Salem Review: She Who Points the Finger

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Things are really not going to well for the most powerful witch in Salem. Mary's losing control.

On Salem Season 1 Episode 5, she strikes a deal with Mercy, seals it with a kiss and still cannot keep her in line. 

The coven thinks John Alden's appearance in Salem is throwing Mary off her game... and they're right. She's emotional and thinking too often of the past. She's letting things slide that aren't in the best interest of achieving the Grand Rite and their ultimate plan for Salem.

For the first time, Mercy starts to see she has some control over her situation. She who points the finger can literally bring down anybody by waving it. Girls show up at her house and titter and laugh, imagining walking behind the handsome Cotton Mather in the face mask and collar that they compare to the flowing robes of the pope.

They see power where Mercy felt herself a victim. They imagine who they would accuse of witchcraft, such as the father of one of the girls, preparing to sell her to the whorehouse upon her impending 15th birthday. 

In pop culture, one of the prevailing theories has always been that girls fell under the hysterical spell of witchcraft, sending down anybody who thought ill of them or who they just didn't like. We're getting a glimpse of how that might have played out and it's scary as hell.

It's a frightening situation, Mercy deciding who will live and die, and yet her reasoning isn't any different than that of Mary. At least we were later assured that the girl's father indeed planned to sell her off and even in a cage he considered his plan cunning.

Mary and Cotton are shocked and saddened, Mary nearly accused of witchcraft in the town square by Mercy as the girls bring her out on her leash. It turns out Mercy wants to be just like Mary. She's now power hungry and knows it's right at her fingertips.

Alden and Cotton get a hold of the artifact that Hooke was sent to retrieve by Rose and it's something needed for the Grand Rite. The two of them working together is a lot of fun. I know there will come a time when Cotton's father comes back and it's my hope that their friendship is solidified so that he can count on John for support. Glorianna invoking his name turned him ashen, so losing all that he has attained while working alongside Alden would be a waste.

Cotton did his best to make up for raping Glorianna by summoning her and offering her double her price forever to have exclusive rights to her. I suppose it was his best attempt at asking her to be his girlfriend. He is a reverend and she's a whore, after all. I love Glorianna's outfits -- the purple and green with her red hair are always stunning. Just an observation. Cotton could do worse. So could Glorianna. In another time they'd be starring in a romantic comedy.

Hale attempted to get the big secret Hooke had on Alden from the dead man, but Tituba (who is apparently a necromancer among her many other skills) kept it for herself. She wanted to use it against Mary to try to shake Mary from Alden's spell. Mary's too sympathetic to his wants. She begged Alden to tell her he wasn't a murderer, but he threw himself at her feet proclaiming his guilt. They are both wracked with it. If she was hoping to escape her own in his goodness, she'll need to look elsewhere.


Mary: Sometimes in life we make choices. These choices in life they lead us to do things, terrible things and we don't wish to, we'd do anything not to. Choice informs choice. They don't resemble anything you'd have wanted or wish for. Tell me if it was like that. If it was a difficult choice. Please. Please. So that I may still believe in goodness.
Alden: I murdered 20 men and I make no excuses for myself. Will you have me arrested?
Mary: I am the only one that knows.

It seems that they both did things after their life together that fill them with regret. They have both taken lives. Neither of them are willing to stop if it's what they need to do to survive.

I have no idea what Alden and Cotton hoped to do with the capture of a witch, but they have one. A powerful one, at that. When Rose couldn't get her hands on the Grand Rite relic (the malam), she went for it herself. The trap put a few spikes through her, but something tells me she'll survive to talk about it and perhaps spill some secrets to try to get her own ass out of hot water. 

So far it doesn't seem like witches are the most loyal bunch. The coven is meeting behind Mary's back, Rose was out to steal the malam, Tituba kept the secret she got from Hooke for herself and Hale is protecting his daughter from Mary. If Rose is put to the test by Alden and Cotton, what will she reveal about the others in the coven?

Little by little things are being revealed and the action is increasing. We'll be sharing an interview Seth Gable (Cotton Mather) this week and he says things are about to explode. Now is not the time to abandon ship! If you don't have WGN or need to catch up, you can watch Salem online. Check out recent interviews with Janet Montgomery (Mary) and Xander Berkeley (Hale) for more inside information.

Are you surprised it took Mercy so long to realize she had power?

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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, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Salem Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Glorianna: So you would buy me outright?
Cotton: I'm an only child. I never learned to share.
Glorianna: Which is as close as a man like you comes to an apology. Was it really so very painful for you to see me with another?
Cotton: Yes. Will you be mine?

Mary: What do you want girl?
Mercy: I want it to stop. The torture, the torment, the suffering... or I will tell them. I will tell them all who and what you are.