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Salem - From Within - Review: "By the Severing of Our Tongues"


2.03 - "FROM WITHIN"
Directed by Alex Zakrzewski
Written by Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson
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.



'FROM WITHIN' REVIEW


Could I trouble you for five minutes about your
cable service?
Do you remember that extremely freaky, terrifying moment in the season two trailer for Salem where the little girl gets pulled into the well? I honestly started to think maybe that scene was filmed only for the trailer just to add to the creepiness of the upcoming season when it wasn't used in the premiere or the second episode. Fortunately, it was actually from this episode, "From Within", so that truly chilling moment was not omitted from the show. Each episode so far has had a brilliant opening and episode three is no different. It seems like another ordinary day in Salem (but by our standards, it's far from ordinary) so a little girl, the poor little girl, reaches a well and peers down it after hearing childlike laughter. She pulls the bucket up and a disgusting hand comes out and grabs the little girl, pulling her into the well and, presumably, to her death (spoiler alert: she is not dead). It's crazy because this means there's an extra threat in Salem, right, other than the witches? Also, the childlike laughing reminded me of Mary's son John and how much of a demonic little sh*t he is, or Mercy's followers. I don't think those are connected to what's living in the well but possibilities are endless! Fortunately, the little girl is not dead and later comes out the well to go straight to the Sibley house to be sick. I've tried holding in being sick after a night out and couldn't get more than a couple of feet - this girl is amazing! It is the most interesting thing to happen yet!

Mary's dilemma with her son is only intensifying. In the last episode, there was an allusion that the offspring of witches always end up killing their parents. Mary is beginning to have a sense of that from little John with that dead dove on his lap with its neck twisted. Is that what he's going to do to his mother? The kiss he gave her in the last episode suggests otherwise - was it the blood kiss? Was it an omen? I love that there is this omnipresent danger with Mary and her son - Mary loves her son, no doubt, and wants to be with him but she is seeing him as being more the devil's child than her own. Will she let him kill her, or will she do something about it first? But of course, the little demon isn't the only thing that Mary worries about - but the position of Magistrate is open and needs to be filled. Hawthorne is the THORN (hehe) in Mary's side as he constantly challenges her like the sexist pig he is.

"By not drawing attention, you have drawn a line."

Behind every great man, there has to be a
great woman!
Mary has more people under her thumb than we thought. The doctor, Samuel, is quite the weirdo. One minute he's strangling Mary (for science, though) to kissing her the next. I loved that Mary basically rebuffed his advances and alluded to John Alden, her first love. I love the conversation she has with George Sibley a little later when he begs her not to silence him with the frog. Mary sees an opportunity here against Hawthorne (who we all want to die, let's be honest) and I actually can't wait to see how George is without the censorship. He's been pretty useless lately but this could very well be his shining moment. Even though I hate Hawthorne, his little "ventriloquist" comment was pretty hilarious. George actually speaking full sentences, while a bit of a struggle, was a very welcome change and one I hope sticks. He seems to have given up fighting against Mary so his submission to her makes me happy. Unfortunately, Hawthorne becomes magistrate and I want to hurt something for allowing such an ignorant pig.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning
with... witch.
John is right back in the centre of Salem and fortunately nobody recognises him with his new haircut and mask to cover his mouth and nose. He also looks wicked-awesome in his clothes too, like a wild hunter on a video game. He has definitely kicked up the freakiness to another level. He's just in the background, silent (for the first half anyway) just watching in the shadows for the witches to reveal themselves. His target though is Mary's secret right-hand man who happens to have a very nifty trick of invisibility. I think his name is Corin (I might have spelled it wrong). Mary wants him to be Magistrate so the fact that John has kidnapped him shows how bad his timing is. Fortunately Mary and Tituba are on the case as the dream team and do a little spell to see him. Mary and Tituba, after seeing him in the smoke, cut out his tongue. Every single episode so far has had some crazy, screwed-up form of magic (such as the crow-crotch) and this tongue-severing is another delight. Really need to see how Salem is different from other witch shows such as Charmed and Witches of East End? Look no further, they never had this kind of magic before! Fortunately, Mary and Tituba see that they have had a veil cast over their eyes and are ready to seek for it to be lifted. Could this be the eventual reveal to Mary that John is alive and out for her head on a stick?

The two most positive influences in the town of Salem - Anne and Cotton - journey back to the fallen town to restore some hope. I like them together very much, they are both flawed with a hint of darkness on their hearts but they choose to be good. That's the difference between good and evil - it's all choice. Cotton believes there's always a choice which reinforces the idea that whether or not you're cursed to be a witch, like Anne, there is still a choice to be made. Hope is a big theme here. It might seem like the pair of them won't have much fun in this episode in terms of excitement but as soon as they get to the border of Salem, shit hits the fan when they are stopped by two guards preventing access. I love Anne's powers so seeing them again here during a fight with the men was painfully wonderful. I mean, I would never say I love to see a man impaled (and this has to be the most gruesome impalement I've ever seen on TV) but in Salem, I sure do love a bit of graphic violence. I'm glad they gave these two some action here, even if it was a bit brief, since they were removed from Salem in the previous episode.

"Mary Sibley will not see us coming."

