Salem slowed things down a bit this week with “The Reckoning”, aka “The One Where Mary Sibley Spends the Entire Episode With Her Head in a Box”. While it culminated in a powerful special effects-laden scene, the majority of the episode was spent spinning its wheels a bit as we learned more about the Dark Lord’s master plan.
First of all, Mary did spend the majority of the episode with her head in a box as she awaited her reckoning for attempting to murder the Dark Lord last week. This turned out to be a rather uneventful punishment, as the worst that happened to her was her inner hag jumping out to scare her every now and then. It’s not completely clear why this was seen as a form of punishment for Mary (had there been trials of some sort for Mary in the box to test her soul, then it might have been more captivating), but the plodding subplot was almost made worth it in the final moments of the episode, when the Dark Lord stripped Mary of all of her elemental powers. Of course, this is only compelling because of what it means for the future of the series. We haven’t seen a weak and mortal Mary since the opening moments of the pilot. Now that she is left to her own devices it adds an extra dimension to the character that has yet to be explored. One can’t help but wonder if trimming down the season from 13 episodes to 10 would have saved us some of the plodding buildup to this moment, but for now we at least have the future to look forward to.
The future also looks bright for Cotton, as he finally (finally!) purges himself of Brown Jenkins. What a sight that was! After some espionage in the town market, he was able to make a potion that would expel Brown Jenkins from his body. We don’t get to see Cotton after he “kills” Brown Jenkins, but the ramifications are likely to be extreme. The dynamic between Cotton and Anne has been reliant on their romance for the majority of Salem‘s episodes (at least up until Anne shoved Brown Jenkins down his throat at the end of last season), so it’s refreshing to see this twisted evolution in their relationship. The look of realization on Anne’s face when she sees Brown Jenkins at her feet is glorious, and the war between lovers is something that Salem has been building up to for a while. It will be nice to see these two hash it out.
John Alden is once again stuck in the least interesting subplot of the night as he goes to investigate a village that was burned down by the French and the Native Americans. The threat of those groups as well as the incoming refugees feels like it belong on a different show, but this is something Salem is starting to remedy by having Sebastian seemingly pulling the strings. Where the show will go from here is unknown, but it would be nice to see Shane West be given some compelling material for once. As it stands, his character is only interesting when he is around Mary, and that makes him feel rather pointless.
“The Reckoning” put everything on hold for a while as we waited for the certain storylines to be set up. It didn’t make for one of Salem‘s more exciting episodes, but it was a necessary evil to kick Season 3 into high gear as Act I comes to a close. Negatives aside, it still provided a sufficient amount of entertainment, which is par for the course of Salem.