Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 Episode 2 Abomination Review- War Gods, Mycelium, And Who’s That Girl?
War College has started in earnest, and Motherland: Fort Salem’s version of Brakebills or Hogwarts is a scary place in Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 Episode 2.
For a young adult drama about witch soldiers, there is a fair amount of socio-political commentary. Showrunner Eliot Laurence has created a show that supersedes fantasy and extends firmly into more complex themes like feminism, imperialism, terrorism, and loyalty. Whereas Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 Episode 2 didn’t reveal any earth-shattering truths or feature heart-pounding action, it did provide plenty of skeletal structure for the remainder of the season to build on.
Our trio earned their way into college through hard work and sacrifice. Literal sacrifice, yet the girls aren’t given much respect. The only people who aren’t unhappy with their presence are superiors M, a non-binary new addition to the cast played by Ess Hödlmoser, and Gregorio, played by newcomer Praneet Akilla. They are both fascinating characters who bring something rich to the already layered dramatic structure. Gregorio challenges the matriarchal societal system while M continues Motherland: Fort Salem’s commitment to inclusivity. Hödlmoser, in particular, brings a sly, Cheshire Cat mysteriousness to the second-year coven that will be compelling to watch.
That is what the series has done so well. It weaves seamlessly the more fantastical elements of magical warfare with the all too human aspects of why that war even happened. Bringing in both M and Gregorio has opened up even more avenues for human frailty to be examined.
Rayelle and Abigail continue to be tested, but it is obvious it is pointless. They can’t recreate the power the girls exhibited. As predicted, the power is Raelle’s alone. When she touched the Mycelium in Season 1, she established a bond that, for some reason, has made her stronger instead of killing her. When Izadora tricks the girls into thinking they were being killed, the Mycelium showed itself and protected Raelle. There is something special about Raelle that makes her impervious to the Mycelium’s invasiveness. Instead of infiltrating her, it has melded with her. Why she is so unique and what happens if the Mycelium decides it “just isn’t that into her anymore” is something that should be fun to watch as the season progresses.
Tally has found her literal and figurative voice. The unsure witch from Season 1 has developed into a force of nature in Motherland Season 2 Episode 2. She is the one that understands the importance of learning the Mother’s Tongue. It is also her connection with General Alder that sets up the season’s biggest mystery. Who is the woman who Alder has tried so hard to conceal? Why was she eradicated from photos and history?
Likely this is a woman who Alder has known is out in the world recruiting Camarilla. Who better to inform the Camarilla than a former member of the army? Not only is she Alder’s greatest failure and regret, but she will also be the source of her biggest fears. Finally, Tally showed her medal by finding the source of the magical sound in the dollhouse test. She is more powerful than any of them knew and is just beginning to realize it. Her empathy for Penelope Silver is a strength, not a weakness. It will also serve to drive the question of General Alder and her continuing ambiguity.
The ultra-detailed dollhouse was a masterstroke in creepy delights. Between the disturbing clocks, relentless buzzing, and disturbing lifesize dolls that come to life, there is a bizarre comforting quality to the set. It reads like your Grandma’s attic. It is both familiar and terrifying. Set design is often overlooked in this series, but in Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 Episode 2. it deserves a nod.
Abigail has a tough road ahead of her. The proud witch has defined herself by her family name and her powerful abilities. Now that she isn’t the baddest witch in town, thanks to Raelle’s new skills and Tally’s talents, it will be hard for her to navigate her new role. Ashley Nicole Williams does a great job showcasing both her bravado and the insecurity it hides. Her character arc may turn out to be the most exciting in Season 2. If an when she loses Adil, that event could be the catalyst that derails the devoted soldier.
Khalida continues to be the scariest witch in the show. Her loyalties are to her people only, and she seems to be playing a game no one, but she understands. What happens when she commands her brother to leave Fort Salem? Maybe the bigger question is, what happens if she turns against General Alder? The Camarilla has proven to be ruthless and resourceful. We may very well need Khalida to put her pacifism aside. The Camarilla has created low tech out of stolen vocal cords. It is probably not their only weapons.
The Spree, courtesy of Scylla and double agent Anacostia, are making headway into the Camarilla. A rare glimpse into Raelle’s mother’s former life helps explain why she joined The Spree, to begin with. The harshness of the sacrifice the witches and their families have to make is ugly. It forces good people to compartmentalize their families, their dreams, and their loves. As necessary as the witch draft seems, it is brutal. It is no wonder that it can make good people turn bad. Ironically this same philosophy could be applied to eco-terrorists or animal activists. That’s where the true magic of the series lies. Everyone does things they shouldn’t, but many of them do them for moral reasons.
Anacostia and Scylla begin developing a reluctant relationship. Both women are fully aware they are using and being used by the other. As much as they disagree with the other’s tactics, they have a begrudging respect for the other. For now, they are working together to infiltrate the Camarilla. This dangerous group has righteousness on its side and an unhealthy amount of rage. They are angry, grief-stricken, and a curious bit of misogyny. Anacostia and Scylla’s new friends display a weird blink, and you miss it moment. It seems among the muggles of Motherland: Fort Salem, men still rule the world.
Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 Episode 2 was full of the kind of story-building necessary to bring the witchy world to life. Things are just getting started, yet I feel like we are already within the thick of battle. With the exciting plot beats, stellar direction from Amanda Tapping, and strong performances, this series stands above the rest of the current Summer programming. Find all our Motherland: Fort Salem coverage here.
- Anann, Babd, Catubodua, Macha, The Morrigan, Nemain, Jiutian Xuannü, Baduhenna, Bast, Menhit, Neith, Pakhet, Satis, Menrva, Baduhenna, Eris, Hysminai, Keres, Pele, Chamunda, Parvati, Kali, Kathyayini, Matrikas, Shaushka, Inanna, Qamaits, Freya, Bellona, Marcella, Nerio, Victoria, Astarte, Anat, Agasaya, Tanit, and Zorya Utrennyaya. Humans are a warring bunch.
- The pep talk General Alder gives to the girls provides context to the witch’s credo. The four pillars of the witch code include: Seek the truth no matter the cost. Dare to be fearless. That includes being brave against the enemy and looking at yourself. The will to affect change through conscious thought is vital in making just decisions. Finally, keep silent and keep all secrets. This begs the question, what secrets does Alder hold after so long in service.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.