The best book-to-screen adaptations include enough scenes to keep book lovers happy while moving the story forward for TV. Here are 8 scenes we hope make the cut in Sky One’s A Discovery of Witches TV show.
With the UK air dates for Sky One’s A Discovery of Witches right around the corner, we’ve been thinking about all the things we hope to see when the show finally arrives on our US screens in early 2019 via streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder. We should start by saying that we’re Outlander fans so this book-to-screen adaption rodeo is not our first. We know that a screenplay cannot be exactly the same as a book because, as readers, we get the benefits of seeing inside the characters’ minds. We hear what they are thinking. We know when they are scared. Screenwriters must find creative ways to convey thoughts, feelings, and character motivations to the viewing audience.
In other words, we’re prepared for the television version of A Discovery of Witches to differ, perhaps wildly so, from the book we all love. With that in mind, we’ve been spending time at our weekly coven meetings thinking about the scenes we look most forward to seeing when A Discovery of Witches lights up the dark corners of our respective living rooms. We present them to you here in no particularly order because, frankly, they are all wonderful for different reasons.
Diana Literally Drowning in Her Tears
I somehow managed to both hold my breath and cry along with Diana while reading the scene where she is overcome by witchwater at Sept- Tours. And it didn’t just happen the first time I read the book. It happens every single time I read this passage. We have probably all experienced a time when it felt like our grief would swallow us whole. We might have even urged grief to just finish its work and put an end to the suffering. I imagine Diana in this state of mind as she stands on the watchtower. Watching Matthew drive away, Diana is consumed with a sense of loss and grief that is so overwhelming she can’t form the words to describe it. She can only give into the emotions and let them wash over her, quite literally.
The real beauty of this scene isn’t that Diana discovers a new, scary part of herself; it’s that Ysabeau is there for her when she does. Ysabeau’s song calls Diana back from the brink and calms the tempest inside Diana. Ysabeau, professed hater of witches, saves Diana from herself and then comforts and cares for her as her own until Matthew returns. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
If you’ve listened to our “D Word” podcast episode on desire you’ll know that we love that butter was one of the first things to submit to Diana’s desires. We all know that butter is delicious and makes everything better (that’s just science people). What we love about this scene is that Deborah Harkness uses this common food product to introduce us to another of Diana’s powers. This signals to us that, when she finds them all, Diana’s powers will not be reserved for fantastic displays of witchcraft, magic, and wonder. They will, instead, be a constant part of her life. She’ll inhale, exhale, walk, and run like the rest of us, but she also, occasionally, will want butter just a little too much and when she does, everyone else needs to get out of the way.
Hangry Diana Eating Bacon While Matthew Makes Googly Eyes at Her
When we read the books we exchanged giddy text messages about Diana’s “hanger.” Hanger is a phenomenon whereby a good-natured, Midwestern mom turns into a raging demon spawn due to lack of food and we suffer from it on a regular basis. Imagine our joy when we realized that our favorite literary witch is frequently forced to manage the same condition.
We love Diana and Matthew’s first meal together as Matthew watches Diana demolish bacon, eggs, and toast with a mixture of awe and amusement. While he is still learning who Diana is, he understands immediately that the girl needs to be fed regularly if he has any hope of a relationship with her. This is something that our own families have also come to understand. We want to see this moment on screen so that we can stand in solidarity with Diana and hangry girls everywhere.
Matthew Testing Diana’s Fight or Flight Instincts in the Field
In the absence of other qualified teachers, Matthew takes Diana into the forest near the Bishop House and plays a grownup creature version of hide and seek with her. This scene feels pivotal in Diana’s understanding of herself and her powers. Her witch’s eye opens for the first time and she can sense Matthew’s every move. Diana finds that, she too, can be a predator.
Perhaps, our favorite element of the scene is when Diana takes some of her energy, forms it into a ball, and gives it to Matthew. This moment, where witch literally gives herself to vampire completely devoid of fear is the ultimate moment of trust. If we were unsure to this point, it tells us exactly how much Diana loves Matthew and what she is willing to sacrifice to keep him in her life. This scene is playful, magical, and sensual and, for us, is a microcosm (see what we did there?) of Diana and Matthew’s relationship.
Luxury Vehicles Winding Around the European Countryside and Streets
It would have been enough for Deborah Harkness to create a dreamy vampire with impeccable fashion sense and a romantic turn of phrase, but she also gave him a stable of luxury vehicles. It’s almost too much! There’s Matthew driving Diana to yoga class in the Jaguar and Matthew driving the Range Rover from the airport to Sept-Tours. We don’t know for sure what Matthew drove when he visited Hamish in Scotland but we have a visual of him winding through the Scottish countryside in a sleek Jaguar and it is fabulous.
Diana’s Electrical Storm in Matthew’s Room at All Souls College
After a troubling encounter with Peter Knox, Matthew whisks Diana to his room at All Souls. Their subsequent conversation agitates Diana to the point that her fingers spark and she burns a hole in Matthew’s rug. When Diana tries to run away, Matthew, concerned that he might attack her, holds her close to him. Yes, we know he holds her against her will. However, his murmuring in her ear and her body’s response to his proximity is what led us to say that we would love to backed against a wall by a vampire in the bios of our social media accounts. The tension between these two is palpable to a reader and could be off the charts H-O-T on screen. You might want to have a fan or an ice cube nearby if this scene does come to your living room.
Bundling – What the Cool Kids Call “Waiting” These Days
Deborah Harkness says that she is a believer in the slow burn and the bundling scene at Sept-Tours is all the proof we need. This is the ultimate foreplay; the exploration of each other’s bodies without intercourse. It’s the meeting of physical desires while still leaving something on the table for the future and Matthew’s belief that “making love should be about intimacy, about knowing another’s body as well as your own.”
Beyond the mutual orgasms (I’ve waited my entire life to type that phrase) is the heart talk shared by Matthew and Diana. It’s the conversation following the climax that flows, unconsciously, between them as they lose their conscious words to the languor of the moment and their, previously unspoken, desires, fears, and hopes for the future tumble softly into the sacred space where only they exist. It’s so special that Diana says, “I would rather have had this moment with you — just this one night — than centuries with someone else.” To borrow a quote from When Harry Met Sally, we’ll “have what she’s having.”
The Bishop House
In our minds, the Bishop House is as much a character as Sarah or Em. It is a cozy haven teaming with the smells of delicious food and laughter. The house is more than just shelter from the elements though. It is the keeper of housewares; it takes and returns salad bowls as it sees fit. It is architect and carpenter; it adds rooms when guests are near. And it is haunted by the friendly and, sometimes sassy, spirits of Bishop ancestors. We would all love to spend a weekend at the Bishop House sharing red wine or whisky with Matthew, Diana, Sarah and Em. This show is as close as we’ll ever get and we want to soak up every beautiful, wistful moment.
We have a small confession to make. We had the opportunity to watch the first episode of A Discovery of Witches at the All Souls Con in Philadelphia. We identified these scenes before the con (with no idea that we would get to see the first episode) and we didn’t change anything based on our initial sketch. What we have done since the Con, is imagine Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer in each of these scenes. If you have any worries about the chemistry between these two, set them aside now. They are fabulous and they embody everything that we’ve come to love about Matthew and Diana.
We’ve shared our hopes with you and now it’s your turn. What scenes are you looking forward to seeing?