Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Salem, Season 2, Episode 8: Dead Birds

Cotton is all traumatised by the visit of his ghostly daddy when increase disappears – and reappears in Mary Sibley’s chambers. She didn’t bring him back to play Ghost of Christmas Daddy Issues. Increase starts to haggle, he will tell Mary the Countesses weakness, but he wants to speak to Cotton.

She agrees – but wants the info first. Countess Marburg is super-duper ancient and super-duper powerful and all gung-ho to bring Lucifer (possibly her lover) from Hell. She has been killed in innumerable grisly and inventive ways but she keeps coming back from the dead. He stopped her Grand Rite when she hid among refugee children using magic to appear as one of them – he solved that by simply slaughtering all the kids because he’s that kind of guy (and it’s that same disregard of life that let May use him to make her own sacrifices). When he killed her he left his hand print on her shoulder even as she burned his hand

The key to her immortality is the box that held her remains. But he won’t tell her where it is without speaking to Cotton and, annoyingly, he points out he literally has nothing to lose so there’s a limit to how much Mary can compel him to obey.

Mary plays mother to her evil offspring for a bit, drying his tears and giving him coloured chalks to play with – until she finds the pile of dead birds in his bed. The evil child claims they just come to him. Uh-huh. Might I suggest a high window for the child to play in front of?

Tituba thinks he should be watched at all times. I’m sticking to the high window. Tituba expresses her not very sincere concern for the evil boy and Mary, as is her habit, snarls at her and gives her laundry to do. Tituba actually seems really upset after Mary snaps at her.

She goes to her chained up John to say they’ve both been betrayed but the same woman. And John, ridiculously, asks why Tituba even serves Mary. Tituba reminds John that she’s a slave and that doesn’t actually come with a choice. Though she plots as well. She was happy to work with the Essex witches to kill Puritans because they slaughtered her people – but it’s clear they never accepted her and with Mary’s anger and spite, she doesn’t think Mary loved her either. She was just used by them. While groping and molesting John she talks about destroying both the witches and the puritans. She cuts his bonds and they have sex –until partway through she morphs into Mary. He tells her no and to go to hell – and Tituba hits him then slams him to the floor with magic.

And creepy evil child, unsurprisingly, draws super creepy evil drawings. Super super creepy. Seriously, high window time Mary. Or a well, a well will do.

Tituba sees the pictures and surprisingly isn’t creeped out by them, but is angry that the child is drawing important secrets and burns the drawings which annoys evil child – and birds start bludgeoning themselves to death against the window. Did I mention the child is creepy and should probably be drowned in a well? Tituba quickly backtracks and plays nice with the evil child. When Tituba leaves, he tells someone they can come out

Whoever this person is he argues with them over whether Mary is good or not – he defending Mary. Mary overhears but when she looks in she only sees the Creepy Child. He calls his invisible friend “No-one” who says how evil Mary is and repeatedly calls Mary a whore, much to Mary’s shock and horror, until she smacks him. She then apologises – and he says she’s not his real mother. He screams at her to get out – and she does. When Mary leaves, it’s clear No-one is Mercy.

Anne has sexy dreams of Cotton when she is awakened by Sebastian being his usually creepy self in her bedroom. He’s clear he’s not interested in her virginity (which would be an interesting element in that is subverts the ridiculous value our society now and certainly then places on a woman’s virginity if it weren’t packaged with insults for Anne). He’s there for Anne’s father’s book which she took from Mary last episode. He uses magic to pin her and starts cutting off her clothes when she hesitates – Anne’s not having that. Her eyes glow red and Sebastian is unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Anne lays down her rules – the book is hers and she will give it to Marburg when she chooses. Sebastian seems quite impressed.

Anne sees Cotton the next day and he’s still love struck and she’s still conflicted and guilty about the woo-woo love. But Cotton is sure and it’s all very sweet and nice. Until Anne goes inside and rips the head off a chicken, using its blood to open her dad’s secret room, still in disarray after her little parent killing moment. Inside is the book of shadows. A book she can’t open – until she senses a pattern and cuts her little mouse familiar’s throat and opens the locks on the book with his blood.

She’s not the nicest pet owner, it has to be said.

And after all that, when she opens the book, the pages are blank. At least Jenkins comes back from the dead. Again. She decides to cut herself and smear her blood on the page. Anne’s notion of spell-casting is very one note. It doesn’t work. Time to try her father’s blood!

