Thursday, June 4, 2015

Salem, Season 2, Episode 9: Wages of Sin

Mary and Wainwright are enjoying themselves immensely and can’t wait to get all cosy with the dark powers. Except first he has to burn all his work since it leads to Mary. He’s not a lover of that but he agrees since it does actually implicate her and she would be horribly murdered for it

He burns his work – and the Malum. I’m sure that’s going to back fire. Do not put evil artefacts in the fire! That’s worse than fireworks

Mary begins the day by being vile to Tituba and going to her kid – and finding evil kiddy John is missing, instead there’s a smug countess Marburg. Hey there’s an upside, every morning should begin with Lucy Lawless.

She points out that evil child is evil and intended to be an epic sacrifice to the dark lord and how wonderfully honoured Mary should be to kill her kid for the greater bad. Marburg totally wanted to kill Sebastien but, alas, it wasn’t to be. She gives the tearful Mary a choice – sacrifice her kid (tomorrow on sacrifice day) or Marburg will kill him, bathe in his blood and wait for the next time round

Marburg is not impressed by Mary’s reluctance towards this honour

Cotton is drunk (how very shocking) and gets a visit from the endlessly annoying and amazingly not dead Hawthorn who, having heard that the powers that be have banished Cotton from Salem, has Cotton kicked out. He quickly talks about the witches and hell and having proof – and insists that Hawthorne speak to Wainwright and be told they need Cotton to stop hellish witches killing them all. Because Hawthorne respects Wainwright’s opinion now?

Of course Wainwright has been nobbled and hangs Cotton out to dry. Cotton is not a happy preacher. Cotton does manage to demand they all go to the Crags to see the hell tar and Hawthorne agrees. Of course while the dead birds are still there, the crags are just a pit full of bodies, not a hell portal. They witches have been covering up – Cotton now doubts his own senses and looks a lot like a drunken fool. Even Wainwright is a little surprised. Hawthorne is not impressed and Wainwright is nicely condescending in trying to defend him. Cotton rages at Wainwright and is dragged away

Sebastien goes to Mary with lots of creepy talk of how he wants her – Mary clearly sees this as a deal, she sleeps with him and he returns her son. When Wainwright arrives, Sebastian presents himself as Mary’s utterly trusted confidante and telepathically tells Mary to play along – for the sake of her son. He also presents himself as Wainwright’s mentor (Wainwright is utterly awed by the glamour that hid the hellgate) since Mary can hardly be seen spending lots of time alone with Wainwright. Mary goes along with it – seeing it as a trade, Wainwright for her son.

Wainwright is super eager to learn everything even as Sebastian tells him not to discount all superstition as is his wont – he also has an interesting take on the Adam and Eve myth, with Lucifer always seeking to give humankind knowledge. He then pushes Wainwright into the hellgate – which I think is largely due to him being jealous over Mary

Mary confronts Tituba since she knew all along she had a son and he was a sacrifice – she demands to know the reasons behind the lies and Tituba points out that Mary would never have agreed if she knew. Mary is aghast that a friend would do that and Tituba finally skewers this whole idea they were friends – she is a slave. She was owned by Mary’s father, she was property. And yes she sold Mary’s son to the devil – just as she was sold repeatedly as a slave. She points out Mary can still have the world – but she says she wants love. They fight and Mary ends up with a knife at Tituba’s throat. Tituba bargains – sparing her will bring back someone she loved: John. The adult not her son

Melodramatic reunion time! And John wants to know why Mary became a witch – basically to build a better world and bring down the cruel hypocritical oppressors they both railed against. He doesn’t believe her, but she brings up their son and the need to save him (and, coincidentally, stop all her naughty bad evil). Despite Tituba’s objection, Mary releases John (wait, didn’t Tituba release him last episode?)

Of course he spares her in the name of her demon son – and Mary explains why she never told John (he wouldn’t have gone to war if he had known she were pregnant and then George Sibley would have killed him) and how Tituba gave her the only chance to escape – give up her son – after she thought John was dead: of course and Mary never realised the kid was alive (because evil lying Tituba). Now she wants John’s help to save their son. They make their plans – as the comet ominously appears scaring everyone.

Hawthorn has Cotton taken out of town and grossly tells him how he plans to “comfort” Anne – and tells one of his minions to kill Cotton once they’re out of town.

Over to Anne who reads her dad’s book – and words addressed to her, assuming she could only read it if a) he was dead and b) she had learned something of being a witch. It’s a classic Urban Fantasy Parent letter. She reads through his words and practices magic, learning lots of shiny tricks – but is also warned that a curse come with her gift. She turns the next page and is transported to the forest and with a skinned, bloody devil (I assume) – the curse.

She runs as he catches her and begins ripping off her clothes. She screams for Cotton who just happens to be passing – but he continues on (not that he has much choice).

Anne is later teleported back to the book which she slams angrily closed.

Tituba has finally finally finally confronted the whole terrible idea that she and Mary are friends and that she somehow owes Mary something. This could have been powerful and important. But Mary doesn’t hear a damn word she says, and I don’t think we’re supposed to either. Her words are just a stepping stone to the big John and Mary reunion – which is followed by Mary still playing the “my only friend betrayed me!” Mary you just listened to Tituba tell you she is not your friend, she’s a slave – enough with your pity me refrain. The show simply cannot make this work – they cannot paint Mary as the desperate martyr and Tituba as her cruel tormentor when Mary literally OWNS Tituba and it’s gross and ridiculous to keep trying.

I also am tired of the whole theme of Mary Sibley – she embraced her dark magic for power and safety – but for two entire seasons she has spent her time pining away tragically over John and John Junior. There’s a subtext here – power, freedom and agency vs love and being a wife/mother. The two cannot coincide – and the latter is definitely the choice a MORAL Mary is expected to take. It’s a gross message

On the gross messages – Anne Hale. Have we really thrown in a random demon rape here? What possible reason was there for this? To show magic has a price – there are a thousand ways to show that without this vile cliché. To show magic is evil? Haven’t we seen that far more excellently with Anne embracing power even she knows is wrong when pushed to it?

And can we look at that theme – magic is evil and has a price. But Anne has never been shown any real means NOT to be magical. She was born with magic, she used magic even when trying not to – and the whole demon “curse” hit when she was using pretty innocuous magic. The message here is that she was born a witch, therefore born evil, therefore born with this “curse” being inevitable.

I get that Wainwright is curious and loving this whole new source of knowledge – but he cannot possibly escape what the witches are doing? They’re curious and they know a lot and they’re being meanly persecuted – hey let’s manufacture a plague!!! There’s not even a second of him contemplating this.