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Salem - Dead Birds - Review: "All Roads Lead to Mary"


2.08 - "DEAD BIRDS"
Directed by Alex Kalymnios
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.



'DEAD BIRDS' REVIEW

If we thought the last episode was a transitional one in sort of progressing the storyline, then "Dead Birds" certainly blows that one out of the water. We got many more answers in this episode than we did the last, and with only five more episodes to go after this one, it's a great thing indeed. Fortunately Increase's stay on Salem was a very fruitful one, and I will take a 2-episode appearance over no appearance at all. I kind of wish he could stay, but I guess that would defeat the purpose of Cotton killing him in the season one finale. They really made use of Stephen Lang as Increase and yet again, his scenes are quite spectacular. I love the eerie vibe of his presence and the frozen feeling I get whenever he just appears in a room. The photo to the left is testament to that. So the revelations in the episode were mainly about the Countess and what Mary has to do to defeat her. The episode begins (after a short continuation of the last episode where Increase appears to Cotton) with Increase telling Mary about Ingrid's background and her intentions. It seems she has taken many forms before she assumed the body of Lucy Lawless. We have to remember she is otherwise known as Hecate and she wants to be the Devil's Bride. This is quite chilling as we have seen in the show, love is a strong force and it adds a layer to Ingrid's villainy. The ending - as the episode comes full circle before Increase's time is up - reveals that Ingrid's soul, the box we saw surrounded by flames at the start, is actually the ship she voyages in. How Mary is going to destroy that is beyond me but I'm looking forward to seeing how Mary deals with this challenge.

"They just come to me."

And was I the only one who thought this episode emphasised the sheer creepiness of little John? I got a sense they would from the promo but damn, this episode really cranked it up a notch or three. I loved the aspect of the dead birds and what they symbolise, so the fact that they kept coming to the boy was another creepy aspect. There were also tons of dead birds in the woods on the way to the Crags so they are connected to this boy and the fact that the dark lord is within him. It was interesting to watch how Tituba turned very frightened of him when she burned his drawings and the dead birds hit the window. Loved that moment. I think little John could end up killing Tituba if Mary doesn't do it first for what she's done to big John (I'm just calling him that to differentiate between the Johns), but I'll get to that in a moment. Another absolutely amazing scene happens when Mary overhears Little John talking to "himself" in his room and John tells her about what "No One" has been telling him. I think I might have stopped breathing when John was shouting "whore" at his mother and she slapped him. That look he gave her - pure evil. I don't know why I was still shocked when it turned out he'd been talking to Mercy as she was tasked with getting the boy in the last episode, but I still gasped a little when I saw her. She is definitely a feisty little witch and she's very manipulative. She succeeded in indulging little John with his desires of power and leads him out of the house to the ship to meet Sebastian. John did not take to Sebastian at all.

"We both love the same woman... and betrayed by her time and time again."

Another reason I loved this episode was because we got so much more depth with Tituba too. In a way, I can sort of understand her conflicts and the demons that eat away at her. She's heartbroken by Mary, who she admits she loves to John. I now feel quite sad for Tituba - she had been by Mary's side for years and years before with Mary not really appreciating her. Mary was the unobtainable desire for Tituba and she had to watch as the woman she loves loved someone else. That is quite sad and now we do have another complicated layer for Tituba. The scenes with her and big John in the hidden room of the house were interesting to watch. I wasn't sure what exactly to make of her seducing him as John seemed very easily seduced. I guess she appealed to him in a way, even though they both aren't sexually attracted to each other, they both kind of go at it for a while. I thought at first maybe it was some kind of magic that involved rape, but John seemed to dig it - he didn't mind having sex with his demonic captor... until she turned into Mary and he stopped. Maybe that reminded him of some humanity he is desperate to get back and that what he was doing with Tituba was wrong. He had a choice though and he chose to stop having sex with Tituba, so that's where it wasn't exactly rape I think, but let me know if you think differently about this as it's quite a complicated and complex scene.

Anne doesn't interact with the other females of the show and she kept herself mainly inside her house as she deals with her own little storyline. I loved how she stood up to Sebastian who stole away into her home. He's wonderfully weird and I liked how there was a sort of power play between them. I have been waiting for crazy-red-eyes Anne to return, and she did! It was a glorious moment to behold. That kind of evil seems to only get more natural for Anne as we see a bit later on when she, without hesitation, slit the throat of Brown Jenkins to open her father's Book of Shadows, as well as a rooster to spray blood over the area to reveal the door to the attic. Anne has acted very poorly to animals lately and I'm afraid she's only getting worse! Naughty Anne! I loved that she was keeping her father's Book of Shadows from the Countess - showing she has some fire within her and isn't so easily susceptible by the people who tell her to do things. Anne is sort of fighting back and I love that, the little rebel. She managed to get some of her father's dried blood from the wall which revealed his secrets and it was interesting when Anne came across the page that had her on it. If anyone knows the meaning behind this, please let me know! It did kind of look like the Triple Hecate, which if that's true, maybe Anne will end up being the one who marries the Devil? Hmm...

