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Salem - Wages of Sin - Review: "What a Mother Wouldn't Do"


2.09 - "WAGES OF SIN"
Directed by David Grossman
Written by Al Septien and Turi Meyer
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.



'WAGES OF SIN' REVIEW

I have so many feelings about this episode. Like seriously, I felt like the show just strapped me into one of the most emotional episodes of Salem ever. What I love about season two of this show is that it has explored so many of the characters and their humanity - even the ones that shouldn't have any left - and developed them to more fully-fleshed real-life characters. The feels in this episode were real and there is so much to talk about. I knew things would get emotional knowing Little John was kidnapped and that Mary was going to come face-to-face for the first time with John Alden but I didn't expect it to be this much of an emotionally-draining spectacle.

"Speak plainly or choke on my wrath - what have you done with my son?"

The issue of the Countess having Mary's son is addressed pretty quickly as Mary goes to check on John to wake him up, only to find the bed empty. I'm glad the Countess appeared to her straight away to tell her everything - where her son is and her intentions of what she's going to do to him - as I would have been a wreck seeing Mary search high and low for him in her worried state. I mean, even when she knew where he was, Mary was shaking. Janet Montgomery did a seriously wonderful job in this episode to show Mary's emotion and the lengths she would go through to save him. This episode solidified that Mary indeed has a warm heart despite having sold her soul to the devil. We knew she loved John Alden but the love for her son is overwhelming. I also loved how the scene between Mary and the Countess helped move the story forward and the Countess revealed to Mary of what her son was destined for. The Countess also called the big plan "The Working" so that's what the next stage of the Grand Rite is, and that Little John is the vessel for the Dark Lord, but he will need to be slaughtered for it to work. That sounds awful and the horror on Mary's face basically slaughtered my emotions. I also found it so interesting the way the Countess spoke about how much of an honour it is to have your son fill this role as she was going to do it herself, and she would have "given anything for that honour" but it wasn't meant to be. I really want to know why it didn't happen. It also shows how much better a mother Mary is compared to the Countess. The Countess is truly wicked, scaring Mary further that John is going to die whether Mary is at the Crags or not, as she will bathe him in the Hellblood or she will bathe in his blood.

My favourite parts of the episode were the scenes between Mary and Tituba. It was the confrontation we've been waiting for (as well as the Mary/John one) as we desperately needed both characters to let everything out as they both have so much building up inside of them - so much hate for each other. I felt so sorry for Tituba actually at the start when Mary was treating her horribly - "Now, for once, can you just do your job." But what Mary doesn't realise is that Tituba has been doing so much for Mary, she really has devoted her life to her so that remark cuts Tituba in half. The comment about Mary trusting Increase more than Tituba is also quite hurtful. Both have caused so much hurt on the other that it's really upsetting to me as a shipper of the Mary and Tituba friendship. The Countess really screwed things up for Tituba in a way by revealing to Mary the true purpose of John, revealing more of Tituba's secrets that she's kept from Mary, leading to the best scenes of the episode...

"Why did you deceive me for all those years?"

The confrontation. To be honest, I feel like now it's happened, both Mary and Tituba can move on from this and help each other, maybe work on building trust up again. I haven't seen a promo for the next episode (as it isn't on the website yet, damn you!) so I don't know what is going to happen next, but the scenes between Mary and Tituba were intense, to say the least. I love how calm they kind of start, both crying and I was surprised Mary didn't go for Tituba's throat sooner. But this was a very important scene for both characters. It offered so much more insight into the feelings of both characters and where they stand with one another. I feel that it also shows just how deeply they do actually care for one another as they are both devastated by the betrayals of the other. If Mary didn't care so much about her relationship with Tituba, she would have probably just dispatched of Tituba sooner, but she didn't. I loved the part where Tituba questioned their friendship when Mary said they were friends - "Was I, or was I never anything but your property?" It kind of shows just how much Tituba wanted to be more to Mary as equals, but it kind of never happened which has opened Mary's eyes. Also, when discussing selling Mary's son to the devil to give her the world, Tituba's explanation is quite understandable, as Mary really was just a child herself, but then Mary broke my heart when she said she would have still loved him as she does now. Ugh, this had me in tears at how intensely satisfying this all was. "If you just learn to harden your heart" Tituba said as her voice breaks because she is crying. It's funny how both these wicked witches are so emotional, revealing to each other the extent of their own humanity and their love that is buried beneath a wall of hatred.

