SALEM, Episode Four

SALEM, Episode Four
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John Alden is at the cemetery visiting the graves of his parents when he runs into Anne Hale. She tells him about her fever dream in which a doll came to life, and that it was so real she even had an image of her father coming in and removing the doll. Then, speak of the devil (yes, pun intended) Hale shows up and ushers his daughter along.

Meanwhile, a priest is performing an exorcism on Mercy. He slices open her belly and a snake slithers out.

Alden talks to Cotton Mather, telling him that he thinks Anne was the victim of a spell. “Has John Alden finally declared his belief in witches?” Alden replies that he’s seen too much to deny it any longer. They discuss the possibility that Hale is not who he seems to be, but Mather is distracted by the sight of a guy all over Gloriana, his prostitute girlfriend, and he gets in the guy’s face. Alden breaks it up, and he and the stranger exchange a pointed glance. Mather asks if he knows the guy, but Alden says no.

Mary and Tituba are walking in the square and they encounter Mercy with the priest. Mary tries to control Mercy, willing her to implicate the blacksmith as a witch. But Mercy merely collapses instead. Mary tells Tituba that the girl is not longer under their control.

The witches have a meeting in the woods. Hale says that Mary’s plan of action is falling apart now that Mercy is out from under their spell. He says and an even bigger problem is that Alden clearly suspects him. He says if Mary doesn’t do something about it, he will have to. The elder witch supports Mary, and says for now they will stick with the program. (How is Hale in any position to threaten or challenge Mary after last episode, where she almost killed his daughter? Not sure.)

Mary visits Mather and wants to know what’s the deal – wasn’t he supposed to be curing Mercy? Why did she collapse in the square? She goads him, mentioning his father’s skill in such areas. (If this is the Top Gun of witch hunting — which it kind of is — Mather is Maverick) Mary says that when she summoned a hunter of witches, he was not who she had in mind, yet he was the one who arrived. “Do not make me regret settling for my second choice.” Mather commences drinking.

Alden runs into the guy from the bar, and grabs him aside. “Captain Hook, what are you doing here?” (Captain Hook??) The guy mentions something about having saved John from the savages, and says he is there because he was delivering cargo and is stuck there because of influenza quarantine. He asks to meet Mary, and Alden says don’t even think about it. The stranger says that Alden shouldn’t threaten him unless he wants him to reveal the kind of man he really is. Tituba overhears this. (By the way, this show uses the old daytime soap opera trick of doing a close-up of person’s dramatic facial expression before cutting to commercial. I love it.)

Mary leaves George alone in the house, where he proceeds to stab himself in the leg with a nail so he can write a note with his blood. Outside, Mary is intercepted by Captain Hook. He asks for permission to re-board his ship but she says no, it’s still under quarantine.

Mather is trying to talk to a comatose Mercy. He finds her wound, evidence of her exorcism.

Alden, Hale, Mary, and Anne are all at a party for the Selectmen. Anne is wearing an amulet around her neck — a gift from her father. When Mary touches it, it singes her fingers.

Mather gives Mary the news that Mercy has been freed of the demon’s touch thanks to an exorcism. Mary is furious. “An exorcism? A Catholic ritual performed here, in Salem? Do you know what Salem abhors even more than a witch? A Catholic.” She tells him that even when he succeeds he finds a way to fail.

Alden gives a speech saying, what if witches were not the common man, but someone we’ve entrusted to lead? A member of this very board? Just as the room gets really tense, he jokes, “I hope not. Because I’m one of you now.” Everyone laughs.

Mather goes to church, distraught. Gloriana is waiting for him and he tries to resist her but she taunts him with his need for her and he grabs her and they have rough sex and he tosses coins at her afterwards. (Someone needs a little stress management training.)

Meanwhile, Hook finds his way into the Sibley house, and asks George for permission to board his ship, saying Mary refused but what woman understands these things? George hands him the note. It says “Witch.”

When Mary returns home, Hook confronts her with the note and demands access to his ship or he’ll present the note to the Selectman. She gives in. Tituba is upset, but Mary says the bigger problem is Mercy — her “familiar” has been cut from her. She tells Tituba she has to replace it.

Hook meets with the witch elder out by a swamp. Apparently, she made a deal with him to deliver some sort of package, and mentions that he was paid well not to ask questions. (If you’re a little lost at this point, don’t feel bad. So am I.)

Mary, in the form of a wretched hag, forces Mercy to swallow the snake again, regaining possession of her.

Crafty Tituba goes to John Alden and tells him Hook is up to no good, threatening to expose rumor of Mary’s affair if she doesn’t allow him on board the ship — he must be up to no good to want access to the ship that badly. From the look on his face, Alden agrees.

Cut to Hook on the ship, looking for the parcel the old crone wants.

At the Hale house, John confronts Anne about her feelings for Alden, and warns her to stay away from him. He reminds her of his history with Mary: “Do you think she will just stand by while you go after what she believes is rightfully hers?” Anne is defiant, but Hale forbids her to go after Alden.

Hook reaches the dock with his parcel, where he is intercepted by Alden. They argue about how Alden spares his life before under the promise that they would not cross paths again, but Hook did not hold up his end of the bargain. Alden chokes him to death with his bare hands. He cuts open the lock on the package, and find a strange looking ornament.

Mary is home, gazing at the half coin Alden gave her before he left for the war. And then he shows up to see her. She asks if he remember the promises they made to each other before the war. He says yes — were they lies? She says no. They were wishes — made before they knew how the world really works. Now they both know that their wishes and what they must do to survive are often at odds.

Mary: It’s late. Already past my bedtime.

Alden: I wish you sweet dreams, Mary.

Mary: Perhaps they’ve already begun.

Inside her house, Mary looks in the mirror and wipes a tear from her eye. Then, behind her, the image of Mercy holding the snake, blood running from her mouth, laughing, “I know what you are.” Then the image disappears.

The incredible thing about this show is that no matter how grotesquely Mary behaves, at the end of the episodes they keep bringing it back to her lost love, and somehow I forgive her.

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