This Salem review contains spoilers.
Salem season 3 episode 9
So, having disposed of the monster, our heroine Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) exits stage right. Oh, did I say exit? I mean falls on the floor in paranoid agony. You got a new enemy, witch. Or an old one. Who keeps track? Salem, season 3 episode 9, “Saturday Mourning” is an exciting entry as the series ticks off to its conclusion.
The episode uncorks with the heady aroma of pure undiluted Marburg blood. Incest is best when it comes to royal families and Anne Hale and her brother Baron Sebastian Marburg (Joe Doyle) have the sang real. Both know what it’s like to give everything for love only to have love turn on them. That makes the blood boil hot enough to raise the near-dead.
But it takes a little dolly to raise and army. Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) offers to free Dorcas (Emma Wynn) from her gilded cage if Isaac (Iddo Goldberg) will lock himself in. He bravely accepts. Not for nothing Issac, but truth be told, you ain’t fooling no one. Being locked in a cage by a witch in a whorehouse? There are guys who’d pay top dollar for that, even if it’s not their particular flavor of kink. A witch can make a fetish out of anything. The new Mrs. Hathorne can even get a rise out of her hubby by pure unmitigated insolence and insubordination. Mr. Lewis, indeed. Why, that Mercy is incorrigible. She will surely get a spanking, or administger one.
John Alden gives Thomas Dinley a taste of his own medicine, but the author of the dope show, Marilyn Manson, is too buzzed to enjoy it. Before the good barber can get a scalpel in, the injun-fighter’s got him tied to his own barber chair and is trying to extract red mercury. They play a game of tick tock toe but it ends in a stalemate. I knew the clock wouldn’t go back to working, it’s the devil’s clock and it doesn’t disappoint. But what’s this about all the years that Alden’s known Dinley? Judging by his hair in the flashbacks, they only met last week.
Alden’s wounds aren’t the only thing that need leeching. He’s beating himself up over the beating he took in order to send Beelzebub back to hell. He feels like he slaughtered a great beast the likes of which we may never see again. You’re preaching to the choir here, Alden. I’ve been saying this for years, sometimes in these very reviews. What gives people the right to kill these monsters? It is the same kind of arrogance that Tituba complains about when she points out that European discoverers discovered land that was common knowledge to the natives of those lands since forever. What’s the first thing a movie hero does when confronted with Dracula? He tries to put a stake in his heart. That count has been around for five hundred years. The arrogance of believing you have to immediately destroy it isn’t even lost on the biggest witch hunter in town.
Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) has the most interesting arc of the episode and the most fascinating part of that arc lies in lies. Minutes after he calls himself a Judas for leading the great beast Beelzebub to slaughter, the man who has to preach thou shalt not lie on the pulpit every Sunday morning, does just that. It is a white lie to keep a desperate woman sane. He tells Mary Sibley, almost at knifepoint, that John Alden is always thinking of her, that her love fuels his sacrifice and efforts to save the town. He is tender and loving to the love-starved witch he once loathed and feared.
Then he uncovers a lie and his most reverend character leaps out of him in the gravest voice he can muster until he grows into the gravitas of his old man. Cotton tears into his wife, after learning the truth about the forgotten fate of his true love Gloriana and the baby she carried. Minutes after whitewashing John Alden’s exit plan, Cotton plans his departure from the witch who deceived him. Lies are the worse than murder, he tells her, because it condemns the deceived to live imprisoned in a false world.
And then Anne Hale comes back at him. Cotton’s whole life was a lie, she says. He’s out all night drinking and whoring and then testifies to his forgiving god and the assembled masses in church. He can get away with that because he is a man. But, as Mercy Lewis already intimated, witchy women have as much power as any man.
After Cotton, Hale’s arc is the most far reaching. It’s been a long time coming, which is why it doesn’t rank as the biggest of the episode. Hale is the true witchy heroine of the show. If you root for the bad guy, like I do, equality demands that the bad gal gets her due. Men dismiss powerful women as hags and worse, but the power that comes from the goddess is as bad ass as any god’s and far more formidable than that of demons and angles, fallen or floating.
Hale turns her back on the struggling Mary Sibley and her concern for future generations and joins in with her liberated sister Tituba to turn the tide of oppression. They unleash the cure to the cancer that has plagued mankind and identify the cancer as mankind. Witches may not get the same pay as wizards but they do the same heavy lifting. The former warrior princess Lucy Lawless could lift as much as any man with one hand tied behind her back (yes, Lucy Lawless, not Xena, she admitted as much on an episode of The Simpsons) and now that Countess Marburg is on the same team as her daughter, the future is weightless. And Tituba created Samaelstein just for the fight.
The only problem is that they are up against the most powerful of the Essex Witches. Mary Sibley bested the Countess before and, as time is running out for the town of Salem, the final episode’s rematch promises to be a knockout.
“Saturday Mourning” was written by Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson and directed by Jennifer Lynch.