This Salem review contains spoilers.
Salem season 3 episode 2
Salem, season 3 episode 2, “The Heart is a Devil,” is a cardiac arrest, complete with a local forensics expert.
Mary Sibley has risen from the shallow grave and most of the witches of Essex are already getting ready to bury her again. At least under the weight of responsibility for being the mother of such a naughty boy. This is a heavier burden than the historic Giles Corey had to bear. Before we even hear the pounding witch drum theme, Tituba tells Mary she has to kill her son.
At the end of last week’s episode, Tituba and the Essex crones brought Mary back to her roots, reviving the pilloried pillar of Salem’s society for the sole purpose of saving the new world from the dark future promised by the Father of Lies, who happens be possess her son. Mary’s first reaction on being brought back from the other side of silence is concern for her lover, John Alden. Salem, like Dark Shadows, makes magic personal. The witches will give it all up for love. Mary Sibley’s first reaction to coming back from the dead is remembering that Alden was in trouble and the first stop she makes on the way to putting her son down is a booty call that just knocks John out. Though it might be that he’s been bellying up to the bar too much, playing pissing match drinking games.
Baron Sebastian Marburg (Joe Doyle) can really lay on the guilt for a non-Puritan, or is that an impuritan? He blames John Alden for Mary’s death in the bar in such a teary-eyed way it makes Hathorne look manly. Marburg redeems himself a little when he Paraphrases Woody Allen with his preference for living forever over immortality. But he really scores point when he comes out as a gambling man and he’s laying heavy odds against the long life of Salem’s first couple.
Anne Hale (Tamzin Merchant) and Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel), not exactly a match made in heaven, even if the minister of god’s goodness doesn’t mind sharing the wedding bed with some all-too familiar vermin.
Marilyn Manson makes a low key entrance as Thomas Dinley, who is a barber by trade and a CSI expert out of necessity. Dinley knows the vic, Nick, by his prior nicks, he’s got a knack. Most men die as they are born into agony but every bone in the guy’s body has been crushed. His niece Alice, who he’s been whoring out, won’t be shedding any tears.
Last week I made a joke about Isaac being a Machiavellian magistrate-whisperer, but he is really very instrumental in moving everything forward. He remains at the center of both worlds. In this episode he tries on detective Columbo’s trench coat and goes on the trail of the latest mysterious death in Knocker’s Hole. The Truthteller is actually a reformer and, while every now and then we want to yell shut you fornicator at him, he’s doing the job on the town.
I’ll see to the brothel myself,” says Hathorne, and we can see the sleazy politician Jeremy Crutchley is transforming the character into. The exchange is reminiscent of this week’s The Simpson episode “There Will Be Buds,” when the town of Springfield learns that Kirk van Houten, Millhouse’s dad, is shacked up in a strip club and Chief Wiggum and Dr. Hibbard straighten then ties and offer to go get him. Apu says he has to change his pants first.
Hathorne is a very progressive politician. He’s centuries head of New York’s Tammany Hall, demanding some pounds for flesh. Personally I thought he was planning on pounding flesh, but in the end the society wannabe winds up with his a social disease. Most people get crabs in the cathouses of Knocker’s Hole, but Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) is no mere madam. The young hostess is very adroit when it comes to bargaining. She has him at her knees, not that she’d be at all interested in anything he might do down there. Dinley can prescribe some ointments for the canker blossoms itch and stench, but Hathorne is forever sullied.
Rest in pieces, Mercy tells Hathorne in a rare moment of humor. This phrase was already an old joke during the time of the Salem Witch Trials, but it was new to the Puritans. Eberle is bringing a new hardness to Mercy. It is fun watching her back up from the negotiations only to give Hathorne the tiniest of a sideways glance as she fixes his drink.
Did you ever get the feeling you was being watched? Like the eyes of strange things are upon you? Jerry Seinfeld and this reviewer may have both learned all our cultural references from Bugs Bunny but there is a creeping paranoia in Salem. The set is filled with atmosphere. The walls have ears and the windows have eyes as the camera keeps almost catching something watching out of the corner of our peripheral vision. Of course it might just be Tituba’s new cat’s eye.
Glamour rules Salem when it comes to the graveyard appearances of the witches and the best magic in this episode is still done by hand. Mary Sibley knocks John Alden into sleep. Anne Hale can bring any conversation to a close with the clench of a hand. Except when she needs it the most. The most reverend Cotton Mather gives a really good sermon tonight. He comes close enough to raising hell that even John Alden is staying awake in church. We get a glimpse of the family magnetism and some real suspense. As far as the frontier soldier is concerned, Anne Hale has her husband’s balls in a box. He’s really not that far off and that’s probably why the first thing the good reverend does when they get home is jump his badass wife.
Lucifuge Rofocale and his brother are God’s first creation. We all started as worms and we all wind up wormfood. The hulking big brother figure to the one-time motherless child goes mining for gold with questions and pain. This was a pretty cool scene and that last bit when he savors the eel that just went through all of Mary’s body in its quest for truth is a great payoff. This combined with the boils and the sowing cat gut scene make this episode one of the tops for special effects. The show doesn’t skimp and plays around with how subtle they want it. But they always deliver.
It looks like Satan’s offspring will be bathing himself from now on. There’s no need to alert the media, though.
Not sure what’s up with the new recruit, but I think she might have John Alden’s balls in a box sometime soon, if basic training is any indication.
“The Heart is a Devil” was written by Adam Simon and directed by Tim Andrew.