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Salem - The Heart is a Devil - Review: "Seeing Through New Eyes"

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Directed by Tim Andrew
Written by Adam Simon
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington


3.01 - "After the Fall" (November 2, 2016)
3.02 - "The Heart is a Devil" (November 9, 2016)
3.03 - "The Reckoning" (November 16, 2016)
3.04 - "Night's Black Agents" (November 30, 2016)
3.05 - "The Witch is Back" (December 7, 2016)
3.06 - "Wednesday's Child" (December 14, 2016)
3.07 - "The Man Who Was Thursday" (January 4, 2017)
3.08 - "Friday's Knights" (January 11, 2017)
3.09 - "Saturday Mourning" (January 18, 2017)
3.10 - "Black Sunday" (January 25, 2017) - Advance Preview


I didn't think I could be more excited for an episode of Salem than the season 3 premiere. Then, after a truly great first episode back, we were left with that ending of Mary being brought back from the dead. While several characters in television have accomplished this before (for example Buffy), the stakes could not be any higher for a TV show. Am I the only person who feels this doomed foreboding to this season - we begin it so dark and dismal, that we literally could not be closer to Hell. This is incredible, it's definitely what the tone of the show should be this season, though I also feel some kind of finality to this season too. It feels like a be-all-end-all. I do not want this to be the last season as I want 7 seasons and a movie, but the elevation of the story is so remarkably high, while the mood is so incredibly low, that it feels like we are full steam ahead towards an incredible climax. I'm getting this feeling and we are only 2 episodes in!! That is a huge accomplishment to the writers. I could not be in more love with Salem.


Having more Mary than the premiere is a very good thing - I missed her terribly in that first episode back. Even one of her first lines - 'What have you done to me now, Queen of Bitches' - proved just why she is integral to the show... she brings the beating heart, the unbeatable power, and a mountain of sass. It helped brighten the tone a bit so not everything seemed so desolate, and we once again have our heroine! Yay! I love that, with her resurrection, still comes a price, that she is forever tied to Salem and the Primordial Tree. All prices must be paid, and it's not like this resurrection was an easy task. The stage was set perfectly in the opening scene, as Tituba tells Mary: 'If you want to save the life of your love, it is not enough to kill yourself... you must kill your son.' Incredible. Obviously, Mary's main goal is to save John Alden, as she did in the season 2 finale, so that vision Tituba shows her awakens in her the drive to move forward, with life after death. So the scene with John - that very raunchy, sexual scene - was a beautiful, and pretty hot, way of her to say goodbye if worst comes to worst, while also giving an unspoken promise that she will do what she can to stop Hell from coming to Salem. Any reason to see Shane West shirtless, I'm on board with. 'All I want is to feel you inside me.'

It's so weird having Mary back in her own home, yet it isn't her home. She's so out of place now, and what I loved about it was how unfamiliar home is to her. Where is her home? Salem is a prison now. The house she lived in is a prison. Again, this unsettling feeling is prevalent throughout - we are constantly on our toes because of this omnipresent danger. What a beautiful reunion between Mary and Sebastian, who loves her so much. It was so touching to see how grateful he was to see her alive again, yet he had to suppress it for two reasons, 1) Mary doesn't feel the same way, 2) The Devil was right there with the Sentinel. How heartbreaking for him to yearn after somebody who cannot feel the same way, for her heart belongs elsewhere. Regardless, a great scene at the dinner table, and one where we are reminded that Mary reintegrating her life with her 'son' will not be so easy. No, not easy at all...

The Sentinel didn't do an awful lot in the premiere, but he really gave off some crazy sinister vibes in this episode. His loyalty is entirely for the Devil, and his power seems to exceed that of Mary's (which is never good), so that in itself is terrifying! Throw in his torturous scenes with Mary and we're onto another wicked villain for Salem infamy. The part where his eyes shift and Mary asks what he is - and he brings us back to the pilot episode - that delivered a wave of chills. That wasn't it, as he isn't someone who is all bark, oh no, he has to go one step further by allowing a millipede to enter Mary's ear so that he can 'taste' her truth. Yak, yak, yak. Another great disturbing moment in the show, as it's one of the things it does best, and that's what makes the ending so surprising! Mary 'passes' the test with the millipede, perhaps to trick her into a false sense of security (and us as viewers), so that when she bathes her 'son', and then proceeds to stab him, only for him to turn out to be the Sentinel, well, all mouths were on the floor. One, for showing a child actually getting stabbed in the chest (before the Sentinel is revealed), and two, for that reveal. Mary is now in a bigger predicament than before, so will we have some kind of House of Pain experience for Mary that Tituba had with Increase Mather in season 1? Either way, not looking good for Mary!


