As Marcus is one of my favorite characters from the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches Season 2 Episode 4 hit the sweet spot.
I think it's the first time in two seasons that either Matthew or Diana wasn't featured in at least one scene. Here, they weighed heavily on everyone's minds but were seen only in the portraits they had created for Jack.
It's unusual, but it works well because once you're invested in a particular plotline, jumping back and forth in time across centuries can be jarring. With so few of the other episodes of A Discovery of Witches Season 2 making mention of the present, dedicating an episode to the present was appreciated.
Marcus has been a bit of a mystery. From afar, he almost seems like a teenager, as if he's living the life he wants without going to great lengths to care too much about the intricacies of being a de Clermont.
Matthew's faith in Marcus as the acting Grand Master of the Knights speaks a lot about how he views Marcus, even if Marcus didn't seem to understand it himself.
Needless to say, Lot 42 opened a lot of doors for Marcus.
In his quest to provide assurance of Matthew and Diana's safety to the women who need it most, Marcus met a woman who fits him to his very core. And once again, casting got this right.
Adelle Leonce and Edward Bluemel have chemistry for ages. They took a ridiculously boring meeting and turned it into a flirty and mesmerizing scene that made it very easy to understand why, when faced with telling the truth about who he is or lying, he chose the high (and dangerous) road.
From the moment they met, they weren't alone in their "relationship." Merely by showing interest in Lot 42, Marcus turned other heads in their direction. And because of the blood rage killings, Domenico, too, was interested.
So let's detour from Marcus and Phoebe for a minute to talk about that.
So far, we've known very little about blood rage. We know Matthew suffers from it and that it can be all-encompassing. But seeing how a vampire can ravage a human until they're all but unidentifiable is something else entirely.
When Domenico confronted Marcus (During a dinner date?? Really, Domenico? Cruel.), Marcus really had no idea what flowed through his veins. It's rather surprising because a lot of Matthew's interest in his work at the university is related to his wishes to get a handle on his condition.
Since Marcus and Miram (it was good to see her!) have been leading that research, you'd have thought that Matthew might have shared it with them. Since Marcus thought Philippe eliminated it, it wouldn't even be on his radar while working with creatures' blood.
It was a confluence of misinformation that ultimately led to Marcus learning that he's a carrier of the deadly malady. And like Marcus, as much as I love Matthew, it's a bitter pill to swallow hearing Ysabeau tell Marcus that Matthew was doing it for his own good.
Our introduction to Marcus during A Discovery of Witches Season 1 found him turning a friend after a deadly accident. And it was another in what appears to be a long line of mishaps.
He was gutted at losing his friend twice. If ever there was a time to tell him why he couldn't sire his own brood, it was then. But it didn't happen.
So learning about it on the eve of sharing what he thought was his darkest secret with a woman he believes deserves that truth hit him hard. On the other hand, Ysabeau should be interested in Marcus finding a mate who could quell his desire to enlarge his family in other ways.
The guy deserves love. Come to think of it, it was pretty cruel of Baldwin to spit at Marcus that he loves humans most of all.
Baldwin: I am Philippe's only surviving blood son. I should be Grand Master. Matthew is using you to get to me.
Marcus: You're wrong. He trusts me to make a difference.
Baldwin: He's been lying to you your whole life.
Marcus: What's that supposed to mean?
Baldwin: Marcus, you don't want to be saddled with this. Just turn the Knights over to me, and you can go on living among the humans. They're the people you really care about. It wouldn't be an abdication; you'd simply be doing the right thing. Step out of Matthew's shadow. He doesn't deserve your loyalty.
Baldwin knows about the blood rage. And if Ysabeau knew about the order to keep him from siring, Baldwin probably knew too. So it was unusually cruel to use that against Marcus. Where else is he supposed to find love?
Even though Phoebe didn't take Marcus' proclamation seriously, she's an intelligent woman. Like Diana, she's knowledgeable of all kinds of history. Cataloging artifacts has to have led her to conclude that there are some things about this world that we will never know.
From the moment they met, Marcus was truthful with Phoebe. He even told her he was a revolutionary, another fact that made Phoebe scoff. And when he was faced with her walking away or admitting his truth to her, he chose the latter.
Marcus: I don't really know where to start.
Phoebe: Whatever it is, just tell me. It can't be that bad.
Marcus: I'm a vampire.
Phoebe: Come on, Marcus.
