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Motherland: Fort Salem - Mother Of All, Mother Of None - Review: The Birth Of The Mycelium + POLL

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What now? This is not a rhetorical question. Where does the series go from here? This episode brought fundamental changes to the series. It then ended on a major cliffhanger that will make the wait to see what happens next week excruciating. With just one episode left in the season and the entire fabric of the series in chaos, there is considerable ground yet to cover. In typical fashion for this series, they are going into the season finale on a big shocking note. So, the answer to the question is for right now we dive into all the chaos that happened in this episode to figure out what might be ahead.

Lyne Renée (Alder) and Jessica Sutton (Tally) were thrust front and center in this episode and they each delivered some of their absolute best work to date. Alder and Tally have been on conflicting paths all season and it was inevitable that when their paths came clashing together again it would be a fierce showdown. They did not disappoint. The central focus of the conflict between these two has been Nicte Batan (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart) for most of the season, but for each, their reason for such intense interest in Nicte was vastly different. Alder wants to finish what she started twenty years prior and eliminate Nicte from history, not entirely because she founded the Spree, but because she knows profound truths about Alder that could, would, and did destroy her. If Nicte couldn’t physically kill Alder, then she did the next best thing and found a way to destroy her former mentor by taking away the most important thing to her.

In the end, the once-mighty Army General was taken down by not one mentee, but two. In a complex way, Tally and Nicte aren’t really all that different. They both came into Alder’s orbit wide-eyed and loyal servants of the Army. Systematically Alder sculpted them into the agents of her own destruction. While Nicte and Tally are similar they differ in the way they reacted to Alder’s betrayals. Without Tally, Nicte’s truth would have never been heard. Not because Nicte wouldn’t have tried, but because she is a smart woman, and knew her truth would have fallen into a void without Tally to amplify it. Nicte, in response to finding out Alder used her own off canon working against the Liberian witches, turned to trying to level the playing field by creating the Spree and killing a civilian for every witch killed. Tally in response to finding out about all of Alder’s lies turned to trying to liberate the truth. It is that with which she used to dethrone a woman who has been one of the most powerful women for over three centuries. In the end, the truth ended up being a sharper blade than the route Nicte took.

On a bit of a random note, was Nicte flirting with Tally during the start of the interrogation scene? The Spree leader has certainly taken an interest in the young witch, but she was quite fascinated with Tally’s dimples. The way she smiled when talking about them and Tally’s face, in general, was interesting. At the very least there is a major infatuation going on. That would be an interesting pairing if Tally wasn’t already earmarked for Gregorio (Praneet Akilla), who proved how much he cares for her during the hanger confrontation. Regardless, Sutton and Aguayo-Stewart had some powerful scenes that made an extraordinarily convincing argument for why the series should keep Nicte around beyond this season and keep her and Tally in the same orbit of each other. These two actresses have emerged these past couple of episodes as a fun duo to watch.

They had to be a powerful duo to go up against Renée who is a force to be reckoned with in her own right. She has brought her A-game all season but pulled out all the stops for the downfall of Sarah Alder. If we are all being perfectly honest, Alder is a tough character to care about. Even before all the Nicte stuff was known it was simply hard to sympathize with her. She tends to put her own ambitions and desires above everyone else, everything is about what is best for her agenda. But, like most things in real life, we are all defined by our pasts and our pasts are not always known to anyone else, therefore, making certain actions seem cold and confusing. To a degree that appears to be the case with Alder. Thanks to the Mycelium we now know a critical part of the origin story of Fort Salem and the Mycelium itself. The Mycelium showed Raelle (Taylor Hickson) the moment Alder created both her and Fort Salem on the hallowed ground where the Camarilla brutally massacred her first coven. Does that make it any easier to accept the things she has done since? No, not really. It doesn’t explain things like massacring the Liberian witches just because they didn’t want to take Conscription. That day seems to have broken Alder in ways most people can’t fathom. The Alder we’ve watched these past two seasons is likely a vastly different person from the Alder prior to that horrific day. In a complex way, the Camarilla created Alder’s Army through her drive for vengeance just as Alder’s actions against the Liberian witches created the Spree.

