Salem Review: Expect an Increase in Bonfires

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Just as everyone seemed to be finding their footing, Increase arrived.

Increase Mather, that is. Cotton's father and the most noted witch hunter, well, anywhere.

The series keeps getting better and adding Stephen Lang as Increase in Salem Season 1 Episode 7 to the list of actors on this brilliant little show only raised the stakes more.

Cotton was quivering in his boots, albeit with an attempt at wit that went over with him being seen a smart-ass son not capable of protecting Salem - and for the first time Mary looked genuinely frightened after seeing her husband's dear friend.

Things are about to get a lot more interesting in Salem.

Early in the hour, Mary had a heart-to-heart with Magistrate Hale. She's not happy at what has been done behind her back and drives home exactly who came up with the plan to use the Puritans against each other so the witches could gain control of the town -- Mary herself. Hale bowed down before his leader and, essentially, pledged allegiance.

But Hale isn't really in the game to make Mary more powerful. Although he is behind the Grand Rite and was instrumental in bringing the Malum to Salem well before she asked for it, it's hard to imagine how he sees the Rite playing out if Mary is not the one to benefit. 

Hale got wind (oh these puns tonight are non-stop!) of Increase's impending arrival by ship and had a witch at the helm workin some magic. The many deaths on the ship smelled of witch to Increase, and he sussed out that it was the ship's captain at fault. Swiftly taking him out put the wind back into the sails and Increase was on his way again.

It is not the wind that we must catch, Captain. It is a witch.


Increase setting foot in Salem, especially Hale's knowledge about it, certainly won't go over well with Mary. Everything had been going so well until she saw his face in her bedroom. He had the audacity to let himself into her chambers without welcome.

Mary had previously given more power to Mercy (who is growin in her hair!). She can now dream walk. Mercy set up a family to be accused of witches so three deaths of the eight needed could be attained in one swoop and Mary herself set to dreams to get her hands on the missing Malum.

Let's be honest here ladies (this one is just for the ladies, I'm afraid), who hasn't had one of those dreams with Shane West...ahem...Alden at the center? If witchcraft gives you the ability to control your dreams as willfully as did Mary, sign me up. Damn the consequences!

In one of her dreams, Anne poked her head in and Mary seemed genuinely puzzled how she arrived. Her expectation that Alden will end up with the girl is obviously poking at her. With her dreams he walked right into Anne, planting a passionate kiss on her, before heading to the brothel to quell his desire.

Mary's dalliance with Alden's mind eventually led him to her and they almost went the distance. Mary must have realized how fragile her heart because her callous "I've gotten all I need from you" or whatever rang false to those of us in the know. She's going to regret her decision; that's a fact.

Alden and Cotton were just gaining so much momentum as friends and sparring partners. They are so different and yet so alike. 

Alden: I think we're not so different.
Cotton: That would worry me greatly if I were not so consumed with other worries.

Cotton spoke to Alden of dreams and the choice each morning to wake up or live on in them. They're both learning from each other, and Cotton's desires to see witches fry isn't as encompassing at it once was. Now that they know the witches are real, assuring only those tainted be killed is important.

Mercy was successful in turning the townsfolk against a family and their fervor to seem them burned reached a fevered pitch because Mercy didn't just set them up to be accused, but killed someone to do it. There's nothing like dragging a dead body through town to cause hysteria.

Cotton rushed to the scene and when nobody thought him capable, he calmed the crowd with reason. The family would be taken to jail and tried in the morning when adrenaline was not running so high. He had won the night. Glorianna wanted to reward him, but he's done with that. He wants her for real but must wait until he sorts tome things. Then it will be different. He promised. But Cotton's win was short lived.

Cotton: What is it?! What's burning?!
Isaac: The Barkers. All of them. Burnt as witches!
Cotton: What?! By whose authority?
Increase: Mine.

And so it shall be that Increase Mather will turn the tides in Salem. 

At present, Increase does not suspect Mary of being a witch, and I daresay he has the hots for his friend's wife. However, the very compliments that slip off of his tongue could also be a trap in themselves, to give her a false sense of security in his ignorance. 

Isaac thought Alden and Cotton were going to save them, but figures maybe they just don't deserve saving. Everything is falling apart with the intrusion of one man, who has no intention of leaving "until very last devil's whore of a witch is dead." You have to check out the Salem Quotes, because there are so many notable lines to visit and share.

Seth Gabel wasn't kidding when he said everything would change upon the arrival of Cotton's father. We've been swimming along in this little pond and we're about to hit open water. 

You can watch Salem online if you don't have WGN or just want to catch up. The writing continues to improve and the story has so many places to go, it's well worth the look.

Is the arrival of Increase Mather good for the story?

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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 7 Quotes

You're father is a confidential agent. He makes very occasional reports to agents representing another foreign power.

Mrs. Hale

It is not the wind that we must catch, Captain. It is a witch.