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Motherland: Fort Salem - Hail Beltane - Review Roundtable: Fatal Flaws

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

Motherland: Fort Salem delivered a tense, sexual, and emotional hour with Hail Beltane.Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

In this episode, Scylla (Amalia Holm) had to fight from two different sides to protect her mission. On one side there was Raelle (Taylor Hickson) who was confused by the memories she inherited from Porter (David Lennon). On the other side was Alder (Lyne Renee) and the Army command who wanted to resurrect Porter. With her attention divided, she almost failed to protect her mission and was only spared by the intervention of the Spree. The whole Porterdebacle seems to have given her a painful reality check. When she finally went to Raelle after Beltane and opened up to her the words she was saying seemed genuine. Do you believe Scylla is really trying to work up the courage to be open and honest with Raelle about everything? Or was her heartfelt confession just an act meant to throw Raelle off her trail?

Aimee: I think what Scylla did to Porter was horrific, but I don’t think she had an easy time coming to that conclusion. He was a person, who presumably, she at one point cared about. The problem is he put her mission and budding relationship with Raelle at risk, so she panicked and made a horrible decision. I think what she did to Porter was a heartbreaking wakeup call that she might be in over her head with the Spree. She dodged several bullets this week, but only because of the intervention of the Spree. I think the events of the day took a big toll on her and by the time she sought out Raelle she was mentally and emotionally drained. I think Scylla went into that moment with an agenda, still trying to cover for what she did to Porter. She was trying to woo Raelle back into the fold. I do believe that when she was talking about wanting to be more open and honest and stop dodging the feelings she has for Raelle that she was truly being sincere. What started off as still part of the mission rapidly got flipped on her when she heard what Raelle said and I think that triggered something in her. We have not seen that much emotion in Scylla yet and here she was practically in tears over the amount of love and support Raelle was giving her. Perhaps for the first time in a very long time Scylla has someone to fight for and when the time comes for the Spree to demand she deliver Raelle I honestly don’t know if she’ll be able to. I think that when we look back in hindsight that will be the moment when things started to change for her.

Donna: I’m still not to the point where I trust Scylla’s motives. She is in full-blown self-preservation mode, so I think she’d do or say anything to protect herself. That said I think she is at war with herself with part of her wanting to complete her mission and please the powers that be of the Spree, and part of her is genuinely falling for Raelle and wants to be honest and truthful with her. The more desperate she becomes the more reckless she will be in her actions and I think that is ultimately going to cause her to be exposed.

Ellys: Scylla’s heartfelt confession came as much from needing to protect her mission as it did from the affection she is feeling for Raelle. The fact that Porter didn’t spill her secrets is a little mysterious. Was it truly because of Scylla’s spell or because the other Necromancy didn’t ask Porter specific enough questions? Why was the last person Porter saw the Witch Father? If the Witch Father was the last person Porter saw, wouldn’t the former have been more suspicious of Porter’s death? Or was he too juiced up on Beltane buzz to consider that? In any case, Scylla has luck on her side. For now.

Scylla received a very firm warning from the Spree. They too have noticed that Scylla may be wandering from the plan when it comes to Raelle. We’ve been seeing the cracks for a few episodes now when it comes to Scylla with Raelle. Given what we’ve seen and what the Spree have observed, do you think Scylla will be able to complete her mission with Raelle? In the prior episode, Scylla made it very clear that if she were to runaway she’d take Raelle with her. Do you think Scylla will deliver Raelle to the Spree? Or will she get Raelle and go on the run from both the Spree and the Army?

Aimee: I think that is Scylla had been able to deliver Raelle to the Spree early on she would have completed her mission. Now, however, I don’t think she’s going to be able to follow through with handing her over to them.I think she has gone and gotten too attached now and will end up fighting to protect her. I truly believe that when Scylla runs out of cards to play with the Spree and the Army that she will not hesitate to take Raelle and go on the run to protect her from both entities. She hates the Army and is seemingly growing extremely fearful of the Spree. After her encounter with the other Spree agent in her dorm, the lingering look of fear in Scylla’s eyes was haunting. She’s in trouble from all sides and she knows it. To survive she is going to have to start making some really hard choices and running away seems one of the few options she has left to work with. The bigger question is if Raelle would actually go with her or not.

Donna: If she were going to deliver Raelle to the Spree I think she would have already done so. I don’t think she will be able to fulfill her mission as planned but will try to come up with some way to appease both sides. She may panic and try to get Raelle to go on the run with her, but I think by that time Raelle’s suspicions about her will be confirmed and that puts a huge obstacle in any future Scylla thinks they may have together.

Ellys: Scylla is first and foremost loyal to the Spree. I doubt that one love connection would seriously impair her loyalty to a group for whom she has committed mass murder. Will their bond make her hesitate before she does whatever comes next? Absolutely. I do have to say that I’m surprised that the Spree are treating Scylla so harshly? It seems like a poor decision on their part to alienate a loyal member. This seems to indicate that the Spree might value their people no more than the Army does.

Raelle made a very strong promise to Scylla that no matter what she was with her. Obviously, that promise was made without Raelle having all the facts. Do you think she will still stand with Scylla when she learns the truth about her Spree affiliation? How far will she go for Scylla?