"My heart is forever yours, I'm sure of it."

But Anne is still smitten with a love-struck Cotton. The brief scene they had when Cotton was talking about leaping and flight was very endearing. I can totally see why Anne would fall for her own love spell when Cotton talks so sweetly. She does notice him looking pretty ill - maybe that is because of the spell but this episode also showed that he wasn't obsessing over her. Maybe he looked ill because his dead father appeared to him? I'd like to think the love spell she cast will lead to a happy ending, but that is not the case at all. But so far, we see Cotton still has a brain of his own as he teams up with Samuel to explore the Crags. They discover the black tar-like liquid that burns like lava and they realise it's the witches opening the door to Hell. I really enjoyed their scenes together and would have loved more, but by the looks of the way Samuel has aligned his ambitions with Mary, this bromance isn't lasting. Cotton just cannot catch a break. The sweetest moment of the episode, though, came from Increase's second appearance to Cotton to talk. It was very sweet how Increase was talking about how Cotton is a better man than he ever was. This newly-reformed Increase is very heartfelt and both actors - Stephen Lang and Seth Gabel - both bring raw emotion here to make us actually feel sorry for Increase, the season-one bad-guy. I was basically in tears myself when Increase said: "Know this, I love you."

"Perhaps you need some more friends."

Finally, Samuel had a very big episode himself. This man of science had some great character development here like I felt Tituba and Increase had, which is both a good and bad thing. Good, because we get more out of his character and some understanding to him. Bad, because now I feel he isn't long for this world of Salem. I like that he figured out Mary is the cause of the pox all by himself - she never had to reveal it to him that she is a witch. It shows his intelligence and how his understanding of "science" navigates his internal compass. He really is pretty smart and I wasn't all that surprised when he wanted to learn more about the witches and their own understanding of science. He's a curious guy, but I was slightly taken back by him wanting in on the whole witchcraft thing himself. I'm guessing the trippy-sex he and Mary had was a sort of ritual in making him some kind of warlock? Or was it just to connect him to Mary so she can sort of monitor him now that he gives his being to her to use as a weapon? It was a very weird sex scene mind, more so than Tituba's and John's, so now I can't wait to see how we progress with Samuel with this new direction for him. Also, having Sebastian see the two intertwined kind of dooms Samuel in the long run. There's no way Sebastian is going to just let Samuel take what he wants, and he wants Mary so badly!

EPISODE VERDICT

I would have loved for more of the dead birds to appear in the episode, I think that and the absence of the countess were my only grievances with the episode. It was still a wonderful episode though as we learned more about the characters, their intentions and what the season is building up to. The momentum is definitely starting to build again as we head towards the final five episodes of the season. I cannot believe the finale is almost upon us, but in one sweet short month's time, we will have all the answers and I cannot wait, but at the same time, I do not want this season to be over. This episode had a lot of substance though, not just for answers but for character developments and motivations so we can understand them better. It was great to see the Attic again where Magistrate Hale lost his life to his daughter and there were so many chilling things to happen, including little John's drawings and cryptic dialogue. I cannot stress how much I love this show right now and this episode just did not disappoint. I feel absolute bliss every single time I finish an episode of Salem so major props to the entire team behind the show.



- Give a creepy kid some paper and crayons and without fail he'll draw some f*cked up shit.
- Add klepto on Samuel's resume.
- I'm a little sad the Countess didn't really appear in this episode, but there was so much substance here still that it didn't bother me too much.
- This episode was brilliant for character development - Tituba, Samuel, Increase...
- When John was calling Mary a whore non-stop, this is what I would have done:



EPISODE AWARDS

Winner of Best Witch:
Anne Hale
Best Witch: Anne Hale. Her scene with Sebastian at the start where her demonic powers reared its head after so long was just perfection. Girl power!

Naughtiest Witch: Tituba. For concealing John and burning little John's drawings - he spent ages on those, and it kept him quiet at least.

Best Gentleman: Samuel. He found out about Mary and her wickedness and chose to become her weapon rather than her enemy. Smart move.

Best Spell: There wasn't really a spell in this episode, was there?

Best Line: "If you are so concerned about my son, here's a task more suited to your skills. I'm sure someone as cunning as you can find a way to remove bird shit from his linen." - Mary to Tituba.

Most Bewitching Chemistry: Cotton and Increase.

Best Moment: Increase reveals to Mary that Ingrid's soul is the ship. Twist!

Most Romantic Moment: Anne's and Cotton's "leap" scene.

Creepiest Moment: The scene with Tituba and Little John, where a bird hits the window, then another when Tituba nears.

Vilest Moment: The mask with the spears inside being put on Ingrid and then hammered into her face.

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

What did you think of 'Dead Birds'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on May 31 on WGN America at 10PM!



About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem, Scream Queens and Sleepy Hollow. Gavin will write previews for Devious Maids and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Empire, The Flash, iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Reign, Scandal and Supergirl. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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