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Salem - Cry Havoc - Review: "Are You a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?"


2.01 - "CRY HAVOC"
Directed by Nick Copus
Written by Brannon Braga 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.



'CRY HAVOC' REVIEW

"My malice is in full bloom, and rest assured you traitorous little bitch,
once they have tasted it, you will choke on it."

Okay, when I saw the promos for the second season of Salem, I knew we were going to be in for one crazy season. What I didn't expect was to be thrusted straight into that crazy in the first 4 minutes of the episode. The Grand Rite started as we saw in the season one finale and the plague is upon Salem, so when the episode started with a young boy stealing a hen (or was it a chicken, or something else completely?) leading to a man running after him, we really see what the Grand Rite has done to the town. The man enters 'death' where he approaches an obviously sick woman which makes her jump on top of him and her face peels off when he tries to push her off. Honestly vile, I thought I might have started watching The Walking Dead by accident.

Fortunately we move on to nicer things, and who knew Mary could sing so beautifully despite being an ugly witch underneath? It's been three days since Mary got her son back and she is very inquisitive about where he was all these years but Tituba needs to take him "home". It's clear the writers have not forgotten about the disputes between Mary and Tituba - both having been such strong allies before are now watching their backs from one another. It's really cool to find out Anne is a "cradle witch" who is apparently very powerful, so at least we kind of know what she is now without knowing exactly what it is she can do. We got a glimpse of it in the finale when she blew her mother's brain out and killed her father, but I'm getting a little scared of sweet Anne already.

"Every witch in Salem will be dead."

The conflicts Mary feels over doing the wrong thing to the town of Salem is taking its toll on her as she cries for John Alden. It's clear she still has her heart and she's now being forced to comply with the grand design. Mary visits the Militia Man seeking John and we see more of the vile magic that was familiar in the show's first season (Rose biting her wrists off anyone?) so I was forced to look away when the Militia Man pulled his eyeballs out. It's always cool to see this "natural" magic on the show so Mary gets a sort of vision that was planted by the Indians. It felt a little Pocahontas but I loved the camp and the people and their costumes. John actually wanted Mary to think he was dead which shows the love-loss between them since we left them last season. John wants the Indians to perform a ceremony which they are reluctant to do. The spirit guides seem to be in John's favour but it will mean he will not leave Salem alive if he goes down this path. The ritual on John is like some freaky satanic cult. It mirrors Mary's transformation in the series premiere as she became a witch, so these two characters are now not so different after all. John's troubles are also far from over as we see when Cotton is in Boston and the Elders there still curse John as a witch. It was a neat little twist to have Cotton, who has been so important in Salem and the very dim beacon of hope of stopping the witches, be confined to Boston and forbidden to go back to Salem.

"The war is on... the battle has begun... and the frontline is in Salem."

Mercy is increasingly becoming unhinged in her revenge plot (hopefully she won't go as far as Emily Thorne in executing it) and this makes her so much more interesting than when she was a puppet in Mary's plan. Mercy wants to rule Salem as an equal, after all, she did behead Rose. Mercy is cheeky and sassy and clearly has some growing up to do, but right now she's very good at sparking something inside Mary to get under her skin. I absolutely loved when Mary threatened Mercy and she turned to see Mercy's followers, spread out amongst the corpses, mute and watching. It was so creepy and something Salem knows how to do well. It got under my skin a little. Mercy's influence appears stronger than Mary's - Dollie flirts a man out of Salem where she and Mercy's other followers tie him to a tree. I did not expect Mercy to cut off the man's penis and replace it with a raven. Just, ouch. Aren't people going to notice if the bulge in his pants starts to squawk? Anyway, Mercy is desperate for the council of witches to see her as in control, more so than Mary, but they just spit in Mercy's face. I kind of felt bad for her there, but she soon sends chills down my spine again. "That was a mistake." Mercy's followers gather round the witches as they hiss. I am always so pleasantly surprised by Mercy's ruthless way of thinking.

"The devil they fear is not the devil I know."

Anne is very damaged now. What I love about her newfound powers is that she has so much contained, so much that could lead to death and destruction, that if she doesn't control them, she could be more dangerous than Mary or any of the other witches. I think Mary sees that herself when she goes to visit Anne. I wasn't sure if Anne was just testing her powers or trying to kill herself when she slit her wrist, but either way she is going to have to confide in somebody to help. The interactions and conversations between Mary and Anne were interesting and I quite like their dynamic. Anne still holds moral feelings towards the innocents that are perishing yet she sees there is a new world but at a price. Mary does start chipping away at Anne who is very vulnerable and I think Mary sees Anne as the perfect ally in her own war. I was beginning to miss Isaac too who was absent for almost all of the episode until the new doctor finds him. He is badly infected with plague with boils all over his face - so much for Mary looking after him. Now she knows he could hold all the answers to curing the plague and revealing what started it, she looks at him with both fear and some kind of malice behind her eyes. She doesn't want to hurt Isaac but she might have to.

