DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Mayfair Witches episode “Second Line” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, witches and shape-shifting entities! Mayfair Witches‘ third outing immerses Rowan in the world of the supernatural. She falls further down the Mayfair rabbit hole and even meets Lasher. It’s the series’ strongest episode thus far (which isn’t saying much), and while it’s slow-moving on the pacing front (with a strange ending), we see a few narrative seeds planted to ostensibly bloom for the overarching story. On a similar note, the episode struggles, like last week’s, to connect its flashback scene with Suzanne to Rowan in the present. There’s some disjointedness there, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the source material and who Suzanne is.
Again, “Second Line” is a slow burner. Right now, the show is in exposition dump mode. I’m usually more forgiving with new series boasting intricate lore that spans decades. There’s a lot of coverage for 40-some-minute episodes. Here’s hoping the plot kicks into high gear once we reach episode four or five. That said, the performers are captivating, and the episode is chock full of atmosphere and lush visuals.
Ready to delve into “Second Line”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Suzanne (Hannah Alline) in 1600s Scotland. She tries to save Aoife (Nadine Lewington), who was brought to her after a wild boar attack. Suzanne hopes to heal Aoife, but the latter harbors no illusions regarding her mortality. She knows she’s going to die on that day. However, she urges Suzanne to give her henbane and feverfew despite Suzanne’s reservations about using them. Aoife asks Suzanne if she’s afraid of death, and the pair discuss her fears. Suzanne does as Aoife requests and brings henbane and feverfew into her healing work.
In the present, hotel patrons find Rowan (Alexandra Daddario) sitting in the elevator with Deirdre (Annabeth Gish), whose head is almost severed from her neck with one brutal slash. Carlotta (Beth Grant) rushes to the scene, looking distraught at the sight of her murdered niece. After the police question Rowan, Carlotta introduces herself as her great-aunt. She offers Rowan shelter at the Mayfair residence. Rowan learns Cortland wants to meet her, but Carlotta insists he’s dangerous.
However, Rowan spots Ciprien (Tongayi Chirisa) outside the hotel and declines Carlotta’s offer. Later, Ciprien and Rowan arrive at his apartment. Ciprien informs Rowan about what The Talamasca does as a secret society that monitors supernatural phenomena. He confirms the Mayfair home is part of Rowan’s family. Samir (Ravi Naidu) contacts Ciprien and supports the latter’s choice to tell Rowan the truth. He brings members of The Talamasca to protect Ciprien’s apartment with spellwork to keep Lasher at bay.
Next, Millie Mayfair (Geraldine Singer) comforts Carlotta in the wake of Deirdre’s grisly murder. They hear Lasher outside the home and concoct a plan to entrap him. After Rowan takes a shower, she finds several pairs of gloves in Ciprien’s dresser drawers. Ciprien explains he must wear gloves to protect himself from his powers since they’re associated with the sensation of touch. That said, Rowan’s impressive abilities affect Ciprien regardless of whether he’s donning gloves.
Ciprien departs again, vowing to find the perpetrator behind Deirdre’s murder. Meanwhile, Cortland (Harry Hamlin) stands in front of a mirror, his hands shaking, after examining the bloody scene where Deirdre was murdered. Suddenly, a shard of glass from the window next to him slashes his face. Lasher (Jack Huston) appears behind him. Cortland explains he loved Deirdre, too, but now Lasher can move in on the “13th witch,” a.k.a. Rowan. He reassures Lasher of his ability to “find a way in” despite Rowan being different than the others.
Then, Rowan meets Odette (Keyara Milliner), Ciprien’s sister. She fetches her shoes and claims she’s heading to work. After Rowan clarifies she’s not Ciprien’s girlfriend, Odette dishes on being a surrogate for a gay couple. Rowan wonders whether Odette shares a connection with the baby she’ll inevitably give away.
Before the pair opens that philosophical can of worms, the apartment complex’s fire alarm blares. Odette directs Rowan to the Mayfair house. Rowan breaks her promise to Ciprien — she leaves. Gotta love those TV drama tropes, and “Second Line” is brimming with them. Rowan claims Ciprien doesn’t “understand” her even though they share many similarities as superpowered people. Secondly, Ciprien urges her to stay put, and she promptly disobeys him. Mayfair Witches is tropin’.
