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Motherland: Fort Salem - Brianna's Favorite Pencil - Review: Samhain Revelations + POLL

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Motherland: Fort Salem delivered yet another exceptional episode that had a significant impact on all the main characters. From the very start with the Camarilla execution of General Sharma (Chelsea Gill) and the uncertain status of Adil (Tony Giroux) and Khalida (Kylee Brown), it was clear this episode wasn’t going to pull any punches. It was a gritty and dark hour with deep emotional and psychological implications. Centering the episode around the solemn Samhain festival allowed the story to dive even deeper into the inner turmoil currently driving Raelle (Taylor Hickson), Tally (Jessica Sutton), and Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams). Simultaneously having Scylla (Amalia Holm) and Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) deal with Halloween festivities in the civilian world as they navigate the sinister world of the Camarilla also allowed for significant progression of their storyline as well. Overall, this was an episode that aimed to bridge the gap between the first half of the season and the last half, and by all accounts, it did that spectacularly.

At Fort Salem, the War College tradition that the cadets partake in during Samhain, to protect the hearth, led to not only a phenomenal action sequence but also significant character moments. The event itself was a spectacular marriage of beautiful cinematography and exceptionally executed CGI effects. From the ghostly figures shooting arrows at the group of cadets to Raelle’s final last-ditch effort to get them to the end with the fire still burning. The reward for keeping that fire burning was a chance to talk to a departed witch, at least for as long as their candle burned. The ferocity with which they each fought showed how much that conversation meant to each of them. The stakes were even higher than that coveted conversation, the consequences of those ghostly arrows were real as Gregorio (Parneet Akilla) found out the hard way as he took a very real arrow to his chest to protect Tally. Their paths keep crossing at very opportune times for these sort of fleeting encounters that when added up are starting to indicate something might be in the works for them in what may end up being the slowest slow-burn relationship this show has done to date. His injury also allowed the show to remind everyone of Raelle’s ability to heal, a reminder that was almost certainly done intentionally as more treacherous times are likely to come for them all. At the end of this sequence, Raelle’s efforts combined with that of her fellow coven members kept the hearth burning earning them each time with a beloved fallen witch.

While this season hasn’t been easy for any of the characters, the one who has taken the most blows is without question Abigail. This is a character that just keeps getting hit over and over even when she is down. She was taken from the fierce badass witch we all knew and loved from the first season to a shell of herself. The writers needed to break her down so that they could build her back up to a character even stronger than she has ever been. This episode saw Abigail fall to her absolute lowest low thinking she had permanently lost Adil and dealing with her own feelings of inadequacy. Then, in a beautiful moment spurred on by the harsh, yet much needed, words of Charvel (Bernadette Beck), we saw the rebirth of a new more determined Abigail. This is a version of Abigail who is willing to throw duty and responsibility to the Army to the curb in the name of vengeance and doing what is right for her people. The best part of this new adventure she seems about to partake in is that she won’t be alone. For now, she seems poised to set off on her mission to bring the fight directly to the Camarilla with Adil by her side. Their reunion showcased how perfectly paired these two are. Adil and Khalida barely survived, and he has a renewed understanding of what Abigail has been enduring as the Camarilla have hunted her family. His need to protect his family and Abigail’s need to do the same will make them a powerful force. It also likely won’t take Raelle or Tally long to join her cause once they find out what she is up to. Abigail Bellweather is back and better than ever. With Abigail in full fighting form and with the man she loves and her friends at her side, the Camarilla will know the true wrath of a witch scorned.

Before Tally or Raelle can join Abigail, they first have their own things they need to confront. Despite Tally’s confrontation with Alder ending with her being pushed even further from Alder’s inner circle she is still Tally and craves the truth. It is the truth she got when she used her one conversation with a fallen witch to reach out to Valda Esterbrook (Wonser De-Gbon). What she learned seems to have confirmed events from Nicte’s (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart) perspective and shed further disgrace on things from Alder’s side of the Liberian Martyrdom event. While we only have seen the event in fragments from Tally’s perspective as an outsider, we have seen enough to draw some conclusions. Alder was definitely in Liberia, as she is ultimately forced to confirm to Tally during their tense confrontation at the start of the hour. We know Nicte was a skilled user of off-canon works, but she seems to possess a noble aspect to her persona and loyalty to her people. We know that the part Alder played in the martyrdom event disgusted Nicte. Now, we know, from Valda’s perspective, that she did not martyr herself or her people. The event was caused by a working inflicted upon them. A bigger picture is being drawn through these visions that Alder herself could have been the hand that delivered the working that led to the martyrdom and Nicte’s AWOL exit from service to the Army. Alder has gone through an extraordinary amount of effort to hide her involvement in Liberia and even went to great lengths to remove Nicte from existence. These are not actions of a woman who feels ashamed of her failure with a single soldier going AWOL. These seem like the actions of a soul guilty of something atrocious. This continues to be a very fascinating mystery. When the entire story is unveiled, and the truth comes out any glimmer of hope Alder has of maintaining her reputation may fade. What irony it would be if Tally, someone who was willing to at one time to sacrifice herself to save Alder, ends up being the one to bring the full ugly truth of her actions to light.

Then there is Raelle who started the hour by confronting Anacostia about Scylla and the picture she found. Having only been given the smallest tidbits of information, Raelle was left more confused and hurt than ever. It isn’t surprising that when the opportunity came for her to talk to a dead witch, she was desperate to talk to her mom. As we all know, that was never going to end well for Raelle since she can’t talk to a dead witch that isn’t dead. Between the news about Scylla being free and her mom not coming to talk to her, this episode left Raelle at a deep emotional low. With Fall Break on the horizon, she abandoned her plan to try to go home with Abigail to instead go pay her father a visit. This trajectory almost certainly is leading up to what will likely be the most emotional and heart-wrenching part of this season. Raelle will eventually learn the truth and be reunited with her very alive mother and her disgraced lover. Though, it will be interesting to see which will come first. Will Raelle come face-to-face with Scylla or Willa (Diana Pavlovsk√°) first? Either way, Raelle is surely in for a painful rollercoaster of emotions in the episodes to come.

Even while separated and broken up, Scylla and Raelle have never been far from the mind of the other. Raelle is on her own journey to eventually lead to a reunion with Scylla, but Scylla is on her own journey that she must complete to be in a place to reunite again with the woman she never stopped loving. This episode started with Scylla being accused by a fellow Spree agent of becoming “soft” and “weak” only for the rest of the episode to show that she is far from either of those things. This episode was also a great showcase of how unified Anacostia and Scylla have become. When they were at the Camarilla event with Shane (Juan Riedinger) and discovered that he had offered up Brianna’s (Lauren Acala) friend Tiffany (Ava Marchfelder) as a sacrifice to get invited to the exclusive event they wasted no time working together to formulate a plan. They trusted one another enough to split up and trust the other would do what was necessary. With the magic dampeners still on, and Tiffany in immediate threat of danger, Scylla offered herself up as the sacrifice to try to buy time for both Tiffany and for Anacostia to get the dampeners off. She revealed herself as Spree in front of Shane and the entire Camarilla delegation, putting a target on her own back, all in the name of protecting one young innocent witch. In the end, for this confrontation, Scylla prevailed thanks to Anacostia dispatching Orsatti (Thomas Nicholson) yet again. Seriously, how many times have they encountered this guy now? At some point, some explanation for how they keep getting away with these direct encounters with him and him not remembering them needs to be explained. After Anacostia did her thing, Scylla did an unusual fire trick where she permanently dispatched the Camarilla event leader and sucked in his ashes, and since this show doesn’t do things for no reason that is sure to play a part at some future date. The important part of all of this is Scylla’s cover is blown, but Tiffany has been spared.

It’ll be curious to find out what Anacostia and Scylla did with Tiffany after their bold escape. Did Anacostia take her to Fort Salem? Did Scylla take her to the Spree? Surely, they didn’t just take her back home and pretend like the poor girl wasn’t almost sacrificed by a cult of psychotic witch killers. What we do know for sure is Shane will no longer be a problem after Scylla transformed into Bonnie (Emma Pedersen) and as the title of the episode indicated, used Brianna’s favorite pencil to permanently eliminate him. While this episode was a great showcase of how fierce and unforgiving Scylla can be it also showcased that the Spree agent from the start of the episode was right to a certain degree, Scylla has changed. Her love for Raelle and her partnership with Anacostia has changed her. She still has her edge and her lust for vengeance, but there is a softer side to her. She has come to genuinely care about Bonnie as a friend enough so that in the end she did seem saddened by the pain her actions had caused Bonnie. Scylla is changing and evolving and hopefully, Raelle will be able to see that change when they are reunited. They still share different ideological perspectives, but a love like theirs will hopefully help them learn to bridge that gap and find common ground, as Scylla and Anacostia have.

This episode concluded with Raelle, Tally, and Abigail seemingly heading down separate paths for the time being. Scylla and Anacostia remain a united front, but they are surely coming to a point where each will have to decide where their loyalty truly rests. Alder seems to be growing more isolated by the episode with her world one lie away from falling apart around her. As if they each didn’t have enough of their own issues to contend with there is still the deadly threat of the Camarilla looming. This episode changed things and revealed a lot, but also left a ton of questions still unanswered. It was a very beautifully written episode with the high-level caliber of acting expected from such a skilled cast. Knowing how these writers work and these actors perform, next week is sure to be an even more extraordinary episode, so don’t miss what promises to be another stunning hour.

Don’t miss the next episode on Tuesday, July 27th at 10 pm ET/PT on Freeform.

Until the next episode, be sure to drop down the comments and leave your own thoughts on the episode. What were your favorite parts? How do you think each individual storyline is going to play out?

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