I should have been able to clock that Rowan and Ciprien’s postcoital canoodling at the top of the episode meant that we were in some sort of dream state immediately. But Mayfair Witches’ haphazard approach to pacing and plot development has thrown all of my TV-watching instincts out of whack. If ever there was a show committed to the belief that high-stakes escapes and slow-burn flirtations are exactly what audiences don’t want to see, this would be that show. So, Mayfair Witches might have plausibly skipped the daring escape sequence as well as the courtship phase of Rowan and Cip’s romance — which, considered from another perspective, it kind of did. Jesus, is this show gaslighting me?
If so, it would certainly be on theme. Gaslighting with a supernatural assist is Lasher’s weapon of choice, and “The Thrall” is another episode spent mostly in a sinister surreality he has constructed for Rowan, complete with sparkly blue dress. This time, Lasher dresses Rowan in a polyester flapper costume from Spirit Halloween. Why? Unimportant, apparently, though I am sorry on behalf of Alexandra Daddario’s dignity. Watching Rowan try to passionately fight Lasher’s influence with a $15 beaded headband strapped to her forehead is like watching a Real Housewife start a fight at a theme party. It is impossible to be taken seriously while in costume, particularly if the costume includes headgear, and it only ends in humiliation when attempted.
But that’s not really what’s important here, I guess. The action (such as it is) begins with Rowan and Cip enjoying a Groundhog Day of sex and breakfast in bed, when sometime after the third go-around, Rowan notices Ciprien’s giant knife wound, thus killing the mood. Unable to remember Great Aunt Carlotta stabbing her new boyf with the kitchen knife — which has been conveniently stashed under her clothes — Rowan’s first thought is that she herself must have done it. Girl, get thee to a gender-studies course. Cip does an investigation (lays hands on the attempted-murder weapon) and gets the instant replay, and our heroes realize that they must have been trapped in the Mayfair House by Lasher. Lasher hopes the sexy good times will distract Rowan long enough for Ciprien to die of his magically enhanced demon sepsis. It is very much time to skedaddle, but, unfortunately for them, the gaslighting adventures have only just begun.
All the doors and windows are currently impenetrable, though they are at least no longer on fire. (No explanation given.) They make a rookie mistake in temporarily splitting up as Rowan searches the house for an escape hatch, which she obviously does not find. This gives Lasher an opportunity to slip into a Ciprien shape and fuck with her mind a little. What stab wound, babe? Lasher as Ciprien points to his now-unpunctured belly and tells Rowan she’s the one who hit her head. I mean, we’re really getting the two-disc deluxe-edition compilation album of supernatural mind-game hits. “This is what you wanted,” says Lasher. “I want to go home,” says Rowan. “No, what you really want is cake,” says Lasher. *Cake appears.*
Like most psychologically manipulative boyfriends, Lasher has a jealousy problem. According to the ghost at the foot of the stairs — who seems to be speaking from personal experience — if you fall in love with a Mayfair witch, Lasher traps you in the house and kills you. Men, amirite? Luckily, Rowan knows that the best way to handle a toxic man is to sacrifice oneself on the altar of love and stroke his ego (she used to date frat bros). After realizing she’s been with Lasher as Ciprien and racing back to the real, rapidly deteriorating Ciprien (“Sorry I got distracted!”), Rowan finally decides on a take-me-instead plan. She agrees to play Lasher’s little game, so he agrees to zap Ciprien back home.
Now, aren’t we having fun? Isn’t this just the best time? “What else do I want?” Rowan asks, because she is clearly not running this show. What Rowan wants, according to Lasher, is to dance. And wear sparkly blue dresses. And, more importantly, to be with Lasher forever and ever.
Look, here’s Aunt Carlotta, suspended in midair for some reason. Don’t you want to kill her? But Rowan does not, confusing everyone. She no longer wants cake or to make out with Lasher, either, though neither he nor the ghost of Aunt No. 2 (the Bruce Willis in this Sixth Sense twist) believes her. “You’re his now,” Ghost Aunt explains, right before she locks Rowan in the basement with Delphine’s brutalized body.
In fairness to Ghost Aunt, Lasher is not letting Rowan out of this house until she kills Carlotta, and that’s final. Turns out the easiest way to get Carlotta murdered is to just let Carlotta be Carlotta. Lasher finally lets her down, and literally, the first thing Carlotta does is try to get Rowan to kill herself. “I should have killed you when you were a baby,” Carlotta snarls. Rowan decides, no, ma’am, she will not be pushed off a balcony by her religious zealot of a great-aunt. Not today. She really has no choice now but to brain-magic Carlotta to death, which she does, but she’s not happy about it.
The good news is that Rowan is now free to leave, hopefully running into Ciprien on the way before he gets trapped in the Mayfair House again. Cip, by the way, is fine. A couple Talamasca came by the apartment to magic-vacuum the demon sepsis out of his body, which freaked out his sister but left him physically good as new. I wish there was more to it than that, but that’s really apparently it.
And then that’s the end of the episode. I don’t know, guys. This show is making me feel like I’m also slowly dying of demon sepsis.
Loose Ends, Predictions, and Concerns
• If Rowan’s superpower is that she can perform medical miracles with her brain, why can’t she heal Ciprien on her own?
• Why would Lasher not just wear his Ciprien suit from the get-go?
• Still don’t care about the Scottish ladies, man. I really don’t.
• I am also already bored by the impending Odette vs. Rowan plotline.
• Ciprien and Rowan are officially in love, and this is something I think we were supposed to already know somehow.