After leaving us with a truly evil cliffhanger in the previous episode, the second season finale of Salem (WGN America, Sundays, 10/9C) finds justice being meted out – just not by the personage we might have expected it from.

The Witching Hour is a fast-paced, truly gloriously demented work of entertainment.

The situation is dire – John Alden (Shane West) has failed to kill his son before the Devil takes him over; Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) is trapped in Anne Hale’s (Tamzin Merchant) secret room; Mary (Janet Montgomery) has been forced to watch her son (Oliver Bell) being taken by Satan. Grim would be an exponential leap up from where Salem is just now.

In The Witching Hour, so much happens it makes the previous season two episodes seem deprived by comparison. Most obviously, the biggest difference is that young John/Satan is now here and recovered from his ‘birth.’ He sits in the Countess Marburg’s (Lucy Lawless) rooms, sitting regally on a chair that his presence makes seem like a throne – dressed all in white (kind of like the pope).

When Sebastian (Joe Doyle) brings Mary before him, he tells her that he’ll always need his mother’s stories and songs and kisses. It’s all very creepy and Mary flees, determined to never see him again.


Then he dispenses justice to the witches who have followed him and made it possible for him to return to the earth – Tituba, Mercy, Ann, the Countess (who does not take being spurned very well). Weirdly enough, his justice turns out to be pretty just…

Meanwhile, John is having an out of body experience in the company of the slain Indian shaman and the shaman’s daughter – and being apprised of something he should have already known.

There’s a huge moment between Ann and Cotton, too – several, in fact. Things are learned; stuff happens.

By the end of the hour, things are very different yet again – and yet, they echo the past in strange ways. Vents are set in motion that could a third season something truly bizarre.

The Witching Hour was written by Adam Simon and directed by Brannon Braga, and they have done a bang up job of layering chills upon terrors upon unexpected scares. Every major character is shone in a slightly newer light – we learn things about them we might have wished to know but feared could not be so (the reverse is also true).

There are, as mentioned, chilling, scary moments, but there are moments of wit – and some of forms of justice meted out have a dark wit about them. The Witch’s Hour sets up a potentially even stranger third season.

Final Grade: A

Photos courtesy of WGN America