These three entities really wouldn’t exist without each other. As Alder finally confessed, she could have stopped the Spree in their early days, but she didn’t. Having a common enemy in the wake of the Camarilla going to ground proved to be a unifying point for her to grow the Army. Even knowing all this information and knowing many of the morally grey actions Alder has taken it is incredibly hard to not feel a bit of sympathy for her. Renée delivered such a powerful performance throughout this entire hour that she made the audience feel for what her character has endured. It doesn’t justify or condone the actions of the character, but it does explain a lot. Fundamentally this is a character that is alone in the world. Without the Army or her Biddy’s what does Alder have? That scene where Alder exits the hanger all alone provides the answer to that question. She is utterly alone. Perhaps the Biddy’s have been less about extending her life and more about just not being alone. It will be remarkably interesting to see what happens next for Alder. Forced into retirement by President Wade (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and replaced by Petra (Catherine Lough Haggquist) one would think this was the end of Alder, but there is no way that’s the case.

Petra had a match lit under her by her mom and made a rapid push for the top spot. The big question here is can she handle the responsibility? For all of Alder’s faults and questionable choices, she did know how to make the hard calls. Is Petra willing to do what needs to be done to lead the Army? She was particularly good as the head of Intelligence, but that is not the same thing as being the head of an entire Army. Can the Army survive and thrive with Petra at the top while on the cusp of the start of a full-fledged war with an ancient enemy? Or will losing Alder at this point result in the destruction of the Army and Fort Salem?

At least for now, Petra did make one wise choice by promoting Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) to Captain of Intelligence. In recent episodes, Anacostia’s loyalty has been tested and while she seemed to take orders from Petra, she didn’t lose her respect for Alder. When the big moment at the hanger happened, when the cadets had their big Spartacus inspired moment to protect Tally it was clear that Alder had lost her grip. The very cadets she poured her soul into stood before her protecting one of their own sisters from her anger-fueled hand that nearly took Tally’s life. The only crime of the young witch being that she tried to preserve the truth and prevent any more witch-on-witch murder. That was the final straw that broke Alder, and in that moment, when she had to confess her own truth, it was Anacostia that stood by her side. Despite everything, Anacostia stood by Alder as perhaps the last friendly face in the room. Even if Anacostia’s loyalty had shifted. She still couldn’t fully abandon the woman who had played such a profound role in her life. The tears that streamed down Anacostia’s face as Alder made her final speech spoke volumes about the bond that once united these women. Even though it was tough being present at the end of an era, there is still a whole future ahead for the new captain. That includes a possible new/old romance with newly introduced Sterling Woodlot (Luc Roderique) who is part of VP Silver’s (Victor Webster) security detail. Anacostia has a lot going on and she honestly deserves it, plus all this means we’ll be seeing more of this beloved character and any chance to have more McKinney on our screens can only be a good thing.

While Anacostia was busy getting a promotion and a new love interest, other characters like Adil (Tony Giroux) were losing everything. His reunion with Khalida (Kylee Brown) went sideways quickly. It only took one hug for the young Tarim leader to know what her brother had been up to. In a gut-wrenching moment, Khalida disavowed her brother. This sibling duo will reunite sooner than later with everything going on, but it was still hard to watch knowing how much they mean to each other. That does, however, free up Adil to spend more time with Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams).

Well, it would have had she not gone and somehow convinced her mom to throw her on the frontlines of a war that hasn’t technically started yet. In typical Abigail fashion, she wants to get right into the fight. Since her mom did ask her to lay out what she needs, hopefully, that involves Adil and her unit. Technically speaking, by the end of the episode every single person at Fort Salem is on the frontline of the war, so this could end up a moot point anyway. How easily Petra prioritized what her daughter wanted is a sign that Petra may not truly be up to filling Alder’s shoes, but only time will tell. For now, Abigail, Tally, Raelle, and even Anacostia are the most important witches at Fort Salem given they are the only ones with direct combat history with the Camarilla that lived to tell the tale.

