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Motherland: Fort Salem - She Returns - Review: Reunions and Loss

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This episode continued the trend of flawlessness with a powerful viewing experience. It also marked the official return of Raelle (Taylor Hickson). The reunions did not disappoint, except for the one reunion that characters and audience alike were denied. This episode was full of new information and a multitude of heroic actions. It took us on a journey through the Cession as the invasion began and heroes were born.



The action picks up not long after the events of the prior episode. Anacostia (Demetria McKinney), Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), and Adil (Tony Giroux) are working to figure out how to find Wade (Sheryl Kelly Wade) to stop the war. They are also trying to stop the bloodshed between Thelma's (Olivia Lucas) Cession militia and Army Witches. Meanwhile, Scylla (Amalia Holm) rejoined them only to spend all of her time desperately trying to reach Raelle again. It was a poignant moment as Abigail and Anacostia stood with Scylla as her friends and attempted to get her out of her fog of desperation that had consumed her in her quest to find Raelle. Holm and McKinney have not shared the screen enough this season. They were a phenomenal duo last season, so, hopefully, they'll have more scenes before the series ends.

It was nice to see McKinney as a vital part of this episode. She had great stuff when Anacostia was in captivity with Sterling (Luc Roderique). Still, there is something nostalgic about seeing her back working with the Bellweather unit as their mentor and commanding officer. Seeing her at the Iroquois checkpoint with Abigail and Adil showed how far they all have come. When the Camarilla led the Army Witches into the Cession and murdered the Iroquoian Marshal (Trevor Carroll), they witnessed a horrific event, but all that did was strengthen them. It was very telling of how times have changed and characters evolved that Anacostia didn't stop Abigail and Adil from staying behind to take a stand against the Camarilla.


The duo's engagement with the Camarilla officer proved how much Abigail is genuinely like her mom, a fierce leader in her own right. It also illustrated why the Camarilla deeply fear the union of Sky and Earth. Abigail and Adil make a formidable team. More importantly than even the stand they took at that crossing was the moment Abigail had with her fellow witches after she killed the Camarilla officer. She gave them a rallying speech that would have made her mom and Alder (Lyne Renée) immensely proud. Also, it would seem that young Cadet Guadalupe "Lupe" Cortez (Lina Lecompte) is better respected as a leader than might have been initially apparent. The unit of witches followed her lead when she approached Abigail. They followed her lead when she ordered the guards set free and followed her when she stepped forward to take in Abigail's impromptu speech. Lupe has a purpose in this fight, and it'll be curious to see what they do with her in the remaining episodes.

While Anacostia, Abigail, and Adil were busy at the crossing, Thelma (Olivia Lucas) braved a Council meeting where she revealed the existence of her militia. The news was met with mixed results, especially from Mathilda "Milly" Longhorse (Quelemia Sparrow), who was revealed as the Council traitor moments after the rest of the group fell unconscious. It's always the quiet, innocent-seeming ones in shows that are most likely to betray someone. Though, to be fair, they are usually the characters who have sat by idly being screwed over and have the most to gain from a betrayal, so it's not all that surprising. Milly neglected to account for the fact that Thelma has built a strong camaraderie with the Bellweather unit.


After Anacostia and Abigail got Scylla's head back in the fight, she rallied her dodger friends, led by Mac (John Stewart), and reunited with Tally (Jessica Sutton). Using her gift of future sight, Tally alerted Scylla to the trouble for the Council and led the charge on a plan to save them. It was also Tally who finally told Scylla about the Raelle vision and saved the former Spree witch from a complete meltdown over the potential fate of her true love. Holm and Sutton never got to share the screen much before this season, so watching their characters form this powerful bond has been a treat. These two have had a strained bond over the seasons, never truly trusting each other until now, so it was an excellent choice by the writers to take a moment to clear the air of their past distrust before charging forward in a united front. They stormed into that community center like a duo that had fought together for years and freed the Council from Milly's misguided attempts to secure more prosperity for her own people.

This was the start of Scylla's great sacrifice. She rallied the dodgers to slow down the incoming Army. Their work brought no harm but ensured the first wave of the Army unit was reminded entirely of their oath to the Army, Petra's (Catherine Lough Haggquist) Army. Unfortunately, the second wave was proficient and not the group present for Abigail's speech because they acted quicker on the orders given by their sinister Camarilla commanders, though they displayed more compassion than the Camarilla clearly liked. When the Army witches surrounded the Community Center, Scylla made the ultimate sacrifice for her friends and family's sake. She took on Thelma's face and led the witches away from the others allowing herself to be captured for the Council and Tally to be saved. Like Abigail's earlier actions with Adil, where her grand speech showed the birth of a leader and hero, this was Scylla's moment. From a former Spree agent who committed acts that still haunt her to a hero willing to sacrifice all, even her own life, for the greater good of those she cares about. Scylla is, without question, a hero in her own right.
 