Meanwhile, Carlotta gifts Delphine (Deneen Tyler) with Deirdre’s necklace. You know, the one that lures Lasher. Uh-oh. Carlotta leads Delphine into the basement and locks the door, but not before chastising Delphine for allowing Deirdre to leave the house on her watch.
Rowan wanders through New Orleans while donning pajamas Ciprien gave her. Honestly, this is the dream; going wherever I want in my PJs. Rowan spots the second line of a jazz funeral parade. One woman next to Rowan mourns a loss in her life. Rowan empathizes with her. Said woman encourages Rowan to drink a substance that’ll allow her to commune with the dead. She believes the deceased never leave us, even if we can’t see them. Rowan succumbs to peer pressure and drinks the tube of a brightly colored liquid. Didn’t you ever participate in D.A.R.E. in high school?
Cortland rummages through Rowan’s belongings in her hotel room. Downstairs in the hotel, Ciprien tries to access the memories in the elevator where Deirdre died. Unfortunately, someone wiped those memories, barring Ciprien from utilizing his powers. Rowan feels the effects of the drug she ingested. She’s feelin’ good! Lasher sidles up beside her. He dons a mask and doesn’t offer his name when Rowan asks. She’s besotted with him. Those demonic shape-shifting abilities are on full display.
Rowan notices the bodies of the dead reveling among them in the cemetery. Even the man whose funeral is the center of the parade is grooving on top of his carriage casket. Admittedly, it looks like a fun party. Meanwhile, Ciprien views Deirdre’s corpse. He removes his glove and touches her forehead. He watches memories from when Deirdre gave birth to Rowan and Carlotta whisked the baby away.
Next, Rowan follows Lasher to the entrance to the Mayfair residence. He vanishes, leaving Deirdre in his wake. Deirdre looks as she did before she died. She hugs her daughter. Deirdre encourages Rowan to embrace her powers. However, Rowan reminds herself that Deirdre is dead. None of this is real; the woman she’s speaking with isn’t her mother (it’s Lasher). Rowan wakes after her drug-fueled second-line adventure.
Then, Ciprien calls Samir and informs him of what he saw through Deirdre’s memories. A certain someone stopped the elevator and got in it with her. My guess is Lasher at Cortland’s behest. When Ciprien arrives at his apartment, he touches the outside brick wall and sees Lasher. Rowan rounds the corner, and Ciprien ushers her inside. Carlotta and Millie sit in the living room and listen to a loud, incessant smacking from the basement. They trapped Lasher inside Delphine. We see her smack her head repeatedly against the wall. Unfortunately, she’s primarily mushy, bloody bits now. Ew (but also sad).
Later, Rowan and Ciprien eat takeout and hydrate. Rowan recognizes that Lasher tried to manipulate her. He was the woman who encouraged her to take the drug, his state as we know him, and he pretended to be Deirdre. Ciprien also believes he started the fire to lure her outside his apartment. Ciprien discloses the memories he saw via Deirdre. Her most prominent memory is Carlotta taking Rowan away from her. She never stopped loving her daughter. Aw!
Rowan expresses her concerns about keeping Lasher at bay after he swept her up in his manipulativeness. Ciprien offers to train Rowan so she can know the extent of her powers. She removes his gloves, and they clasp hands.
“Second Line” slowly and steadily propels the narrative, with solid performances from Alexandra Daddario, Tongayi Chirisa and Beth Grant. I’m still not entirely sold on Jack Huston as Lasher, but he’s growing on me somewhat. This outing reveals more of his capricious, insidious and manipulative behavior. He was never solely devoted to Deirdre.
I feel like Mayfair Witches is holding back as if there’s this unidentifiable barrier impeding it from genuinely flourishing. Open the floodgates! Let’s get dark and wicked, witchy and sexy. This is AMC, not ABC. I have faith we’ll get there, and we’re merely navigating some freshman growing pains.
Mayfair Witches drops new episodes every Sunday at 9 pm on AMC, with simultaneous streaming on AMC+.