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Motherland: Fort Salem - Delusional - Review: Not As They Seem + POLL



SPOILERS FOLLOW! DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE FULL EPISODE!



Wow! That is the only way to properly quantify a reaction to this episode. This was truly an extraordinary hour of television that was flawless from start to its shock ending. In many ways, this almost felt more like a season finale than just a regular episode. This was a master class in how to construct and pace an hour of television while never taking the foot off the proverbial accelerator. What really worked in the favor of this episode was one central core focus for all the characters. Bringing Raelle (Taylor Hickson), Scylla (Amalia Holm), Tally (Jessica Sutton), and Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) together as a team on a mission and focusing on them was just the icing on the top of everything.

A key part of the success of this series has been the chemistry of the cast. While it has been fun seeing the main characters interact with new recurring characters. It was honestly time to bring this group together in a centralized way and let them work their literal and proverbial magic. These actors have such a pure and natural bond that it plays so well into the characters and allows them to infuse even more depth into the performances. This was the impactful mission that this season needed and challenged the characters in about every way possible.



By design, this was a mission-driven episode and those sorts of episodes do tend to be very character-focused. The mission was to go after Nicte (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart), but the Spree leader wasn’t going to go down without a fight. She threw every vile working imaginable at the strike team. In the end, the unit and Scylla overcame everything Nicte threw at them, largely because of Scylla. Their ability to survive was fundamentally determined by the strong bond the three young witches share which they used to pull the others out of Nicte’s deadly working. Nicte’s dastardly working brought out of them thoughts about each other that they normally wouldn’t vocalize. Despite it all, they prevailed, and it was because of the role each of them played. Without each of the four of them, not one of them would have exited those woods alive.
 
The episode picked up with Alder assigning Tally to eliminate Nicte then Petra (Catherine Lough Haggquist) immediately ordering her to bring Nicte back alive. It was a whiplash change of plans and showed that Minerva (Liza Huget) hit a nerve with her daughter a few episodes back. Minerva wants to see Petra show more leadership and she took that to heart. A potential power struggle, which could be fun to watch, between Alder and Petra is now in the works. More importantly, this power struggle has already swept Tally up in it. We didn’t get to hear what all Tally told Petra in that hour they had alone, but it’s safe to say that Petra has ample ammunition to use against Alder.



Petra isn’t the only person falling into a more leadership-driven role. This whole season has been about breaking down and rebuilding these young witches and Tally was no exception. She is emerging as a much more confident and stronger soldier than she was last season. She took a firm stand against Alder when she demanded her unit join her on the mission. She repeatedly took a commanding role during the mission. Even when they had to save Abigail during the hallucinations, she went full drill-sergeant on her. She was the one that made the final decision about Scylla joining them on the mission. She also was the one to go toe-to-toe with Nicte to try to save her unit. Even faced with the influence of Nicte’s working she still put her sisters over her own well-being. She was clearly terrified knowing how dangerous Nicte was but faced her fear and stayed on her feet as long as she could to buy the others precious time. That is the hallmark of a natural-born leader.

Tally hasn’t lost her kind heart but living the life she has since she came to Fort Salem has most certainly changed her. She has been through much in the last two seasons, with the whole Biddy situation, up to this point, being the most intense thing that has happened to her. So intense that when faced with Nicte’s near-deadly hallucination it was the Biddy’s and Alder that haunted her. Being body-snatched by Nicte and on the verge of execution by her own people has real potential to top even that and is going to haunt her nightmares for a while. It would be foolish not to mention the brilliant work Sutton and Aguayo-Stewart did navigating portraying each other’s character for an extended time. They sold Nicte’s vengeful anger and Tally’s primal fear for herself and her sisters. It will be curious to see how all the events of the mission impact Tally moving forward.



Out of them all, Abigail seemed to come away slightly better off than her sisters. Let’s be clear, she went through hell all in her own right, she just escaped ever so slightly with less trauma. This is a character that the Camarillahas nearly killed no less than four times at this point, so she’s a pro at confronting trauma. Still, she witnessed the demise of her entire family at her own hands while she was trapped in Nicte’s deadly hallucination. Then, she had to confront Raelle and Scylla’s vicious verbal and physical attacks when Nicte again targeted them with another vile working. Even while fighting an intense working, Scylla is still more fight than talk. Raelle, on the other hand, really dug into very tender topics when she came at Abigail in the cabin. At least those two did get a chance to talk through things once they were out of immediate danger.

