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Salem - The Beckoning Fair One - Review: "Witching and Bitching"

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Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Donna Thorland and Adam Simon
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington



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.


"Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.
Every Man Feeds the Conqueror Worm.
I Eat Your Flesh, So Obey, You Must.
By My Command, Moist Earth Turn.
Give Up Your Dead, Their Secrets to Tell.
Increase Mather, I Call You From Hell."

Who else thinks the writers of season two of Salem are giving viewers everything they want? I couldn't have been the only person desperate to see the return of Stephen Lang as Increase Mather. He was such a formidable foe in season one and he had such incredible screen presence, just like Lucy Lawless has at the minute. Ever since finding out the two have crossed paths in the past, I have been wondering what it would be like to see both of them together. We don't see that in this episode but it's certainly going to happen since it looks like Increase Mather isn't just going to disappear anytime soon. I love that Mary summoned him and the way it happened - it adds a whole new crazy level of terror in the show. He is uber-creepy and it chilled me every single time he appeared. I love that the episode ended with him appearing to Cotton, his son. Not only did I want to see Increase and the Countess, but I also wanted to see Cotton face-to-face with the father he killed. That's going to happen in the next episode but already I'm petrified.

As we mentioned in the previous review in the comments, we wanted some progression for the bigger story and here we got some explanation. The bodies of those killed by the witch pox turns into Hellblood which will open a new gate of Hell. Waiting for a comet, the Devil is already inside the boy and the comet will let the Devil out. Since the bile from the dead bodies is opening up the gate of Hell, the purpose of that must be to let something else out of Hell - maybe a lot of things out of Hell. Can you actually picture it if they succeed at the end of the season - Season 3 will literally be Hell on Earth! Tell me one person who doesn't want to see that? I am so pleased they showed us what is going to happen - we had hints here and there before but now we have a set goal and a deeper understanding of what Mary is trying to achieve.

The pace seemed to slow down a little in this episode compared to the episodes before it and it's certainly a welcome change. It's that part of the rollercoaster where you've risen to a high level and dropped down a huge dip at full speed, and now the rollercoaster is beginning its ascent before yet another butterfly-inducing drop. It was important to get some story moving along instead of constant action. In terms of Mary, she continues to backstab the Countess as the Countess does to her. They are both incredibly smart and deceptive - Mary has Increase to scout for the Countess's secret object that maintains her life and could destroy her while the Countess wants to use Anne to get Magistrate Hale's Book of Shadows to learn its secrets. I did love the scene with the Countess and Mary watching the black bile in the woods. They would make a fantastic pair and I think they know that - they just choose to let their massive egos to power their decisions. The dinner that Mary invited the Countess, her son, and others to was a nice little touch to get the characters all together and my, what a dinner it was. In regards to just Mary and the Countess, their telepathy was great and fun to watch, though discussing who will live and die was unsettling as the new Magistrate we all loathe seems to be safe, while our Cotton could die, as well as the good old doctor.

Cotton is gradually becoming worse in his love for Anne. As he reveals, he can't eat, sleep, read. This 'mad love' that has been spelled on him is definitely becoming a problem, even though it's still early days and I don't think we've seen the worst of it. Anne has her reservations at first when she's talking to Jenkins, but it seems she's more wrapped up in her own fairytale that she can't see what her spell is doing to Cotton. I'm sure something drastic will happen between them that will snap Anne back to reality. I do love the idea of these two getting married though - I want to see a wedding in Salem, I think that's an awesome concept. Just imagine the drama and what could go wrong on the wedding day. I also love how Cotton wooes the ladies - "They are a pale shadow of your own beauty". Cotton is the smoothest character I have ever seen when it comes to romance. He is actually my ideal man, I can totally understand why Anne has fallen into her own rabbit hole. It was also great to see Cotton and Samuel sort of team up for the inspection of the man riddled with witch pox - and very, very disgusting to see what's inside him. It's good to know the good guys are hot on the witches' tails about this plan.

