Oh Salem, you really should be smarter than the cheap thrills.
Once again, Salem Season 2 Episode 5 resorts to too many gross-out moments and other character oddities to tell its tales instead of relying on dramatic narrative and the sheer force of nature that are the cast. It's a shame.
Not every witch-worthy scene is off the mark, either. So it's not just that it's disgusting. What I'm talking about misses the aim of entertainment and it shows.
Mercy Lewis was once a young witch with powers beyond her understanding who was borderline crazy pants. She was fun to watch and her looniness was part of the attraction. She'd put really unfortunate things into her mouth all the time and you'd just say, "Ew."
Now she's pretty much the same, but without the entertainment value or purpose. Her ship has sailed. She should have just died in the fire. She looks as disgusting as the things she eats. Her threat against Mary is no longer interesting in light of the arrival of Countess Marburg and she acts like a petulant child by comparison.
Mercy's desire to eat the most disgusting of everything meant that instead of cannibalising Isaac, she felt making him tasty with worms would, what, assist in her digestion? Then we had to see her carve him out and eat him. It wasn't funny or scary, just sad that it was supposed to be either.
The Good witch Anne Hale is so lost. In her haste to create a potion to lure Cotton to marry her so she doesn't have to resort to marrying Hawthorne (either she does it, marries another or faces a trial for witchcraft), she squeezed the life out of the only thing she loved – Brown Jenkins – as part of her ritual.
Anne never even learned whether or not it was her familiar. Would a familiar come back to her if killed in such a way? God, I hope so. As soon as she decided upon being good, it seemed her fate was sealed and she'd never have a chance of attaining that goal.
Actually, it seems Salem has no desire for viewers to feel empathy or comfortably root for any single character without paying a price later. Isaac, Dollie and Cotton are all cueing up to make errors forcing us to question their motives.
Cotton pled with Alden to join forces against the evil in town, but Alden appears to be out to lunch even for his own friend. That has to change, however, as his character is completely unnecessary at this point. He does nothing for the story and it's doubtful that's what Shane West signed on for.
The meeting between Mary and Marburg wasn't as exciting as I would have wished, but I'm going to assume it's because Marburg was off wandering around and didn't have her full attention on Mary. It's not easy to be carrying on two full tasks at the same time.
Marburg is brilliant, though, at being awake on both sides. If Mary had that ability she could have stopped Marburg from killing George in her signature water fountain style. At least Mary's familiar made it out. It was certainly bad timing from a political perspective since he was just rising to the occasion to make a stand against Hawthorne and his big mouth. Poor George, he'll never take the sweet fruits of...anything, ever again.
On the other hand, the opening scene between Countess Marburg and her son was amazing. She was in the bath again and we even got to see her special shower that keeps her "together," The living woman must be under a spell to keep from freaking the hell out as she acts as a human shower tap, but that was perfectly played, story-driven, witchy kitsch, unlike the gross-out Mercy business and Anne going against her desires and crushing Brown Jenkins.
What did you think of "The Wine Dark Sea"? Are you ready for things to move forward and all this cat and mouse business to be over? Is the gross-out factor working for you or would you prefer it to be more character driven? Should Mercy stumble into an open fire and burn out one and for all? Hit the comments!
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.