After spending the episode seemingly stuck one step behind, when they got back to the Fort and Nicte made her move, it was Abigail’s time to shine, and did she ever. The moment she and Raelle realized that Tally wasn’t herself her hand went to her side and with the reflexes of a cat she singlehanded brought the Spree leader to the ground. It was the type of big heroic and bold moment that Abigail has needed. What she did to that Camarilla agent in the prior episode was epic, but this felt like she was finally back to her roots and wielding that whip like it was an extension of her own arm. Her confidence has been rebuilt these past few episodes. It feels like it all was building towards that moment. She appears to be back to full fighting form just in time to play whatever role she is destined to play in the coming war.



Abigail wasn’t the only one of the sisters who had much to overcome. Raelle has endured being put through the ringer this whole season too, but the most intense and traumatic things have happened to her in the last couple of episodes. She was literally tortured and killed multiple times in the prior episode. She watched her own mother sacrifice herself for her. Then, as if the rest of it wasn’t enough, she was reunited with her former terrorist on-and-off girlfriend. Despite it all, or perhaps because of it all, Raelle didn’t immediately dismiss Scylla. This is where most shows would have written a big drawn-out screaming match between the two characters where nothing is resolved. However, they allowed Raelle and Scylla to have a civil reunion and to discuss things cautiously, but openly with each other. Scylla was honest about everything and accepted responsibility for her actions but didn’t make any excuses to justify her actions other than a single comment that at the time she thought she was doing the right thing, but later realized thanks to Willa (Diana Pavlovsk√°) that she had been on the wrong path. Her honesty seems to have been just what Raelle needed to start down the path to accepting Scylla back into her life. Their chat on the bed, just before Tally arrived, felt like old times. Raelle didn’t fully let her guard down, but she relaxed some for the first time in a couple of episodes. Even though she fully recognized that her mom and the woman she loves were terrorists her trust in them is beginning to return. She was able to see the woman she loves under the weight of the horrific things she had done for the Spree. Despite everything, she was never able to fully stop loving or trusting Scylla.

That trust proved lifesaving for Raelle. She was caught in the deadly throws of Nicte’s working in the forest and caught up in a nightmare scenario with her mom and dad back in the Cession. It was noticeably clear that this person wasn’t Willa because the real Willa would have sliced herself with that knife before ever charging at Raelle. The way Scylla fought to save Raelle would have most certainly made Willa proud. It was a telling sign of the strength of the bond between Raelle and Scylla that it was Scylla’s voice that pulled Raelle free of the working. We’ve seen Scylla deploy that same working before and seen how near impossible it is to overcome, yet Scylla still fought with everything she had to free Raelle. None of this means they don’t still have issues. The things they said to each other at the cabin while under Nicte’s other working showed that they have more issues to work on. That much-needed conversation is still a very real possibility since of all places, Raelle sent Scylla and Tiffany (Ava Marchfelder) to her dad in the Cession, simply so she would know where to find the woman she loves. They may have parted paths again, but this certainly isn’t goodbye for long, especially with only two episodes left in the season.



As noted earlier, every member of this unit played a part in their ultimate survival, but none of them played a more significant role than Scylla. Tally and Raelle were right to challenge Abigail to bring Scylla along. Without her none of them would have survived Nicte’s first working. They would have certainly ended up like the rest of the strike team without her. She fought to save Raelle, but she stuck by Raelle’s side and fought equally as hard to save Tally and Abigail as well. Regarding Abigail, she put herself between them and Abigail’s hallucination-induced weather working that was threatening them all. She bought Tally and Raelle the necessary time to reach Abigail and free her.

Scylla is the most complicated and complex character in this series, far more than even Alder. She is neither villain nor hero. She isn’t evil or good. She’s not even Army or Spree at this point. These are all in stark contrast to the start of the first season where she was more villain than hero perpetrating evil acts and all Spree. Raelle’s love did soften her to a degree and just enough that Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) and Willa were able to sneak past her defenses and change the trajectory she was on. What she did is always going to be a part of her past and there is nothing she can do to erase that, but she is remorseful for the innocents she killed and is trying to carve out a different future for herself void of the Spree way of life. It is obvious Scylla didn’t want to leave Raelle and that she would very much like them to have a future together, which Raelle setup as a possibility when they did finally have to part paths.



