Motherland: Fort Salem season 1 introduced viewers to an expansive world where witches make up the American military, and followed new recruits Tally (Jessica Sutton), Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), and Raelle (Taylor Hickson) as they trained to fight against witchy terrorist cell, The Spree. The witch cadets experienced love, loss, and betrayal while learning to harness their power, and found themselves facing enemies more harrowing than they ever could have imagined.
Everything changed in the explosive season 1 finale. The Spree attacked a stadium during a soccer game to warn the world of witches of impending threat, by hypnotizing the entire crowd to chant “Our ancient enemy has returned,” temporarily ceasing hostilities to get the message out. The Fort Salem witches then came face to face with the witch-hating Camarilla, in an all-out battle that cost the lives of several witches. Tally became a “Biddy” in order to save General Alder, while Raelle and Abigail were spared from an explosion of their own making—a power neither of them understand.
Motherland: Fort Salem set the stage for an epic conflict in its season 2, and the Bellweather Unit has to adapt to survive. Tally , Abigail, and Raelle have seen more than the average cadet, and now that they’re exploring new facets of their power, their bond will be tested more than ever.
“With Abigail and Raelle, it really puts a pressure on their relationship,” says Taylor Hickson. “The more information that they receive about what it is and what it means, I think, further and further strains their dynamic. With Tally, they bond in carrying that really heavy weight and responsibility.”
Becoming a Biddy was a split-second decision to save Alder, but it is a choice that will change Tally forever. For actress Jessica Sutton, Tally’s decision was an opportunity to spend more time with Alder actress Lynn Renee.
“I was really nervous. She’s just such a force on-screen,” Sutton says. ”I understand that’s not exactly who the characters are, but I do see parallels in Tally’s past adoration for Alder and how that relationship changed in season 1 from total pedestal idolization to, ‘Oh, shit. You’re human just like everyone else,’ and then ultimately giving her life for her and for the survival of the unit.”
Speaking more to their relationship, Sutton says “Season 2 really develops on the Biddy connection and explores that on psychological linking. So Tally’s dreams or seeming dreams are actually in fact General Alder’s nightmares and memories. That really influences the relationship because we do experience this kind of intimacy, mother-daughter connection. We’ll see that relationship become more complex on many levels and it may not have a happy ending.”
For Abigail, the trauma of the Bellweather wedding still lingers
“Abigail has seen so much loss. She has a lot of grief that she needs to deal with. I feel like this strain with Raelle just packs it on top of everything else,” Ashley Nicole Williams says. “So she’s down in the dumps and this season it’s picking herself back up and trying to see what makes her special.”
For Abigail, the fight against the Camarilla is personal. “I feel like all the grief and everything that she’s feeling, whether it’s jealousy or pettiness, it ignites this fire in her to go find these Camarilla people and fight them and end them.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Abigail. This season her relationship with Adil (Tony Giroux)—the nomadic male witch who comes to Fort Salem to find help for his ailing sister— will blossom. “I’m so excited to get to show off this relationship. I feel like Abigail needed Adil. She didn’t open up to anyone. I think we took a take on toxic masculinity and not wanting to show your feelings with Abigail, and Adil breaks all that mess down. He allows her to be vulnerable.”
Going into the second season, Raelle’s feelings about the military have changed, and she’s a far cry from the reluctant recruit we initially met.
“Strangely, it’s because she’s now such an asset, and she’s so important to the army, there’s a strange new protectiveness over Alder and over the importance of protecting that many people, which feels contradictory to her morality considering when we met her,” Hickson says. “But with new purpose comes new objective, and that’s been really transformative for her. I think she understands that the responsibility is beyond that of her personal judgment.”
The Spree and the military have a long simmering grudge that creator Eliot Laurence promises to get into this season. “It’s so juicy and personal and messy, I can’t wait.” The fight isn’t between the witch factions, it’s between all witches and the Camarilla.
“The ancient rivals that are the Spree and the army are actually going to lay down their swords in the effort to wipe out an enemy that truly, truly wants to wipe witches from the world,” Laurence says. “We’re actually going to see these people saying, ‘you know what, maybe we should help each other because they’re about to take all of us out.’”
Motherland: Fort Salem premieres Tuesday, June 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform.