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Salem - Book of Shadows - Review: "I'm Not a Regular Witch, I'm a Cool Witch"


2.04 - "BOOK OF SHADOWS"
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Written by Joe Menosky and Adam Simon
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington


THE CHARACTERS





SEASON GUIDE

Click on a title to be taken to the review for that episode. Need a catch-up of season one before starting season two? Be sure to read the ultimate catch-up review of season one.



'BOOK OF SHADOWS' REVIEW

Salem's fourth episode (I can't believe it's four whole episodes already, I'm worried time is moving too fast and the season will be over before we know it) aired last night and I cannot stress how incredible and exciting this show is. I think I have sang this show's praises every single week but that's because it deserves it. The episode begins less out-of-this-world as the first three episodes but it still has an effect. It continues on from the end of the last episode - when the Countess used the water hag to kiss Mary Sibley so she can size up the competition - and sets in motion the main events of this episode, which is to find out who is challenging Mary. That's not all, of course, as in typical Salem fashion, something sick has to happen. The award goes to Tituba, who upon finding the militia man dead, proceeds to eat his eyeballs.

"Child, I can kill you a hundred ways."

"And this is the Burn Book..."
The episode's title says it all and this episode introduces the awesomeness of the Book of Shadows. I will admit - my knowledge of the Book of Shadows comes from Charmed and the many times I tried to replicate it. It's really interesting to note more mythology is added here for the witches. The book of shadows they have, if done right, can only be read by the author and if said author dies, the book finds its way to Samhain where the books are kept so the discovery of witches will not be a threat. I really do love that idea. It must be first signed with blood - the blood signature keeps it from being read by others. Mary comes to Anne who seems so interested in all this and she has always been a curious character. She seems fascinated by the idea of familiars and keeping a secret journal - but she's using this to the advantage of being good. By harnessing her power, she realises she can seek to harm none. This is very clever and I'm glad Anne is going this route. She remains in the good graces of Mary while using her to advance herself. I just wonder how far this will go before she goes too far.

I usually really like Cotton Mather, but in this episode, I really love him. I sang my hallelujahs the moment he strutted his stuff back into Salem and challenged Hawthorne from the very beginning. I now have hope that everything is going to get better in Salem. Cotton really is that ray of sunshine in a very desolate place - him and Anne, which is why I love the idea of the two together. At the time being though, it seems there's going to be more of a bromance between Cotton and Samuel, the doctor. Their little talks reminded me of the good old days of Cotton and John - days I've missed greatly. There are still feelings there, especially since Cotton shares some tears with Mary over the news that John is dead. He restores some humanity in Mary in that scene where they talk too - something that has kind of been missing from Mary this season. See? Cotton's arrival in Salem has already improved things.

"Not fit to lead a beggar's parade, let alone Salem."

The best parts of the episode comes from Mary's and Tituba's amazing team-up skills in finding what the hell is going on in Salem and who is behind the challenging of Mary. I loved the part where Mary goes to see Samuel as he is performing an autopsy on the man John killed in the last episode, the one working for Mary, so Tituba can cut off his finger for a spell. Mary is the biggest cock-tease in TV history in that moment with Samuel to distract him. I can honestly say Mary is one of my favourite female characters on television right now. The spell that she and Tituba perform is such a cool one, yet again. I really want a book of shadows of all the spells and magic used in the show so I can replicate it - I might actually make one myself if I was that creative. I'd pay good money for this. It leads Mary and Tituba to Knockers' Hole where John is. I'm glad we got to see what it's like for him to become invisible like we saw in the previous episode and I was quite mortified when the black lines appeared all over him and infested his body. It looked painful but it was enough to keep him from Mary's sight. I don't believe he was going to kill her there and then, even though he did have the knife, I just think it was for protection.

My absolute favourite moment of this episode comes in the form of Anne's initiation - but it's also my most hated for the sheer fact of murdering a poor kitty. I'll get to that in a second. Mary wants Anne to go down the well to stop the trespassing of the mysterious witch. It seems fair enough and Anne's totally game... until Mary brings a bag with an animal inside of it. I would have been totally fine not knowing what was in it - I would have just simply imagined it being a toad or something - but then Anne had to pull it out at the bottom of the well with that cute little "meow" and completely break my heart. I know it's not Anne's fault that she had to do it and Mary was the one who forced her, but this is something I can never forgive from either of them. You cannot kill kittens. It is literally one of the worst things you could do. Fortunately the kitty did not die in vain and Anne completed the spell. Again, I loved the spell and the whole set-up and the hag appearing made me jump, and then laugh because I was silly for jumping. But come on, my heart is torn in two.

Mercy didn't have an awful lot to do in this episode and what she did do was pretty horrible. Her only true friend - Dollie - seems to show more sympathy and humanity that gets her punished by Mercy. I sense Dollie possibly wanting to get away from Mercy in the future, especially since Mercy strikes her and treats her like vermin. Who does Mercy have left in her corner, really? It appears she is going to get back to her old self by using Isaac for her own wicked little magic. Poor Isaac. I say this every review but yes, poor Isaac. He is literally only there to be used and abused by everyone so I was glad to see Dollie show some sympathy for him despite her situation. Now please let him die in peace.

The ending is promising too when John appears to Cotton and knocks him out cold. Are we going to get a much-needed reunion between the two where they start working together? Is John going to tell Cotton about the witches, and that Mary is one of them? So many possibilities! Also, Mary gives in to Samuel's crazy fifty shades of grey fantasy? Ahh!



- Gross things to happen on Salem: eyeball eating? Check! Tituba, you is nasty!
- I laughed so hard at the "beggar's parade" quote by Mary to Hawthorne. Hehe.
- How fitting for Anne's familiar to be a mouse since it matches her personality quite well.
- Not the kitty! Anybody but the kitty! Oh man, I'm never getting over this.
- Samuel is like the Puritan version of Christian Grey.
- The writing of this episode is pure poetry. "Shut up in your Puritan house like a Puritan mouse."
- No Lucy Lawless?


EPISODE VERDICT

Without a shadow of a doubt, Salem's second season continues to deliver. This episode opened the show up to more mythology behind the witches and their backstory - giving them an anchor of realism that I find lacking in other shows revolving around the supernatural. This episode continued to prove why Salem is a fantastic television show and one that should be more popular than it is.

Cotton's return to Salem was a great highlight for me as he was much missed from the main drama. He promises a brighter future in the town and I cannot wait to see his interactions with John and what he is going to do next in this struggle in Salem. Best part of the episode for me was also the well scene with Anne and Mary, but that is also a double-edged sword because of the death of the poor kitty. Please spare me from this torture Salem, though I secretly love it.

I am literally beyond excited to see Countess Marburg show up in Salem and it needs to happen ASAP. Fortunately I feel like I can wait for this because there's enough going on in Salem that she doesn't need to appear right away. I love watching the panic from Mary and Tituba at the prospect of a threat that could be greater than them so watching them go to extreme measures to ensure their safety is exciting to watch. It makes the suspense fever-pitch where I can literally die from the wait.

Keep this up Salem because if I rated every episode out of 10 this season, this would be the fourth 10 given.

What did you think of 'Book of Shadows'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on May 3 on WGN America at 10PM!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem and Sleepy Hollow in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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