This Salem review contains spoilers.
Salem season 3 episode 8
Salem, season 3 episode 8, “Friday’s Knights” is the most fun of the series. Yes, terror, suspicion and danger hides behind every shadow and tree branch, but combined with a drunken archangel and a spoiled devil throwing a tantrum, that only adds to the fun. The episode even has a great knock-down, drag-out fight between Alden and Beelzebub. It is definitely the fight of the series. They make more sawdust than you ever saw on F-Troop.
Let’s start with the brat. Samael, played by Oliver Bell, was ripped to pieces last week and this week he’s pissed at missing all the fun. Now that the kid is out of the room, the adults get to play, but they are in his playground and he doesn’t want them to forget that. While Tituba sews his parts back together in the woods, the kid is doing everything he can to get back into the Sibley house. The high point of this is when Baron Sebastian Marburg (Joe Doyle) sneaks a bottle of Mary Sibley’s (Janet Montgomery) blood out of his bedroom and Samael throws small pieces of furniture at him like an inefficient exorcist.
Marilyn Manson can apparently even corrupt the devil himself. Local barber Thomas Dinley gives the warrior rebel angel his first drink, gin, and it burns so nicely in his throat that Beelzebub goes on a bender, trading bible belts with Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel). The pious historian for hell gets in a few jabs at the fallen angel and even has the audacity to tell the battle-proven warrior how to win at chess. Cotton maneuvers Beelzebub to check against God’s own king. I was really hoping that god would have knocked over the king and conceded the long-running game to Mather. That would have really pissed off the little devils. God himself being beaten by the local reverend. It’s a punchline to the old George Carlin joke “can god make a rock so big that he himself can’t lift it?”
Suspense is everywhere, even during the happiest of scenes. Mathers officiates at the wedding of Hathorne and Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) in the very whorehouse where his ex-girlfriend is rebounding into her old business. You get the sense that everything can unravel on the web that Hale has cast over her husband and the town at large with one small moment of memory. Cotton has a ball with the wedding vows. He is as at home in the cathouse as on the pulpit. Maybe more so, because here there are people who are listening in pleasure, not fear of death. Cotton is sweet and sultry and passionate and pious all at the same time. His most reverend father would be proud if he weren’t waiting for his son to join him in the pits of hell.
Ann Hale is in Hell and it looks like she likes it there. She really is a hellcat, even if her familiar was a rat. Standing outside the door to the infernal dimension, Hale is more than entranced. She is positively aroused. The looks she gives Cotton when he discovers her lurking in the forbidden hallway is infused with being caught in a guilty pleasure. Hale has been descending quickly since she found out who she was by blood. Now her dark side is reaching a climax just as the whole world is about to explode.
That’s not to say that Tamzin Merchant doesn’t have her way with subtleties. Hale is a bit of a slave to her urges. She’s pregnant and her cravings aren’t merely carnal. Swallowing the last morsel of the cheese, cornbread and beans before kissing Cotton was a very real moment.
Isaac the Truthteller (Iddo Goldberg) loses the little girl he was protecting to the voice of her mother. Mercy takes her into the care of her house of ill repute and then Hathorne screens her reputation while he tends to her ills. All the little girl has to do is look under the cloak on the cage and she has free voyeur vision.
On Xena, the warrior priestess used to sing the dirges to lost souls as they passed to the underworld. Here Lucy Lawless underscores the swan song to the Baron’s love for Mary Sibley. He is, perhaps, the first man to be able to extract himself from the magnetic pull of her immersive charms. Sung to the tune of Joe Jackson’s “Fools in Love,” Sibley thinks she tells John Alden that Sebastian means nothing to her, but his deep undercover ESPionage is working overtime.
Like the heads of hydra, as soon as you bite off one, another pops up here in Salem. Now that we’ve seen the end of Beelzebub, Mary has the baroness to contend with. Hey, seer, didn’t see that coming did you?
“Friday’s Knights” was written by Adam Simon and Donna Thorland and directed by Nick Copus.