Synopsis: Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution over 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the burgeoning government to fight for their country, the series follows three young women from basic training in combat magic into early deployment.
The episode begins with a terrorist attack committed by a group called The Spree. This group is the main enemy in the series that the Witches are trained to fight against and have an ideology that is apposed The Salem Accords, which saved Witches from the persecution of the Salem Witch Trials, and they view conscription to fight America’s wars as just another form of slavery. This likely to make for an interesting discussion that will run through the series and this opening episode teases us with a member of The Spree actually being conscripted into Fort Salem where she is already beginning to manipulate at least one of the three young witches that the show focuses on.
The three main witches that the series focuses on are Abigail Bellweather, Tally Craven, and Raelle Collar. Abigail is from a long line of Witches who have distinguished themselves in battle many times over and are pretty much a part of the establishment. In contrast to that Raelle is from a more modest background and is full of grief having lost her mother who served as a medic under Abigail’s mother. So right off the bat, we have an interesting dynamic. Tally’s character is from a line of witches who are depleting and doesn’t have to do military service but chooses to do so anyway. Throw Scylla into that mix, who is secretly a member of The Spree and is already trying to influence Raelle’s rebellious spirit and we have an intriguing cauldron of possibilities.
This opening follows the three young women as they are getting used to life in the barracks. The witches train in tight-knit units of three and when one fails all three fail. The focus of their initial training in combat magic is the use of sound and harmonics to repel enemies.
Taylor Hickson puts in a fascinating performance as Raelle Collar, who for me is the most intriguing character and the one that I think most people will likely relate to given that she is a little bit ante establishment and a gifted medic. The first scene we see her in is where she is healing a woman’s wound by taking it magically unto herself. Raelle is also the character that Scylla has targeted for the Spree. I also felt that Jessica Sutton put in a good performance as Tally, who has an interesting character in that she has joined up with Fort Salem when she does not have too. Which makes you wonder if perhaps she has an agenda for doing so or something to prove.
Indeed the most straight-ahead character is Abigail who is played by Ashley Nicole Williams and is so committed to following in her family’s footsteps that she used magic on her boyfriend to make him move on from her so that she could blaze her path to glory.
If this first episode is anything to go by. Then ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ is looking set to be an interesting series with some complex social and political themes weaved into it. For me the way in which these witches our trained seems rather fanatical and somewhat similar to how the young Nazis were trained with absolute faith in their ideology and what they are fighting for. The scene where we see the women inducted into Fort Salem saw most of the women with a determined almost obsessive look on their faces. A look that was not shared by Raelle who obviously has some issues that perhaps run a lot deeper than the tragic loss of her mother.
Thus far on the show. We have only really seen one character from The Spree. So it will be interesting to see and learn more about The Spree as the series moves forward. It will also be intriguing to know if there is a middle ground somewhere. Given that the two sides of Spree and the Soldiers from Fort Salem are obviously the extreme factions. Might there be a middle faction that balances things out?
Overall. A really enjoyable pilot episode, which poses some interesting questions as well as intriguing story potential. I liked how we are shown that there are rules to the use of magic from the start and using it comes with a cost.
- CGI & Stunts9.4
- Incidental Music9.2