Tituba is also becoming far more interesting independently than when she just does what Mary commands. We all knew her relationship with Mary was strained but I thought, in this witch war, they were sort of on the same side. What I find so interesting though is how the Countess looked at Tituba during her telepathy with Mary - just what was the Countess thinking of her? I love that Tituba has John tied up (in Mary's own house of all places, talk about being right under your nose) and that she will use him when the time suits her. Isn't that just simply delicious? This is actually a huge bomb that's ready to detonate when it comes to Mary, so when Tituba decides to use John to her advantage, we can all guarantee a huge fallout. I don't know if Tituba is in over her head right now, but Mary should have listened to her when she wanted to hide John from the dinner party. Now the Countess knows about him and plans to get Mercy and her new Pied Piper skills to kidnap him.

And speaking of Mercy, just how wonderful was she looking after she bathed herself in Dollie's blood? We didn't find out if Dollie is definitely dead or not, but I would say she is considering Mercy now has a full head of hair and just looks fantastic again. She hasn't looked this good since the show started so I'm pleased for her, even if she is a naughty, disobedient little devil. I loved the burned Mercy phase but I'm loving this Pied Piper phase more. The Countess really outdid herself with Mercy and she's very smart for using Mercy to her own advantage. It looks like there are tensions between Mercy and Sebastian though, and even Sebastian and Samuel, the doctor. Sebastian wasn't as prominent when the season started but after his arrival in Salem in the last episode, and in this episode, he has really come out to play. He's so intriguing and I love that silent look he gives where he could literally be thinking anything. The revelation that he took care of George by adding him to the dinner menu at Mary's party was deliciously evil - kudos to him for disposing of George in a very creative and vile way.


'The Beckoning Fair One' slowed the hundred-mile-an-hour season long enough to get some much-needed reprieve from the constant action that has happened in the first 6 episodes. In doing so, we get a great understanding of what the witches are trying to achieve, who is on what side, and what the characters plan on doing next. Every storyline had some progression here and it was with a steady pace that it was executed brilliantly. Not only did this episode include moments that have been long anticipated (like basically every episode this season because it has been a truly amazing season), such as the return of Increase Mather whom I love, and even the return of a powerful Mercy, this episode also opened up more intriguing storylines to move forward with - Increase with his son, Mercy's influence over children and what the Countess is going to make her do with it, Anne's and Cotton's engagement, Tituba's plans for John, and Mary's blindness to several things going on around her. I love my Mary but watching her struggle between the several witches that oppose her is going to be delightful. Great episode yet again.

- Joe Dante directed this episode - he also directed Gremlins and Gremlins 2, among other great films. And also an episode of Witches of East End which is, of course, amazing.
- "No one can imagine or bare the torments of one's own worst acts." - Wise saying on Salem this season #47.
- "You are becoming what you hunt, witch hunter." - John is turning into a witch himself? Or some kind of magical being? Interesting.
- "And my gratitude could raise the dead." - 17th Century sexual innuendos are pretty marvellous.
- Wow, Mercy is looking great! Full head of hair and everything.
- It's hilarious how coy the Countess is and how she really flirts with being outright bitchy.
- Love the telepathy between the Countess and Mary.
- They ate George?! Oh wow.
- The black bile inside that man is in the top ten list of most disgusting things seen on Salem. This list is getting extremely long.


So I've changed things up a little so the episode verdict is included in the body of the review, and I've now added an awards section like I did with my Pretty Little Liars reviews. Let me know if this is a feature you like or if there is any other content you want me to include in my Salem reviews.

Winner of Best Witch: Mary Sibley
Best Witch: Mary Sibley - not only is she my favourite, but she brought back Increase Mather! What a woman!

Naughtiest Witch: The Countess - for her very bitchy "to absent friends... like dear George Sibley... resting peacefully... upstairs."

Craziest Witch: Mercy. I feel she might win this award every episode though.

Best Gentleman: Cotton Mather. Fellas should take a lesson from this one on how to sweet talk the ladies.

Best Spell: The incantation to summon Increase from Hell.

Most Exciting Return: Increase Mather, with Mercy being a close runner-up.

Most Bewitching Chemistry: Mary and Increase.

Best Moment: The opening with the spell - I just loved how Mary summoned the dead Increase.

Most Romantic Moment: Cotton with his smooth moves and words, giving Anne the flowers.

Creepiest Moment: Increase in the Countess's room, then appearing behind that man who goes inside the room. Ghosts are freaky!

Vilest Moment: The opening up of the man riddled with witch pox and the bile that poured out of him like a broken tap.

If you think of any other award categories I could include, suggest them in the comments!

What did you think of 'The Beckoning Fair One'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on May 24 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. 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
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