DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Mayfair Witches episode “The Dark Place” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, witches and shape-shifting entities! The second outing of Mayfair Witches dives deeper into the lore surrounding this universe. Like “The Witching Hour,” there are two words that spring to mind when thinking of this show’s visuals: “lush” and “sumptuous.” I’m this close to hopping on a plane to New Orleans. That’s a promise and a threat. Mayfair Witches is a darkly atmospheric, immersive experience in that regard.
The pace moves at a consistent tempo, laying on thickly the mystery in which Rowan finds herself. She experiences so much trauma in these two episodes alone. I fear what else awaits her in the coming installments.
Ready to delve into “The Dark Place”? Let’s get to it.
We open with a flashback to Donnelaith, Scotland, in 1681. Suzanne (Hannah Alline) and her little sister Florie (Emma Rose Smith) head outside to fetch herbs for their mother to cure their ailing father. Suzanne is the first in the line of Mayfair witches and, fun fact, the first to bring forth Lasher. Suzanne quizzes Florie on the herbs they’ve picked thus far.
Suddenly, a mysterious man appears from behind a tree. Suzanne orders her sister to close her eyes and recite the names of said herbs in their baskets. While Florie does as she’s told, Suzanne gives the mystery man a hand job. Ew. He doesn’t look clean. Suzanne spots a flock of birds soaring overhead and becomes entranced by them.
Presently, Dr. Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario) calls the adoption agency through which Ellie adopted her. As expected, she comes up short in accessing her files. The person she speaks with reveals the agency didn’t exist in 1991 when Ellie adopted her. That’s because Ellie went through the Carlotta Mayfair Adoption Agency. That night, while walking to her houseboat, Rowan spots an SUV that appears to be tailing her. Once inside, Rowan busts out the wine and clings tightly to the urn containing her mother’s ashes.
Meanwhile, Lasher (Jack Huston) visits Deirdre (Annabeth Gish) inside her mind. He informs her of Rowan’s whereabouts. Naturally, she wants to see her daughter. Lasher persuades Deirdre to break free of her catatonia so they can escape the Mayfair estate. Outside Deirdre’s mind, Delphine (Deneen Tyler) notices Deirdre’s eyes well with tears.
Next, the following morning, Rowan notices the SUV from the previous night is parked outside. She pulls up her work schedule and calls the hospital, wondering why she’s not scheduled for a shift that day. Rowan chats with Dr. Keck (Jim Gleason), who ostensibly recovered quickly from his last encounter with her. He encourages her to take time off. After all, she’s still grieving the loss of Ellie.
However, Rowan would rather work through the pain. She asks Keck what she must do to return to the hospital full-time. He directs her to Dr. Noreen Davis (Sylvia Grace Crim). Dr. Davis evaluates Rowan while Ciprien Grieve (Tongayi Chirisa) breaks into Rowan’s home. He utilizes his abilities, touching various objects in her house to glimpse her memories. Rowan reassures Noreen that she hasn’t had any emotional breakdowns, but Ciprien observes a memory wherein Rowan collapses on the floor in grief while holding a martini glass. He spots the medications on the table. Ciprien also watches when Rowan inadvertently kills Daniel Lemle.
Then, Dr. Davis feels intense pain in her head, much like Keck and Lemle while interacting with Rowan. Her nose starts bleeding. Rowan leaves quickly before Dr. Davis’s condition worsens in her presence. Once at her car, Rowan spots a murder of crows in the tree above her. Suddenly, they drop dead, with a handful landing on her vehicle. That’s not creepy at all. Ciprien snaps photos of the phenomena from afar. Rowan scoops up the crows and places them in her jacket … with her bare hands. Dude. You’re a doctor. Where are the gloves? Okay, maybe that shouldn’t be the central focus here, but still.
Rowan arrives at the beach and proceeds to bury the dead crows. Ciprien follows her. Rowan breaks down and takes a few pills. She dreams of standing in front of the Mayfair home while donning a glittering blue dress. Ellie (Erica Gimpel) is also there. She beckons her daughter through the front gates. Meanwhile, Ciprien calls Samir (Ravi Naidu) and updates the latter regarding Rowan’s status. Ciprien believes he should tell Rowan the truth about who she is. Samir orders him to continue observing her without interference. He follows that up by reminding Ciprien he’s there to protect her. But how can he protect her without interfering if something or someone attacks her? That bit doesn’t make sense to me.
Lasher urges Deirdre to recall what her mother used to tell her to snap out of her catatonia. It works. Dr. Vernon Lamb (Billy Slaughter), the doc who vows to stop administering Thorazine shots, is delighted to find Deirdre coherent and awake. Deirdre begs Dr. Lamb to whisk her away from her aunt Carlotta. The doctor believes he knows a good lawyer who can help, too. Unfortunately, Carlotta (Beth Grant) almost discovers Deirdre’s new state. She feigns catatonia while Lamb pretends to give her the shot.