Aimee: Raelle did some deep soul searching in this episode in regard to Scylla. She knows somewhere deep in her gut that Scylla is trouble and is in trouble. She not only had Porter’s memories driving that feeling, but her own observations. We’ve seen Raelle repeatedly be able to look past all the warning signs in the name of being with Scylla, but she hit a crossroads in this episode where she was almost at the cusp of walking away. That is until she got to spend some time with Byron (Bennett Taylor) and he gave her some sage advice. She took it to heart which led her to make those deep promises to Scylla. As for how far she’ll go for Scylla, that’s where things get tricky. We’ve seen just what Raelle is willing to do for Scylla and what she is willing to overlook in regards to her. But we’ve also seen that Raelle, while rebellious, is inherently good. Her natural first instinct is try to help people. She may not like being a part of the Army, but I also don’t think she would stand with the Spree either. When the secret comes out, and rest assured it will, I think we’ll see Raelle have to make some really tough decisions. I don’t know if she’ll choose to stay with the woman she loves or turn her back on her. My hunch is that after some shouting and tears and unbridled anger that Raelle will actually find a way to justify staying with Scylla. That’s just how deep Raelle has fallen for her. I don’t think she’d go and join the Spree for her, but I can see her going on the run with Scylla even knowing the truth behind her affiliation. There is a possible path where Raelle’s love could be the thing to redeem Scylla. These two are just getting started and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more push and pull as well as heartbreaking and heartwarming moments from them. I can only speculate on all this, but I trust these writers and I think they are teeing up a deeply emotional and powerful relationship between these two that will have us rooting for them while simultaneously screaming at our screens for Raelle to stop being so lenient with Scylla.

Donna: That’s going to be the million-dollar question. I think once Alder and the others find out that the Spree want Raelle for some reason they are going to want to know why and if she is a powerful weapon they will want to keep her themselves and utilize her abilities. She may stand with Scylla when her duplicity is revealed but I think their relationship will be ultimately changed because of it. While she may be hurt by Scylla’s initial deceptions, she may understand her conflicts and believe Scylla’s feelings for her are real. Her feelings for Scylla may cause her to take a dangerous stand by her side that will cause any number of conflicts but particularly with Tally’s desire for them to be a team/family, and Abigail’s ambition to be the best and get to war college.

Ellys: Raelle is perhaps the character who knows the least what she wants in life. She has the fewest family ties too. I don’t think Raelle is in a place where she’ll join the Spree, but she will try to protect Scylla.

Beltane provided a very intimate look into the world these characters live in. What part of the holiday surprised you the most? What parts did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? What do you think about the new Tally and Gerit (Kai Bradbury) pairing? What did you think about Abigail playing the guys against each other and how she used them to continue to fuel her rivalry with Libba (Sarah Yarkin)?

Aimee: I think Beltane is a very interesting holiday especially to be depicted on Freeform. They obviously didn’t get to graphic, but they still went a heck of a lot further for a lot longer than almost any other Freeform show. I loved the dance where they picked their partners for the night. I also loved that it was a free for all and any and every combination was on the table. They let the music guide them to a partner and there was a lot of beauty in that. I also loved how Tally and Gerit sought each other out through the crowd and were so drawn to one another that they fought their way to each other. Abigail and Libba tainted the beauty of it a bit by so clearly being snobbish and competitive about it. I did enjoy their rivalry and how clearly in control the ladies are in this world. It is such a flip from the norm where we always see men with the upperhand and here the women have the power. I definitely hope that Beltane plays a part in all future seasons. I also really hope to see Byron again because he was a really good partner for Raelle and helped her in her path to making some big decisions about Scylla. He is a kindred spirit with Raelle and they were fun to watch. All around Beltane was a great holiday for this episode to have at its center.

Donna: I was reminded of the stories of spirited and naked fairies dancing. As visually presented Beltane was bright, colorful, life-affirming and hope. For a Freeform show, I think they pushed the boundaries to the line regarding the theme and nudity. I am growing weary of Abigail and her ego. Her rivalry with Libba was the least interesting thing about the episode. I thought the way they handled Tally and Gerit was sweet.

Ellys: Sex is apparently literal power in Motherland, at least during this particular holiday, a charmingly progressive sensibility. Abigail was just having fun and powering up, and her and Libba both having threesomes was an amusing next step in their generations-long feuding.

There seems to be some tension between Alder and Abigail’s mom, General Petra Bellweather (Catherine Lough Haggquist), what do you think that is all about? General Bellweather was pressing Alder very hard about the plans and the ancient tribe that was recently discovered. Does this further prove that there are cracks within the ranks of the Army? Are things, perhaps, not all that they seem when it comes to the Army?

Aimee: I get the distinct impression that Petra and Alder have a long-standing rivalry with each other. Petra clearly earned her position and there is something about Alder she definitely doesn’t like given how she was challenging her and pushing her. We’ve been seeing the cracks in the Army for a few episodes now. I think we will find out in the near future that the Army isn’t necessarily all it is being portrayed as. I have a feeling Alder is on the right side of things, but I question the loyalty of a lot of her colleagues on the council. The Army did something, or likely many things, to give birth to the Spree, and I am quite curious to find out more about the Spree to see what fuels them.