"Where this woman is not afraid to walk into the den of plague for our people.
Would you care to join me, sir?"

Without Cotton or Increase or even John around, Mary steps up to being Salem's leader. The power she now holds over Salem as she gathers everyone in the church is so interesting to watch. When the man speaks out against Mary and says about God being displeased that a woman is on top, I almost threw my remote at him for being such an ignorant sexist pig, but I do sometimes forget this was set over 300 years ago. New character, Dr. Samuel Wainwright interrupts the sausage-fest by turning the sexism stance on its head. Mary is obviously pleased with him and accompanies him to Knockers' Well where the plague is at its most treacherous. I hope to see more of Mary in charge - she's cunning, manipulative and has all the qualities of a fine leader.

"You are like the Queen Elizabeth of Salem."

Focusing on the new characters then, it was a great introduction to them all. Samuel Wainwright, as I just mentioned, sort of has Mary's back in the church when she is vying for power over Salem. Samuel has some big claims that he believes he can save all of Salem. He's a man of science, not of faith. He's also a man of gender equality which is always a huge plus in my book. He also poses a sort of problem by wanting to cure the plague so it's going to be interesting to see how that develops with Mary. I waited all episode for Lucy Lawless to appear too and when she finally did, my God I was frothing at the mouth. I loved her connection to Increase Mather as it showed just what a formidable foe he was against witches and his demise in the season one finale has opened up so many possibilities. The Countess's first appearance as she drowns her servent with her bathtub water was simply divine and makes me so excited to see her going forward. She really is going to be Mary's match.

"Mercy Lewis killed our witches... the true witches, the Elders!"

The ending was a knock-out! Mercy's girls stabbing the true witches to death in the woods and then hanging them in the middle of Salem amongst flames, and are those intestines they're hanging from instead of rope? Sick. It was also clever of Mercy to declare war by writing it in flames. The chiming of the bell (which I always loved at the end of every episode) returns as Mary and Tituba gaze upon the torched remains of a torn Salem.




- I am really glad they haven't changed the opening titles. It's one of the best I've seen in a current television show and I miss them being the norm, so bonus points for keeping them in tact!
- Lucy Lawless is only a special guest star like Stephen Lang was? I hope she'll still be in the whole season though.
- Mercy to Mary: "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!"
- Cotton is banished from returning to Salem, much like Gloriana was. Will we see her again?
- Sex is still present in the show and of course, the main culprit of that from season one is at it again - Cotton. Compared to everyone else, he does seem a little sex mad. And I don't know how Cotton saw that man standing outside from his angle.
- Is it just me or is the magic the witches use getting more and more sick?
- Sexism at its finest. It's good to show this actually because we can see what kind of ignorant men lived 300 years ago. 
- The Indians are very good at giving haircuts. Much better than the barber I usually see.
- Some characters, including Isaac, Tituba, Anne, John and Cotton are hardly seen but their small appearances are still vital.



EPISODE VERDICT

I loved Salem's pilot but I think the season two premiere has been the best premiere so far (and I can only hope this won't be the last premiere this show ever has). What this episode promises is an intense, action-packed, creepy, death-inducing season where anything is possible. The premiere had some fantastically creepy moments and great introductions to its new characters. I was waiting for Lucy Lawless to grace us with her presence since the announcement of her casting and she did not disappoint, even if she did have one short scene. She is going to be fantastic once she gets to Salem. The surprise for me was how much I liked new character Samuel. He seems to have replaced Cotton as the beacon of hope Salem needs so whether or not Cotton returns, he is definitely far from a boring character.

Some returning characters didn't get an awful lot of screentime. Mary and Mercy definitely had the most as their stories are the most important at the minute with them both waging war against the other and Mercy becoming unstable and dangerous. I hope in the episodes to come, the other characters will see more material. I am dying to learn more about Anne and I want to see how John proceeds with his witch-hunt. Cotton being in Boston is an interesting plot and I wonder what he's going to do there, or if he'll even stay there long. I'm guessing Mary may have to rely on Tituba now that Mercy has gone cray-cray.

I am just so excited for more. The premiere did not disappoint and it sets up a fantastic world for the future. The story of the Grand Rite and its consequences continue to reverberate throughout Salem and there's no denying it's the most exciting thing to befall Salem. The inner conflicts between every single character is an intriguing plot device as they literally can't trust anybody. Mary now has a son but he's been raised by the devil for nine years, should she be placing so much love to him so willingly? Either way, it's a new day in Salem. Bye-bye witch trials, hello Grand Rite!

What did you think of the season two premiere of Salem, 'Cry Havoc'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on April 12 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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