“Salem” recap (2.3): From Within

Make no mistake, Mary Sibley simply won’t allow a man to rule over Salem. This town is ruled by both her ovaries, which she tells her (not so) loyal mistress Tituba “runs like clockwork.” The Select Men of Salem (mostly just Mr. Hawthorne) are growing antsy in the pantsy about a new leader to watch over the town now that Magistrate Hale is dead. (Thanks a bunch, Anne.)

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Mr. Hawthorne has grown suspicious of the shift in power, noting that the witch trials have ceased and the pox is out of control. Mary’s a bit preoccupied by her new mother duties now that her son Oliver/John is back. The little boy is peculiar—she discovers he’s keeping a dead bird on his lap while they eat breakfast—a “beautiful” white bird that he says reminded him of her. Noticing its neck is snapped, she wonders if her son killed it, and we wonder if she’s got a future Ted Bundy bad seed on her hands. Mary Sibley, with a bad seed for a child? Imagine that.

Unaware that her former lover/now enemy Captain John Alden is back in town and lurking in the shadows, Mary continues about her day while John somehow goes undetected. Though, really, his full leather outfit should be the first tip-off because he looks ridiculous. On the other hand, he doesn’t look as bad as Mercy Lewis. Her father, the Reverend Lewis, summons the last of her Pretty Little Liars to see Mercy. She is severely burned from Mary’s fire at the crags. She looks worse than that turkey the Tanners burned in Season One of Full House when they try to make a proper Thanksgiving dinner and fuck the whole thing up. She sends her loyal to Isaac, whose face boils are three times worse than they were when Mary saw him last week. What will she be doing by sitting bedside with a dying Isaac? Will the truth about what he saw in the woods boil over somehow? Get it, boil over?

2Salem3.1A silent jester, a misogynist and a witch walk into a bar.

Cotton Mather and Anne Hale are in a carriage on the way back from Boston. I catch myself nearly rooting for these two to get together, but then I realize that Cotton’s father was the ultimate witch hunter and Anne Hale is the ultimate witch. Still, these two make sense together because, if anything, they both killed their parents, and Cotton needs a woman who will tame him. Maybe that woman is, after all, a witch. Cotton isn’t like his father, or the other Select Men. He believes in our choices dictating our future, not in pre-destination. He’s a man of reason in an age of folklore and damnation. He believes in true medicine, science, and exploration—somehow I still hold out hope that he can see the power of good in witches—staking their claim and defending what they’ve sowed amid this bullshit patriarchal Puritan charade. 

2Salem3.2 What if I was a good witch?

That’s exactly what Mary has to keep doing though. Hey, Keeping Up With the Sibleys could be a hit on E! Another visit with Dr. Samuel has Mary all choked up, literally. He takes her into her chambers to give her another theory he has on the pox. She says he sounds like a witch with his theory. It’s as if the witches are still trying to locate those last, few good men who will perhaps take a witch’s side. Dr. Samuel has another theory, about our souls. He says our souls are found in a chamber between in our chest that doctors are now calling a “thyroid.” He presses there and Michelle Pfeiffer’s vein suddenly appears down Mary’s forehead. In a moment of heated bliss, Dr. Samuel releases and asks if she saw swirling visions, darkness, and so on—curious if he almost took the life right out of her, her soul feeling as if it was about to go. She’s clearly offended. As if this man could be possible of such a thing. She storms out after he kisses her and he continues to smile, despite wearing a long apron covered in pox blood.

Also, what’s up with the tiny girl who fell in the well and mysteriously reappeared, spewing up water into the Sibley water supply? It all sounds like an old timey rhyme. Night is upon us now, which means an intimate gathering of the people at the Sibley mansion may determine the next head of Salem. Mary’s put up George to be on his best speaking behavior after pitting him against Mr. Hawthorne, the man vying for the role of leader like his soul depends on it. George is prepared to stand his ground and defend his woman—perhaps Mary’s greatest manipulation yet. Seeing her let her loyal frog suck on her inner thigh brings back all the memories from Season 1 in which she tortured George Sibley, dear husband and crippled mute.

So now the table is set, and Mr. Hawthorne begins to rattle off all his nonsense, while Mary and George explain to him that treasury is the best role for him to carry out, end of story, shut your mouth, thanks for playing. But he can’t help but notice that Mary’s quiet servant is not in attendance, the man she was going to put up to Magistrate. That’s right: He’s incapacitated at the moment, held hostage by shadow-lurking, invisible-thanks-to-the-Indians, Captain John Alden. Tituba brings Mary into their spell room immediately to locate the servant. After much mixing, blending, pouring, smooching, jaw opening and smoke infusing, their witches’ spell is complete and they can see and hear that their silent servant is giving up details of the witches to an unidentified man. They promptly cut off his tongue. I can’t decide if John Alden is rolling his eyes or feigning how turned on he suddenly feels about Mary’s power. Mary and Tituba speculate in a moment of passionate stress over who the mystery man could be. 

2Salem3.3Witch got your tongue?

It’s been decided: Mr. Hawthorne will be the newest Magistrate of Salem. Mary walks him out and adorns him with backhanded compliments while he openly patronizes her and tells her to find her place as a woman, and to do things more suited to her gender. She forces him to kiss her hand and warns him not to attack her family. This prompts her to go read a creepy bedtime story to her son, who lay awake in his bed wondering where his daddy is. Right behind Mary, perhaps? Nope. All’s safe at the Sibley house, for now.

But as Mary kisses her son, telling him old tales of the unseen, the true theme of Season 2 emerges: Invisibility as power. The gender war remains a sign of the times, but the true prowess of control is now unseen. When the men guarding the road into Salem attack Cotton and Anne, Cotton doesn’t see what Anne is capable of—her powers as a witch protecting the two from being killed. Mary and Tituba are unaware of John Alden in their midst. Mercy Lewis sizzles with vengeance, saying Mary won’t “see it coming.” But, what about the Countess?

2Salem3.4The Countess is so listening to “Black Velvet” right now.

Mary asks for a bath. We know the water is contaminated with something—the pox, an evil spirit or, perhaps, something else? As Mary looks out the window to see Dr. Samuel across the way, she gives him a peek-a-boo and then closes the door just as her nightgown slips down. They’re giving Chuck and Blair a la Gossip Girl a run for their money with this game. Checking the water, Mary suddenly sees a ghastly figure standing next to her. Ah ha! It’s the Countess! This witch loves a bath; she can’t be absent for such an occasion to meet Mary. Lost in the sea of the bath, Mary is confronted with the creature as we see glimpses of the Countess in a chair in her stateroom, eyes rolling back with delight. She plants her infamous blood kiss onto Mary’s lips and slips away. When Mary rises, there’s blood on her lips and she looks just as weak as Anne Hale. My, my—is the Countess really the most powerful witch of all?

Tune in next Sunday on WGN for another episode of Salem! And tweet me @the_hoff so us heathens can chat about our favorite Salem witches. Are you #TeamCountess or #TeamMary? Let me know who you’re spellbound over.