TV Show Review

TV Review: SALEM: Season 1, Episode 3: In Vain [WGN America]

Janet Montgomery Salem In Vain

WGN America‘s Salem In Vain TV Show Review. Salem: Season 1, Episode 3: In Vain started as young Anne Hale (Tamzin Merchant) dreamt of her and John Alden (Shane West) lying in bed together. The fantasy soon turned nightmarish and Anne awakened to find her eyes turned solid black. At the window, we saw the homemade voodoo doll Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) had sewn together, turn it’s head toward Anne. Eerie? A little. Spooky? No. It is early in the season, but this is the time to get us hooked in and I don’t feel the writing is encouraging us to stay tuned. Thus far, the storylines in Salem are extremely mild to say the least.

The power struggle between Mary and Magistrate Hale (Xander Berkeley) magnified with a verbal showdown. He is of the old world and traditional. She is of a new world, and a witch. He is not submitting to her ideas and Mary will have to address this in some harmful, effective way. I might be wrong, but feel there is a passion here. I am hoping for something physical/sexual in the future.

Now that Bridget has died, the orphanage was vulnerable and looters appeared. Anne tried to stop them, but it it was only John Alden’s threat of violence that made the looters leave. Anne was relieved to see John and requested that he walk her home. Unfortunately for Anne, Mary saw them walking arm in arm through the village. This only added to her irritation with Magistrate Hale, who has yet to learn who broke the witch’s circle.

Hale started out into the woods to pay another visit to Petrus “The Seer” (Christopher Berry.) He told Hale that it was Isaac “the Fornicator” Walton (Iddo Goldberg) who witnessed the ritual, but that there was another with him that could not be identified. (As a “seer”, it seemed odd that he could not identify the other person.) John Alden followed Hale into the wood, and when John was attacked by a dog that had initially appeared to be dead, Hale was there and saved him.

Isaac was kidnapped and taken to the Cracks where dead “unwanteds” are dumped. The Magistrate worked to get Isaac to give up the name of the person who accompanied him that fateful night. Isaac stated strongly that he was alone, which was a lie…John Alden was with him. Hale frustrated, planted the evidence that would lead Cotton to believe Isaac a witch. He then put in motion that which took Isaac to the whorehouse, where he made a scene and was arrested. Mary discovered what Hale had done, and was not happy.

John went to Mary and pleaded for her to intervene and set Isaac free. Mary agreed and told John that he had her “complete allegiance.” She knew she needed the name of the person that was with Isaac that night, so she appeared to him as his love Abigail Cook (Alexandra Daniels) to get the truth. By doing this she gained his trust and he finally said that John was “the other” that night. Mary must do all she can to keep John safe, and does. She told Hale that Isaac was alone in the woods. Hale still insisted on hanging Isaac, but Mary said no. Hale persisted, that he would take it up with the Selectmen. He was sure they would hang Isaac as a witch.

Cotton questioned Isaac, trying to form his own opinion of guilt or innocence. John watched and listened until Mary came and pulled him aside. She told him of Hale’s intent and that he must stop him. As Hale came to gather Isaac for trial, John stepped in and fought the handful of guards there to take him away. As a witch, Mary went about stopping Hale her own way and dropped a white mouse into a snake cage. I like the witchcraft that has been shown thus far, it’s dark…but Salem needs much more of it! It’s also slightly predictable, there is vast array of information on the subject of witchcraft, voodoo and the dark arts available. If the writers want this to ring true, they are going to have to do more extensive research. This show will not survive on pedestrian storyline development. I don’t think the writers are using the witchcraft effectively to infuse real fear into the narrative…or in to those of us watching.

At the end of this chapter, we see the voodoo doll tip itself over on top of Anne’s dresser as she brushed her hair. She shrugged it off, then turned to see it sitting on her bed. She walked slowly toward the bed and watched as the doll turned it’s head to face her. She could not breathe as blood rushed out of her mouth. Word reached Hale that his daughter was afflicted, he arrived to find his dear daughter on the floor gasping. He knew Mary was behind this as he observed the ominous doll on her bed.

Hale exploded into the Sibley home and pleaded for Anne’s life. Mary knew she had successfully put him in his place. He agreed to release Isaac, and let the matter of who broke their circle drop. He also agreed to get out of Mary’s way and allow her to do what needed to be done to get the Grand Rite completed.

“You see Magistrate, I’ve lost everything in this town that I ever cared for. You, however, you have everything left to lose.”

In this week’s episode, Mary was determined to complete the Grand Rite by any means necessary. However, she remained loyal to her one true love John Alden and continued to keep him out of harms way.

The writers have something here…it’s just not terribly deep.

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