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Motherland: Fort Salem - A Biddy’s Life - Review Roundtable: Despair

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This review was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans (DJRiter), and Ellys Cartin.

Motherland: Fort Salemdelivered a tense episode with A Biddy’s Life. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Scylla (Amalia Holm) encountered her ex-boyfriend, Porter (David Lennon), and he quickly saw right through her façade which jeopardized both her mission and her budding relationship with Raelle (Taylor Hickson). As a result she seduced him into a kiss, betraying Raelle in the process, and sent him to a tragic and heart-wrenching end. Which do you think motivated her the most to send him to his horrific end? Also, she looked a bit horrified at the end when she saw Raelle and Porter on the ground. Was that fear for Raelle or a painful realization of what she had just done? Do you think she regretted the fate she doomed Porter to?

Aimee: I think in a way both things motivated her, but it all came back to being about Raelle. I believe she knows that if Raelle finds out she is Spree she would likely not turn her in, and would, at the very least, leave her. I think Scylla has reached a point of no return with Raelle. She is letting her heart get far to invested as was evident when she promised Raelle that if she ever decided to run that she’d not leave without her. When they hugged and Scylla was for a brief moment able to drop her guard you could see the fear and honesty in her eyes. She is falling hard for Raelle and my interpretation of that look told me that in that moment she wanted nothing more than to be able to take Raelle and runaway from both the Army and the Spree. She’s getting in trouble and I believe even she is starting to realize that. So, I think when she sent Porter to his doom it was more about Raelle than the Spree. No matter how you look at it, what she did was horrible and cruel and can’t really be justified. I truly believe there is a redemption arc in Scylla’s future if the show goes on long enough, but they are having her do things that are going to make that redemption a long hard road. As for the look on her face at the end, I think it was to do with both Porter and Raelle. I believe she realized that what she did not only killed the guy she once cared about, but also almost killed the woman in whom she has become completely smitten. I think it was a severe reality check for her and it’ll be interesting to see how she deals with what she did and the ramifications of it.

Donna: Self-preservation was Scylla’s main motivation pure and simple. Porter was a threat to both her mission and to her relationship with Raelle. She had to think and act fast. Eliminating the threat without trying to reason with him was her motivation. In the end, her fear was that Porter had told or said something to Raelle to turn her against her. I don’t think she regretted a thing.

Ellys: Scylla had a myriad of reasons to kill Porter. He knew too much about her past, threatening both her relationship with Raelle and her undercover status. His death is a somewhat sloppy move on her part, making me think that she panicked a little or acted on a dark impulse. She looked startled at the end to see Raelle with Porter, but I wouldn’t be so quick to say that Scylla is falling in love with Raelle. Perhaps she is, but we can’t forget that Scylla’s entire mission is to retrieve Raelle. Seeing Raelle with Porter alarmed Scylla because she knew there was a possibility Raelle would learn something from him if he didn’t die immediately.

At the end, after Raelle collapsed after trying to save Porter she caught a quick glimpse of Scylla before she succumbed to the injuries she tried to take from him. Do you think that mixed with the suspicions Raelle has had in the past will lead her to look deeper into who Scylla is? Or will love continue to blind Raelle?

Aimee: I would like to think that Raelle is going to start to get suspicion about all the things that happen around Scylla and in association with her and stop looking past the warning signs. Raelle is a smart woman and is very observant of the things around her. With that said, I think she has slapped on hardcore blinders when it comes to Scylla. I fear that love is completely blinding her and it will be at her detriment. If, and when, the Spree try to collect Raelle from Scylla I expect things will get very complicated because the way Scylla was talking about running away has me thinking she is having cold feet about her mission. By being so blind to what is going on with Scylla means that Raelle will be caught off guard and Scylla will only be able to offer her so much protection. As much as I love these two as a couple the best thing Raelle can do now is open her eyes and piece together the truth before the worst-case scenario happens and she is put in danger. I just don’t know if she can do that at this stage. Love can be blinding and it has definitely blinded Raelle.

Donna: I’ve maintained from the get-go that Raelle is wiser about Scylla than she is letting on. I think seeing Scylla at the scene of Porter’s death will make her more suspicious. I think that, although she is suspicious and will become more wary, she will also let her feelings cause her to give Scylla more leeway or more of a chance to explain before she acts upon her suspicions.

Ellys: Raelle doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would let her feelings override her judgement for too long, but she is, ahem, bewitched by Scylla’s charisma. She’s not likely to let one tiny glimpse of Scylla destroy their relationship. Even with the many suspicious pieces of information Raelle has gathered, I don’t believe that there’s anything Scylla has done that she can’t talk her way out of if confronted.

This show takes place in a world where sexuality is very fluid and open. In this episode alone we got to see how the ladies reacted to the guys when they showed up on campus. It seemed like a big role reversal where some of the ladies were almost objectifying the guys. We got to see how the innocent Tally reacted to meeting Gerit (Kai Bradbury), the first guy she has seemingly ever crushed on, versus how the more experienced Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) was jumping around between the different guys lurking around her. This is a world where gender roles and sexuality follow a whole different set of rules to what exits in the real world. How do you feel about that? Is it refreshing to have a show that is so openly fluid with its characters sexuality or would you prefer to see the show more clearly define the sexuality of its characters?

