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Salem - Episode 1.01 - The Vow - Review

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Salem opens up in 17th century Massachusetts with a public scene of a male and a female being held in stocks receiving punishment for the sin of fornicating. In addition to the public humiliation, the male also receives 10 lashes and is branded with an “F” on his forehead to mark him forever as a fornicator. George Sibley, the man in charge, reminds the onlookers that they serve God and he can’t be expected to be on their side if they tolerate abominations or those who commit them.

John Alden steps out of the crowd and quotes from a verse from the Bible reminding Sibley to not judge lest he be judged himself. There is no love lost between Sibley and Alden whom Sibley wouldn’t mind seeing hung. John is heading off to fight the French and Indians, but before leaving he meets with Mary secretly at night and gives her a token of his love. He vows that he will return for her when the war is over.

John left Mary far more than just the physical token of his love. She is expecting his baby and needs to do something about it before her pregnancy is discovered. Mary hesitantly follows a confidant, Tituba, into the woods where she performs a procedure to help Mary get rid of the baby. Tituba assures Mary that the woods aren’t to be feared and that they will take care of the baby’s soul. During the procedure, Mary has visions of her and John frolicking in the woods mixed with images of a dark creature chasing her. Tituba urges Mary repeatedly to say this is what she wants which she does while she cries out in pain. Afterward, there is no evidence of Mary having been pregnant. Tituba cradles her and tells her all the world shall be hers.

Seven years later, John returns from war to find that everyone thinks he has died in the war. Salem is in the middle of a witch panic. Cotton Mather has been sent in to see to the trials. John learns that Mary is the richest woman in Salem because she has married George Sibley in his absence and may soon be a widow.

John accompanies Rev. Mather to subdue a troubled girl who claims that “The Hag” is responsible for her torment. Rev. Mather is quick to blame the incident on witches while John says that she touched in the head and needs a doctor not prayers. In an eerie twist, The Hag isn’t just a figment of the trouble girl’s imagination after all and actually exists. She comes out of the shadows and attacks the poor girl.
Rev. Mather is challenged about his lack of caution when he insists that witches remain among the people of Salem despite having already hung three of them. John clearly doubts the existence of witches and questions why witches and not some other being. Later in the tavern, John has a talk with Isaac whom he learns was the one punished for being a fornicator. Isaac reveals that witches are very real and not a fairy tale. He warns John to not walk out on them before because of what happened to them the last time he did.

Rev. Mather isn’t free from temptation himself. He enjoys the company and sexual favors of a prostitute named Glorianna. John runs into Rev. Mather outside of the brothel where Mather reveals that he has spent the time since they’ve last seen each other becoming an expert on witches. In another shocking twist, Mary is revealed to be a witch, and in particular The Hag, who keeps her familiar, a frog, inside of George. She tells George that he took everything away that she loved so it feels good knowing that she is destroying everything he built and devouring his very soul.

John reveals to Mary that he was taken prisoner and didn’t break his vow to her by not coming back. He asks Mary to go away with him to New York. Mary is tempted, but she reveals that “he” won’t let her. She confronts Tituba about being told that John had died in the war. Tituba says that “he” never abandoned her like John did and “he” raised her up to be powerful over her enemies and gave her everything she ever wanted. A friend of John’s informs Mary that he knows that she buried John’s baby in the woods, and that John has a right to know.

Mary sees that a young girl, Anna, is charmed by John. She converses with her and warns her about the dangers of love and while embracing her she steals a lock of her hair. Mather further interrogates the troubled girl to get her to reveal the names of the witches who are tormenting her. Since she can’t say the name, he takes her out in the middle of the town for her to point out her tormentor. Mary uses her power to force the girl to point out the friend of John who has knowledge of her pregnancy.

On the Sabbath, Tituba and Mary perform a ritual to call forth the devil. In the woods, Isaac and John look on as various creatures form a circle. The circle is broken when Isaac yells out and John is forced to shoot at one of the creatures. Mary urged Mather to press John’s friend since he refused to admit or deny being a witch. John arrives to find his friend being pressed, but his friend dies before he is able to reveal to John that Mary was pregnant with his baby. Mary presses one of her companions for the identity of who saw them in the woods, but he wasn’t able to tell. Mary intends to use the witch trials to turn the Puritans against one another until none are left and the witches can then control Salem.

I found this episode to be chilling and very griping with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing and engaged. It is dark and very reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow. Mary is still drawn to John although she has given her soul up to the devil. The witch hunt provides a good backdrop for tension and conflict going forward. John is rightfully skeptical and has no love for the Puritans since they are responsible for his friend’s death. He is also still in love with Mary although he is hurt that she has married while he was gone. There are more secrets that are bound to come out as the season goes on.

What did you think about this new series? Do you think that Mary is a villain, or do you think that we’ll start to see her more torn as the season progresses? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author - Tracie
Tracie is a wife and stay-at-home mom of 2 residing in NJ. She likes to unwind with a good book or in front of the TV. She is an avid reader of romance books. She likes to cook and bake. She loves to exercise and is trying to live a healthier life style. She watches a wide variety of TV shows ranging from reality TV to scripted dramas. Some of her past and current favorite TV shows are Sex and the City, Charmed, The Good Wife, and Hart of Dixie.

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