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Salem - Ill Met By Midnight - Review: "Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall"


2.06 - "ILL MET BY MIDNIGHT"
Directed by Nick Copus
Written by Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders
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.



'ILL MET BY MIDNIGHT' REVIEW

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is the most betrayed by all?"

The best thing about cliffhangers after an intense episode is that they usually continue straight into the next episode. Half the time, the follow-up from an intense cliffhanger is disappointing, but because this is Salem, there was no disappointment whatsoever. I loved that the action started immediately from Mary and Tituba discovering George dead with streams of water pouring out of his mouth. This was a fantastic opening as we see Mary's desperation to save George - someone she despises really but needs to survive as a ruler in Salem. If he dies, she is f*cked. We discussed this in the comments of my review from the last episode about how George dying would mean Mary is in a more desperate situation because she needs George and if he dies, her power to rule Salem also dies. Part of me really wanted him to live as he has been so obedient and handy lately, but as I came to realise, his death opens so many more exciting doors for the future. Mary is husbandless. That security is now gone. I loved the scene with Mary and Tituba trying to resuscitate him with magic though and I always love seeing the spells and the sick way the witches on this show perform them.

Of course, the much anticipated arrival of the Countess in Salem was the highlight of the episode. Not just the fact that Ingrid is in Salem, but also her son, Sebastian. Both make, quite possibly, the creepiest mother-son relationship, blowing Norma and Norman Bates of Bates Motel away with their craziness. Totally love it though as that relationship develops and we start to see why Joe Doyle is part of the main cast. I loved the look of disgust on Ingrid's face when she first approached the people of Salem. Whenever Ingrid and Mary share a scene together though, it's electric and so beautifully written. I just find myself smiling whenever they share words because it's written so brilliantly that it gives me chills. Well done Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson for continuing the fantastic dialogue these two powerful women share for the second episode in a row. Am I the only one who gets chills when they speak? For instance, they make the perfect frenemy relationship with Ingrid telling Mary after Mary chooses life, to "practice the art of losing gracefully." Love that so much. Even when it appears they may become allies, there is still that danger behind them both. Ingrid holds so much power over Mary already with the death of George now threatening to expose Mary's vulnerability to the town, so this is the perfect obstacle Mary needs to overcome. She's our main girl, the main witch we root for but with this new threat, I can't help but love every minute of it even when I want my Mary to win.

John hasn't been as intense as he was at the beginning of the season and has appeared to have taken a step back from the main action of the show. That's not to say he hasn't been important. This episode furthered that internal struggle John is having with his new role as a charged witch hunter, empowered by mysterious magic to keep him on his bloodthirsty mission. The cliffhanger from the episode before with John as he had followed Anne to the burial of her familiar continued here too. He follows her home under the invisibility ability he has acquired and now we know he is definitely after Anne. He beats around the bush a little so we know that he isn't particularly happy with having to kill her, which shows his humanity is still very much present. I found it so creepy when John visited the militia man who he killed, but it turns out he's, well, undead. I love the special effects of the show for one thing - it's so raw and realistic looking - so major props on that one make-up team. One line that stuck with me - "you're almost as dead as I am" - reinforces the idea that myself and the readers of my reviews have had that by not killing any witches like John has been tasked to do, it's slowly killing him. He desperately needs to kill a witch or that power inside him will overcome him and take his life. In a way, John has also sold his soul, just not to the Devil. We do go back to John around the end as he breaks into Anne's house - a truly horrifying scene - because the threat he poses to Anne now is huge and would Anne kill John to protect herself, someone she cared for in the past? It didn't come to that fortunately as Tituba, who had been absent in the episode after the opening and Cotton's fight, stops him from doing so. She didn't seem to recognise John though as she refers to him as "witch hunter" so he is still hidden (in a way) from Tituba's eyes, and probably will be from Mary's eyes too. What will Tituba do next with him I wonder?

Cotton had a pretty big episode too as we see the effects of Anne's spell start to infect him. At first I wasn't sure if it had absolutely worked, but it's affirmed from pretty much the beginning of the episode. Hathorne says some pretty dirty stuff about Anne within earshot of Cotton, and Cotton bravely defends her honour. I would like to think he would do that for Anne regardless of being under the spell. He's always cared for Anne, that we saw developed through season one and then when Anne visited him in Boston, so it's not like this comes from nowhere. The fight between them was fantastic though and I loved that it spilled to the outside of the tavern so Mary and Anne could see. The cutting between the fight and Anne watching and Mary watching made this a great scene. The violence takes a pretty nasty turn when I thought, for a moment, that Cotton was actually going to stab Hathorne. I wanted him to, don't get me wrong because I don't like Hathorne at all and he needs to be taught a lesson, but like Anne said, "you're no killer". I loved that Cotton fought that apparent urge to kill Hathorne, and Mary's demanding "do it", to retain the character we all know and love. I worried we'd lose the essence of his character but he's still very much present. I also loved the jail scene between Cotton and Hathorne and the Countess putting Hathorne in his place. If anybody could do it, it was her.