"I keep asking myself how I could ever love you"

This all leads to a fight between the two which I kind of loved even though I wanted them to kiss and make up. Tituba pushes Mary to kill her then reveals John Alden is still alive. Another moment that truly blew this episode to new heights was the much-anticipated Mary and John reunion. I held my breath during this entire scene, loving every minute of it. It felt so real and raw with passion and hatred and just like Mary's and Tituba's confrontation but deeper. The line I quoted above that John says to Mary is such a harsh statement but we can understand why he would say it. He explains that she is 'the' witch that has caused so much death, and he is right. She is a despicable person for doing such bad things but we, as an audience, still love her because we get to see what the other characters don't really get to see - her struggles. What she really wants. But Mary lays it all down in this episode of what she truly wants. She doesn't want the world, she wants a heart, a heart that is capable of a happy ever after with the love of her life and their son.

"I have a son... we have a son?"

When Mary revealed to John that they had a son, I broke down. I truly broke down. He doesn't know what to say really, and later when she shows him Little John's room, it really starts to hit him. I loved that Mary relayed the story of Little John asking about his father and taking his name. It was one of the sweetest moments of the show and it seemed to persuade John into believing her. I liked that Mary explained what happened the night they were supposed to meet up to run away together, I felt that they both needed closure on that. It's also a revelation of Mary's character when she begs John to stop what she started in order to save their son. Mary would literally do anything for her child, even if he is a little crazy and demonic and extremely creepy at times, but she loves him deeply. She doesn't want the honour of welcoming the Dark Lord to the world - she just wants her son safe and sound. John asking Mary where his son was being kept was also a great moment. It showed that he did indeed want to save the son he just found out about and that the love from parents is more powerful than the evil that infects them. Both should want the other dead - Mary is a witch and John is a witch killer - but they love their son so much (and I'm sure they still love each other deeply) that they appear to overcome it just for their child.

"You'll burn in Hell, Wainwright!"

Oh God I'm tearing up so much writing this. Moving on swiftly, Cotton had a pretty big episode as the past caught up with him. I thought Hathorne would have been more of a dick at first but he was actually pretty reasonable with Cotton about the whole witch stuff Cotton was ranting about. I was shouting at the screen when Cotton started talking about what he saw at the Crags with Samuel as we all knew it was too late for Samuel to corroborate Cotton's story since he was seduced by Mary. I got pretty worried for Samuel when they started going to the Crags and we saw the dead birds, but then all was fine for him when the black pitch is nowhere to be seen. Poor Cotton is dragged away. I can understand from Hathorne's perspective if it's his job to get rid of Cotton, so at this point I think fair enough but don't you dare banish my Cotton or we will have problems, but then he mentioned to the driver of the carriage thing to make an attack look like an accident, and that he wants Cotton dead. That was when he became that demoralising dick we have all come to know and loathe. Karma will eventually bite you on the ass Hathorne, ya dick.

"Take my body, just give me back my son."

It was probably important to start the episode with the affection between Mary and Samuel. Samuel has accepted Mary for who she is and even agrees - though it pains him - to burn his work on the Plague. It broke his heart, you could tell, but he still did it. Side note, it was creepy when he burned the apple from the Grand Rite and it made the noises. Continuing on from the last episode when Sebastian witnessed Mary and Samuel in bed, we all theorised that Sebastian - being the jealous wicked witch he is - would do something to Samuel. Something bad. When he visited Mary and fixed the mirror, it was clear to see Mary's pain at this point. She begs him for the safety of her son, even going as far as saying the quote above about him taking her body. Again, it shows what Mary would do to get her son back and it's all the more heartbreaking. I loved the chatter between the two male characters, especially about the bed and how "that delight is apparently yours and yours alone." The telepathic talking between Sebastian and Mary was also wicked cool and from that moment, when Sebastian said Samuel was going to die, we knew he would succeed. Poor Samuel didn't stand a chance. I loved Samuel's enthusiasm and positivity despite the awful situations. He is so curious and optimistic and I would have loved to have seen more of this acceptance of witchcraft in order to discover more as he acts how I probably would if I was accepted into the fold. "I have so much to learn... I believe my very life has been leading to this moment." Sebastian and his false promises. I knew as soon as they reached the Crags Sebastian would push him in, and Cotton even alluded to it beforehand about him burning in Hell. I thought he'd disintegrate like lava but he sunk into it, Sebastian revealing he's the first person since Dante to enter Hell. Ugh, I feel so bad for Samuel. R.I.P.

