This show just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. “The Red Rose and the Briar” is only the sixth episode of the first season, but things have escalated to the craziest level yet. John Alden and Reverend Cotton Mather have finally caught their first witch: Rose. She screams and taunts them from below as they plan what to do with her. As they approach her, she transforms into Alden’s mother and taunts him. Alden fights her and stabs her.
Meanwhile, Mary Sibley has taken young Mercy into her house with the promise of making her a witch. Tituba expresses her doubts and disapproval as Mercy stuffs her face with as much food as she can. Girl has gotta eat. Mary later tells Mercy a story about a girl who became queen as Mercy lies on her lap and listens. As Mary tells the story, she clutches a razor knife, seemingly planning to kill Mercy.
The story is told as a parable, but we really see it is a flashback of Mary’s past. How she had to sacrifice in order for her dreams to come true. She had to marry George Sibley, after Hale(!) poisoned his wife. She recounts how she had to have sex with George Sibley and vomited afterwards. After two years of suffering, she and Tituba decide to put their plan into action after Rose persuades Mary to not give up and stay at it because whoever controls Salem will control the new world. So, Mary and Tituba corner George, kissing each other, blindfolding him, and then stuffing her bewitched toad down his throat. Success.
Mercy opens her eyes after listening to the story and discovers they are magically now in the woods. She runs in fear away from Mary who brandishes the knife. Mercy runs and screams, past Petrus, the creeper Seer, who lives in the woods. Mary finally catches Mercy, but instead of killing her, she slashes her dress open. Naked and afraid, Mercy has the frightening visions of the goat/ram devil.
Meanwhile, Alden and Cotton have brought Rose all the way out to the woods – into the ditch of dead bodies. Cotton is certain his “plan” will work here. They tie her up and suspend her from a tree. She mocks them and gets at John Alden by insulting Mary Sibley. She gurgles and seems possessed.
Tituba secretly visits the Hale household. Anne wonders why, but her mother doesn’t seem bothered. Tituba, on a mission, then visits Petrus and asks about Mary. He doesn’t know, but tells her Rose is in the woods. She leaves in a huff.
Cotton and Alden question Rose about the Grand Rite. She says it is death for all humans because of what they have done. Innocent blood will and has been spilled. Cotton doesn’t understand. No innocent blood has been spilled yet, but she asks if he feels guilty? He still is confused, but doesn’t have time to think about it because she explodes in craziness, calling them puppets. She climbs backwards up the tree then bites her wrists open, spilling her blood over Alden, Cotton, and the ground, muttering witchy sounding words. Dead bodies start to rise and attack the two men as she escapes.
In the deeper woods, Rose revels in her escape when Mary suddenly shows up. She asks why Rose brought the Malum to Salem? Rose just spills all her secrets. Do the villains ever learn? Rose says she brought the Malum because of John Alden. She says the Grand Rite works better with a loveless heart but Mary’s heart is still full of love for Alden. So, she allowed herself to be captured to see what was in Alden’s heart and she discovered that he still loved Mary and always will. This lightens Mary’s face.
But then, Rose keeps talking, reveling in her evil plans and manipulation of everything. She gloats to Mary that it was she who has maneuvered everything, including George Sibley’s sending away of Alden those years ago. Mary asks if Rose has met their newest sister. Crazed Mercy comes running out and slashes Rose’s head right off before she has time to react. The dead bodies attacking Cotton and Alden suddenly disappear! See, Rose, this is why you don’t gloat about your evil ways! Dead!
After going through hell together, Cotton and Alden now admire each other. Mary greets them in town. She seems to be happy to see Alden, saying she knows him. He walks her home. Aw?
Back at Mary’s home, Tituba angrily washes Mercy, calling her just a tool. She says Mary is her lady. Mary shows up. Tituba rubs it in her face that Mary couldn’t do it herself, but Mary says she found another way. Now that Mercy is a witch, she can’t accuse Mary. Mary then takes over washing Mercy, telling her a lesson about how men are hard and brittle like rocks and women are like water, flowing and changing. She tells Mercy she will never face hell alone again.
At the Hale household, Anne hears odd noises and sees a weird figure. She follows it into her parent’s bedroom, calling out to her father. The black-cloaked figure doesn’t respond and when she touches it, it falls into nothingness. Her mother comes from behind and says it is time to talk about your father. Dun dun dun. Does Mrs. Hale know the truth?
Another episode down. Things are crazier than ever and the previews for next week look insane. This shows just keeps going there. What do you guys think of all the recent developments? Let me know below in the comments!