So Anne, who kind of loved the fact that two men were fighting over her, still kept hope that Cotton would still be himself after the spell was cast. Another discussion we had in the comments of the last episode was whether Brown Jenkins was Anne's familiar as she appeared to kill him, but as we saw in this episode, he really is her familiar. The love spell needed Anne to sacrifice something she loved, and the squeezing of the mouse she fell in love with was the token of that sacrifice. Even though the bar fight went as far as it did because of the love spell (Cotton would definitely defend Anne but probably wouldn't have went as far as he did in the fight without the spell), I think the true effects of the spell didn't show until Cotton visited Anne during the night. In a way, again, it felt very Cotton-like for him to confess his feelings towards Anne the way he did because he's always had that sort of jumbled way of speaking what's on his mind and it's very cute. I would have enjoyed this so much more if I didn't know he's just under a spell, but at the same time, some of it has to be true, right? We saw some feelings sparked in the past, who's to say the spell didn't just rush things forward? Kind of like how drinking alcohol releases your inhibitions to speak what's really on your mind. Cotton says he loves Anne, which is definitely too fast, but then he pulls away after kissing her when he realises it's too soon, so his rationality is still intact. I'm so conflicted because I want this to happen between them but not in this way. How sweet was this line though after Cotton says he loves her - "its name (love) is forever inseparable with yours." Awwww.

My god I love the Mercy / Dollie / Isaac sub-plot right now. As we saw in the last episode, Dollie stole Isaac from being Mercy's slave and showed us that finally someone is putting Isaac's best interests before themselves. Unlike Anne and Cotton, this little love story is far more sweet because there are no dark underlining forces between their intimacy. It was so sweet when Dollie kissed Isaac and I very much root for this couple (though if the end is any indication, it may not happen, boo!). Mercy, who I do feel sorry for, is visited by the Countess who appears to her like her fairy godmother, which I found hilarious in a way as it reminded me of Shrek 2 when the Fairy Godmother appears to Fiona, so that's how I see those two at the minute. But I do love that the Countess and Mercy now have this relationship and Ingrid is showing Mercy some hope in her fight against Mary. Two heads are better than one. Mercy's snot bubble though was hilarious - that reminded me of this funny little video of a little boy singing Let It Go from Frozen. If you haven't seen it, I implore you to watch it and see if you can watch Mary snotting in the same way:

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED


God, I haven't laughed so much in so long. But that scene was awe-inspiring between the Countess and Mercy as a new alliance is formed.

So the ending was yet another amazing one by the writers. Dollie and Isaac had plotted to leave Salem by stowing away in a ship leaving the town, and the sweetest exchange ever happened between them - "There is nothing left for me here but you." Happiness is of course short-lived on Salem as the two are taken away and it's revealed the Countess has Dollie tied to the ceiling of her cabin on the ship, like a girl in a previous episode, ready for her to show Mercy what power can heal her from her crispy condition. I love that Mercy is still hesitant to harm Dollie as I really thought she would kill her on the spot for betraying her, but Mercy's compassion was still evident. Even though Mercy doesn't save Dollie, she still weeps for her after arguing with her about their past. It's clear Mercy doesn't really want to drain Dollie of her blood, or hurt her in any way, but she doesn't really have a choice. The entire scene is mesmerising, especially the last shot of it with the Countess helping Mercy bathe in Dollie's blood, with Dollie hanging helplessly from the ceiling. I pray to God Dollie does not die from this. I really want her to survive. That would have been a creepy way to end the episode, but the writers had to go one further to add a double-whammy. Mary digs Increase Mather up and pulls off his head. We saw in the past with Tituba how witches speak with the dead so I am so excited to see the next episode if they reanimate Increase's face to make him talk (hopefully with Stephen Lang's voice) about how Mary can overcome the Countess.

"A true war is only won when the enemy is dead."




- Will John turn into a tree if he is invisible too long?
- Salem has some of the wisest metaphors.
- That sex dream with Anne. My mother could have walked in at any moment during the episode, but no, she chose to come round once naked people were on my television screen. She wasn't fazed: we did watch True Blood together after all.
- I'm glad we are seeing more of Sebastian now. He's going to be interesting to watch as his fascination with Mary seems intense. Will he really give Mary what she wants?
- Brown Jenkins looks absof*cking scary with those red eyes, Jesus. If I was sitting in a chair, I would have fallen from it.
- Don't be dead Dollie!


EPISODE VERDICT

Salem has the ability to slap its viewers in the face and make them beg for more. I feel with every episode that has aired this season (and even in season one), the endings have been so incredibly delicious that the anticipation for the next episode is unbearable. The intricate weavings of a fabulous story by the show's storytellers keeps us coming back for more and they fill every episode, from start to finish, with excitement.

This was no different for 'Ill Met By Moonlight'. A perfect streak for season two continued with the sixth instalment of the show's sophomore season. So much fun is to be had here while also keeping us horrified and anticipating what is going to happen next. The interactions between Mary and the Countess are so wonderful to watch that I feel like now, I don't want either to win because that would mean one of them will die. I want neither to die (but of course Mary is our heroine so she must triumph) as I want to see both of these empowering women for seasons to come.

Anne's storyline heats up with Cotton and Mercy might just get her groove back (and her skin). I fear for Dollie that she might be dead going into the next episode, so I am hoping she isn't. John's story is being developed at a slow but interesting pace, and the omniscient threat over Salem still looms and we have to choose sides for the witch war that is flaring. Be sure to read the full review above for my complete thoughts because I always have a lot of them when it comes to Salem. How can I not when every episode is packed with so much evil goodness that makes the show my biggest guilty pleasure. Only, I don't feel guilty watching this show at all. I'm an out and proud fan of Salem.

What did you think of 'Ill Met By Midnight'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on May 17 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 gavin@spoilertv.com.
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