Mayfair Witches continues to dither around in Episode 5, “The Thrall”
Mayfair Witches has been renewed for the second season! If only the first justified it…
Rowan and Ciprien are caught in Lasher’s thrall within the Mayfair house throughout the entirety of Mayfair Witches Episode 5, aptly titled “The Thrall.”
The last time we saw Rowan and Ciprien, Carlotta had set the house on fire and mistakenly stabbed Ciprien while trying to kill Rowan. You’d be forgiven for thinking you missed an episode at the start of this one, as it starts with the pair hanging out in bed in a state of domestic bliss. A Groundhog Day-esque loop starts, Rowan and Ciprien canoodle in bed, and then Ciprien makes them breakfast. It seems to last for days until Rowan finally realizes that something is amiss.
Spoilers ahead for Mayfair Witches Episode 5
Even though Mayfair Witches skips ahead through the conflict again, I was okay with it this time because I understood it as the writers wanting to keep viewers off-balance as they try to determine how we got from Rowan and Ciprien almost dying to them being happy together and cuddling over breakfast. It works as a way to establish that something ominous is afoot and build a slowly creeping sense of dread.
But while this episode did feel like an improvement over last week’s, it still showcases this show’s biggest weakness: the way it holds back and dances around the edges as if operating in a constant state of foreplay rather than diving headfirst into a dark, mature story of dark magic, sex, power plays, and witchcraft all set in the entrancing city of New Orleans. All I feel watching this show is frustration at the missed potential.
The most interesting element at play in Mayfair Witches is the ambiguity regarding whether it’s Rowan or Lasher controlling everything happening inside the house. Once Rowan and Ciprien realize that they are stuck inside, they are returned brutally to reality. Ciprien is on the verge of sepsis as his wound deepens and Rowan is desperate to save him. But she can’t open the doors, call for help, or do anything to keep him from dying.
Rowan’s only move is to surrender to Lasher; she offers to play “his game” in return for sending Ciprien home, where he receives help from his sister Odette and the Talamasca.
Rowan and Lasher, together at last
Meanwhile, Lasher invites Rowan to dance, eat cake, and generally submit to any of her whims. He tells her that whatever happens in the house is because it’s something she wants, such as Carlotta dangling in a state of creepy paralysis over the dining room table. Should they kill her for trying to murder Rowan and drugging Deirdre for 30 years? Rowan chooses instead to set Carlotta free, intending to hand her over to the police.
You’d think at that point Carlotta would realize that she’s in over her head with Lasher around and Rowan in control. Instead, she antagonizes Rowan and tries to convince her to jump off the balcony like her grandmother Antha before her, making Rowan realize that Carlotta might have killed her, too. Carlotta insists she should have killed Rowan when she was a baby. That’s the last straw for Rowan, who finally uses her powers to intentionally kill someone, throwing Carlotta off the balcony to her death.
I feel like a broken record at this point, but we still don’t come any closer to really understanding what Lasher’s intentions are. He’s now bound to Rowan and playfully seducing her while trying to make her understand that she can do whatever she wants, but what does that mean for Rowan and her new reality?
Mayfair Witches Episode 5 ends with Rowan confidently opening the doors of the house after killing Carlotta, but when she steps outside, the camera flips upside down, seemingly implying that the world Rowan emerges into isn’t the same one she departed when she first arrived at the Mayfair house.
There is another Ireland flashback at the beginning of the episode, hinting at the start of a witch hunt and hysteria throughout the village upon the arrival of a witchfinder. It sets up the next part of the 2022 storyline, as the promo for the next episode teases that a modern-day witch hunt is coming. Maybe we’ll finally get into some interesting action?
Episode Grade: C+
To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.
Get HBO, Starz, Showtime, and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels.