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Motherland: Fort Salem - Citydrop - Review Roundtable: Fatal Gamble

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

Motherland: Fort Salem delivered one of its fastest-paced and life-altering episodes with Citydrop. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Raelle (Taylor Hickson) finally learned the truth about Scylla (Amalia Holm) and it toppled her world. It put her at odds with Tally (Jessica Sutton) and challenged her understanding of everything. But she came to understand that what she had learned was the truth. Then we got to see her lack of empathy for the Spree agent who took on Scylla's image. She seemed to be extra ferocious because of the face the Spree agent chose to take on. Do you think Raelle will be able to let go of her love for Scylla? Or do you think the two of them will eventually reunite and reconcile? Do you think Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) was right and Scylla only declared her love because it's what Raelle needed to hear or do you think Scylla's declaration of love was truly from her heart?

Aimee: Raelle is going to have to spend a fair bit of time reconciling the Scylla she knew with the person Scylla is. The bottom line is their love is real and I don't think Raelle will be able to stop loving her. She will be mad and angry at the deception, and rightfully so, but I think something will happen that will perhaps make her better understand why Scylla did what she did. I think in time they will reunite because it is almost assuredly a fact that Scylla will be free before the end of the season. I highly doubt they'll kill Scylla, not just because Amalia Holm is the second bill on the show, but also because I would like to believe this show has learned a bit from those that have come before it about killing off characters. As for Scylla's declaration of love that Anacostia called into question, I honestly believe that was real. When she made that declaration, she had already decided to not turn Raelle over to the Spree. By that point, she had already sealed her fate. It was just a matter of who was going to get her first, the Army or the Spree, and she knew she was on borrowed time. We saw it again in the reunion scene where Scylla was at her most vulnerable and all she wanted to do was keep reminding Raelle that she loves her. Raelle is Scylla's greatest weakness and Anacostia used Raelle as a weapon and we all saw how well it worked. If Scylla's love for Raelle wasn't pure and true of heart, then what Anacostia did would not have worked so profoundly well. I think Anacostia is fully aware of how powerful their love is and is, in fact, the one who told Raelle what she needed to hear to get her to back off pushing further on the Scylla topic. It will be interesting to see Raelle and Scylla actually in the same room together again to see how things between them play out.

Donna: I feel it was because of her love for Scylla that Raelle took her anger and vengeance out on the Spree who took her face in the field. Everything she had been through in this episode came to a head at this point. Learning the truth, facing Scylla's deception, facing Tally not telling her the truth, Anacostia trying to convince her Scylla's love wasn't real, it all landed on her and she needed something or someone to lash out at and the agent just chose the wrong form to take at the wrong moment. She and Scylla will eventually reunite and reconcile but it is going to be a long, bumpy road before that happens. Scylla's declaration of love was true, that love was what made her choose to protect Raelle and not turn her over to the Spree, which ultimately led to her capture. Those first encounters when things settle down are going to be interesting especially if for some reason it is determined that the Army may indeed need Scylla's help to defeat the Spree.

Ellys: We know what Anacostia and Raelle don't. Scylla chose to not turn Raelle over to the Spree, suggesting that she was developing doubts about the brutal cause with which she had aligned herself. I won't be surprised if Raelle must heal Scylla sometime in the future and learns the truth since she seems to only see the most specific details when healing a person. The fact was that Raelle had more clues than Anacostia did to point to Scylla's guilt, and sometimes the multitude of sins is too much to be forgiven for love.

The unit spent the first half of the episode at odds which drove Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) to find a partnership with Libba (Sarah Yarkin). They had some nice bonding moments before Libba was killed during the big confrontation with the Spree. Were you surprised by how hard Abigail took Libba's death? The loss of Libba comes on the heels of Abigail losing her cousin. We even got to see a vulnerable side to Abigail as she found solace with Adil (Tony Giroux). How do you think these back-to-back tragedies will impact her going forward?

Aimee: Abigail has been put through an emotional ringer lately and I must commend Williams for the amazing work she is doing bringing this story to life. In the span of eight episodes, she has done a brilliant job in partnership with the writers of maturing Abigail into a vastly different character than she was when we first met her in the first episode. At the start of the episode, I would never have expected Abigail to take Libba's death so hard, but the writers did a good job tying up her arc with Libba and we saw a real partnership form. They would have been rather powerful leaders in the field had Libba survived. Thanks to flawless writing and brilliant acting by Williams and Yarkin I fully bought and felt Abigail's pain over losing Libba. Losing her friend on the heels of losing her cousin is only going to fuel Abigail’s drive to go after the Spree. For now, I'm enjoying watching Williams play a more vulnerable side of Abigail. She isn't a character to want to take solace in anyone, so the fact she accepted comfort in Adil's arms speaks volumes to the emotional turmoil raging inside of her. I hope that these tragedies help her continue to grow and evolve into the leader that has been just under the surface all season.