Aimee: I absolutely adore how this show handles sexuality. They seem to take a love is love approach and I am very happy with the message the show is sending that love is between two consenting people and their gender or past sexual history plays no part in attraction. It’s also very interesting to see how, in the world of this series, the women seem to have all the power. Abigail was straight up playing the guys and enjoying every second of it, like so many guys we’ve seen do to women throughout history on television. In contrast, it was fascinating to watch the innocent Tally fall for Gerit and him for her. They had a very mutual chemistry and it was really cute to watch them and see the shyness they had regarding the other. I don’t want the show to change a single thing about how it handles sexuality. This take is so refreshing and I hope they keep this up as long as the show goes on.

Donna: When I watch a show, I don’t judge a character by their sexuality, I judge a character by how well it’s written and if what that writer does is realistic, if what happens to that character’s relationships are realistic. Too many times I’ve seen shows become so focused on a character’s sexuality they forget who the character is or was before that discussion began. So, from that position Motherland: Fort Salem’s take on sexuality as an established fact of who the characters are and how they act makes their characters interesting to watch. The sexuality of these characters is a part of their overall personalities and doesn’t define who they are or how they act.

Ellys: More and more shows have stopped defining characters by their sexuality, and I think that is as it should be. Who someone emotionally and/or physically loves is merely a facet of their identity. In the world of Motherland, men are seemingly treated as objects by the culture and some of the witches, which of course is no more right than how in reality those roles are often reversed. The introduction of a love interest for Tally, however, might only bode tragedy, as it seems unlikely that witches being prepared to enter combat would be encouraged to make longer-lasting romantic connections.

Alder (Lyne Renee) heard a witchy harmonic sound that spoke to her on a primal level. What do you think this means? Is it something that they will go after to weaponize? Or do you think there is more to it than just something they can use in the war against the Spree?

Aimee: Alder is an opportunist and she will totally pursue that new harmonic to use it as a weapon especially since they aren’t doing so good against the Spree now. With that said, I think there is a lot more to it. Alder is very old and has been around a very long time, so if this speaks to her on such a primal level then there is definitely more to it. I fully expect the show to dive into the specifics of the new harmonic and how it can be weaponized while also diving into what it means to Alder. I’m very curious to find out more of what it is and what it ultimately means to the witches and Alder’s family specifically.

Donna: The harmonic sound will play a big role in future battles with the Spree. Since it affected Adler so, she will certainly want to use and control it as a weapon. The wrinkle in that is if she knows about it, so do the Spree so the race will be on to see who can gain control of it first.

Ellys: Alder seemed to recognize the sound (make way for my Alder sister theories), which suggests it is something she encountered before during her unnaturally long life. For now, the potential of the new sound will no doubt send both the Army and the Spree after the isolated witches who have kept it alive.

The episode dove into the history of the Biddies and how they serve Alder. Were you surprised by how Alder was remaining young or had you already figured it out? What did you think about the responsibility it is to be a Biddy? Do you see what they do as a great honor or as Alder using others for her own selfish means? Could it be stuff like this that drive the Spree to fight so hard against the institution of the Army?

Aimee: I wasn’t entirely surprised. I had a feeling that the Biddies were somehow fueling her longevity and youth. But even having a hunch didn’t make it any less incredible to watch unfold as they showed the end of life for one Biddy and the indoctrination of a new one. No matter how impressive it is I think Alder is being incredibly selfish. She has lived more than her fair share of lives at the expense of who knows how many Biddies who have been convinced of the great honor of what they are doing. We did see the world start to fall apart a bit when Alder weakened, so I need to understand the mechanics of that a bit better before I decide just how selfish she is being. If life as they all know it is directly tied to Alder, then I can see the importance of keeping her around. But, if the world would keep ticking on without her, then she is being incredibly selfish stripping these young women of their life forces only to fuel her own longevity. I do think stuff like this is part of why the Spree are so determined to destroy the institution of the Army. I can’t wait until we learn more about the Spree to understand them better because I feel like there are some big twists coming that may blur the lines of good and bad.

Donna: I can’t honestly say I was surprised but thought the revelation and consequences were handled very well. It’s an intriguing premise for a young witch to give up her youth to keep their leader young. I believe they see it as an honor, but do think some of Alder’s officers, not necessarily the biddies are beginning to question her judgement. I’m sure that this aspect of the Army matriarchy is part of the reason the Spree are fighting hard against the Army, in that they see it as young witches giving up their free will.

Ellys: A curious detail to me was that Raelle referred to the Biddies being with Alder throughout history. That and the reaction of the young woman chosen to become the next Biddy suggest that it’s not a secret how Alder remains youthful. The witch community probably has no issue with this, but this scene also prompts one to consider that life can probably be drained without consent as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is something dark in Alder’s past in relation to that, nor would I be surprised if at some point she tries to get a recharge from one of our heroines and gets denied.