Her sacrifice almost was for nothing as Tally, unaware of what Abigail and Adil had discovered about the protective power of the new Camarilla armor, was knocked back by her own work. It almost cost her everything when the Camarilla officer was prepared to kill her. Thankfully, that was the moment Raelle returned. In a way, Scylla saved Tally as well because it was Scylla's voice that led Raelle to that room to save Tally. Though it took everything out of Raelle, it did bring about the much-anticipated reunions between Raelle, Tally, and Abigail. Hickson has been desperately missed since she had to take a temporary leave from filming, so this moment held as much poignant emotion for the audience as it did for the characters. Unfortunately, her return came too late, so while Scylla knows of Raelle's return, thanks to the two Army witches present to see it, she didn't get the reunion everyone wanted. In fact, the young witches informed Scylla that she is headed for what they call the "Slaughter House." What the Camarilla have failed to account for is how beloved Scylla is. Dodgers, Spree, Cession Witches, and the Bellweather unit alike will all move every obstacle in their way to get her back. So, while it sucked that the characters and audience alike were denied this reunion, it seems that the writers will make it up to us when the reunion finally happens.

Scylla is also beloved by Willa (Diana Pavlovská), who already had to reluctantly let go of her daughter. That opening sequence between mother and daughter was desperately needed after the way they were so violently separated last season with only mere moments to say their goodbyes. The tears in both Hickson and Pavlovská 's eyes gave much more emotional weight to the decision Raelle had to make to be with her mom in the Mycelium's safety or risk the dark world to reunite with her friends and Scylla. It was a bit disconcerting that Willa said the Mycelium would call upon Raelle at the end. Still, Willa and the Mycelium likely knew there was no decision to be made when they gave her the option. It's also unlikely that they will truly abandon her either. Scylla being in trouble means Raelle will risk the same fate to save her. If there was ever a moment for Willa to intervene, it'd be that moment. She has a fondness for Scylla. In fact, she is the prime reason for the union of Scylla and Raelle, so she'll also probably not want to see a dark fate befall Scylla either. It'll be interesting to see what forces the writers unite in the quest to protect the Cession and save Scylla.


While all this was happening, Alder was off in Madrid, Spain, seeking out Santos (Paul Moniz de Sá), who was apparently a Camarilla Pontifex for decades. He is now a collector and seemed very well aware of Alder's identity when she entered his shop. He tried to prove that he had changed his ways by offering her the information she sought about the First Song. While he was helpful by revealing that the two missing parts of the First Song belong to family lines that no longer exist, the Abyssinian and Barbicarum lines, he also had a collection of other artifacts from his time with the Camarilla. What sealed his fate was the case he had that was marked "ABIGAIL ALDER. SISTER OF GENERAL SARAH ALDER. WAS HUNG BY THIS ROPE IN 1692”. From that moment on, his fate was well and truly sealed. It was only fitting that he hung from the same noose at Alder's hand. Too bad his demise didn't come before he trained Hearst (Bob Frazer) in the sinister techniques the Camarilla used involving witches' vocal cords. Though, after Hearst's slip up in the prior episode calling the Mycelium "Mother," the Camarilla might not have thoroughly researched the grander implications of their vile experiments.

Now it's up to Tally, reunited with Alder, to learn to see back into the distant past. She will presumably become the steward of the final two parts of the song. Given the control she displayed over her ability in this episode, there is no doubt she will succeed at any task Alder needs of her. Though, if there is one complaint about this episode, it's the number of times we heard Tally have to explain the Raelle prophecy repeatedly. Now that everyone seems to know, it's hopefully the end of that until the time comes for the prophecy to actually play out. There seems to be a strong connection between Tally's vision and Willa's ominous parting words to Raelle, so that should be a complex event to witness.



This episode also gave us the return of Nicte (Kandyse McClure), when she and Anacostia met in what appeared to be a Spree-occupied diner in the Cession. Both women were clearly aware of who the other was. When Anacostia left, Nicte was quick to gather her group to follow. Was that a planned meeting? Did Nicte just hear about Anacostia and come to investigate? Whatever reason they came together in that moment, these two fierce opponents will likely use common ground to work together with a common enemy threatening them, especially when the unit they both care about - whether Nicte would admit it or not - is in trouble.

What happens next? We know that everyone is desperately trying to find Wade and the Marshal (Michael Horse). With one of his men murdered, the Marshal likely felt it like Alder did when a Biddy was in trouble. Will that bring him back? Wade is clearly in safe hands, but for the sake of the entire country and all witches, she needs to be reinstated soon. There will clearly be a rescue mission for Scylla that will involve the unit taking a grave risk to get her back. The invasion of the Cession is very much underway, but with the likes of Lupe and her unit, all hope isn't lost yet. These final episodes still have a lot of ground to cover, including pivotal moments from the final season trailer that showed better days ahead. The question is what all the heroes of this story will have to endure to get to the other side of this Camarilla-manufactured crisis.

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

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


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