Salem Season 3: What’s Ahead

We worked some magic at NYCC to find out what is waiting in those woods in Salem season 3.

Witchcraft. Murder. Human sacrifice. The mark of the devil. Male appendages being turned into ravens. Salem has been putting us under its spell of horror, history, scandal and romance for two seasons, and Season 3 promises to conjure even more to enchant the eye and bewitch the mind. Not to mention more Marilyn Manson. 

The creators and cast of Salem came out of the darkness (more like the superhero-packed halls of the Javits Center) to New York Comic Con and gave us a tantalizing glimpse at what lurks the veil.


This will be the most intense season ever.

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Braga cast a spell of anticipation when he admitted that “I don’t want to say we want to top [Season 2], but at least match it in terms of its emotional intensity and unpredictable storytelling.” Mary’s supernatural powers will rise in the darkness and give her demigod status among the witches. John is leading a ragtag militia into the bloodbath of war. Fires of romance will rage like the heat of battle, because you can’t possibly have Shane West as a male lead without the steamy and scandalous affair we’ve been following like a tabloid headline since Season 1.

The devil is everywhere and in everything (and so is Marilyn Manson). As Braga said, “I think season 3 is the best season so far because the show really hit a stride.”


Mary is actually human.

While she may seem to transform from a spell-casting sociopath to someone with actual feelings in all the time it takes to find the mark of the devil, Mary Sibley has more depth than the woods that hide her blasphemous deeds at all ungodly hours of the night. Mary’s humanity will continue to come uncloaked in Season 3 as she faces some heart-wrenching issues after realizing what paranormal parasite lived in her son’s body—and making the ultimate sacrifice for the man she loves.

When we tried to pick Mary’s darkly enchanted brain through Montgomery, who acknowledged that during Season 1, “there was a flicker of her humanity left” after she sacrificed her illegitimate son to the devil. Montgomery admitted that at the time, she felt the most inspiration for the character came from documentaries about sociopathic serial killers, but she is not all black magic. “With John coming back, she changed during the first season, and then with the presence of her son [in Season 2] it was obvious that she is an incredibly emotional person, and has so much empathy for other people. She totally does things to survive herself, but I think it hurts her a lot, which has hurt others.”

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The spell of romance will heat up.

More proof that Mary hasn’t been entirely consumed by evil: not even death will keep her and John apart. West hinted that “[John and Mary] are going to be reunited in a sense” in season 3. “What drives Mary is love,” Braga believes. Executive producer and writer Adam Simon drew on Gothic romance as his inspiration, even working it into the promo poster with a haunting stained-glass design “has readjusted that balance between horror and romance.”

Simon is a lover of both romance and horror, keeping a stack of horror comics on one end of his bookshelf and romance comics on the other. “Gothic romance is both the birth of the romance genre and of horror,” he said of these inextricably linked elements in Salem. “I think in Season 1, there was a bit of a battle between [John and Mary]; Season 2 was a really horrific season with some romantic moments, but it was really horror. This season is frightening, but it’s romantic in more complicated ways.”

While he admitted that getting the balance right has been tricky, he believes in this season’s potent brew. “I think Season 3 is the one that did it perfectly.”


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War is looming.

Salem already has an internal war bubbling furiously as the witches’ cauldron, but when the French and Indian war invades the already unholy territory this season. Brannon Braga feels Season 3 was the right time to do battle. “It’s an interesting crisis,” he says, “because one thing we never really mentioned that was happening at this time was that there was a war raging in the land, and we knew we wanted to work it into the show at one point, but until this season we didn’t know how to make it part of the story.” Braga forecasted that the storm of war will strike Salem with chaos as well as (inevitably) more death. “As refugees are pouring into Salem, it’s a big controversy because some people don’t want them there because there could be witches among them.” If there are, we can only imagine what dark magic happens.

There will be (more) blood.

As Mary hisses to Mercy Lewis in Season 2 in front of a backdrop of crackling flames, “You wanted war. Now taste war.” The metallic tang of blood will be on everyone’s tongue going into Season 3. With the French and Indian war brewing as tensions between the witches rise, Janet Montgomery’s self-proclaimed mistress of blood will be pretty much bathing in it in a scene that promises to be much more nightmarish than any haunted house.

“There was a shot of me [at night] covered in blood, which was sort of like my Carrie moment,” Montgomery teased. Hex aftermath? The ravages of war? Human sacrifice? We can only guess how she ends up dripping with something much more sinister than red corn syrup.  Shane West also tantalized us with a battle scene, in which what look like corpses for the length of a gunshot keep rising and shambling and fighting, that could have been straight out of Evil Dead.    


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Witches will be unmasked.

Season 3 will really dig into the roots of the witches’ bizarre and sometimes horrifying practices. Simon inverted the historical hierarchy of Salem to put the witches secretly occupying its highest seats. Adam Simon let us in on what we will learn about the sorceresses’ shadowy backstory. “This season shows that in more complicated ways,” he revealed to us. “It tells you more of the history of the witches and where the thousand-year-old belief in these strong women came from,” he explained. “It starts to separate them from the mythology of witchcraft and bring them back to the pagan origins that they had, as well as tell the story of how they got involved with the devil, how they now conspire to bring the devil back, and how only the coven and John can solve the problem.”

Then there’s Tituba. We last left her summoning birds from some unfortunate men’s nether regions and eating eyeballs, but Braga hints that this season, “she has a connection with birds, and while we don’t want to give away how she gets some new eyes this season, she she takes on this bird-ness.” We can only wonder if it’s a dove or a raven.


Marilyn Manson is back and weirder than ever.

It only makes sense that the set of Salem would be Marilyn Manson’s natural habitat, so it’s certainly no surprise that the shock rocker who ominously sings the show’s theme song will haunt the place with his delightfully ghoulish barber-meets-surgeon character for another season. Shane West gave us a tantalizing look at how much more Manson we’ll be seeing.

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While Thomas Dinley appears and disappears in the first few episodes, West gave away that “[John and Dinley] have a lot to do together by the end of the season.” Brannon Braga wanted a replay of Manson’s colonial Sweeney Todd because “he was so kind of funny in a really weird way that we decided to make him more a part of this season; he has a good role this year.” “He’s a trip,” said West. Despite his discography, Manson is no costar from hell. “He’s a great guy he really got into character what he was wearing how he looked it looked like he was having a huge grin on his face constantly.” He is also reportedly the only actor on the show who wears more makeup in real life than on the set.