This Salem review contains spoilers.
Salem season 3 episode 7
Salem, season 3 episode 7, “The Man Who Was Thursday” is so eventful it could have been dragged out over four episodes and ended a season. Instead, it nails a young seditious savior to a tree and promises a hasty fall to predetermined end. Yes, Salem is coming to an end and the series ties up one major loose branch quickly.
The fig doesn’t fall far from the Newton. Isaac Newton, one of the great scientific minds of his or any day, was a part-time alchemist and magic practitioner. When he saw an apple fall from a tree, he realized that the forbidden fruit was knowledge. We learn a lot before the opening theme song, like not to listen to Baron Sebastian Marburg (Joe Doyle). Does he ever get tired of being wrong? He’s so full of himself that he brings Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) out past the Essex roots just to prove she doesn’t need watering. The Baron has become very interesting as he plays himself off himself at every turn. He is the double agent, supplying the enemy with the red mercury that will burn Salem with the same hellfire that took down Sodom and Gomorrah.
Far from the Sibley mansion, Isaac the Truthteller (Iddo Goldberg) tells the truth about the revolution and it turns out that the little fornicator is a mix of labor leader and hippie. In the sixties, the older generation worried that the kids would be fucking in the streets. The Weathermen promised it in all their flyers. Paul McCartney sang about doing it in the road. Screwing in the street is what earned the righteous reformer that scalp tattoo. Is it me, or has that “F” on his forehead never been so pronounced?
Ann Hale’s Dorian Gray altar ego fits her well. Tamzin Merchant has been slowly descending the pits of the self-indulgence that comes when will is the whole of the law under love. She cast a love spell on Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel), the son of the greatest witch-hunter in New England history, Increase Mather and is perpetrating an even bigger deception. She steals Gloriana’s baby right from out of her womb. Cotton quickly takes her at her word when she says witchy kids grow up fast. He is a true enabler. He can stand outside the door to hell itself, or watch a game of chess between god and the devil and do nothing as petulantly as he can. Cotton is as willing a victim as any man under the thrall of a magnetic magician. But Hale’s true crime is the way she uses her social class as a way to keep fallen women down.
The lobotomy that Anne Hale gives Cotton’s baby mama has to be the best gross-out scene of the season. From the subtleties of old scarring and the deathly pallor on the near-dead to the full horrors of skin eruptions or disemboweling, Salem’s makeup and effects have been very effective this whole season. But the sensual and mesmerizing teasing of the witch at full empathetic power combined with the callous disregard that comes with her earthly class draws the pregnant woman and the audience into wide-eyed anticipation. It only grows to give us an even closer inspection of the ocular disruption to come. You can’t close your eyes fast enough. Perfectly timed shock and awe, and we don’t mean the kind of aw we say to a cooing baby.
Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) says that the only women who have power in Salem are whores and widows and Mary is the least merry widow of all. Mary Sibley is this generation’s Angelique, from Dark Shadows. A young witch in love, she is sad, determined and irresistible. All the most powerful men have more than a crush on her. The devil himself, Samael (Oliver Bell), would risk his throne just for a chance to get down with her. Beelzebub steals longing glances as she coquettishly poses in her form fitting corset. The Baron wants to sail off into the sunrise with her, but it is (Shane West) that she loves and it is John Alden that she hurts.
All these men would die or kill for Sibley. And yet, she knows that isn’t the measure of her power. Witchcraft is a liberating force. Whether she has her powers or not, regardless of how far she can go from the forests of the Essex roots, she is fierce, strong and self-determined. Every man in Mary’s life is a dirty little secret, at least to the other men in her life. Her affair with the Baron is revealed to both John Alden and to her son. Alden knows it is the price she pays for information, but that doesn’t make it sting any less. The boy is all too happy to have his bride-to-be deflowered before the wedding night. Hell, or should I say Heaven, he wouldn’t even mind if she was defiled. He’s all in favor of debauchery of all flavors. Of course, the upcoming nuptial is the dirtiest secret of all. Skip the incest and any statutory rape law and there’s still the whole matter of everyone in Salem dying, save for the ones in the house with seven gables.
Alden’s new family tradition includes forging his own swords. It brings him to the center of attention in the poor side of town but reunites him with Isaac and Cotton, who carries Mary’s letter of contrition and conspiracy as they get ready to spank the devil and his asslicking servants. I’m going to miss the Essex witches. Throwing themselves on their ceremonial daggers in a mass sacrifice that predates Jonestown is quite an exit. The power of mass-death is strong and this was a powerful episode.
“The Man Who Was Thursday” was written by Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders and directed by Jennifer Lynch.