It was the possibility of reconciliation with Raelle that propelled Scylla to risk it all to be by Raelle’s side throughout this episode. It’s a sign of how far she has evolved that she was able to put aside her differences with Raelle’s sisters to fight side-by-side with them. Not only to fight with them but to play a pivotal role in saving all three of them. Before the mission started, she and Raelle had much-needed time to hash out their complex issues. What was beautiful about their early scenes is they weren’t confrontational. Scylla was respectful of Raelle and kept her distance and allowed Raelle to dictate the pace at with which their reunion went. She just listened and when she did speak up, even during the hard emotional moments, she kept her voice level and soft. She comforted and reassured Raelle regarding her mom and even ensured that the other woman knew how deeply her mom did love her.

What is nice about the way this redemption story is going for Scylla is that the writers evolved her in a very smart way. She still has no qualms about killing, but she has realized the error in her original priorities and has shifted to take lead on Willa’s mission. What that means is anyone’s guess at this point. Nicte now knows of Scylla’s betrayal and that the unit only got as far as they did because of her, so she can’t ever go back to the Spree. If Petra wrestles away control of the Army from Alder, then maybe Anacostia could make a case for her return to Fort Salem, but it’s unlikely Scylla would want to go back other than for Raelle. The more likely scenario is that something will cause Raelle and the others to join Scylla in the Cession. The show has spent too much time and effort setting up sets in the Cession to not have plans to utilize that area of the show’s mythology more deeply in the future. Considering that passionate kiss that Raelle and Scylla shared upon their parting it’s unlikely the two women will be able to stay away from each other very long. As Raelle walked away from Scylla the first time there was this pause where Hickson did this brilliant job of portraying the flood of thoughts that surged through Raelle just before turning and rushing back to Scylla to make sure there was no doubt of what was in her heart for the woman she still loves. That was the perfect way to culminate their journey together in this episode. It also felt like they tied up loose ends left over from their last parting last season, so much like everything else this season, they had to be broken down to move forward.



With the real Nicte in custody and finally reunited with Alder, things are about to get very chaotic at Fort Salem. That big face-to-face moment at the end of the episode felt like a full-on clash of the titans and even if Alder has the upper hand now that is not going to last forever. This union is the exact opportunity for which the Camarilla have been waiting. They can make their move while the Army and Spree are completely consumed with each other. Also, given the focus they have put on Vice President Silver (Victor Webster) it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could have Camarilla ties. Since he would know about Nicte’s capture he would be able to let the Camarilla know about the vulnerability within the witch community. It wouldn’t be out of character for him to sell off information in exchange for the protection of Penelope (Mellany Barros). He also was one of the very few people who saw Raelle’s witchbomb then suddenly she was the top Camarilla target. It all seems very coincidental. No matter how it all plays out, these last two episodes of the season are going to be mind-blowing.

This was easily the best episode of the season and even potentially of the entire series. It had everything that has long made this show stand out so sharply. The cast delivered on a whole new level, which is impressive in and of itself because they have been delivering at top level all season. Hickson, Sutton, and Williams really sold the terror during the hallucinations. Hickson and Holm reunited in a way fans have longed for since this time last season and they took full advantage of their every moment together. Holm plays Scylla very smartly in having Scylla give Raelle space while Hickson beautifully showcased Raelle’s complex journey back to being in Scylla’s arms. Then there was Aguayo-Stewart who finally got a chance to really shine in this episode and she came out in full fighting form. This was as close to a perfect episode as this series has ever delivered, which means the next two episodes are going to be completely mind-blowing. Nothing can properly prepare all of us for what is coming, so prepare for what promises to be an intense ride in this final push to the end of the season.

Don’t miss the penultimate episode of the season on Tuesday, August 17th at 10 pm ET/PT on Freeform.

Until the next episode, be sure to drop down the comments and leave your thoughts on the episode. What were your favorite parts? What do you think is going to happen in these next two episodes?

















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