Salem’s Season Three Premiere Falls Short!

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SAL_301 The Essex Witches

WGN America’s supernatural thriller, Salem, is back – and it seems to have slipped a notch. The season premiere, After the Fall, is slick and well crafted technically, but a little too predictable to really be effective.

After the Fall opens with a number of sequences that seem all too familiar – including Satan/John (Oliver Bell) destroying one of the Essex witches for not bending the knee to him. Later, John Alden (Shane West) tries to a woman whose party has been attacked by the French and their Indian allies – watches an Indian he’s killed come back to life and kill the woman – and is then arrested for the attack as the real attackers get away.

Another prime example is the manipulation of Magistrate Hathorne (Jeremy Crutchley) into allowing refugees from the French/Indian slaughtering into town by playing on his ego. The only twist is that the manipulators are from both sides of the coming conflict between Satan and humanity: Isaac (Iddo Goldberg) and Baron Sebastian Marburg (Joe Doyle).

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SAL_301Joe Doyle, Oilver Bell, Tamzin Merchant

Cotton (Seth Gable) wakes from a nightmare involving a rat (I can’t imagine where that came from) and even after Ann (Tamzin Merchant) has undone her handiwork from last season (clearly she did it for some purpose – probably less nefarious than it seemed – he begs her to kill him. That sentiment is shared by the Baron who simply appears in a chair in the room.

In one cool twist, Tituba (Ashley Madekwe), now blinded by her liege, staggers into a familiar building in the woods – led by the former owner’s voice. When she ate his eyes, she ate his gift and now must take on his responsibilities – and to her falls the task of resurrecting Mary Sibley’s (Janet Montgomery) life (like I said, predictable).

I realize that the stage is being set for an even bigger war between good and evil, here, but as slick as this ep might be, it’s still more than a little ‘stuff we’ve seen before.’

The script by showrunners Brannon Braga and Adam Simon does succeed in saying something about refugees from war – however clunkily they might have done it.

Director Nick Copus somehow manages to quicken pacing during the most predictable bits and slows things down a tad for more important moments – like when Tituba gets to work (for a blind woman, she gets a round…).

After two complete seasons of well above average quality, Salem has slipped a bit with After the Fall. It’s not a huge fall – and there’s plenty of opportunities for it take flight again.

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Photos courtesy of WGN America