Soft kitty, warm kitty...
Mercy is simply wonderful in this new look. Her voice, her face - everything is deliciously evil and mesmerising. She sounds like she's aged sixty years and the chills she induces when she opens her mouth are wonderful. It's nice to see Dollie still on her side as I like her and she's now going to be the means for Mercy's vengeance. And eww. Isaac has gotten so much worse in the past episode. He looks awful! Since Mercy set Dollie out, it looks like Isaac is potentially the first target against Mary. I do have to feel sorry for Mercy a bit though, even if she is totally cray-cray now. Her father is definitely repulsed by his own daughter and is basically now a pawn in Mercy's plan for revenge. Quite like John, Mercy is sort of "in the shadows" at the minute and it's so good at the minute, but I do hope she reveals her new makeover to Mary soon. Still, poor Isaac as Mercy's father suffocates him and Dollie helps.

The whole girl being sick in the water is explained as Mary wants a bath and Nathaniel gets the water from outside. Mary sees the doctor through the window and almost gives him a little strip but instead, she was the biggest tease in the history of TV. Partly why I love Mary so much. I love the ending here and it continues the fantastic cliffhanger/conclusions of the first two episodes. Mary is dragged underwater by the creature in the well and is kissed by it. Firstly, there's been a lot of kissing in season two already, I think people are really wanting to show affection, and secondly, just eww. I bet Mary has never been kissed by something so monstrous before. We discover that it's the Countess who is controlling whatever it is, or maybe it's a manifestation of the Countess? She definitely got a taste of Mary though as blood trickles out of both of the women's mouths. I really missed Lucy Lawless in this episode as well so I'm glad we had at least one satisfying moment with her.




- There's something extra supernatural living in Salem and seems to be the Countess's lapdog. A manifestation of the Countess?
- The absence of a magistrate in Salem begins to show its downside. If Anne could have, she really should have thought twice about killing her father.
- When Tituba threatens to take Mary's son back to the woods, who will she leave him with? The Elder witches are dead, so would she be taking him to someone else?
- Yay, Dollie is alive! I worried she was burned like the other followers of Mercy in the previous episode.
- Necromancer? More mystical allusions in the hallowed town of Salem.
- Eek, invisibility. These witches do sure have some amazing superpowers. None of the Charmed Ones could do that.
- I love the way John Alden says "bullshit".
- More crazy magic. Tongue-severing, definitely in the top ten sick spell-casting moments on the show.
- Baths of sick anyone? Apparently amazing for the complexion.


EPISODE VERDICT

I don't think I've ever watched a sophomore season of a show where each episode just gets better and better. There have been no fillers thus far - every episode has been purposeful and further develops the story - and each episode has been filled to the brim of awesome, crazy, fantastic moments. I am honestly singing Salem's praises right now because, well, it's literally the best goddamn show on TV right now. Yes, I said it. It's still early days (still got 10 episodes to go) but judging by the intensity levels and progression of the first 3 episodes, I just know things are going to get better from here.

As a little side note, the co-writer of this episode, Kelly Souders, tweeted me this:



Doesn't it just make you shiver at the knees? How ominous is that? Expect so much more from Salem in the weeks to come because it will not slow down.

Getting back to this episode though, the sheer volume of content keeps the pace moving forward but it never bloats either. A main problem I have with shows these days are that they try to add too much at once that only confuses the viewer and dampens the experience. Things are moving quickly in Salem but there isn't far too much that you'd get yourself wondering "wait, what's happening?" Salem is moving in a linear way - everything is connecting.

This episode was awesome still, just like the first two of season two. There are so many possibilities in which direction to go next. The further cementation of Mary's son murderous tendencies leans toward a dark future for Mary and that's one of the most exciting things in Salem at the minute. I love the scenes with little John, he's a demonic little thing but that development there is crazy. I love crazy. Also, the reliance on Tituba and seeing Mary's reconnection with her, despite some tension between them, is a perfect example of frenemies. They need each other even if sometimes they want to kill each other - reminds me kind of like Lucretia and Ilithyia in Spartacus. Totally not a conventional friendship but an interesting one nonetheless.

It pains me to say this but John Alden is going to have to die. I love him but I am really rooting for the witches and he's going to mess everything up. That is a great thing though because the challenges Mary faces are actually caused by him so when Mary eventually finds out, it poses a huge dilemma for her to sort out. Will Mary have to kill both Johns in her life in order to live because both seem intent to kill her eventually. Another poor soul who might be dead is Isaac. I hope he is because he's been suffering so much (and a pushover) so unless he is actually transformed into someone who can use his own mind and be more controlling of himself, then I hope he's dead. But, Mercy might have other plans for him. We'll see.

Mercy. She is terrifying now and her look is positively horrendous - but awesome. She has probably reached rock bottom and is on her way back to the top in her glorious new makeover. Can't wait to see the look on Mary's face when she sees her. Hawthorne is sure to die, right? Or is that wishful thinking? Never has there been a more sexist character on TV. Love to hate? Or hate to hate? Not sure right now until I see his smug smile wiped from his face. Where's Mercy's crow-crotch magic when you need it?

Anne wasn't in this episode too much (not like the episode before) so her development was only brief. Her fight against the man on the road with Cotton was a great moment and to see her use her powers to make one of them fly was quite funny but serious at the same time. I'm probably going to ask this every week until the finale, but how far will she go? And will Cotton find out and condemn or help her? Also, when is the Countess going to arrive in Salem? Also, George isn't silenced anymore, how awesome is it that he's come a long way since his disobedient ways of season one?

Do you see my dilemma with this show? Too many questions. So addictive though and I can't stop watching, and I will never stop watching. I'm in this for the long haul and I'm excited for the road ahead. I hope you guys are too!

(I was thinking of doing episode awards for Salem like I do for Pretty Little Liars, but I think Mary will win Best Witch every episode! I love her. Let me know if you guys think it's a good idea and I'll try and change things up a bit if Mary does win the award every time.)

What did you think of 'From Within'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on April 26 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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