Review: Salem 1.02 – “The Stone Child”

Salem is showing no signs of slowing down the paranoia, black magic, and persecution in the second episode entitled, “The Stone Child.” Cotton Mather is a crazed man, already having executed four people. He asks God for help. Somehow I doubt “God” will help him.

We finally get the opening credits, very cool and True Blood-esque. I approve! Back to the action, Isaac is wheeling around dead bodies in a ditch. Mm, okay? Later, Cotton is in bed with his favorite prostitute (Azure Parsons) again. He is rudely interrupted by Shane West, er- John Alden, who is still mad about him crushing his friend, Giles Corey, to death at the end of the last episode. Cotton resigns himself to Alden, saying he is waiting for the “angel of death.” He also mentions “burning tar,” which sparks Alden’s interest. If you remember at the end of the last episode, Alden and Isaac came across the witches’ black magic orgy circle. Cotton wants Alden to take him there.

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Before they can reach the black tar pit, Magistrate Hale puts Alden under arrest. Alden tells Cotton to find Isaac before being taken away. Alden, being the burly, no-nonsense man that he is, tries to put up a fight, but doesn’t succeed. Later, Mary is upset at Magistrate Hale for arresting Alden. She reminds him that she is calling the shots. She orders Hale to go to the woods to find who broke their circle.

Speaking of the woods, Isaac and Cotton are searching for the black tar pit. Cotton comes across a weird looking tree. He calls it the witches’s cauldron. He sticks his hand in a hole in the tree, pulling out a hand with weird symbols on it. Suddenly, tons of gross bugs emerge from the rotting hand! Black magic, I say!

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Mary pays Alden a visit in his cell. She tells him to leave Salem and never come back. He protests, but she says it is too late. She will never have him again. He doesn’t believe her. She lets him out and he gives his “promise coin” to some peasants. Meanwhile, Hale searches the woods, meeting up with a creepy blind guy, who can see things through his dead animals. Very bizarre and its going to take time to see who broke the circle.

A young girl gives birth with the help of Bridget Bishop (Antonia Prebble), the midwife. Bridget’s friend, Anne Hale, sketches the birth. Mary bursts in and demands the young girl tell her who the father is. Bridget protests with Mary, but the girl eventually tells Mary. Later, all of the women are in the church. Possessed Mercy Lewis hangs up above on a cross, something Bridget Bishop disagrees with. Bridget thinks Mercy is just touched in the head and all of this “witch” stuff is nonsense. She doesn’t want to be controlled by the Puritans. Uh-oh, Bridget better watch herself! Don’t wanna cross, Mary Sibley!

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Mary cries as she feeds her “pet” toad. Tituba chastises her, as tears will “sour the milk.” The two talk about finding new young blood to call upon. Mary, who earlier shared a glance with a pregnant whore, has an idea. She sensed that this pregnant whore was only carrying death inside and they could use this to their advantage. She says she only needs 9 more innocents before the full hunter’s moon and then she’ll be done. I have no idea what that means, but I guess we will (hopefully) find out more later.

So, the pregnant whore, whose name is Kitty (Teri Wyble), is having her baby with the help of midwife, Bridget Bishop. During the birth, she sees a spectral vision of an old hag, freaking her out. She jumps up, birthing a dead, gross monster of a baby. Later, Mary talks to Kitty, using a sob story about how she once lost a child, to convince Kitty that Bridget is a witch.

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Cotton, Alden, and Isaac go to the crags (aka tar ditch) to investigate. Alden is peeved that Corey’s body was thrown in there, along with all the other unwanted dead bodies. Cotton says the witches use these bodies to empower them. Lust and death give them power. Isaac unknowingly(?) gives the witches bodies to use. At night, Alden and Isaac go back to the crags. Is that a flashlight? I don’t know what Isaac is holding – it’s like a half-lantern, half-flashlight, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a flashlight. Hmm.

Mary goes to Cotton with the story about the dead baby and potential witch, Bridget Bishop. She even has the dead baby in a jar for Cotton to examine. Cotton, of course, jumps to the wrong conclusions, even though Mary is acting and dressing very much like a witch! Does know one else see all the black she wears? Cotton is very much into Mary and is going to protect her from the Devil. Oh, Cotton.

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We jump right into the trial of Bridget Bishop. Anne Hale is pissed, calling Cotton a monster. Cotton doesn’t let Bridget defend herself. Magistrate Hale defends his daughter and Mary gives him the death stare. Alden, who is still in Salem (surprise!), jumps in to dispute, saying sometimes bad things happen for no reason and witches or the Devil or God aren’t to blame. Preach, Alden, preach! Mary says they should let Mercy decide who is guilty or not guilty. Everyone agrees. The three prostitutes are deemed not guilty, but when Bridget stands before her, Mercy vomits up blood and nails, thanks to a witchy stare from Mary.

And so, Bridget is hanged, pleading her innocence until her neck breaks.  Alden yells at Cotoon for killing another innocent woman. Anne Hale is pissed. Magistrate Hale argues with Mary about Alden, but Mary puts him in his place again. She is not scared to claim the world unlike the elders (?). Innocent blood will continue to flow…

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Meanwhile, the creepy blind guy in the woods, talks to his lizard, then kills it, seeing Isaac’s face in the blood. Anne visits Alden in the bar and criticizes him for not doing anything. She wants justice! Alden decides to go visit Mary to tell her he is staying. He says it is easier to break things, than fix them. He also sees she is wearing her half of their “promise coin.” Interesting! Mary starts work on a doll, crushing a mouse and other things. Pouring her malice into it. Cut to: Anne sits in her bedroom, drawing a shirtless picture of Alden (uh-what?). She hears odd noises and suddenly Mary’s creepy doll appears in Anne’s room. Dun, dun, dun….

This episode was great and a lot of fun. Things are moving along quite nicely and nothing is predictable yet. Anything can happen. I hope we can get more of the background on some of the characters and learn more about the rules and lore of the witch world. What did you guys think? Comment below with any questions, concerns, comments, or answers!

Salem airs on Sunday nights on WGN America at 10 pm ET/PT.

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Post Author: Ben Fleck

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