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Motherland: Fort Salem - Oh Elayne… - Review: Captive Audience + POLL

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In brand with this season, the stakes were raised even higher throughout this episode. However, as opposed to the two previous episodes, this one slowed the forward momentum, which was actually a nice reprieve. This carved out a little more time to spend with individual characters to the point that the overall cast of characters was even missing key players like Raelle (Taylor Hickson), Petra (Catherine Lough Haggquist), and Blanton (Victor Webster). Even Anacostia (Demetria McKinney), Izadora (Emilie Leclerc), and Kara Brandt (Emilie Ullerup) had far smaller parts to play than previously this season. While time was spent with President Kelly Wade (Sheryl Lee Ralph), and the consequences of her crusade to stop Blanton led to a shocking ending, the main focus of this episode was the rogue Bellweather unit.

With Raelle secured away by the Mother Mycelium - due to the real-life need of Hickson to heal from a serious accident - it left the rest of her unit struggling to find direction. On the run from the Marshalls and forced to separate, the unit was led through some curious circumstances, including the most significant interaction anyone has had with Alder (Lyne Renée) since her not-so-permanent demise of last season. While the season’s first episode allowed the group dynamics to be featured, the more nuanced moments were lost to the need to cover so much storytelling ground. This one makes up for that by focusing on what was driving the unit as they fight to survive in an unfamiliar area.

In the aftermath of last week's attack, the unit was left running for their lives with the Marshalls on their trail. When they had to split, it was fairly obvious how the split would happen. Both groups allowed for the highest storytelling potential. Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), Adil (Tony Giroux), and Tally (Jessica Sutton) were an obvious trio as they sought to find Khalida (Kylee Brown). To be fair, Tally could have been inserted in either group and had a role to play. This was another big episode for her as the show continues to highlight the significant impact her ability can have. We also got our first major display of Tally intentionally using her powers to look into the future. Before now, the visions either came accidentally or were provoked by Nicte (Arlen Aguayo Stewart/Kandyse McClure). It was interesting, however, to see how scared Tally was to use her ability in the wake of the price Nicte showed her that she had to pay to use her own gifts. Tally’s fear was palpable as Abigail begged her for this favor. The way Tally clung to Adil and Abigail showed the profound impact the event had on her. Sutton has always been a standout performer from the start, but this storyline has given her great material and it is a complete joy to watch her work.

Also, a total joy was the return of Alder. Yes, we saw her at the end of the season premiere, but this was her first significant appearance. The fact they paired her up with Tally was another brilliant writing choice. Sutton and Renée have always brought this rich adversarial yet respectful energy to their characters when they interact, and it is fascinating to see how they convey their unique dynamic. Tally's connection with Alder is different and yet oddly similar as what she has with Nicte. Interesting to see two women who used to be friends and now enemies end up mentoring the same young witch. They both have wisdom to bestow on Tally, qualities she would be smart to replicate. Yet, both women also have qualities that would serve Tally wise to avoid, like the inability to truly trust.

Alder's return proved fascinating for many reasons, including the reveal via Khalida that she and Alder are both stewards of a part of the first song from the six sisters. The fact that Alder initially protected Khalida from the Marshalls and then tracked down Elayne (Beverley Elliott), who had stolen a seed of the first song, made the song's significance clear. The Mycelium sent Alder back to protect the song and, based on the appearance of Alder's eyes, is also playing a significant part in keeping her alive. Given how important the song is and all that the rouge unit is doing for the cause, it is bizarre that the Mycelium would separate them from Alder at their greatest moment of need when the Marshalls captured them. Clearly, the Mycelium is playing the long game here.

Even though Elayne didn't survive the episode, it will be curious to find out who ended her life given that she was very alive when she parted paths with Alder and Tally. She provided a fun time for the unit before things went to hell. Abigail, Tally, and Adil needed time to let go and be free. If that was the work of a seed of the first song, then it leaves one to wonder if each seed evokes an entirely unique experience for those that encounter it. Some are presumably more dangerous than the seeming benevolent nature of this one. The others the group will likely encounter in the coming episodes will almost certainly prove a challenge.

While that group was off on their own adventure, Scylla (Amalia Holm) was stuck with Nicte. Honestly, it is about darn time these two got shoved together alone to work out their issues. We've needed to see Scylla and Nicte deal with the inherent drama that comes from one being the head of a revolution that the other turned her back on. Surprisingly, they worked together fairly well for longer than expected. Their fist-to-cuffs brawl at the barn wasn't at all a surprise. They both had a lot of pent-up anger and distrust that needed to be expressed. The fight also was about more than just them and their personal issues. Outlying forces and circumstances were definitely driving both women. The fact they then got caught because they both lost their focus was also not at all surprising. Without focus, both of these fierce women are floundering around, trying to find their exact place in a world that is being turned upside down and not in a way either of them ever wanted.

