“Salem” recap (1.6): The Red Rose and the Briar


Under a Saturn retrograde, a witch cannot lie–that is, according to the so-very-knowledgeable Reverend Cotton Mather, who’s as excited about the new inventions and weapons created on the daily as a troubled child who plays with fire and kills small animals. Witch Rose is still trapped (and alive) in their “boob” trap, as the Reverend so eloquently puts it, and he’s made a concoction filled with dog pee, among other things, to try to put her to sleep so they can remove her from John Alden’s home. Somehow, it works. Meanwhile, Mary and Tituba are watching over to their new keepsake, Mercy, who’s scarfing down turkey legs. Tituba asks Mary when they plan to kill her, and while Mary is tending to her ailing husband, she tells Tituba to take him away and leave her and Mercy, since one is lonely and three is a crowd. Damn, Tituba—are your days as Mary’s mistress numbered?


Mary decides to tell Mercy the story of how she became queen witch. Flashbacks take us all the way back to the time when the Magistrate, who she calls a “dark prince” poisoned the king’s wife with the flick of his pinky ring filled with fatal powder into her wine glass, allowing Mary the rite of passage into the castle, as the evil king’s new wife. This all came at a really, really gross price, since this meant Mary had to actually have sexy time with her new husband, George Sibly, and I can think of about a million reasons why that’s outrageously awful. We watch how She and Tituba concocted a plan to turn a king, well, George, into a toad—shoving the toad down his throat as they blinded and binded him, luring him into thinking he was about to get lucky and have a steamy threesome. Nah, it was just a chance for Mary and Tituba to get their Thelma and Louise on, and sneak in a little make-out. Wrought with guilt over who she was becoming, Mary had to be convinced that this was the only way—and then she’d have the whole world, as Salem would be the most powerful place in the world, or so she was told.


Mercy wakes up from this story to find they’re in the woods and Mary flashes her the blade of a knife. A man who’s eating bugs in the woods sees the chase ensue—“the hunter and the hunted” he says, are the only two creatures you’ll find in the woods. Meanwhile, the Reverend and John Alden are wheeling Rose through the woods to position themselves under the Saturn night sky. They hear Mercy cry out, but Reverend Cotton is a total idiot and says, “Ah yes, the call of the grey owl, Saturn’s mascot.” Hey Rev, you should really leave these planetary rituals to the witches.


Just as Mary is about to kill Mercy, she sees herself in Mercy’s eyes and decides to make her a witch instead. Rose is awake now and though John Alden and the Reverend made a nice attempt at their kidnap, they did a bang-up job tying Rose up against a tree, and just before she scuttles up its branches and rains blood from her wrists down onto them, her eyes turn black and she cackles with delight, telling the inquiring men about the Grand Rite—their death. She then casts a wild spell, calling all the dead back into the land of the living, and zombies try to eat John Alden and the Reverend’s faces off. Somehow they manage to make it out of the woods without getting killed, but now Mary has found Rose and realizes that she’s been the mastermind all along – she needs Mary’s heart to be completely broken in order for a heartless soul to carry out the important Grand Rite that everyone is obsessing over.


Realizing this, Mary is horrified to learn of Rose’s betrayals and asks her if she’s met their newest sister, Mercy, who comes running out from behind her and chops Rose’s head off. Now that’s some coven initiation. This is Salem—where the women are in power, which means they can turn on each other, they can possess and kill each other, so long as it’s not at the hands of the evil men. Watching this episode with my girlfriend, she asks me if Mary Sibly is good or evil, if John Alden is good or evil. And I think the answer for each is both. There is either goodness or pure evil in everyone who lives in Salem. Tituba, the Magistrate, the Reverend—to me they embody total unredeemable evil, at least for right now. Anne, Mercy, they are good. But good and evil? That’s a waning and waxing cycle allotted especially to Mary and John Alden. The dark side sways them and they are captured into the light side once more, every single time. I’d say “they’re meant for each other” but I’m much more fascinated by Mary’s seductive, manipulative lesbian spells.


Back in the village, Anne is creeping through her house, suspicious of the Magistrate’s latest actions and why he’s constantly meeting with Tituba. She creeks open the door to his room to find a cloak and a mask falls onto the floor with no body to fill it. Her mother walks in behind her and tells her its time to explain something about her father. I always did think his association with the witches made him an automatic magician, and this disappearing act points itself into that direction. Now that Rose is dead, I wonder what the fate is of the entire witch coven and how everyone will react to Mary and Mercy’s new bound. Tituba is obviously the least excited, scrubbing down Mercy in a bath and reminding her that she is the woman of the house, she is Mary’s, and Mary is hers, and no one will replace her. Girls be fighting over Mary Sibly!


This Saturn retrograde is making everyone’s heads spin, no pun intended. I’d really hate to see Salem in a Mercury retrograde. Then again, bring it on.

Tune in next Sunday for another episode of Salem on WGN and follow me on Twitter for all my witchy #heathen updates @the_hoff.

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