Reader Question: Submitted by Ivan: Are you glad that while this show is female-centric they haven't forgotten that it's not just females that are witches, that there are male witches too? Unlike the reboot of Charmed which doesn't acknowledge male witches?

Aimee: I’m glad the series is female-centric because that is very true and honest to Wiccan history and mythos which is matriarchal. Am I glad they included male witches? Honestly, I’m indifferent. Bringing them in allowed for the cute Tilly and Gerit connection to form, but I don’t think they are necessary to the overall story at this point. Charmed takes on an entirely different aspect of Wiccan culture, so it’s not fair to compare the two. But neither needs to have male witches to be successful. Both are female-centric shows with powerful female leads (both the characters and the actresses), so I would have been just as happy if this show never included male witches. However, I can only speak to how they were setup in this episode. They are what females are often depicted as in male-centric shows…eye candy. It’s a refreshing twist. I think these writers have a big grand plan in mind and every introduction they make will at some point prove relevant, so I expect the male witches could prove to be more than just eye candy as the season and series go along and I trust these writers to make their place in the story matter without overshadowing any of the ladies.

Donna: First off, to compare the two shows does a great disservice to both shows. It’s two completely different realities. There is no right or wrong way to portray the worlds of witches, for as many shows there are about witches there are just as many ways to portray those worlds. But history shows time and again the power of matriarchal societies. I’m not watching it because it, if I’m reading your question correctly, is into male-bashing. One it’s not doing that, and two I’m watching it because it’s an interesting story. Will male witches (warlocks - I believe is the correct term), play more of a role in the story? Probably, but truth is if they are included it will be to fight side by side with the witch Army.

Ellys: Men don’t matter in this world. That’s just one of the core truths of this show. Just as countless World War I and World War II movies and TV shows pass without hardly a glimpse of a woman, Motherland: Fort Salem has no need to consider men, be they male witches or otherwise. This is a war story, and the soldiers are female. The boys hanging out in this episode and the next are insignificant alongside the greater narrative. In this world, female witches own the roles historically occupied by men, and men (warlocks or otherwise) have been dusted into the corners that women historically occupy. This is the show’s identity, and, if male magic is what you seek,Charmed,might actually offer more representation.

Which performer do you think delivered the most memorable performance in the episode? Why did their performance standout for you? What were their best scenes?

Aimee: While all the ladies were incredible, I must go with Amalia Holm. She is just so good at expressing without using words as was evident during the hug I referenced earlier. The moment that Scylla locked in that embrace Holm had a second to drop Scylla’s guard and so much emotion flashed over her face. One could feel all the conflicting emotions surging through Scylla. It was beautiful and heartbreaking because it showed how deeply Scylla had fallen and that despite all the evil she has done, she is capable of love and that she might not be completely evil. In fact, all of Holm’s scenes with Hickson in this episode had that same energy where Holm made it obvious that Scylla’s resolve is rapidly dissolving and the longer Scylla is with Raelle the more trouble she gets in with regards to matters of the heart. Then, Scylla went and sent Porter to his doom. The way Holm delivered those lines with a slight reservation in her voice allowed one to believe that Scylla really had hoped it wouldn’t come to that. It wouldn’t come to the point where she had to doom him in order to protect herself. Then, there was the ending where the look on Holm’s face said so many things about what Scylla had done and her feelings regarding it. This episode revealed a lot about Scylla and gave Holm a lot of great material to work with and she delivered a very strong performance throughout the entire episode.

Donna: I think all in all there were very well-balanced performances all around. No one stood out as especially exceptional, I think they all had their time to shine, including Lyne Renee as Alder was grilled by the council and hiding her reactions to the new harmonic sound.

Ellys: Jessica Sutton has all my attention. Tally is such a feral sweetheart that I find it impossible to predict what will happen to her character or how her character will respond to each new situation. There’s an air of mystery, of things to be discovered. Her enthusiasm is contagious, but there’s also something simmering under the surface of Tally’s cheerful personality, hinting at hidden strengths or darkness.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

Aimee: I really liked this episode. It was fun to get to see the ladies let loose a bit plus we had the added bonus of learning a fair bit of the history of the Army and some of its big battles. I thought the Biddy ceremony was very beautifully crafted and filmed. We also got a glimpse into Scylla’s past and confirmed the story of her parents and what happened to them as true thanks to Porter. Because of him we found out that Scylla is either a very good liar who knows how to incorporate the truth with the lies or she is cracking because of Raelle. I’d like to think it’s the latter, but it could be a combination of both. The writers continue to deliver very well crafted episodes and the performers all continue to deliver some of the strongest performances on the network. All around another strong episode that did a great job of world-building, character evolving, and story development. I can’t wait to see what happens in the wake of what Scylla did and the sacrifice Raelle nearly made.

Donna: I did enjoy this episode more than others in that it began pulling harder at some plot threads. The suspense has been amped up and is clearly building for a large confrontation between the Spree and the Motherland: Fort Salem Army.

Ellys: I felt quite refreshed after watching this episode with its shameless praise for female horniness. If future episodes balance the impending doom with energetic character beats as well as this one did, I shall be more than content.

Each week we will select one question from all of you to include in our roundtable. Please submit your questions in the comments section below.

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