Donna: The relationship between Libba and Abigail was intense but was close because they were both cut from the same cloth of dedication to duty. Libba challenged Abigail in a way the others couldn't. She was a kindred spirit of sorts, so, of course, Libba's death hit her hard. It was a slap in the face reminder to Abigail that the Army was dangerous and people do die. The moment Libba died it was no longer a tradition or game it was real and that landed hard on Abigail. The episode featured some genuinely nice work from Williams in dealing with both her team falling apart, facing real combat and ultimately losing her friend because, in the long run, that's what Libba was. Reality is a harsh teacher and it is going to have a profound impact on Abigail going forward.

Ellys: Can my girl Abigail catch a break? She has been buffeted on every side for the past few episodes. Learning that her family name made her qualifications insignificant and discovering her cousin's murder were harsh blows, coupled with her own close brush with death. Now she is not only realizing the institution she was destined for before birth is corrupt and dangerous, but she has also lost another person who has been in her life from the beginning. Add all this to the fact that Bellweather witches are being deliberately targeted, and I wouldn't blame Abigail if she packs a bag and checks out. However, she isn't the type to leave behind her sisters. I suspect the season has more conflicts ahead for Abigail; one will surely be deciding between protecting Adil and his sister and following orders. She might also be asked to choose sides in the brewing coup against Alder. I don't think Abigail is going to find clarity this season on who she wants to be, but she is at the epicenter of whatever comes next.

The secret that Tally has been keeping finally came to light and it almost destroyed her unit. She stuck to her convictions that she had done the right thing and ultimately Raelle came around. Then her world was turned upside down yet again when she was forced to stand by and watch her fellow cadets unknowingly kill innocent civilians. How do you think things will change for Tally going forward? Will she be able to remain a loyal soldier knowing what she knows? Do you think she'll have any guilt for not participating in the final strike against the second Spree van given that Libba was killed? Did this episode mark the end of Tally's bright-eyed innocence?

Aimee: We have been witnessing the end of Tally's innocence for a few episodes now, but I think this was the final straw. Tally will never be the same again after everything that happened and that she saw, there is no going back to the girl she was at the start of the season. I think everything is going to change for Tally and the unit moving forward. I think she'll remain loyal to the cause of the Army, but I think she won't be so quick to blindly follow orders moving forward. I predict a lot of questioning moving forward. I don't think she'll run off and join the Spree, but after Tally refused to participate in that final strike, I would not be surprised to see her go rogue and AWOL. That's not to say I think she'll do it, she won't leave her unit, her loyalty is still with them, but should the writers take that route with the whole unit I would not be surprised. I do predict that Tally will struggle with guilt over what would have happened had she joined in on the strike. All adding to why I think her innocence is gone forever.

Donna: We've been witnessing the end of Tally's innocence since she found out about Gerit (Kai Bradbury) and learned Scylla was Spree. Of the three members of her team however, Tally is the most soldier like. Like Abigail, she's learning that all of this is very real and sometimes that may involve doing something she doesn't like to obey orders. She will have guilt over not participating but will eventually reconcile that she did her duty as she saw fit. She will continue to follow orders but will no longer do so blindly. I think she does trust Anacostia but is quickly losing faith in Alder and the Army's mission.

Ellys: Tally's gift of sight has been the thing to open her eyes. She's easily the most purely patriotic of the main characters, but there is no undoing what she saw. I was glad that she learned from the Scylla situation and almost immediately told the others what she knew. We've seen Tally want nothing more than to protect innocent lives; by refusing to join the final strike, she might be able to convince herself there isn't any blood on her hands. Now we're going to see if Tally chooses to buy into Alder's greater good reasoning. This leads to the larger question, if there is enough opposition to Alder to unseat her. If there isn't, what will the consequences be for those who don't keep her secrets?

Anacostia was put in an impossible situation as she was stuck between what Tally was telling her about the civilian hostages and the orders Alder gave her. The callus meeting she had with Alder at the end of the episode showcased the feelings she was unable to verbalize. Do you think she regrets following the order? Will she be more cautious before acting on Alder's orders in the future? Will any of this make her more sympathetic towards Scylla?

