859, Diana wonders how old he is. For now, older than he looks is as much as she, or we, get out of him, though he is rather coy about it all, not really answering her guesses, instead giving mmm..s, and small laughs, and asking her, “Which fall of Carthage?” when she asks if he survived it. He then invites her to his lab to see the work they’ve been doing. As they’re leaving, we learn that Matthew can hear Diana’s heartbeat. I assume that he can hear all creatures heartbeats. That seems like it would be annoying.
In the lab Matthew describes their work studying genetics, including vampires, witches, and daemons DNA. They get the samples mostly from burial sites. Diana meets Miriam and Marcus. Marcus awkwardly sniffs Diana and asks her for a blood sample, which Diana declines. Matthew tells Diana about the problems creatures are facing: vampires are failing to sire, daemons are falling into madness, and witches are losing their powers. He shows her the genetic make-up from several witches from different centuries, where their genetic markers show a decline in witch power. He wonders if denying power will lead to witches becoming extinct. This is a thought along evolutionary lines, which explains why Matthew was applying Darwinian theory. If witches don’t use their powers, they aren’t an adaptive trait, and magic becomes a more and more recessive gene, leading to witches having fewer powers over time. An extinction is this way would take a very long time.
Gillian meets Satu, who tells Knox that Diana interests her. It’s a little creepy.
Diana and Matthew are walking outside and Diana surmises that Matthew thinks the book might help explain vampire origins. Matthew says the phrase, “Who cares?” as an example of the way a modern human might respond to, in his example, climate change, in relations to their different senses of time. It sounds out of place coming from his character the way a parent can’t quite pull it off when they try to use teen slang to seem cool. Then he talks about skating on the Thames in centuries past, and that’s also a mental picture that doesn’t seem to fit.
Following the current developments, Matthew foresees creatures dying out and the world only having humans left, in a world without magic, and the sadder for it. He tells Diana that even if she doesn’t want to use her powers, at the very least, she shouldn’t be afraid of her powers. Diana, trusting Matthews motives now, tells him all she knows about Ashmole 782. It’s a palimpsest (old words hidden under new), the missing pages, and the illustration of the baby floating in a vessel, which she assumes is the alchemical child.
In a reversal of the end of episode one, Matthew takes Dianas hand and kisses her wrist, almost as if it’s a test for him, or maybe her, as all the motions last a bit too long. He holds her arm a second too long, he holds the kiss a second too long, closing his eyes, and they have a brief stare that lasts a second too long before Matthew leaves and the credits roll.
“I’ve known you for 10 years. You couldn’t be normal if you tried. So typical something like this would happen to you.” – Gillian
“As far as I can tell, there are only two emotions that keep the world turning. One is desire, and the other is fear.” – Matthew
“Magic is desire made real.” – Diana (via her aunt)