Later, Rowan wakes up during a rowdy beach party. She discovers Ciprien is still following her. He introduces himself as part of The Talamasca and vows to tell her everything; however, Rowan is hesitant to listen to him. You know, the person stalking her. Ciprien touches Rowan’s hand and collapses immediately. Thankfully, Rowan keeps him alive before the paramedics arrive.
After they load Ciprien into the ambulance, Rowan surreptitiously uses his face to unlock his phone. She looks through the photos he took of her and finds a few peculiar older pictures. We see a few images of the Mayfair parties, one of Deirdre on her porch and one from 1990 featuring young Deirdre and Ellie. Rowan follows the ambulance to the hospital, but upon arrival, she learns that Ciprien became conscious and instantly fled.
Meanwhile, Deirdre examines the contents of her room after being catatonic for seven years. She throws a snow globe at the wall, and it smashes. She slices her hand after attempting to pick up the glass shards from it. Rowan sits on a plane bound for New Orleans after recognizing the house in the photo of young Deirdre and Ellie as the one from her dream. She also notices a man standing in the background of said photo (Lasher). Speaking of, Deirdre puts on her necklace and summons Lasher, who congratulates her for breaking free. Rowan is en route to New Orleans, so they must wait for her to arrive. Then, they can flee.
But first: sexy times! Lasher and Deirdre do the horizontal tango while Rowan sleeps on the plane. Here’s a weird thing that happens — while Deirdre’s having sex, Rowan starts moaning in her sleep and moving, synchronized, with the sex. She reaches for the invisible necklace around her neck. It appears Deirdre’s necklace connects them. Rowan wakes after Deirdre orgasms. Wouldn’t it have been awkward if Rowan had a seatmate?
The following day, Deirdre waits for Carlotta to depart before getting out of her chair. Delphine catches her up and about. She allows Deirdre to leave for her uncle Cortland’s house. Deirdre experiences the outside world for the first time in several years. Meanwhile, Rowan checks into her hotel room in New Orleans. She asks the hotel clerk if he recognizes the Mayfair house, but unfortunately, he doesn’t.
Deirdre reunites with Cortland (Harry Hamlin), who’s shocked to find her standing in his home. Rowan asks a tour guide about the Mayfair home, which the latter recognizes instantly. She reveals the family paid to be removed from the tour. It’s associated with all things supernatural. Rowan slips the tour guide some cash to point out the house specifically to her on the subsequent tour.
Cortland gives Deirdre his daughter’s dress to wear and offers her some alcohol. She informs him of Rowan’s arrival in the city, and he reassures her they can stay with him. Deirdre clutches her necklace while chanting a spell, summoning Lasher to survey Rowan’s hotel room. We see Rowan’s in the shower. Deirdre can see through Lasher’s eyes courtesy of the spell. Lasher, being a creep, reaches out to touch Rowan’s shoulder. However, Deirdre pulls him away. Now she knows where her daughter is.
After Rowan gets out of the shower, she receives a call from Ciprien. He pleads with her to meet him. He knows what she’s going through and can help Rowan control her abilities. Rowan agrees to a meeting at the hotel. Next, Deirdre enters the hotel. Carlotta spots her niece. Naturally, she orders Deirdre to go home, spewing threats viciously. Carlotta claims Rowan has been long dead. Deirdre refuses, firm in her resolve, and reminds her aunt that if she’s awake, Lasher is, too.
Lastly, we see Deirdre board an elevator to reunite with Rowan after 30 years. Rowan exits her room to meet with Ciprien. The two finally connect, and Rowan instinctively knows who Deirdre is. Suddenly, a gash inexplicably appears on Deirdre’s neck. Blood coats the front of her dress. Deirdre collapses, dead. Rowan screams. Methinks Carlotta has something to do with this.
Daddario delivers a solid performance this go-round. She successfully conveys Rowan’s pain, confusion and grief. I’m assuming Carlotta killed Deirdre to prevent Lasher’s rising, but all Rowan needs to do is put on her birth mom’s necklace, and voila! The demonic shape-shifting entity is ready for business. I’m hoping we see more darkness from Lasher. Give me all the irredeemably evil, depraved vibes.
“The Dark Place” continues laying the groundwork started in episode one. We’re introduced to Suzanne Mayfair, for starters, and The Talamasca. Rowan learns Ellie was connected to the Mayfair house. The seeds are planted. Here’s hoping their growth pays off in entertaining, edge-of-your-seat ways.
Mayfair Witches drops new episodes every Sunday at 9 pm on AMC, with simultaneous streaming on AMC+.