Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Salem, Season 2, Episode 11: On Earth as in Hell

Mary Sibley has been accused of adultery and is ritually humiliated in the town square and the stocks. He sentences her to be stripped of all possessions and no surname – calling her names that of her husband and father. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but Mary seems virtually bored by the whole proceedings.

Marburg and Sebastian hunt, magically extract information and then murder the Native Americans who gave John his woo-woo. Well they played a huge role, providers of woowoo then murdered

She then goes to taunt Mary but I can see it working against Marburg as Mary hits back that she’s happy to suffer to protect her son – unlike the countess (hey there Sebastian!) Unwisely, Mary talks about how the kid’s going to be exorcised, revealing her plans. Marburg is sure exorcism will kill the boy

John and Cotton are preparing to exorcise evil devil child which, inevitably, reveals that John is the father of said evil devil child. Oh and Cotton seems to agree that the kid will die. While Cotton wanders off to wrestle with the godly implications, evil child tries to convince John to loosen his ropes. Cotton returns before John does so – John has also forgotten the black eyes and evil voice and argues that his son is a normal boy. Well he never was the smartest cookie. Cotton tries to prove his point by making John junior recite the Lord’s Prayer which he can’t do without great pain - John objects, completely missing the implications of his kid not being able to repeat Cotton’s words until the kid goes all demonic again.

I think that was slightly more convincing.

Back at the Marburg’s ship, Sebastian mopes mightily about how much his mother doesn’t care that much about him and she is kind of disappointed that she didn’t get to kill him. Then there’s the playing second fiddle to Marburg forever more and, later, to Possessed baby John. He’s a very pouty evil witch and he’s completely fixated on precious precious Mary looking awfully mopey and angsty. She dramatically uses a wonderfully elaborate “plenty of fish in the sea” but now, twu lub has struch Sebastian.

She tells him to grow up and kicks him out. As ever, I agree with Marburg.

Back to Cotton who wants John to light candles so he can rouse his beast (the show makes that line much less innuendo filled than I just did). Marburg uses woo-woo to seduce/horrify/something

Over to Isaac, carrying Dotty’s dead body through town to the church. He drops her body in the middle of the church before badmouthing George Sibley (it’s his funeral) and scorn all the crowd for being hypocrites and powerfully grieving over Dolly, moving several in the crowd with his pain. As he continues to rant and blaspheme, the Magistrate hits him.

He wakes up in the stocks with Mary trying to make nice to him – but Isaac is done, no matter what excuses Mary has, as far as he’s concerned, she had a choice. Hawthorne shows up for more sexist attacks and to release Mary – because Marburg has put up a bond

Free, Mary cleans up while Anne asks her why she doesn’t want a devil running around the place so she also gets told about evil John being her son. Mary collapses in despair – and Anne is shocked to see Mary so weakened and broken, even losing faith in her magic which has only brought pain and misery. Anne throws Mary’s words back at her inspiring her to get up and fight back. Mary even thanks her – and warns her about Marburg and that Cotton is in danger.

Mary walks out of town to the lake to be followed by Sebastian – she again refuses to sacrifice her son, taking Cotton’s lesson of choice to heart. And then rubbing Sebastian’s nose in how much she loves her son – unlike Marburg

Exorcism time and the kid makes a very very very very creepy demon who, among other things, tells them that Mary was the finest of his witches. Oops Cotton, revelations all round today. Cotton is shaken but gets back to the chanting – and choking on gooey black sludge. There’s a whole lot of creepy with the kid also taunting his dad for not realising his murderous ways are equally part of what makes his son such a good vessel.

All very very dramatic.

There’s a lull in the action and Cotton asks about Mary – and realises how badly he’s been used. John also reels at the idea that god wants/needs him to kill his own son (Cotton points out that it has biblical precedence).

Marburg’s minions hunt the woods for the child – so John gives him to Cotton to run off with. John stays to fight her squad of “consorts” led by Sebastian who uses woo-woo against John before stabbing him.

And Marburg, disguised as Anne, convinces Cotton to give up the child so he can go help John

I have to say that was a really good exorcism scene – the creepy was certainly there. Very well done, the Evil Child really pulls it off – and evil possessed child is such an overdone trope.

So is the villain turning good because of twu lub. Honestly I have no time or patience for Sebastian who is desperately in love with Mary. Sebastian who resents his mother is more interesting – but still, ancient beings with mummy/daddy issues tend to annoy me.

Many things are coming to a head now and I find myself less interested in a season finale than what they could do with a third season – when Cotton knows about witches and John and Mary and their mess.

Isaac’s message is an interesting one – one that would work far better if various themes had been developed. We’ve seen the theme of “oppressed people are driven to terrible methods” meme in season 1 and even the idea that when turning to these terrible methods may in turn lash out at those yet weaker than them (hence Mercy and Tituba’s victimisation and Mercy’s victimisation of Dotty in turns) which would all work well with Isaac (another persecuted person) biting insight – that they have choices, even if they aren’t good ones and “terrible things have happened to me” is not a great defence for “so I’m doing terrible things to innocents”. All of this could have been developed into something that worked really well together – but I don’t think they did enough to make that happen.