Marcus: Phoebe, seriously. I'm hundreds of years old. You catalog history; I've lived it. I know it sounds crazy, but humans share this planet with other creatures -- vampires, witches, and daemons who hide in plain sight and are all around you. Creatures like me.
Phoebe: So, you're not a superhero, just an actual vampire. Funny because I didn't see a coffin in your apartment.
Marcus: Everything you think you know about it is human propaganda based on half truths, passed down and distorted through millennia, but we are real. We are everywhere.
Phoebe: You seriously believe this.
Marcus: I swear, I'm telling the truth.
Phoebe: Then I feel sorry for you. I think you need help.
Now, I've never had to cop to being a vampire, but I did once have a boyfriend who thought I was hiding something, and when I couldn't take the stress anymore, I admitted I had been cheating (there was more to it than that before you judge!), but he thought I was kidding. I felt OK getting it off of my chest and moving on.
So Phoebe's response when Marcus said he was a vampire made perfect sense.
But did you notice that she wasn't angry? She indicated she was disappointed and didn't believe him, but a part of her will revisit everything he said and the fridge full of blood. We have not seen the last of Phoebe Taylor.
Unwittingly putting the family into danger should also give Marcus the push he needed to be more involved with the Knights. Nathanial's off the cuff comment about the Knights' usefulness was also in squirming in his ear when he rashly suggested to Ysabeau that he wants to shake it up if he's in charge.
Ysabeau: Why would you reveal your true self to a human?
Marcus: I had to. I wanted to.
Ysabeau: Well, now you'll have to kill her.
Marcus: She won't tell anyone. She thinks I'm a headcase.
Ysabeau: Saved by a lack of imagination. Nevertheless, Matthew appointed you Grand Master of the Knights to protect our family's position, not undermine it.
Marcus: I didn't ask for any of this.
Ysabeau: The Grand Master can't be reckless. You need to understand your new responsibilities.
Until all of this happened, he didn't consider the Knights as his responsibility, no matter what Matthew said. As far as Marcus was concerned, Matthew left a dead organization under his protection. They aren't all that useful in 2021.
Marcus: The Knights did amazing things a long time ago. What's their relevance today? Are they doing right now?
Ysabeau: You're Grand Master. That's for you to decide.
Marcus: If I'm in charge, I want to shake things up, use the Knights to make a real difference. We should be looking foward, not backward.
Ysabeau: Don't tear down the establishment without finding out how it was built or understanding its principles.
Marcus: Baldwin wants the Knights to badly.
Ysabeau: He always has. He needs to feel close to his father.
Ysabeau knows the Knights will always be important, and she urged Marcus to learn about it before tearing it asunder and starting from scratch.
Understand what you want to shake up instead of shaking it for the sake of doing so. It was hard not to consider that many of us could use that same advice in our natural world. People want to tear down institutions from the government to capitalism to Wall Street without understanding why they were established in the first place.
Like those entities, the Knights, as an organization, has lost its way. That doesn't mean that its purpose should be altered. But when people are questioning if it has any place in modern society, it's worth considering that it might need a new direction.
Now that Marcus is fully informed about most things, he might be inspired to become the leader the Knights need. That new confidence in the truth he appreciates should also ensure he doesn't give up on what he felt with Phoebe.
That's going somewhere.
With all of that happening, Gerbert is still plotting the de Clermont family downfall, and Emily is messing with magic that she shouldn't. Not only shouldn't she be using darker magic, but she most certainly should not have lied about it to Sarah.
The goofy way she sloughed off Sarah's concern should have given Sarah pause, but she accepted Emily at her word. Will that come back to haunt her?
Gerbert: I was worried that your love for Matthew might have blinded you.
Ysabeau: What do you know of love?
Ysabeau had her hands full with Gerbert's threats, but it was super enjoyable watching her verbally slice and dice him before literally shutting the door on him.
Gerbert: Philippe devoted his life to the de Clermonts and the vampire species, always ensuring that the interests of one served the other. Thanks to your son's choice of mate, these interests are now in direct conflict. I know he and his witch are hiding somewhere in time. But what are they planning?
Ysabeau: You traveled 800 miles from Venice to ask me that? Next time, send an email.
That brings up another thing about this episode. It was a return to the beautiful filming style of the first season. It's not as easy with the sets and 1590 locations, but the use of framing and light here is incredible. I tried to get screenshots that offered some of that beauty, even if it's not in high definition.
What did you think of the return to the present and the bombshells Marcus dodged during the hour?
I'd love to hear from you if you're watching on one of the streaming services or even from across the pond. It's lonely without sharing your thoughts.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.