Scylla, in particular, has been having a tough time, especially since she lost Raelle in the prior episode. We saw glimpses of Scylla cracking under the fear of Raelle's fate last week, but this episode leaned full-on into it. While she was on the run with Nicte, she had a goal, but the moment they were able to pause at that barn, it was clear that Raelle still wasn't far from Scylla's mind. She grew more desperate to reach the woman she loves, leading her to make some uncharacteristically careless choices. Her body language and actions grew more desperate each time something didn't work. Holm, who has always been able to perfectly capture the complex emotions that drive Scylla, got to put her talent on display. The way Holm had Scylla completely snap when Nicte destroyed her one good chance to connect with Raelle was a stunning display of a woman unraveling at the presumed loss of her soulmate.

The best moment that conveyed the toll all this is taking on Scylla was when the Marshalls finally captured them and reunited the rogue group at their compound. With that time to reflect and friendly faces, Scylla finally allowed herself to express her feelings after losing Raelle. Watching Scylla's bond with Tally form this season has been wonderful. To see one-time foes turned friends has been something of which Raelle would certainly approve. When Tally noticed Scylla spiraling, it was nice to see her hush the room and put Nicte in her place to allow Scylla space to process. Then, when the emotions boiled over and her legs gave way, Tally caught her, and without hesitation, both she and Abigail embraced the former-Spree agent. Three souls from different worlds all deeply impacted by the same loss of someone they all care about. Maybe that exact moment is what this is all about, people from different existences coming together and finding common ground they can stand together on. It was without question the best singular moment of this episode, and Holm, Sutton, and Williams all more than did it justice.

While that group ended up in less than favorable circumstances, captured by the Marshalls, there were far more horrific fates awaiting others. Like the uncertain fates that the ending of this episode bestowed upon President Wade, Anacostia, M (Ess Hödlmoser), and Sterling (Luc Roderique). It was obvious things were going to go sideways for this group from the moment Anacostia and Izadora filled her in on everything that had been going on with Blanton. Her gut reaction was to publicly target him. That was never going to end well for anyone but blowing up the White House was a bold move even for the Camarilla. Though, based on how unhinged Kara Brandt was when she encountered the disgraced Hearst (Bob Frazer), it was obvious that even the Camarilla were in damage control. We also saw the lengths to which Hearst was willing to go to get his upper hand back, and it's safe to say that Kara undersold Hearst by saying he can go dark. This man is a completely unhinged psycho. Any person willing to cut open their own neck to have what we can only presume is a now-deceased young witch's vocal box placed in him is beyond any and all help. What he does next is really anyone's guess. Still, there are so many questions to be answered surrounding Hearst and the entire Camarilla organization, including but not limited to the fact that Hearst bowed his head when he found Kara in his office. Each episode makes it appear she is a bigger player in the Camarilla than she first appeared.

However, this episode's biggest question will be what President Wade's true fate is. M discovered that Anacostia and Sterling were missing, and the building had been compromised in time to make it to President Wade. M would have known the stakes and had a contingency plan up their sleeves. We may have seen an unconscious Wade close out the episode in the wake of the explosion, but if this show has taught us anything, it's to not believe everything we see. We might have seen an unconscious, injured Wade, but was it really Wade? It very well could have been, the next stage of this story could see Blanton assume the Presidency, but it could have also been an elaborate decoy. In which case, there is a real concern over the ultimate fate of M as well. Previews for this season give us a fairly good idea of what has become of Anacostia and Sterling, but M's fate is less certain. That ending ensures that the next episode will surely have some major bombshells to unleash on fans.

While Wade's fate is uncertain at best, this episode did introduce a new player in Pauline Marten (Michelle Thrush). Given her ties to the Cession and the Marshalls, she could be either a powerful ally or a profound foe. However, despite the Marshalls spending so much time tracking down the unit, there is still a compelling case to be made that they may end up being a great resource for the unit to use. They first need to convince them that they are indeed all fighting the same fight, which could be easier said than done.

To recap, Wade and M may or may not still be alive. Anacostia and Sterling have apparently been captured by the Camarilla. Hearst may now be supercharged. Blanton may be about to become President. The Mycelium has Raelle and possibly Alder sequestered away. Scylla, Abigail, Tally, Adil, Khalida, and Nicte are all in the custody of the Marshalls. Overall, things aren't all that great for the heroes of this story. This all equals the strong likelihood we're in for some wildly intense situations in the coming episodes.

Make sure to not miss the next episode of Motherland: Fort Salem next Tuesday, July 12th at 10/9c on Freeform.

Please use the comments to discuss your favorite parts of this episode.

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