Next came the Queen’s astrologer John Dee, who only required the slightest nudge to give Matthew and Diana what they wanted – a premise to go to Bohemia and track down Edward Kelly and the Book of Life. Through more deference and flattery, the couple secured the Queen’s permission to travel in her name, cleverly framing the quest as a proof of loyalty to her majesty.
Loyalty is an emerging theme of season two. Between Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I, his father, his faith, his newly arrived nephew and his witch, Matthew’s is being pulled in multiple directions and the strain is showing. Now there’s a trip to Sept-Tours on the itinerary, to see his dead (twice dead, really) dad, about whose sad fate he must pretend ignorance. Matthew’s situation is a step or two more psychologically complex than this show usually ventures, but we know that Matthew Goode can capably go anywhere the character takes him.
Kit’s loyalty was the subject of his telling-off from Matthew – unfairly so as it wasn’t him who told Cecil about Mistress Roydon being a witch. Surely the source of the Water Lane leak is poor young Jack, the Roydons’ pickpocket-turned-adoptive son. Jack’s presence in the episode showed us another engaging side to Matthew – the caring father he once was to his own son.
It also showed us that the Roydons aren’t the deepest thinkers on the block. Who adopts a child on what is, essentially, a gap year? What happens to Jack when they return to the present day? More consideration has gone into the fostering of some hamsters than the rescue of that little boy.
For an academic, deep reflection doesn’t seem to be Diana’s mode. She’s more a doer than a thinker. This week, for instance, saw both the start and the end of her magical training with the Gathering. Just two lessons down and it was ‘Goodbye Goody Alsop, I’ll pick the rest up along the way. Knots, wasn’t it? I’ll figure it out.’