The first season of WGN’s Salem had a bit of a rocky start. I admit that I watched the first three episodes and gave up because I found the show to be a little boring. I finally caved a few months ago and binge-watched the rest on Netflix and I’m incredibly glad I did. Salem finally embraced its soapy ridiculousness and went balls to the wall insane in it’s second half. Now we have been gifted with a second season, so lets dive right in to how it has started.
First of all, it has been 3 days since the events of the finale, and the Grand Rite that Mary performed at the end of last season worked. The town of Salem is slowly being taken over by the plague (starting with the people in the hilariously named “Knocker’s Hole”), but apparently it will take a month (er, a season) for it to take full effect. Alright. It sort of makes the stakes of the season 1 finale seem nonexistent, but I’ll take it. If anything we did get some pretty great practical effects when the girls face started peeling off in the opening scene. Also, we get our beloved Isaac the Fornicator back. He’s ridden with pox but he’s not dead yet!
Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) has been keeping herself busy with her son, but Tituba takes him back to the elder witch’s every night. I’m still not sure about how I feel about John Jr. as a plot device (he seems like he could become a problem rather quickly), but I’ll withhold judgment for a few episodes. Also in Mary’s inner circle is the new Doctor in town (Stuart Townsend). He’s a survivor of the pox who aims to cure Salem of the plague.
Let’s talk about the gory set pieces from the night. First, Mercy cuts off a mans penis and turns it into a crow(?!). That is some crazy shit. But then we also have Mary going to a seer (that’s what I’ve decided I’m going to call him) so she can find Alden. He pulls out his eyes and places them in her hands so she see his location, but she is tricked into seeing his funeral (spoiler: he’s not dead). Lastly, we have Mercy’s butchering of the elder witches. After stabbing them (a lot) Mercy and her followers hang them up in the town square by their own intestines. WGN is clearly trying to test the limits of what they can get away with on basic (and I mean basic) cable. I like it. More of this please.
Speaking of Mercy, she is still crazy in the woods and super bummed that Mary won’t accept her as her equal. I’m guessing Mary is really regretting not killing Mercy last season. Anne, on the other hand, does garner Mary’s attention. Anne is (understandably) feeling guilty about murdering her parents last season, and Mary wants to help her learn to control her powers. Anne was one of the weakest parts of last season for me (she’s such a wet blanket), but this could prove to be an interesting path to take her one. Again, it’s too early to tell if it will pay off, but I have my fingers crossed.
Cotton (Seth Gabel) is stuck in Boston, doing Cotton-y things like having lots and lots of sex. When he’s not having sex, he’s suffering a guilty conscience after murdering his father Increase (I still can’t believe that was his name) in last season’s finale.
Through Cotton’s scenes we get the biggest reveal of the episode, though, as a man comes to interrogate him about his father’s whereabouts. As it turns out, this man merely serves to introduce us to the totally awesome Lucy Lawless! After questioning Cotton, this man runs back to a ship at Boston harbor and inside we meet Lawless’ Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg (to be referenced as Countess Marburg here on out because that is a mouthful). The man is her henchman, and after she finds out that Increase if officially dead, she kills the poor sap by teleporting her bath water into his throat, choking him to death.
Countess Marburg’s mission isn’t clear yet, but since her scene ends with her deciding to head to Salem, one can only assume that her and Mary will cross paths. Is she a villain or will she be on Mary’s side? I’m intrigued.
The only character who still isn’t doing much for me is John Alden. I like Shane West a lot (he was great on the CW’s Nikita), but Alden is an incredibly boring character. Every time he popped up in the premiere it was like he couldn’t be gone soon enough. Now Alden is on a mission to destroy all the witches in Salem because he feels betrayed after Mary stood him up last season. I get it, she’s a witch and worships the devil. But I find it a little hard to believe that he wouldn’t even try to rationalize his feelings since she is apparently the love of his life, but whatever. Now he’s hanging out with the Native Americans and by episode’s end has taken part in a ritual that will help him kill all of the witches, but it is made clear that he won’t leave Salem alive once it is done (how much do you want to bet he doesn’t die by the end of the season?).
I thought this was a fantastic episode to start off Salem’s second season. It had some batshit insane witch action and provided plenty of questions for the rest of the season. I think the season’s subtitle of “Witch Wars” will prove to inject a spark into the series that was missing from the first half of last season. Also, Lucy Lawless.
- Welcome to Bloody-Disgusting’s weekly reviews of Salem everyone! I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Next week’s review will be shorter (and less recap-y), I promise. Premiere reviews just have a lot of catch-up!
- Mary refers to the elder witches as “decrepit old shits in the woods.”
- Ashley Madekwe (Tituba) has completely dropped her accent. As annoying as this is, I’m sort of okay with it because it dropped in and out so much last season that she needed to make up her mind.
- “Rest assured your traitorous little bitch, once they’ve tasted it, you will choke on it.” For being set in the 1600s, Salem has some great zingers.
- That portrait of Increase Mather is TERRIFYING.
- Seriously though, I feel like 75% of Cotton’s scenes in the first season were scenes of him having sex. That doesn’t seem to be changing this season.
- One good thing to come out of Alden’s scenes: he finally got a haircut.
- Have I mentioned that I love Lucy Lawless? I’ve seen a little bit of Xena but she was the best part of Spartacus. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP. It’s on Netflix! Just get past the pilot because it’s the worst episode of the series.