"Having come this far, the price must be paid. I am so deeply sorry my child but it cannot be escaped or evaded. No gift without a curse, and he is the curse."

Anne Hale had a sort of minimal role in this episode as she only appeared in about two scenes and briefly at the end during the tolling of the bell, but she didn't need any extra scenes because Oh My God, her scenes were awesome and terrifying. First of all, it was fantastic to hear Xander Berkley's voice again as Magistrate Hale. I got chills. Then the show made me literally sh*t myself when the demon appeared in the mirror. It freaked me the f*ck out. I'm still shaking from it to be honest. I loved it though, and I loved her second appearance when she is practicing her talents with the help from her father from within the book. I loved the revelation that she can simply kill at a distance, and that she has power of life and death. So she can take away life, but can she also give it? Hmm. The line I quoted above too was so creepily delivered that my heart gradually dropped throughout. When she slowly turns the page to see the demon, I cowered under my covers like the scared little child I am. I freaked out when she was transported to the woods and chased by the demon. I didn't know what to expect when the demon was clawing at her clothes but I just knew I had already urinated a little. I loved how she screamed for Cotton who could sort of hear her. So close yet so far.

"Do not fear, little one. Your father and I are coming for you."

The end of the episode was complete perfection as it shows us that it's almost time for this war to truly kick off. Seeing the star in the sky was so chilling as literally everyone saw it. I thought that was cool that it went through everybody, which was probably to symbolise that this whole ordeal is going to affect every single life in Salem. Nobody is safe from what is to come, which was the perfect way to end the episode. We see that Anne is back in the attic and she looked awful, but at least she's not dead or badly mauled. We also see that Mary has tied Tituba up in John's place, as Mary watches John leave from the balcony. I love that unspoken moment between them as they agree to save their son. I also couldn't help but smile at Mary's vow to her son that she and his father are coming for him. Yes, Salem. Yes, yes, yes!

EPISODE VERDICT

Perfect episode in every single way possible. My love for 'Wages of Sin' knows no bounds. Almost everything I wanted to happen happened in this episode. The reunion between Mary and John was bewitching, the confrontation between Mary and Tituba was electrifying, and the progression of the main plot was chilling yet satisfying. I am so glad we are heading down this dark, dark path with only 4 episodes to go, showing us that Salem is not slowing down one little bit as we head towards the finale. So much was addressed and revealed as characters reached breaking point, though the only thing that still wasn't revealed was John's affliction. He looks fine so I guess the fact he isn't killing witches shows he isn't dying because of it, and I do want some answers from that but it appears we will be busy watching him and Mary team up to save Little John. I really hope Tituba will prove her loyalty to Mary by helping out, but I'm seriously not sure what to expect next with this show and that's what I love about it. Amazing episode and I cannot wait for the next one. At the same time, knowing there's only four episodes to go upsets me as this season has flown over. I'm not ready for no more Salem until next year (if the show is renewed and it bloody better be).


EPISODE AWARDS

Winner of Best Witch:
Tituba
Best Witch: Tituba. She basically put her heart on her sleeve and showed such genuine emotion. I would have put Mary here for her love for her son but she can't be greedy with these awards, and I adored Tituba's humanity in this episode.

Naughtiest Witch: Sebastian. Naughty Sebastian, condemning Samuel to Hell. Got to love his evilness though.

Best Gentleman: John Alden. He just learned of his son and puts his issues with Mary aside to help her save him. Father of the Year right there!

Best Spell: No spells were really cast during this episode, but Anne's practicing at the end was cool!

Best Line(s): "I have a son... we have a son" - John. "We do" - Mary. So much emotion going through me right now.

Most Bewitching Chemistry: This is a threesome award going to Tituba/Mary/John. The issues they all had with each other led to intense scenes.

Best Moment: From Mary's and Tituba's confrontation to John's and Mary's first seeing each other this season (discounting when John was invisible a few episodes back and he saw her).

Most Romantic Moment: Mary's and John's bonding over their son, especially when Mary was telling John about when their son asked about his father.

Creepiest Moment: When the Demon appeared in Anne's mirror. I had myself a heart attack.

Vilest Moment: Increase's maggoty head.

I seriously suggest checking out the WGN America website for Salem as it has some amazing content on it. The Writers' Wrap of 'Dead Birds' is on there with Adam Simon and it just holds so much insight in a little video of the last episode. No doubt there will be one for 'Wages of Sin' too so be sure to keep checking the website here.

What did you think of 'Wages of Sin'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on June 7 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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