Saturday, November 19, 2016

Salem, Season 3, Episode 3: The Reckoning

After failing to kill her demon offspring, Mary Sibley is now facing horrendous mangly death at the hands of Baby Devil’s new sidekick.

But Baby Devil still wants his mother to hang around for some reason. Devil affection apparently. Evil Sidekick is not amused and wants lots of death and awful. He’s also not even beginning to accept “trust me” from Baby Devil because he totally did that once, got lots of angels to rebel against god and they ended up in hell. So kind of a bad record on the trust department. Also humans are icky

Baby Devil responds with “hey they got wine.”

See, I’m all for believing that alcohol is amazing but I think Baby Devil is overselling the power of booze here. Baby Devil also pushes this home by punching Evil Sidekick in the groin to remind him humans can feel all kinds of pain

So Evil Sidekick locks Mary away in a magical box.

Salem is rocked by terror when they hear a huge bang and the sky turns red. This is not the early invention of fireworks but clearly Bad Things are afoot. John Alden, being John, wants to take his half trained soldiers into the woods to find this bad thing and maybe save any refugees. While designated bad guy decides they shouldn’t risk the soldiers who should be defending the town exploring possible threats and, instead, they should risk them by turning them against the influx of refugees and cause a riot because why not.

John ends up going off alone accompanied by hero-worshiping soldier who is probably a cis woman pretending to be a man but may be more than that I am calling Bob. Due to the ambiguity of Bob’s gender identity I am going to use third person pronouns until I am more sure about how Bob identifies. Bob worships the ground John walks on and he’s determined to destroy poor Bob’s dreams by saying what a terribad awful person he is. Of course part of this could be the reasonable rejection of the terrible ballad someone has written about him.

What they do find is a town completely burned to ash, zombie Native Americans (to repeat what I said before – NO NO NO NO. No, really, no. Please no. Let us not have this show with no real Native American inclusion have a whole lot of evil mindless Native monsters controlled by white men because no no no. No. Noooo. No no no. And, again. NO).

He also sees that Sebastian is still evil and doing evil because shock, horror, he’s evil. I know this is shocking. He also has some little jewel which is apparently super scary and awful which Evil Sidekick has a big menacing back story for. What this gem does, I have no idea. But it’s ominous

Back to the town and we continue to have the debate about immigration and refugees because the writers team has decided it’s topical

Look, again, I am no expert but I still have my doubts as to how appropriate this is for the time period. Yes, fear of the outsider is pretty much a bigotry that goes as far back as human kind has been able to recognise the difference between “me” and “you”, but these refugees, by all account, are other English colonists from other English colonies. Why is this agrarian society with no real shortage of land (especially since witch and plaguey shenanigans have depopulated the town considerably) looking at this influx of people as a terrible scourge rather than “excellent! More labour!”

Anyway, the decision to drive all the refugees out to die horribly is shelved because Sebastian suggests that he and all the rich people will totally stop spilling their money everywhere if the Selectmen don’t do what he says and Cotton Mather makes a rather epic biblical speech about welcoming the stranger, not bad for a man who is pretty distracted

Also, can we import Cotton Mather to the current Religious Right? Because I think he has some things people need to hear (not least of which how much people have got the whole “Sodom and Gomorrah” legend wrong)

otton did all that despite already not being very invested in the whole refugee crisis because, as he points out to Anne (who is super upset that these refugees are being persecuted) that it doesn’t matter because they’ve unleashed the devil and everyone is dead anyway. You’ve got to be impressed by how excellently Cotton pokes holes in Anne’s endless hopeful delusion – and so expertly. He talks about Hope in a way that makes Anne think he’s praising her even while it’s very clear he’s contemptuous and scathing of her decision to rely on hope in the face of actual reality. It’s a wonderful scathing indictment of the idea that positive thinking and hope will somehow change things and absolve you of doing nothing or actively making the situation worse. I love it

And it’s clear he’s been playing her as he puts together a potion to destroy her familiar and free himself from her clutches. It also involves booze.

Meanwhile in completely irrelevant news – Mercy is using her poison to control Hathorne. And Isaac is accusing her of murder which even if Hawthorne wasn’t her pawn means very little because literally no-one cares. No-one cares. He was a terrible person, no-one cares he’s dead. There’s a war outside the town. Honestly, no-one cares Isaac. No-one. Not even the audience.

Just to be on the safeside, Mercy has Isaac beaten up and also taunting he’s newfound title of Isaac the Truthteller which is marginally more respectful (but a lot more boring) than Isaac the Fornicator. Isaac is all sad and doubtful of his purpose and identity with this – the beating and combined indifferent literally shredding his newfound confidence and sense of purpose. But luckily Kind Waif he rescued is there to help him rebuild himself with her hero worship

While his identity issues are interesting, there’s bigger stuff going on here. I do like how when he rejects her “charity” when he’s injured she pokes back that he saved her, was that charity? The idea that accepting charity is shameful and big strong man Isaac cannot possible be seen to weaken himself accepting it (especially from young woman/girl) – but women and children receiving help is fine. It’s a nice challenge and could add a level of interesting to this still extraneous story.