“Motherland: Fort Salem” Episode 301 Recap: We’re Back, Witches!

The season three premiere of Motherland: Fort Salem hit the ground gay, so I am thrilled to be here with a FULL-SIZED RECAP of episode 301, Homo Cantus, for you. (Even the name is gay. Okay fine I know it’s Latin but it sounds gay.)

Previously on Motherland: Fort Salem, Scylla and some Dodgers (aka witches who didn’t want to be part of the witch military nor the Spree) saved a little girl from a ritual sacrifice; a witch named Penelope died of a witch plague that we came to learn her father purposefully infected her with to further his literal witch hunt/fearmongering agenda; when Abigail, Tally, and Raelle find themselves accused of killing Penelope, the founder of the Spree, Nicte, sort of helped our favorite Unit and the lot of them ended up having to go on the run; also, General Alder, their former leader…became a tree. And was absorbed into the earth from whence she came.

I’m going to be honest with you, some of the nitty gritty details of Spree vs Camarilla vs Dodgers etc might be a little blurry at first; for the first two seasons I really only had to pay attention to our girls because I only had to write ~300 words a week about them. But I promise I will do my darnedest to Nancy Drew the heck out of all the goings-on! My friends and I call this “totems shmotems” (a reference to a particularly lore-heavy season of Legends of Tomorrow) because when it comes down to it, the politics aren’t as important as the character development and interpersonal relationships. That said, I do happen to enjoy both a totem and a shmotem, so I do want to get it right! So any (gentle) corrections or guidance you want to give me in the comments is much appreciated. And fear not, what I miss in political discourse I’ll make up for in over-processing all of the Raelle/Scylla scenes and any emotion that appears on Tally’s face or any growth Abigail shows (all of which has already been A LOT even after only one episode.)

OKAY, time to dive in!

We open very specifically 136,455 years ago, where the first coven of witches did a spooky spell ventured out into the world to spread their magic, stating simply, “Let us begin.”

In the present-day, in an ordinary-seeming shipping facility, Tally and Abigail are working hard…while Raelle and Scylla are hardly working.

Motherland Fort Salem 301: Raylla kissing in the shipping facility

Taking “shipping” a little more literally than their peers.

Eventually they’re busted so they rejoin the group, where their leader reminds them all that if they want to maintain their Dodgers’ cover, they have to keep up the appearance that this shipping and receiving facility is up and running. Especially with such high-risk witches in their midst. Nicte offers to teach them how to change their faces again, but the Unit doesn’t want anything to do with her dirty Spree magic…Scylla withholds comment.

But the truth is, they should consider it!! Because their faces are all over the news, with Penelope’s evil dad blaming the Unit and vowing to hunt down all unregistered witches to “protect” them. I’m so sure.

Of course, Fort Salem is all over it, and Anacostia has a man on the inside.

Anacostia looks serious with her arms crossed over her chest

She must be so worried about her girls!!

Anacostia goes to update Mama Bellweather, and Petra admits she’s a bit stressed that she hasn’t been able to reach Abigail. And it was around this scene I remembered that I have a very bad (?) habit on this show of low key shipping 80% of the people with each other. For example, I wouldn’t hate Petracostia. Just saying. EH HEM ANYWAYY there’s a witch plague vaccine on the horizon that I’m sure will be fine and great and not a problem getting out to the masses in a timely fashion at all.

Back at the shipping facility, Scylla tucks in Tiffany, the little girl she inadvertently adopted. The other Dodger kids have been talking, so she has some questions for Scylla, like if she was with the Spree, and if every time she changes her face it’s to that of someone she’s murdered. Scylla starts to reassure her when an alarm goes off and everyone rushes to prepare for an attack.

Luckily it’s just a new group of Dodgers, supposedly, and Abigail is a little disappointed; she could have used a little action. Coincidentally, Raelle could use a little action too, and pulls Scylla aside to do exactly that.

Motherland Fort Salem 301: Raella pulls Scylla in close to whisper in her ear

“We spend an entire season apart, we have some lost time to make up for.”

Inspired, Abigail runs off with Adil, and poor sweet Tally is left standing all alone. And if that’s not a mood, I don’t know what is.

Emboldened by the spirit of youth, Raelle and Scylla find a space in this crowded hideout to fool around for a bit. They eventually get caught, and their pillow talk turns more literal, chatting under the blankets about lighthouses and libraries and the normal life they could live together someday. It might just be a dream, but Raelle realizes that it’s the first time it doesn’t feel…out of reach.

Raelle is under a blanket as she smiles wide at Scylla

Help it’s too cute, I can’t take it!

They exchange “I love you”s which makes me VERY nervous as someone who has been recapping queer TV for almost a decade, but I’m choosing to ignore that nagging pessimism and trust that these sweet witches will get their happily ever after.

