Episode 1 of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, “The Witching Hour”, wastes no time introducing one of the series’ most important and mysterious characters to the audience. Following the episode’s cold open which introduced Annabeth Gish‘s Deirdre Mayfair and Alexandra Daddario’s Dr. Rowan Fielding, the episode cuts to a flashback to Deirdre’s youth, where she is played by Cameron Inman. While speaking to a priest during confession and carving away at the wooden confessional, Deirdre discusses a “man” that she says has been around most of her life and has always “known what she has wanted.” While the priest seems very concerned about the man’s continued presence in Deirdre’s life, she maintains that she doesn’t need him now that she’s older. As her penance is assigned, it’s revealed that she’s etched the word “Lasher” into the confessional. When Deirdre emerges from the church into a flurry of flower petals in the sky, she catches a glimpse of the man, Lasher, played by Jack Huston. With Lasher set to be at the center of everything that happens in Season 1 of Mayfair Witches, visiting the source material to get an idea of who he is and what to expect from him seems like a reasonable option.
Though he appears in the guise of a handsome, well-dressed man with good intentions, Lasher has only his own intentions in mind. A spirit who shares a long history with the Mayfair family, Lasher longs to return to the world of the living and is willing to play the long game to do so. While the premise of the character in Mayfair Witches is that he serves each generation’s designee, the spirit’s manipulative machinations are a facade for his true intentions.
Lasher’s history with the Mayfair family dates back to the 1600s when he revealed himself to Suzanne Mayfair in Donnelaith, Scotland. Their meeting began a generations long relationship in which one member of each generation of the family, the designee, would be able to see and command Lasher and be gifted magical powers. For over 300 years, Mayfair women “benefitted” from Suzanne’s deal with the devil without knowing the ultimate cost. The AMC+ series has already deviated pretty significantly from Anne Rice’s novels. Most notably, Mayfair Witches seems to have cut back quite a bit on some of the incestuous relationships detailed in the pages of The Witching Hour, Rice’s first Mayfair novel. Those incestuous relationships, engaged in at the behest of Lasher, were done with one goal in mind: keeping the power within the family. Lasher’s ultimate goal in doing so was to create a witch so powerful that she could conceive a child that would be strong enough to hold Lasher’s spirit and return him to flesh-and-blood.
Over the course of Rice’s Mayfair trilogy, the long histories of Lasher and the Mayfairs were told and full of some pretty fascinating revelations. Without heading into spoiler territory, the first five episodes of Mayfair Witches only scratch the surface of these histories and just begun to hint at the true nature of Lasher’s intentions. Given the significant changes from the source material so far, it’s worth wondering how much of Lasher’s plan from the novels will be directly translated to the series but the overall structure seems to be the same. Jack Huston’s devil in disguise is definitely up to no good.