WGN America‘s Salem Ashes, Ashes TV Show Review. Salem: Season 1, Episode 12: Ashes, Ashes began at the burial grounds, where Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) muttered wildly about the dead innocents that lay there, and of becoming Queen of the Night. Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) appeared, bearing the Malum and told Mercy that death was coming. [Mercy’s character has come a long, long way baby.]
Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) was in a state of obsession over the Malum, until Anne Hale (Tamzin Merchant) arrived and asked to be inspected for signs of witchery. After a thorough examination, he informed her that she was clean. This, even after her eyes shone bright red and a lizard tongue snapped out of her mouth.[I like where this relationship seems to be headed. Both Cotton and Anne are sexually compelling, and being in a salacious tryst together would serve the show very well.]
In his House of Pain, Increase Mather (Stephen Lang) awoke his captured witches to play torture games with them…those that spoke up would not burn. When he left, Mercy arrived and assured them they would be saved by the Queen of the Night. She instructed them to speak against John Alden (Shane West) at the trial.
Elsewhere in Salem, Mary met with the coven of ancient witches as they anticipated the Grand Rite’s conclusion. She plead with them to not sacrifice John Alden. They made her well aware that saving him would reveal her true nature to him.
Reverend Increase and son have another debate regarding Alden’s innocence. We learn Increase’s hands had been scarred…from hellfire itself. “These hands have actually touched hell,” he exclaimed. He had a previous experience with the Grand Rite where he killed a witch disguised as a young child with his own hands, and they still burned to this day. The only way to stop the Grand Rite was to kill the witch that started it…before the rise of the moon, that ends the ritual.
At the court house, Alden was brought to trial. The townspeople that once stood for him, now turned firmly against him. Increase thumped his bible as prosecutor, while Cotton defended Alden with as much logic as he could muster. The witch girls testified against him. But on cross examination, it was clear Emily (Mary Katherine O’Donnell) was lying. Increase said that John’s attempts to call the witch hunts a sham proved his guilt. As well as his rake treatment of Mary and Anne.
Cotton fought back by exposing his father’s use of torture to coerce the young witches confessions. John kept mostly silent. [The relationship between Increase and Cotton has been a rich, complicated and dramatic one. Both Stephen Lang and Seth Gabel have brought 100% of their talents to these characters…would be sorry to see either go.]
Four more innocents were given to the Grand Rite. Mercy’s girls plead for their lives and apologized to Alden while being dragged to the nooses. Cotton tried to intervene and accused Increase of lying, but to no avail. He said they wouldn’t burn, but never said they wouldn’t hang. John watched the gruesome scene from under the gallows.
Cotton went to John, questioning his activities with the Indians. John confessed that he had sided with his Mohawk rescuers for revenge after the Militia slaughtered their village. Cotton was not sympathetic. He stormed off like a scorned lover. [I think we are all unclear as to why Cotton was not very understanding here.]
Dollie (Sammi Hanratty) went to Mercy and told of what happened to their friends. Mercy was crazed. She told Dollie to gather the poor, the young, the suffering…for their army. She exclaimed that it was time for a new Queen of the Night. [Soon Mercy will be fully realized…my suspicion is a showdown to come between Mercy and Magic Mary.]
In the end, Isaac (Iddo Goldberg) went to comfort Mary. She wept for her love John, but Isaac reminded her that there was nothing that she could do, that she would reveal herself to him if she did. She appeared to John in his cell. They spoke of his imminent future and…come what may…teleported him away to the wood. Revealing finally, that she indeed was a witch.
I thought this chapter’s direction was good…and yet, the writing still suffered.
I am looking forward to what the finale reveals next week.
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