While Raelle and Scylla are getting down, Tally is up on the roof with Nicte, training to learn how to harness her premonition powers. Nicte encourages Tally to lean into her powers, to let go of some of her training and try to go a little feral to really test the boundaries of them, to feel the root of them deep inside her. And see, here’s another time I know I shouldn’t ship these two! No matter what face she’s wearing, Nicte has been the same age for as long as Tally has been alive! But it’s not my fault Tally has chemistry with every stern woman she comes across. I just want Tally to be happy, okay??

Nicte puts her hand on Tally's throat

“Can you feel my heart saying hi?”

After her training session, she brings up the face-changing idea to Abigail again, but she’s still staunchly against it. She’s clinging to whatever boundaries she can since the order and predictability of her life has all blown up around her. As evidenced by the fact that the Dodgers won’t even let her call her mother.

When the new group of Dodgers rolls in, Scylla recognizes one of the witches, who beelines it right for Scylla, mouth first! Scylla stops her and Raella watches with her chin on the ground as Scylla introduces the Unit to Vira, one of the witches she used to “run” with.

Vira greets Scylla lips first

Ah yes, the lesbian hello.

What’s extra cute about this whole scene is that Abigail and Tally look almost as offended as Raelle by this surprise update about Scylla and the newcomer who looks like she could be the little sister of Jennfier Leigh Green aka Libby from Sabrina The Teenage Witc, Original Flavor).

Elsewhere, Anacostia and her man on the inside snuggle up to watch SpyTV and see a rich woman talking to the Vice President about drill bits. They’re joined by Alvin Hearst, who they recognize as someone who signed onto base.

After a sidebar with Scylla, Vira comes back to apologize for coming in hot. Also to let them know her and her friends won’t be staying since this place is a little too…Wanted for their taste. She recommends the face-changing thing, and Abigail storms off, sick of hearing it. Raelle offers a goodbye dripping in thinly veiled sarcasm, and Vira hugs her, because not everyone can read a social cue, and that’s okay.

Raelle awkwardly returns Vira's hug

Unrelated but Abigail’s delivery of “That bitch just ate my tomato,” re: Vira was my favorite line reading of the episode.

Frustrated, Abigail and Adil sneak out to try to let Abigail call her mom, but before she can get out more than a hello, Adil sees the Not Our Daughters protestors with a weird flashlight scanner and pulls her back into the shipping facility.

Anacostia brings her intel to Petra, and in return she tells Anacostia about the brief call she got, and how it’s nice to know she’s okay but also Abigail sounded so…tired. Anacostia thinks on this while looking wistfully at a portrait of the General, probably wondering what she would do next, and Petra admits she misses her too; she didn’t think she should be in charge anymore, but she didn’t want her to become foliage, either.

When Abigail and Adil get back to the facility, Raelle and Scylla are mad they took such a risk. But Abigail insists it was worth it for the intel, especially re: the magic scanner she saw.

Raelle and Scylla sit waiting for Abigail like parents waiting up for their teenager who snuck out

“Where have you been, young lady? It’s past your curfew!”

During Tally and Nicte’s next training session, during which it feels important to note that Nicte puts on her younger face, Nicte asks Tally why she’s following Abigail’s lead on the face-changing thing. Tally says they decide things together, and it makes them stronger, but Nicte has her doubts. While they’re training, Tally gets a little overwhelmed and ends up almost falling off the roof; Nicte catches her without issue, but a passer-by spotted the commotion and alerted the authorities.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Adil flirts with Abigail using their fake names as a little bit of roleplay, but then admits he wants to start a family with her. Which feels…bananas? They didn’t get together all that long ago, first of all. Second of all, I was under the impression that Bellweather women call the shots. They decide how many husbands and children they have and when. So I’m not sure it’s up to him! Plus, THEY’RE ON THE RUN! This is a terrible time to have a child! Get it together, man!

Before they can discuss this further, the police show up and face-changed Scylla leads them through the facility while Tally, Abigail, and Adil follow the one guy that breaks off. They watch him shine his sonic-screwdriver-sounding flashlight at a bulletin board, which shines right through the magic illusion and shows him the bunk room hidden behind.

Tally and Abigail hide and peek at the snooping officer like they're on Scooby Doo

“What’s new, Scooby Doo? We’re gonna follow you. You’re gonna solve that mystery.”

Once the coast is clear, the leader of this facility tells the Dodgers it’s time to dodge once more, and tells the Unit they’re no longer welcome. Scylla snaps at Tally about it, and Tally’s eyes get big and sad, and for just one moment, I am furiou with Scylla Ramshorn.