I have images of 3 years later the entire town of Salem bled to death and a pale Anne staggering among them cackling “maybe the Goodwife Helen’s blood! Nope! Maybe the minister’s blood! Nope!”

However this time she’s right and her dad’s blood does make the writing appear on the page (also that room’s probably kind of nasty still splattered with bits of her parents for some time now).

Dr. Wainwright goes to see Cotton and is exasperated to find him praying. He finds Cotton all upset about ghostly Increase and assume Cotton is despairing over his upcoming nuptials. Cotton tells him about his dad’s visit and Wainwright, sensibly, points out that Cotton wasn’t exactly sober that night. Or, well, ever.

They plan to go to the crags where all the bodies are being dumped to see what happens with all this nasty demon bile. While Cotton is distracted, Wainwright pockets the malum.

They go into the woods and find lots of dead birds – and a huge nasty pit of black tarry bile from the bodies. Cotton, of course, blames the witches. When Wainwright pokes it with a stick, it catches fire. Back home Cotton is quick to call it a portal to hell. Wainwright doesn’t accept that – but he does think a human evil is behind it (somehow) and they must stop them – but to do that they have to keep what they know secret or they will be silenced

When he’s alone Wainwright pulls something black and odd out of the Malum and examines it in water, where it forms a ball.

Cotton goes home to look at all his infernal books – and is visited by the ghost of Increase again who stops Cotton drinking again. Increase claims to have discovered love and compassion in Hell (Cotton is duly sceptical). Increase warns Cotton that he’s already in hell and he needs to save himself –something which rather shocks and torments Cotton. But more surprisingly Increase tells his son the many ways in which he is better man than Increase was which probably makes his hellish warning more sincere. He disappears after telling his son he loves him

Will this add or detract from Cotton’s endless daddy issues?

Wainwright goes to see Mary, still upset after her encounter with her evil son. He’s put two and two together – and through Isaac and the Malum recognised Mary as the source of the pox. He doesn’t actually want to stop Mary – he’s far too curious for that. He wants to know how she’s doing it – he’s not a puritan or Christian, he wants the scientific reason behind what she does. He’s also developed a morbid fascination with her – and he wants in.

She shows him some of what they know and he is truly impressed by the knowledge of the witches – but doesn’t understand why they hide. I’m sorry, did you miss the witch hunts that have been so recent the bodies can’t even be rotten yet? He thinks of the as like Galileo, persecuted for his revelations – and their war against the Puritans is one of self-defence and he pledges to their cause. And they kiss.

They have sex and she uses woo-woo to put on a hell of a show of the night sky and universe

While they do this, Mercy pushes Evil Kid John against his mother some more – and shows him to open his door so he can leave his room and go out with her to play in the middle of the night. It seems to be open day in the Sibley house because Sebastian also enters – and sees Mary and Wainwright together

Mercy takes Evil John to the Marburg ship and hands him over to Sebastian.

Increase returns to Mary and tells her where Marburg’s box is – it’s the ship. He vanishes, the spell over, before he can elaborate on that. I thought it was quite clear

We’ve already appropriated the witch trials appallingly, can we not do the same with the persecution of Galileo? Remember again that the witches are NOT advancing science and being persecuted by an ignorant, bigoted church – they are quite literally trying to bring about hell on earth. Don’t compare the two.

Wainwright, I can see him approaching this with logic and deciding to disregard preconceived notions of hell and magic – but I don’t follow why he decided the pox had a human cause at all? Why would he make that leap? Why would even begin to think that anyone was actually causing a pox or that anyone was even capable of such?

I do hope that with the creepy kid now in Marburg hands we can drop the whole motherhood, slow burn creepiness storyline. Marburg already more than hinted about the kid’s nature last episode, dragging it out was getting old – and having Mary in a constant state of angsty – from John last season and now baby John this season is annoying. Bring back the powerful, angry, capable woman! One who doesn’t have misogynist slurs thrown at her by her own pre-adolescent child!

Tituba – I like that we’re finally getting more firm acknowledgment that Tituba is a slave, not a friend/servant/confidant of Mary’s. I’m glad we’re not only having that affirmed but that Tituba is laying out her own stake in this – she isn’t here for the witches, she’s here for vengeance against everyone. She owes no-one, no-one can have any expectations from her, she’s betrayed no-one – she has her own agenda and more power to her for that.

Now, if it could come without sexual assault with retroactive consent, I’d be much happier.