Aimee: I think she regretted following Alder's order even as she was issuing the order to the cadets. We don't know her entire story, but we know a few things, like her firm loyalty to the Army and her affinity for orphans. The latter tells me she has a kind heart under the tough exterior she has put up. I think following that order, knowing in her heart that Tally was right, was a hard pill for her to swallow. Her abruptness with Alder at the end and the look of contempt in her eyes spoke volumes to her true feelings regarding the orders that led to the loss of innocent civilians and Libba. She is very loyal, but I would not be surprised for her to receive an order from Alder in the future that she will refuse. I do think we will start to see her be a little gentler with Scylla. Right now Anacostia is Scylla's best shot at freedom, so I hope for some bonding with Scylla that will make her understand the spy a little better and gain sympathy for the plight that led her to the doorstep of the Spree.

Donna: I wouldn't be surprised before this is all over Anacostia will find herself in charge at Fort Salem. She is going to be leery of Alder and will find herself at odds with someone who has been her champion and mentor, but even she is seeing that Alder is not making the wisest decisions or giving the best orders. Bottom line, Anacostia's loyalty will lay with her troops and may end up having to go against a direct order from Alder to protect them.

Ellys: This can't be the first time Anacostia has witnessed Alder do something questionable, but clearly what upset Anacostia more was the cadets being endangered. Anacostia herself may have never been in combat, just in training situations; perhaps she is not accustomed to people dying on her watch. Anacostia might be more like Tally than anyone else, in terms of how committed she is to the history and ideals of the Army. We've speculated she too was an orphan, one who became extremely attached to Alder, almost blindly loyal. That could very well change going forward, and she is certainly more empathetic to Scylla than she was at the start of this. Or perhaps her dislike for Scylla was always founded in seeing herself in the other young woman.

Alder knowingly ordered her cadets to kill civilian hostages without any attempts to save them. This comes on the heels of Adil and Khalida (Kylee Brown) denying her the Tarim songs. Has any of this changed your opinion on Alder? Is she a good person or is she evil disguised? In your opinion, who is worse, Alder or the Spree?

Aimee: I have always been a bit wary of Alder and now I absolutely do not trust her in the least. So, her actions didn't change my opinion, it just reinforced my idea that there is something dark and sinister inside of her. As for who is worse? Well, neither are a good option, both are fundamentally flawed. Alder essentially enslaved witches to humans to die for them and steals youth from young witches to stay alive. Then, we found out how easily she can make the decision to sacrifice innocent civilians and how good she is at lying about it. But the Spree, on the other hand, we have actively seen murder humans. However, we have still only really gotten one side of the story. We only know Alder's side and the story she has spun. Until we know more about the Spree, I honestly can't declare which is worse, but I certainly wouldn't want to be associated with Alder or the Spree as we currently know both.

Donna: Alder has not always been trustworthy, and I've been watching her control slowly unravel for several episodes. She is power-hungry enough to not let anything or anyone get in the way of her quest to finish the Spree, even at the cost of innocent civilians. If she was that willing to sacrifice the hostages, who is to say she wouldn't be equally as willing to sacrifice the soldiers of Fort Salem. She is slowly being revealed to others and they will begin questioning her tactics and motives.

Ellys: To play devil's advocate, it did seem that the Spree was arming the weapons aboard the truck and would have killed the civilians anyway. The whole operation against the Spree was a bit of weak storytelling on the show's part. The trucks leaving the building were obviously suspicious. Alder's not the only one who has gotten sloppy. Of course, as to her being evil, and I've said it before, no one stays at the top of the ladder for centuries without pushing other people down who have tried to climb up. Her rush to stop the trucks was motivated just as much by getting a win as it was preventing another attack.

There are a lot of storylines hanging right now and only two episodes left. What do you think is forthcoming in the push to what promises to be a big grand season finale?

Aimee: I think we will learn more about Scylla. I suspect from the way the episode descriptions read for the next two episodes that we will see Scylla be sentenced to death for her crimes. I predict Anacostia takes sympathy on her and gives her a final visit with Raelle that will start with Raelle angry and end up with them making some sort of peace with their situation. I think the unit will really begin to question everything and maybe even make them all a bit more understanding of Scylla’s situation. I would not be surprised to see Raelle get grabbed by the Spree and Anacostia having to take a big risk and team up with Scylla to save her. Scylla will earn her freedom and spring right into action risking her life for Raelle again. We will hopefully learn a lot more about both Alder and the Spree. Despite spending almost an entire season watching the Spree as the supposed villains of the story we know truly little about them. I want to see more of their side of the story or at least the start of their side in the season finale. I want to know if they are actually evil personified or if the writers are going to pull a bait and switch. More than anything I want to see some big beautiful emotional scenes between Raelle and Scylla. I also want to see the unit come together and make a stand to hold onto the principles of the Army they believe in. I predict these next two episodes are going to be mind-blowing.

