Salem: Blood Kiss Review

Salem, season 2 episode 2, “Blood Kiss” brings the family closer. Here is our review.

This ain’t rock and roll. This is genocide. It is bad enough that the witches in Salem are battling the puritans and the savage John Alden, but they are also divided against themselves. Marilyn Manson may be pounding those witch drums, but only the Native Americans knew how to dance to it in the 1600s.

Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) retaliates against her former protégé, Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle), who took out the upper echelon of the crone witches last week. Mary has the town on her side. It saddens me to see the witch population so divided when they need unity more than ever. Mercy continues to channel her inner Carrie, this time there is an allusion to the coda of the Stephen King classic, but Mercy also wears her blood in the stylish post-prom fashion. She can still invoke the power she has over the men who sacrificed their nuts to her emerging sanity.

Hathorne (Jeremy Crutchley) should have his nuts cut off too. I’m sure Mercy would know exactly how to handle the opportunistic perv.  Anne Hale (Tamzin Merchant) is having some trouble reining in her own Carrie White like powers of telekinesis. It’s a good thing she can get out of town without the need for any Letters of Transit. Anne’s got Mask Transit. And who better for a witch on the run to turn to than Cotton Mather (Seth Gabelas)? Cotton, the buffoon, is probably the witches’ best friend after Isaac.

Dr. Wainwright’s CDC triage is a bit too much for the Selectmen. I could imagine how the whole “bring out your dead” would play today. People have enough trouble separating paper from plastic, imagine having to parse the damned from the blessed. Mary went to visit Isaac Walton (Iddo Goldberg) in the pox ward with the intent of silencing the town fool before he gave Dr. Wainwright (Stuart Townsend) the scientific evidence he needs to find a cure for witchcraft. Ask Sleeping Beauty about the health effects of an apple a day. Mary can’t bring herself to kill Isaac. Sure, she implies that she can’t do it because he is a childhood friend, but if you look at her face it appears that it’s because she has a soft spot for Salem’s number one fornicator. Isaac got the title because he doesn’t sport a soft spot himself and Mary will be damned if she’ll take that title away. In a town that celebrates repression as much as Salem, these fuckers are few and far between. At least Isaac’s scars match the mark of the fornicator he was branded with.

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Mary the mistress of blood is meeting her match in the countess of blood. Countess Marburg used to be Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, among other names. I am personally very glad that Lucy Lawless is playing Vlad the Impaler’s distant cousin. The former Warrior Princess has the true gravitas to pull this off. The dream/astral consciousness segment, when Marburg and Anne Hale had their extemporal conversation, was the high point of the episode for me. The idea that she could get information out of the fledgling sorceress through a kiss is an interesting concept.

I’m going to miss The Seer, Petrus (Christopher Berry). Talk about cutting off a nose to spite a face, John Alden (Shane West) slit the throat of the beast friend he could have in a bewitched battle. You can see it coming when Alden first asks Petrus if he’s a witch. Alden’s gotta kill someone, he’s all jizzed up. This is the problem with righteous rage, the whole idea of killing everyone in sight and letting god sort them out later is cutting through the true heroes of Salem. The tribesman warned Alden that those magical tools he was using to fight fire with fire would take a toll in his soul. Alden is already a bloodthirsty mercenary, mending a broken heart with a dayglow knife blade. Petrus isn’t even technically a witch. For a seer, he was pretty short-sighted, not seeing Alden as the threat he is. Maybe Alden will soften when he meets his son, unless he asks for a pedicure, of course.

Tituba (Ashley Madekwe) is such an encouraging friend to Mary’s impish son. The kid is really turning into a charmer, I gotta say. Such a doting lad, he keeps the vile buttinsky master of the house company, in spite of the wretched way he’s treated the family and fiends.

The Wince factor was amped up to its highest during the yellow toenail scene. The boy, Mary’s son, or so we think, played by Oliver Bell, played a game of tickle with George Sibley (Michael Mulheren). The kid was using a knitting needle and, I’ll admit it, I looked away when he stuck that thing under the old man’s toenails. I cheered him for doing it, but I didn’t watch while he did. I was about to look away shrieking in horror again when the kid brought the needle up and was about to pluck it into George’s eyes, but Tituba saved me from embarrassing myself.

At first, I cut the kid some slack with the motherly love bit. If he’s been stuck with the hags, his mom is the closest thing to his age that the soon ex-pre-pubescent sack of hormones has seen. It looks like there is a witchy tradition of oedipal bonding that goes back to the first of the first.

The magic in this week’s Salem was more of the telekinetic kind, though Mary also rubbed bitter herbs over the cinders of the fallen witches. She also savors her magic words while she casts her incantation. The only thing “Blood Kiss” skimped on this week was suspense. Salem’s buildups are sometimes as delicious as the payoffs. Of course, they are building up to the Grand Rite, and the representation of the horned god of the underworld can be a bitch to render on a small screen

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4 out of 5