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Review: AMC’s ‘Mayfair Witches’ Season 1 Finale – “What Rough Beast”

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AMC has gone all in on the works of Anne Rice with the development of the Immortal Universe. In a similar fashion to the novels, the Immortal Universe is a shared universe exploring the lives of witches and vampires. The connected narrative began on AMC with Interview With the Vampire and has spun into Mayfair Witches. Both series have been met with positive reviews and renewed for second seasons, even before the Mayfair Witches season 1 finale.

The first season of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches was loosely based on the first novel of Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, called The Witching Hour. The series follows Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario), a neurosurgeon who was adopted at a young age and completely unaware of her heritage. However, when her adoptive mother passes away, Rowan is thrust into the world of magic and demons, as she searches for answers in New Orleans.

So how did the Mayfair Witches season finale hold up compared to the rest of the season? Continue on to find out!

[Warning: Spoilers from the Mayfair Witches season 1 finale are below!]

The demon you know

Rowan has been on quite the journey of self-discovery with finding her powers in this first season. When audiences first met her, she was unaware of her powers. There were moments when Rowan made things happen, killing more people than she should be comfortable with.

As she became more comfortable with her powers, Rowan discovered her life as a Mayfair witch is directly connected to Lasher (Jack Huston). Despising being attached to a demon who is obsessed with her and her lineage, Rowan seeks help to remove Lasher from her powers and attach him to another of the Mayfair witches.

However, letting go of Lasher and the powers that come from being the head witch is easier said than done. When another of the witches of the coven is in danger from mortals who wish to cause harm, Rowan accepts Lasher back into her life. This is exactly where we left off in Rowan’s story at the end of the penultimate episode.

When “What Rough Beast” begins, a drunk on magic and wounded Rowan sends Lasher to kill Keith, one of the mortals who kidnapped the other Mayfair witch. Lasher draws Rowan into a vision, where she learns more about her powers and the lineage of Mayfair Witches. She also sleeps with Lasher, in a scene that was similar earlier in the season between Rowan and Ciprien (Tongayi Chirisa). 

Mayfair Witches season finale- Rowan
Rowan (Alexandra Daddario). Mayfair Witches (AMC).

Throughout this vision, time is apparent, with many of the witches holding watches or watching the clock. Although the importance is explained until Rowan meets her mother once again in the vision. Deirdre explains that the witching hour is approaching, with Rowan’s pregnancy progressing quickly with each hour.

Life outside the vision in the Mayfair Witches season 1 finale

Having been released from his own vision earlier in the season, Ciprien’s goal is to find and save Rowan from Lasher. What he doesn’t expect is the depth of involvement the Talamasca has in the Mayfair affairs. It turns out that Cortland (Harry Hamlin), the patriarch of the Mayfair family has been working with the Talamasca to fulfill the prophecy about the thirteenth witch.

The conspiracy between Cortland and the Talamasca involved the murder of Deirdre, with the magic organization breaking its vow of not getting involved. Instead, they are working as the clean-up crew for Cortland, magically erasing any psychic trace from his crimes. 

Ciprein gets away from the Talamasca and sets off to confront Cortland, but instead runs into Cortland’s daughter Jojo (Jen Richards). At first, Jojo doesn’t believe it but still sets off with Ciprein to find more information.

Working together, these two discover that Cortland is Rowan’s father, having sexually assaulted Deirdre. They also learn more about the prophecy after Ciprein uses his powers, touching the doll used in the Mayfair’s magical rituals. Learning that the thirteenth witch is the doorway, Ciprein rushes off to find and save Rowan before something bad happens.

A baby is born and Rowan’s decision leaves us with a cliffhanger

Cortland moved the unconscious Rowan, who was still trapped in the vision, and brought her to the Mayfair mausoleum. Awakening, Rowan finds that she’s alone in the mausoleum, with the exception of the first Mayfair witch Suzanne (Hannah Alline). Through flashbacks across the season, we learn more about Suzanne than any other Mayfair ancestor, specifically about the deal she made with Lasher back in 1681. Rowan learns that Lasher is being reborn in her baby, which initially freaks her out.

Mayfair Witches season 1 finale- baby
Rowan (Alexandra Daddario). Mayfair Witches (AMC).

However, something happens after the birth of the baby. Rowan moves to run away, but something draws her back to the baby. Picking him up, she takes the baby with her and turns to leave. On her way out, Rowan confronts Cortland and attempts to use her powers to kill him. But Cortland doesn’t die. Turns out that for helping out Lasher complete the prophecy, Cortland’s been granted immortality. Annoyed and wanting him to pay for his actions, Rowan turns him to stone.

Ciprein arrives just as Rowan is leaving the mausoleum. He tries to get the baby away from her, wanting to give him to the Talamasca. Rowan catches on to what Ciprein is trying to do and leaves with the baby Lasher, ending the season on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Final thoughts on the Mayfair Witches season 1 finale

This final episode of the first season didn’t feel of the same caliber as the rest of the season. The rest of the season was well-paced, perhaps even just a tad on the slow side. However, the finale shoved a ton of information and story into a single episode. Some of this exposition should have been held off until next season, or better yet there should have been a few more episodes to this season to allow enough time for everything they wanted to do.

As well, even though the ending was reminiscent of that of the novel, I didn’t care for it as much as I wanted. Rowan’s journey throughout Mayfair Witches has been about gaining back her own power. When she didn’t have information about her family, she sought it out. When she found herself attached to the demon Lasher, she went to the ends of the Earth to rid herself of him. 

So why in the end did she give in to Lasher, taking the baby and running away? Perhaps it’s because she’s hoping to save the baby. Or maybe, as Ciprein said, Rowan is under Lahser’s spell. It just felt like she lost all her power and autonomy, which was counter-productive to the narrative the writers spun for the rest of the season.

Obviously, there’s room to right the ship in the coming seasons, because I do think this will be explained as the show continues. It just didn’t feel like a great way to end the first outing of the Mayfair Witches.

That being said, Alexandra Daddario has been exceptional as Rowan through the entire season. Mayfair Witches gives Daddario such a great outlet for her to show her talent. She takes this character on such a journey of self-discovery, with Rowen only coming into her powers in the final stretch. I cannot wait to see where Daddario takes Rowan from this point on. 

Harry Hamlin is also fantastic as Cortland. He balanced the charm and wickedness required for a role like this. At first, you can put your finger on why you dislike Cortland. He’s the life of the party and wins over people almost immediately. But you can tell early on that below the fancy suits and dinner parties, Cortland has ulterior motives. Sure they ended up being selfish in nature, but he still ruined so many lives to achieve it. 

While the Mayfair Witches season 1 finale wasn’t a runaway slam dunk, it was still a good hour of television. I think that Interview With the Vampire set the bar for Immortal Universe shows rather high. I wish some different choices were made in this final episode, but I respect the writers for the story they wanted to tell. Overall, both this series as well as IWTV are worth watching, as AMC proves once again that they understand what good television is. 

Mayfair Witches is currently streaming on AMC+ . Have you watched the finale yet? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out the book review of The Witching Hour!

Book Review: The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches) by Anne Rice

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

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