While they’re packing up the cars, Scylla tries to comfort Tiffany, who is tired of running. Scylla grew up this way but doesn’t know how to promise her it will be okay or that it’s a healthy way to grow up; she did end up in a murder cult for a minute there after all…so instead Scylla tells her what she knows for sure: home isn’t a place, it’s the people you’re with. The problem is, the Unit et al are Scylla’s found family, but they’re not Tiffany’s. So Scylla packs Tiffany up in the Dodgers’ car and goes off to be with her people, knowing the safest thing she can do for Tiffany now is leave her.

Scylla tries to comfort Tiffany

Scylla was like, “Family is whoever you choose!” and Tiffany was like, “Great, I don’t choose you.” Savage.

Witch plague vaccines have arrived at Fort Salem, and everyone lines up to get one. Petra Bellweather is first, as a show of good faith/trust in the vaccine, but as the second witch in line steps up eagerly, an eerie song sweeps over them and it starts to rain black goo. As the song ends, the witches hear Penelope’s voice make a snide remark about how it’s too late for her to be vaccinated, and everyone looks rightfully terrified, except me who is DELIGHTED by the prospect of a witch ghost.

After M comes to see Anacostia to say that they’re sad that most of their coven is gone, and to beg Anacostia for a new task, Anacostia tells them she happens to have just the task for them, since she read their war college file and knows they’re an expert at infiltration. And so, on a mission they go.

Anacostia and M exchange smirks

10/10 would watch an entire episode of Anacostia and M doing sneaky spy shit.

M shimmies through some air ducts and overhears a meeting between the evil Vice President, the evil blonde lady, and Creepy McCreepster, saying they found some “rot” in the land that the witches call Mother that they believe is the source of witch magic…and they have plans to destroy it. To end all witches.

In the escape van, Tally is Big Sad so Raelle moves to comfort her.

Tally looks distressedly at Raelle


She says she ruins everything, that she keeps messing things up, and takes on way too much blame for the recent events. Realizing she didn’t help this mentality, Scylla apologizes, and they all try to reassure their sweet, sensitive friend.

At a rest stop, Abigail uses magic to give and get updates from Petra, finally giving in to using a Spree trick. Mama tells her to rely on her unit, and that it’s not safe for her to come back, not yet. She also warns Abigail that there are forces that are trying to “prevent the union of earth and sky” which she believes refers to Adil’s earth magic and her weather magic…which makes Adil’s earlier suggestion even more sus.

Tired in more ways than one, Abigail returns to the van and takes her mothers advice, leaning on her unit; at this moment, quite literally.

Raelle, Tally, and Abigail hold hands; Abigail rests her head on Tally's shoulder and Tally rests her head on top of her sister's in return.

This trio is very important to me dot tumblr dot com.

Meanwhile, back east, a shepherd sings in a tonal, magical way; a storm brews in the sky and up from the earth grows a person made of moss and petals. Eventually those petals fall away to reveal the one, the only, General Cheekbones herself: Sarah Adler. And she is very much alive.

Sarah Adler looks young and fresh and her eyes look unnaturally bright as she smiles softly at the shepherd

New skincare routine just dropped: turn into a tree and then get reborn by the earth!

Only nine episodes left in the series, but plenty of witchy adventures left to go on. Until next time!

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 566 articles for us.


  1. That thing with Adil wanting to start a family is such a plot contrivance. I feel like they wouldn’t be rushing that storyline the way they are if it weren’t the last season. It was sort of implied at the end of season 2 that the two of them procreating is a major concern for the witch hunters but that was filmed before they knew the show was only coming back for one more season. I worry that many of the storylines this season are going to be rushed for this very reason. They only have 8 episodes to wrap up a show that had at least a 5 season plan from what the creator had been saying.

    So much of this show’s lore is explained outside of the show (in Aftershows, interviews and blog posts) and its really fascinating stuff. I really wish Eliot continues this story in a series of books like he had originally intended.

  2. Thanks for the recap! This gem of a show has become a new favourite recently (binged season 1 and 2); I came for the ship, stayed for the bond of sisterhood, character complexity and development. And witches! Magic! Maybe one day it would be nice if we could get some retrospective recap of the previous 2 seasons. My eyes would thank you.

    • I actually did cover the last few seasons, but only in smaller ways in Boobs on Your Tube. If you check the Motherland Fort Salem tag (should be the first link in this article) you’ll find aaaaaall the witchy goodness we’ve covered so far!

  3. The last scene is in the Basque country (North of Spain and south of France). The basque language is a mystery : linguistically, Basque is a language isolate (unrelated to any other existing languages), which I think (hope?) has to do with the linguistic aspects of this episode (scene 1 and Khalida’s explanation of the mothertongue being the source of all languages. And Alder speaks in basque. Loved this :-)

    • I definitely think having the General show up in the Basque region is gonna tie to the linguistic uniqueness of the region. Did a presentation in high school, so don’t remember everything, but from what I remember the region was never conquered by the Romans or Greeks. Very cool region to highlight!

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