Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Salem, Season 3, Episode 8: Friday's Nights

Mary is getting her troops in line for phase two of her master plan

And I‘m going to take a moment to praise this. Here we have a strong female character who is, probably, the least powerful of any of them. She isn’t wielding her husband’s influence and name. She isn’t drawing on her wealth. She isn’t using her mighty dark magic. She isn’t a secret samurai navy seal and she doesn’t have a great big axe and nuclear weapon under her skirt

But she is the mightiest, most dangerous and impressive character in these two episodes because of her intelligence, her skill, her determination and her practicality.

You see this from the very beginning when she gathers all her people: Cotton, Sebastian, John and Isaac. Well they kind of just recap Isaac on the whole end of the world thing but he’ got his own stuff going on which is way way way more important than the world ending, anyway. He does make a plea that the people are what matter so why don’t they just abandon the town – but John points out around the town is dangerous. Also releasing demons everywhere is also kind of not a localised event

John and Sebastian are all snarly at each other because JEALOUSY but Mary, being awesome, is focused on task and thinks all of this relationship nonsense can wait until after they’ve stopped the actual world ending, damn it guys.

John tells them about the angel killing dagger that Tituba had him make. Cotton reveals that he has something of a connection with the Sentinel (baby devil’s brother) and may be able to lure him into a hidden place so John can do the stabbing. Unfortunately he’s already got rid of the Red Mercury world-ending stuff and he’s handed it over to the barber/serial killer/pathologist/cannibalism (a combination of professions which may be the Worst Ever) so they need to find that. Sebastian knows where this is so it really really would be time for him to step up and prove his worth but no he’s having a “Mary doesn’t love me” tantrum. More reasonably he’s also having concerns that John fully intends to kill him at some point so he’d quite like to be integral to the plot rather than pass on his useful knowledge and then suddenly being surplus to requirements. Which isn’t wrong

Mary, being suspicious, wants to check in on Tituba and wonder why she’s conveniently handing out angel killing daggers but not using them to kill Baby Devil. Tituba is quick to dance round it – and hide the fact she is the one who stole Baby Devil’s body. Curses Tituba, I wanted to back you – but no matter what he promised apocalypse isn’t worth it!

Sadly, Mary isn’t the only one who is suspicious – because Sebastian is pretty sure Mary isn’t that into him. This gets us an awesome moment where John approaches Mary… to forgive her. And Mary hits him and basically says “how dare you forgive me?!” because Mary is definitely not accepting she’s done wrong. She’s sleeping with Sebastian to save the damn world so get over your precious jealousy and shaming. Oh I cheered. I cheered so much. Of course the problem is that this was actually Sebastian in disguise who not promptly knows that Mary really isn’t into him

He goes to his mother’s zombieself and, at Marburg’s instruction, feeds her the rest of Mary’s stored blood (Baby Devil’s ghost object but it’s kind of hilarious how utterly not giving a shit Sebastian is about the whole house trying to poltergeist him to death). With Marburg drinking the rest of the blood, Mary passes out, with lots of magical issues. This is not good.

Her plan does work however – with Cotton ingratiating himself with the Sentinel, introducing him to booze and food and games and music and sex at the brothel and generally beginning to enamour Sentinel in the world of humanity. I’m actually sorry that it all worked out and John did stab him to death (eventually – Tituba didn’t include a post script that the guy’s harder to kill than Rasputin with Wolverine healing factor) because the Sentinel learning about humanity was awesome and hilarious.

In other news we have Isaac’s pet waif being kidnapped by Mercy which Hawthorne thinks won’t help things as child kidnapping doesn’t enamour people to you. They also get married – helpfully officiated by a very drunk Cotton

While Anne is frustrating the hell out of me. In between pregnancy cravings she goes to the Sibley house for safety – where she’s met with Baby Devil’s ghost. While Sebastian is like “seriously, this is the best you can do? Throwing furniture. Pfft, amateur casper! I’m not even going to condescend to dodge” she sees a model of her in the dollhouse move and loses her shit. Baby Devil says she should totally open the hell door… so she TRIES TO! Only Cotton stops her

And this troubles and annoys me. Because Mary has risen up to something damn awesome these last two episodes and I applaud, applaud, applaud her leadership, skill and integrity in leading her people. Her male people (of there were the Essex witches who are all dead now). But the other main women of the show?

I have no damn clue what Tituba is doing but it’s definitely evil, not sensible and doubtless self-sabotaging

Anne is rapidly approaching too-stupid-to-live territory and while Mary is ruthlessly dedicated to her goal, she is heavily distracted in baby stealing

As is Mercy… but she’s not even pursuing her power and strength. I could buy that, I could buy Mercy not giving a shit about the society that has repeatedly stomped on her over and over again (there was an awesome moment last episode when she compared her experiences with Anne’s and they were so excellent depictions of different sides of the social spectrum). I can see her being a villain because society’s rules mean nothing to her: but at least still be capable and driven. Rather than just pouting and expecting Hawthorne to fix things and indulging in some random child kidnap which feels more like a tantrum

Even Marburg is reaching from the grave to frustrate Mary.

It’s a shame that, as Mary Sibley steps up, all the other women in the show are falling back – not just being evil, but being quite inept as well and all aligned against her.