Donna: The tension and battles between Petra and Alder have been around for a while I suspect. It would be interesting if their dissention had something to do with the mission where Raelle’s mother was killed and Raelle ending up in Abigail’s squad was by design. It would be interesting too if Raelle’s mother turns out not to be dead but perhaps a part of the ancient tribe. There are cracks in the Army. Alder seems so laser-focused on her mission to best the Spree that she is blinding herself to the fact that her Army’s greatest enemy may attack from within their own ranks. There are so many layers to the Army and maybe even Alder’s rise to power and her desire to hold onto that power at the cost of so many others (the Biddies for example).

Ellys: Alder’s perspective, coming with centuries of experience, is an exalted one. And you know that her authority and position were challenged by the arrival of the Bellweather ancestor. There’s usually only room for one person at the top of the pyramid, and Alder might not actively seek to stay on top, but it’s unlikely she believes anyone else belongs there. Power struggles are only natural, and even more natural would be someone deciding that Alder has been in charge an unnaturally long time.

Reader Question: Submitted by Lois1992: On Tally's family tree the lineage lines ran from witch mother to witch daughter, but on Raelle's the lineage line runs from her father to her, and he was a Motherland Muggle per my understanding. Is the difference due to her mother being dead?

Aimee: I don’t think her askew family tree has anything to with her mother and everything to do with her father. Raelleseems to be considered a bit of bastard even though her parents were married. I think in the world of this show, because of her civilian father, Raelle is considered less than her peers. Her civilian father has been mentioned several times. I theorize that because of him she isn’t considered worthy of her maternal lineage and not allowed to have the same degree of worth as other young witches. She had a sadness in her eyes when she saw her family tree. I expect this is something that has been held over her as long as she has been alive. She clearly loves her father as was seen in the series premiere, but the gravity of her civilian lineage is definitely something that does at times bother her.

Donna: Motherland has not hidden the fact that in this society women hold all the power. So for a witch daughter to have stronger family bonds with her father begs the question is Raelle the Hermoine Granger of the show? Could that lineage about her powerful a witch she is due to the human qualities of her father and that’s why her lineage line runs to him and not her mother. Her mother may have given her the powers, but her father’s heart and mind have guided her on how to use them.

Ellys: This was a curious discrepancy between the two family trees. I think it may have been more production error than anything else. I did note that Raelle comes from a long line of single moms.

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: I must go with a tie between Amalia Holm and Taylor Hickson. Both of their characters were put through emotional journeys in this episode and each of them delivered very strong performances. But the best scene for them both was the scene they shared where they talked about Scylla’s past with her dodger parents. The sincerity and emotion that both Holm and Hickson brought to that scene made it hit really hard. The way Holm’s voice was shaky and full of emotion in contrast to Hickson’s strong and reassuring tone that was full of love really highlighted how perfectly paired these two actresses are to bring to life this very complicated relationship. You can feel the love their characters have for each other and that’s a rare thing for performers be able to convey through the screen.

Donna: I’m going to say again that most of the players had great standout moments, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with Taylor Hickson, but not for the reason most may think. While her scenes with Amalia Holm were emotional and intense, I thoroughly enjoyed her scenes with Byron, Porter’s friend. For the first time Raelle had a friend she could be open with and their light-hearted mocking of Beltane provided some needed humor. However, it appeared to me that it was the first time Raelle had made a genuine friend, someone with whom she could truly be herself. I would like to see more of Byron in the future, he makes a great foil for Raelle.

Ellys: Jessica Sutton is just fantastic. However, I’d give the edge this week to Amalia Holm who let you feel every ounce of her character’s panic, and I was moved by the vulnerable longing in the scenes between Scylla and Raelle.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

Aimee: I loved this episode. We are four episodes in and so far this show has yet to disappoint me. The writers are so clearly in control of the story and know exactly where everything is going which has given the performers the freedom to trust them and just deliver on the beautiful words they are given. This episode showed a shift in the team with Abigail finally being impressed with Raelle. They are growing to be a stronger unit with each episode. It also showed both Raelle and Scylla struggling with how to balance their relationship with their duty. We also got a lot of cute moments between Tally and Gerit. Not to mention all the fun pairings and afterglow of Beltrane that led to the beautiful and heartfelt scene between Raelle and Scylla. Then it all came to a head when the Spree paid Scylla a visit to remind her of her mission in a brutal way. Overall a really well-constructed episode with amazing performances.

Donna: It was an unusual episode for sure with the show continuing to push boundaries with the network. And unlike other episodes parts of the story were bright and light and filled with optimism or happiness. Kudos to the choreographer, set designers, and wardrobe from bringing that lightness. On the downside, while it was interesting to watch Scylla unravel a bit, the last-minute save by the Spree was not unpredictable. I’m ready to watch and see what these three squadmates can really do when the chips are down, will they truly be the team they are being groomed to be?

Ellys: The Spree are certainly proving to be more and more malicious. Looks like we’re in for a Red Wedding next week.

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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