Donna: Obviously, there is going to be a massive battle with the Spree with the distinct possibility there will be more casualties from Fort Salem. Loyalties between the soldiers, Anacostia and Alder will be challenged and tested. Closer to home Abigail, Tally and Raelle will finally come together and operate as a team. Yet, these will not be the same naive young witches that first came to Fort Salem. I do believe we will see a reunion and the beginnings of reconciliation between Raelle and Scylla, however, it is going to take a great deal for the latter to regain the former's trust. This show deserves a second season so we can watch these young women continue to grow as witches and soldiers. It would be interesting to watch them go through War College perhaps resigned to going along, at least temporarily, with Alder after deciding the best way to take her down would be from within.

Ellys: Alder's declaration that the Army destroyed all the Spree weapons was a bit of nonsense. There's no reason to believe the Spree operates out of just one location. We'll see more of the Spree before the season is up. There's also the question of how Adil and Khalida will leave Fort Salem, what will become of the mushroom wall, whether Scylla will escape captivity, what will happen when General Bellweather attempts her coup, etc. If I made one prediction, it would be that the season will end with Abigail, Raelle, and Tally being deployed, denied War College by Alder to silence them from sharing what they know. I can't imagine the show spending a second season going through the school routines, and changing up the location would be a big leap forward

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: This one is nearly impossible this week. Taylor Hickson, Jessica Sutton, Ashley Nicole Williams, and Demetria McKinney all turned in brilliant performances. Hickson took us on a heck of a journey as Raelle learned the truth about Scylla and had to accept it. Sutton showed us the light fade from Tally's eyes when she had to standby as innocent civilians were murdered unknowingly by her fellow cadets. Then there was Williams who delivered a heart-wrenching performance as Abigail learned about Libba's death. I was also thrilled that McKinney, who has been brilliant throughout the season, was given some really strong material to dig into. She delivered a powerful performance in that meeting with Alder near the end of the episode. McKinney was delivering lines, but she was saying so much more with just her eyes and body language regarding her true feelings. All four ladies were brilliant from the start of the hour to the very end. No way I can pick just one of them because each delivered noteworthy performances.

Donna: This was a stellar outing for the main three leads. From Williams' channeling of raw grief on the death on Abigail's friend to Sutton's confusion and decision to obey orders during the attack on the trucks, to Hickson's raw emotional breaks at learning of Scylla and Tally's deceptions and unleashing her fury on the Spree again, all had moments to shine this week. Also outstanding this week was McKinney who impresses as Anacostia each week. Her leadership and tough protectiveness of her unit shone while she began questioning Alder and her motives, someone whom she probably owes and admires a great deal.

Ellys: Each week, Ashley Nicole Williams leaves a bigger impression on me. Abigail's attempts to rally her team, her reaction to losing Libba, and the quiet scene with Adil towards the end were standout moments in the episode.

What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?

Aimee: This was one of my favorite episodes. It gave every character some great moments to shine, except Scylla who, for all intents and purposes, was not in this episode. I did enjoy the way they still managed to have Holm in the episode. The fight between Raelle and the Spree agent was ferocious, and I think that was Raelle taking her frustration out about Scylla without hurting the real woman she loves. I enjoyed the fact this episode had a lot more action than usual. If this episode is any indication the final two episodes of the season should be intense. This show is just so brilliant in all it does that I fully trust them to deliver a brilliant end to the season though I can't imagine how they are going to top this episode. Then again, I think that at the end of every episode and somehow, they always manage to one-up themselves. I'm excited for what comes next with this show.

Donna: This was a powerful episode to lead up to a strong season finale. These young characters have grown so much and may soon be facing the ultimate test.

Ellys: The show's intensity has increased with every episode, but it never takes the time to truly linger on any one character's feelings or any one part of the mysteries and conflicts. It skips quickly from event to event, detail to detail, without taking the time to truly let anything breathe. Shows tend to do this when they either aren't skilled with character development or are trying to conceal twists. This pattern can backfire if they fail to keep the audience engaged enough to stick around. In this TV landscape, the final episodes of the season will need to be beyond stellar, social media explosion-worthy to secure the show's renewal.

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