Sunday, January 29, 2023

REVIEW: 'Mayfair Witches' - Rowan Learns Her Family History From Relatives Who Aim to Control Her in 'Curiouser and Curiouser'

AMC's Mayfair Witches - Episode 1.04 "Curiouser and Curiouser"

At Deirdre's funeral, Rowan is plunged into the complex world of the Mayfair family.

"Curiouser and Curiouser" was written by Lindsey Villarreal and directed by Axelle Carolyn

Carlotta strived to end the cycle of violence by faking Rowan's death and sending her far away. She saw that as the only way to keep her safe. She wasn't because she still developed powers. She was free from Lasher's influence and temptation. However, his presence could only be kept away for so long. The Mayfair family essentially prides itself on its history. Cortland's side is proud to declare Rowan as the new designee of the family. They see her as the matriarch who will dictate the terms of what this family can do in the world. It's not as if the rest of them are powerless. Cortland built a name for himself despite his father's refusal to believe he would ever amount to anything. Carlotta kept her world small to completely focus on keeping Deirdre contained. Every member of this family lies with such ease. It makes it difficult for Rowan to know who to trust. She has Cip by her side to protect her. She is comfortable attending Deirdre's funeral knowing he will be there to keep her safe. And then, he suddenly gets summoned to another mission. It's still important. The Talamasca have found the man who killed Deirdre. Of course, they don't know who hired him to do it. Moreover, Lasher has possessed him and tortures him to death. That happens right in front of Cip. That's the power this spirit wields. He is no longer contained. More importantly, he has taken ownership over the necklace once more. He presents it to Rowan. It's so seductive. She feels the item calling out for her. Carlotta is horrified to see her gifts discarded in favor of the item that has already caused her family so much pain. She sees that nothing has actually changed despite her best efforts. She wanted to control everyone in the name of protecting them. They only rebelled against her. That made it easy for Deirdre to be persuaded by Cortland and Lasher. And now, that pattern is repeating all over again with Rowan. Carlotta believes Rowan is stronger than her mother because she is an adult now faced with these choices. She had the skills to become a doctor. However, that may have come easy to her because of her powers. Rowan is only now realizing the extent of what she is capable of doing. She doesn't quite know how to control it. It at least provides her with power. That's necessary after a life of so many people containing her. She was lied to and deceived for her entire life. She has no reason to believe Carlotta. And yet, she explores the Mayfair house. She doesn't listen to Cip and return to his protected apartment. He wants to understand the true extent of the threat. Even then, it may be too late. Powerful influences have already made their presence known.

Cortland and his daughter Josephine make their appeal to Rowan as the family members with rational thoughts. They've overcome adversities and emerged stronger as a result. The same thing can happen with Rowan if she trusts them. They provide her with the grand history of the family. She would become the thirteenth designee if she chooses to accept that role. It's a great honor. It also bounds her to Lasher. Cortland tries to convince Rowan that Lasher's presence is actually a gift. He exists to serve her. Rowan doesn't see how that's possible. And yet, she has to engage in conversation to fully understand the truth. It's all a constant manipulation. The audience has already seen Cortland terrified by Lasher. Carlotta receives that same chilling glimpse. He makes it known to this family that it is already too late to change things. No one has any control. All of this is destined to occur. Rowan tells Josephine that she has no interest in having children. Her patients carry that designation for her. She is devoted to her work. She has no intention of becoming a mother. Her family lineage is revered so much though. Her relatives present her with evidence of the importance of passing down stories and powers for over 300 years. She should honor and respect that. That's a limiting worldview because it requires her to conform or face the wrath of people who deem their needs as more important. Rowan has no choice. She must accept this reality to keep this honored tradition going. That has only caused pain and destruction. The family is still prosperous. That could provide the argument for why it's not as dangerous as it may seem. It's still Rowan's responsibility to carry that burden. She is left to figure things out on her own. Cip hopes to save her in time. But Rowan had to investigate. Carlotta was willing to sacrifice herself to ensure a different outcome this time around. She is willing to burn down the ancestral Mayfair house to achieve that. She sees Rowan as a sinner just like her mother. As such, she must quickly escalate her tactics to confront this apparent threat. She is afraid of Lasher and what he wants. That remains such a cryptic tease though. The audience has no real understanding of his motives. That leaves the viewer a step removed from the proceedings. Yes, this is a colorful world with a distinct exploration of family. However, it's a struggle to remain grounded in the present. Instead, it's all about the fear of the past and what may occur once more. Rowan doesn't understand the full extent of that history. She is slowly learning. That vulnerability endangers her. Her powers are growing. It's just not good enough to overcome the various threats that loom out there. It's not enough immediate action to inform a good story. It remains firmly in setup mood. The payoff later on in the season has to be immaculate in order for all of this to work.