Tituba got to step back a little with the re-emergance of Mary. She spent the premiere doing her best to resurrect her, all the while dealing with the loss of her eyes. I wondered how long it would take before she got her 'cat' eyes, and fortunately it was answered in this episode. I do love how creepy she looks with her hollow eye sockets, but like Mercy when she was burned deeply in season 2, I wanted her to be back to normal, in a way. The ritual part where she pulled the eyes out of the stuffed cat and stitched it up again was great, and pretty gritty too. I absolutely love Tituba's look with these eyes - she slays the eye game. Can't wait to see more of what she does now that she's the Seer. She thinks very highly of herself, that she's the one who will save the world 'through' Mary and John, so she has a lot of responsibility there. Let's hope it runs smoothly for her.

We still aren't getting to see Mercy in her full scope just yet - we see that she has the Brothel now and she's looking after young women who come to her for help, but that's about it so far. Whatever grander plot she has up her sleeve isn't fully in effect, however it's great to see the slow beginnings of season 3 Mercy. She is certainly channeling her inner Countess Marburg, and she's now exorcising power over Hathorne who, stupidly, tried to show his power over her. 50% of the business, pah! What great commence for him that Mercy would curse him with that ghastly infection for only she had the antidote. I am hoping to see more of what Mercy has up her sleeve, and to see her interact with the others a bit more as she is very much closed off in her Brothel.


I was getting rather worried this whole business with Cotton and Anne would grow tiresome quickly, as he is brought to his knees as an unwilling puppet to her. Of course, Anne means no harm, and she does everything out of her love for him (in her odd, twisted, Salem-kinda way), but it reduced Cotton to this almost pathetic role. I enjoy seeing the struggle of Anne and what is good and evil, but it meant Cotton was nothing more than that. However, this episode changed everything. I was worried he would talk when he held that meeting at the burned-down church, only for him to flip it on its head and surprised us all by glorifying Little John and what he's going to do for Salem - build it up, rather than tear it down with the flames of Hell. He's working a game, and when he started speaking romantically to Anne, I had a feeling something was up. I knew he couldn't have done a complete 180 on his feelings, so it was great to see him start to fend for himself in a more clever way than outwardly trying to defy Anne. I love this pairing a lot, despite what's happened between them as you can understand both sides, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Great scenes by Seth Gabel and Tamzin Merchant, though. They never fail to convey their doomed heartbreak yet blissful hope.

Rounding back to John, then. He's still hopeful that he can help Mary, yet he kind of knows his place - he can't do what he wants to do, right by her side, so he must play to his role within Salem. It offers a more comical, lighter side of the show as he teaches men how to combat - though they do dismally. Except one young boy, who kicks John right in the nuts. I had a feeling that boy wasn't a boy, to be honest, so when he takes off his clothes and we see his breasts wrapped up in a cloth, well, I wasn't very surprised. But I am very intrigued to see what he is up to and why he's hiding his gender - is this a Mulan sort of situation, maybe? I can imagine John will be surprised when he finds out, but will still probably accept her into his 'army', as he's that kind of supporter who wouldn't 'grab her by the pussy' as Trump would say. No, he has way more respect for women than that.


I cannot finish the review without mentioning the brief cameo of Marilyn Manson, the singer of Salem's iconic opening theme. He was actually great! I wasn't sure what to expect, especially when he was announced, but he surprised me. He didn't do an awful lot in this episode, but his brief scene with Isaac was enough to show he has some acting chops. I was really impressed! His delivery was great, he acted rather normal in a weird sort of way, and I cannot wait to see his 'Sweeney Todd' scenes that are coming up. He's going to be such an interesting character, I can just tell, and it makes me even more excited for what's to come in Salem!


Well episode two did not disappoint. It's very easy for a show to fall off some of the hype of a premiere, but Salem went straight in and did not slow down. It rode that wave of the premiere momentum right up until that agonising cliffhanger, proving why Salem is still one of the best shows on television. It certainly knows how to pique the viewers' interest and hold it. Mary's story was not stagnated by her resurrection and she wasted no time trying to achieve her goal, though reckless, proves the intensity of this show is at an all-time high. All characters have their best stories, and even those that seem to be reduced in the early part of the season, I just know, they will grow and develop into yet another terrifying, awe-inspiring season of Salem.


Best Witch: Mary Sibley - she's back, Queens of Bitches!!

Best Gentleman: Cotton Mather - simply because he's playing this game better than the witches.

Best Spell: Tituba gaining her cat eyes.

Best Line: Tituba: 'How frustrating. I must save the world through two stubborn fools that only want to save each other.'

Funniest Line: John: 'Tell me the truth; your wife has your balls in a box?'

Creepiest Line(s): Sentinel: 'Now may I kill her?'

Most Bewitching Chemistry: Mary and John - electric, hot, passionate!

Best Moment: Mary stabbing Little John in the bathtub, before it turns out to be the Sentinel.

Best Romantic Moment: Mary's and John's love-making. Also, Anne's and Cotton's love-making. Very raunchy episode.

Most Sickening Moment: Mary being fed the millipede in her ear before it comes out of her mouth.

Funniest Moment: John being kicked in the nuts.

What did you guys think of the second episode of 'Salem'? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to watch the next new episode, airing Wednesday, November 16th on WGN America at 9/8c.

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