A packed Motherland: Fort Salem Episode 7 delivered as much action as information and concluded on a major cliffhanger. A storm is coming.
The information-heavy episode gave deep insight into the greater world and the protected reality of the girl’s school. Motherland: Fort Salem Episode 7 perfected the balance between too much information and too much action. Characters have been sufficiently developed to act as the framework for the drama to adhere. Strong performances by the entire cast sell the fantasy. Just enough magic and breathtaking action kept the episode from bogging down under the weight of the plot. As a result, you had to pay attention to catch everything.
Scylla’s time in chains is making the defiant girl even more resolute. She is a true believer—a homegrown domestic terrorist who is ruled more by fear and hate than logic. Despite a whole lot of glammer tricks and mind-melding, she is refusing to break. When even torture doesn’t work, Anacostia and General Adler use Raelle. They sneak into the girl’s room and put them all in a deep sleep so they can carry Raelle to Scylla’s cell.
The intense scene does put in question who the “good guys” are. All’s fair in love and war is difficult to swallow coming from both sides. Amalia Holm(Scylla) is fantastic this week, conveying Scylla’s strength and pain. She is hurting but stubborn. Her portrayal of the brazen girl, especially after seeing Raelle, made her actions sympathetic. That big picture view allows for later plot beats with Adil to hit home.
Emotional abuse works, and Scylla spills all her secrets to Anacostia. Scylla’s first meeting with The Spree, a large armory, the Baylord factory, and their commitment to winning is all witnessed. “The way out is in. The way over is under”, isn’t just a secret passage used to identify the faithful but a plan. Defeat from within. Go where they least expect it and stay hidden. Scylla’s certainly did that by choosing the face we see. The red-haired woman from the shopping mall attack was Scylla. The answer to her authentic appearance is revealed. A brief conversation shows just how ruthless General Adler is. When Anacostia lobbies for leniency for Scylla, stating she sensed remorse, Alder sneers at her that she has a soft spot for orphans.
Raelle did not get a chance to heal herself this week. By touching the wall in the Necro tombs, she allowed something(probably Mycelium) to hitchhike on her hand. Motherland: Fort Salem Episode 7 did none of the girls any favors. They all are still reeling from their recent tragedies and heartbreaks. The Witch Father’s arrival with the magical Backstreet Boys didn’t help Tally move on. Gerit may be betrothed to someone else, but his heart clearly belongs to Tally. Like a moth drawn to a flame, she is pulled by her attraction for him. Needing the outlet for her fear and anger, she takes what Gerit offers knowing full well; it’s only physical.
The appearance of the boys also allowed for an essential bit of exposition about the political landscape beyond the walls of Fort Salem. The Spree hates humans for their prejudice. Humans hate all witches despite needing them to fight, and the witches hate the Spree and feel contempt for humans. It’s a mess.
The peace accords are being reevaluated because as powerful as the witches are, they might just be an unnecessary evil. Or so some think. The Witch Father talks about an encounter with the police similar to current news stories of black men and corrupt police officers. It is an interesting lens to view things through. In the world of Motherland, race, gender, and sexuality don’t matter, but magic does. It just goes to show humans are inherently flawed.
Adil and Abigail’s opposite world views made for the most compelling discussion. He is from the war-torn Tehran Basin similar I imagine to our current Middle East. The only difference is the weapons of war in Motherland are magical storms and mind tricks. Adil(Tony Giroux) is a nice addition. He provides context to the conflict. There is a grounded wisdom to him that is lacking from General Adler and her “No Mercy” philosophy.
Those in the Tehran Basin are powerful but vulnerable. They live in constant fear. Magic comes at a price. The storms the witches use to fight also bring famine, floods, and worse. The thought that Khalida’s disease is a punishment of sorts is one that should be explored further. Gaia’s Revenge comes for the innocent as well as the guilty. That is why Adil agreed to go to Fort Salem. His sister is dying. A black webbed disease has taken root and causes Khalida to produce dangerous tones. Regardless of the Healer’s best efforts, they do more to advance the condition than cure it. Really cool sound work by John Douglas Smith and his team give literal voice to the deadly Seeds.
Abigail, who has grown a healthy respect for Raelle’s abilities, offers to have her try to help Khalida. Raelle’s delicate mix of traditional Christianity and Pagan spirituality continues to be a high point. Both in training where she knocks the entire group out and later with Khalida, she is an anomaly born of magic and belief. Juxtaposed with the Necro professor’s cold behavior, they are opposites. The professor who is experimenting on something dangerous in her lab that has infected Raelle, and doesn’t think twice about slitting a cadet’s throat to prove a point, is harsh. Raelle is compassionate. Her power comes from that place.
Raelle tries to heal Khalida but initially is not successful. It even seems to get worse when suddenly the webbing inexplicably drains from her body. Raelle has no residual damage from the healing, though, and more importantly, the ooze from her finger is now missing. A quick view of the wall in the tombs shows the webbing has invaded the slime. What that means for the wall and Khalida, who is preternaturally calculating, we will have to wait and see.
A final conversation between Adil and Abigail shows just how powerful his songs are and how far apart the two are in understanding. She thinks his gift to her would be incredible in the fighting. He thought it would help her see his perspective. The beauty in nature. The importance of peace. His sister, who is manipulating Adler, also believes their gifts should be kept from the witches has no such kindness. She systematically brings Alder to her knees as she shows her disdain for the arrogant general. This is a conflict that is only beginning to play out.
Mycelium is the fungus on the wall. It is what left the residue on Raelle’s finger. This fungus builds superhighways of networks that can be harnessed by humans. It produces plastic-eating organisms, packaging, clothing, and even meat-like food sources. In essence, if the technology is expanded and magic added, it’s possible it could make a person. By Raelle touching the wall, she infected the Mycelium just as much as she was infected. Imbuing her natural power with its own.
Motherland: Fort Salem Episode 7 ends on a cliffhanger. The girls have jumped out a bat for their final trial the “city drop”. What they will find there I can’t wait to see. Until then catch up on all our Motherland coverage here.
- Very smart writing by Eliot Laurence and his team rename current things like helicopters, bats. It is both a nod to witch folklore and a clever nickname. Those familiars are mechanical and not natural though.
- The commitment to singing the odd tones is amazing. If the scenes with the signing were not handled as competently it would be silly and lose its punch.
- For the love of God, cant the girls be allowed a parachute as a backup plan?
- Khalida means immortal.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.