But they aren’t the only witches to have gone up against the Camarilla and survive, Scylla is also a part of that elite group. Unfortunately for all of them, she is off in the Cession with Tiffany (Ava Marchfelder), Edwin (Hrothgar Mathews), and Quinn (Sandra Ferens). Between trying to define her relationship with Raelle via phone, bonding with Edwin who accepts her with open arms because she is important to his daughter, and finding a new family for Tiffany, she did find time to make a new friend in the form of a crow. Was that one of Nicte’s crows from the prior episode? Did she adopt it? First Tiffany, now a stray crow? When she and Raelle reunite formally, Raelle and Edwin should be careful, or they will end up with a house full of orphans and strays. The gruff former Spree agent does have a soft spot no matter how hard she tries to hide it. Scylla spent her free time cooking up a unique new working. This new Morgana’s Whisper working causes people to…. dance? And she thinks that could be game-changing in the fight against the Camarilla? Yes, it’s safe to say that the audience is every bit as confused as Quinn. That is going to need much more explanation. Scylla seemed immensely proud of herself and her crow friend, so she has some big grand plan in mind. It’s anyone’s best guess at this point as to what that plan entails, but at least it’s a plan. After the way the episode ended, they are all going to need a plan immediately.

With the war seemingly starting it seems like time for them to all unit Dodgers, Spree, and Army witches must unite if they have any chance at all against the Camarilla. Speaking of the Camarilla, how exactly did they get the plague into Fort Salem? It seems coincidental that VP Silver was on base and left right before the attack. Then again, he left behind his beloved daughter Penelope (Mellany Barros). If he was Camarilla, surely he would have found a way to take her with him. Then again, that last moment they shared seemed an awful lot like a goodbye, so it will be interesting to see if the VP ends up being a good guy and a father who truly loves his daughter or a witch hating Camarilla agent who was even willing to sacrifice his only child for the cause of eliminating witches. The show did make a very deliberate point of showing Penelope get poked by that media guy. That doesn’t seem inconsequential. Could Blanton have done something to try to protect his daughter but said his goodbyes just to be safe? Something is going on with him and it’ll be very curious to see what goes down with him in the season finale.

As the episode ended, Raelle evaluated the infected young witch and gave the urgent order for everyone to run as the plague was unleashed on the fort. Who will escape the plague? Who won’t? Hard to say, but the witches of Fort Salem will need help. Will that help come from Alder? Nicte is still in custody on base, could Tally and the others turn to her for help? She indicated that the Spree had broken out into independently-minded groups, but surely, she could put out a call for them to come and fight and at least some would choose the threat of the bigger enemy over their hatred of the Army. Can Petra and Anacostia rise to the occasion and find a way to save the base on their own? So many things were left uncertain as this episode ended.

What comes next? This was a very emotional episode that felt more like a season finale complete with a big cliffhanger ending. Everything about this hour was right on point. The whole hanger sequence was phenomenal. The Tally and Alder showdown was epic. The next episode is going to have to be on a whole new level to be able to top this one. So, what could happen to be more epic? What we do know is that there is no known way to stop the Witch Plague. Even the Mycelium could barely fend it off from killing Raelle for a limited amount of time when she was infected. It isn’t an enemy they can use any of their fighting skills against. Workings don’t really seem to do much against it. How do they even try to save the fort? Or is it going to be an each witch for themselves scenario? Do they hightail it to the Cession to regroup? Do they get trapped? Does Scylla have to rally reluctant troops to go help the organization they hate? Can the Mycelium and the power of all those dead witches help Raelle Witchbomb it to buy everyone time to figure it all out? What next? What next?! WHAT NEXT?! A question we will all have to keep asking for another exceedingly long week.

Don’t miss the Season 2 Finale on Tuesday, August 24th 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? What do you think is going to happen in the season finale?

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