Hello and welcome to this recap of the Case of the Disappearing Gay aka Motherland: Fort Salem episode 302, The Price of Work.
Previously on Motherland: Fort Salem, the Unit was on the run because they are being accused of murdering Penelope who is currently haunting Fort Salem, Tally is learning how to expand her powers from Nicte, Scylla and Raelle dreamed of running away to a lighthouse together, there were rumblings of trying to avoid a union between Earth and Sky, the magical Mother was threatened, and General Cheekbones was reborn of the Earth. And that was all in one episode!
This week, we open at a drill site in Iran, where Smuggy McSmugface, Hearst, is delighted to gain access to the Mycelium…and promptly pours poison down into it. He gleefully watches a mushroom die and like I get that mushrooms are divisive but this felt a bit rude.
Back stateside, Raelle and Scylla are slinking down a dock looking for a boat to steal, dreaming of stealing a rowboat for two and finding their lighthouse.
Abigail and Adil are keeping watch, but Abigail is getting antsy and happens to be lurking nearby and hears this, and the thought of Raelle leaving her side stresses her out. In the woods, Nicte makes a comment about how strange it is to be working with two sets of couples, which COULD be interpreted as her suggesting to Tally that they might as well make it three, but if it is, Tally doesn’t pick up on it and she just says you get used to it. And this thought makes her realize that it must be hardest for Khalida, who is the only kid among them. Which I think is interesting because she very clearly isn’t like other kids, but sweet Tally can’t help herself. And Khalida admits that she did enjoy being around people closer to her age when they were with the Dodgers, and Tally feels another pang of guilt because she blames herself for ruining that for them.
On the docks, when Scylla realizes that Raelle didn’t even consider her offer to run away together as a serious request and not just a fun jokey fantasy, she starts to get all sad; she knows what kind of danger they’re in, and she doesn’t know how to protect her girl other than taking her away from it all. Raelle sees the sadness on Scylla’s face and pulls her in for a kiss.
She promises they’ll be alone together someday, hopefully soon, and then she does two of the cutest, gayest things: she runs her thumb along Scylla’s chin, and then kisses her forehead. BE CUTER I DARE YOU.
Back at Fort Salem, Anacostia and M are in full murderboard mode, trying to figure out who amongst the President’s core team are actually Camarilla. M spots someone they recognize in a photo and points to Hearst, who was definitely at the meeting they spied on. They have to find out which side Madame President is on, so M offers to go undercover as a member of the President’s security team.
And I don’t know if it’s COVID reasons they don’t really show too many students very often anymore, or just the nature of the Unit being on the run and not needing to show their peers, but either way I’m glad M got plucked out to have more story this year.
In the woods, Raelle says they have to be wary of the Marshalls, but Nicte says they’re just an urban legend. And *I* say, you should be wary of urban legends!! Many of them are rooted in reality! They dash under a magic barrier they only have a few seconds to get under, but as they move, they hear someone trip and fall. And my eyes had just flicked away to Twitter while this happened so for one heartbeat I thought it was going to be Tally and I panicked because this poor girl blames herself for enough already. But no, it was Khalida, and Abigail rushes back to help her, and they get over the border in the nick of time.
Back at base, the medic gathers her team of witches and goes outside and tries to summon the ghost of Penelope again. The spooky song returns, and it starts to rain black again; and I thought it was raining witch plague, but apparently not, because the medic has her team go out and start collecting it. Oh! Unless they’re vaccinated?? I feel like you still shouldn’t risk it by purposefully exposing yourself. But what would I know about living through a plague.
The next morning, Scylla tells everyone that Raelle isn’t feeling well so she’s going to let her sleep while she runs into town to contact Anacostia, and says they should move on at nightfall. Nicte disagrees, and Tally thinks they should trust the woman who was successfully in hiding for 30 years. Abigail snarks about Scylla stealing the truck because she knows her and Raelle want to run way, and Nicte joins in with some barbs herself, and Tally eventually caves to her peacemaker ways and tries to break it up.
They all go their separate ways to cool off, and Nicte promises Tally that she’s trying to help. She always warns Tally that her power has a price, and that the more she hones her work, the more careful she has to be. Nicte shows her the price she had to pay, exposing her real face to reveal scars and wounds, and is alarmed to see that this elicits a smirk from Tally.
But she’s not smiling because Nicte was just actually quite vulnerable with her, she’s smiling because she realizes that she saw this moment, in a flash she thought was maybe a glitch, up on the roof, she saw this moment. Days ago. Nicte doesn’t think that’s possible, but Tally is more powerful than she knows.
MamaGeneral Bellweather in on what her and M have discovered, and wants to enlist the Unit since they’re out by where they suspect some risky activity is happening. But Petra thinks this is way too risky with them on the run, so she rejects this idea.
Back at camp, Abigail isn’t feeling the Unit unity and Khalida assures her they’re bonded more than they realize. They’re family, and after all, don’t all sisters bicker? And speaking of bonding, Abigail asks Adil and Khalida if they’ve ever heard of the Union of Earth and Sky; Khalida says it sounds made up…a little too quickly for my liking. I know Adil is very nice and sweet with Abigail but I feel very TRUST NO MAN about this entire show.
For reasons I do not quite understand, Scylla goes shopping wearing her regular-ass face (I’m hoping that actually it wasn’t her face and they just showed US her face so that it was still Amalia Holm’s face), and before she becomes a Maxxinista, she slips into a dressing room to use a mirror to get updates from Anacostia. Scylla immediately SPRINTS back to camp, because she knows why Raelle is sick now, after hearing that the Mycelium was poisoned.
And sure enough, when she opens the tent, Raelle is being sucked into the earth like it’s the goddamn Swamp of Sadness.
And I guess they were all in shock, or really only ever learned battle magic, because everyone just stares in disbelief while Scylla uses her tiny arms to try to keep her girlfriend from disappearing, shouting “I love you,” instead of doing any actual magic to try to stop this from happening. And just like that, Raelle is gone.
Scylla self-soothes by telling the others that surely The Mother just took her to heal her. She says it to the rest of the group, but from her tone it seems she’s also trying to convince herself. Scylla tells them that Anacostia wants them to scope out a chemical plant nearby, and Nicte isn’t keen on taking orders from the army, but if this will get them answers on how to save Raelle, Abigail and Tally are willing to try. Khalida offers to stay back at camp in case Raelle reappears, and the rest of the witches take off.
Tally pulls Scylla aside and gently tells her that they’d understand if she stayed back too, but Scylla needs to DO something, so she wants to come along.
Meanwhile at Fort Salem, Petra and Anacostia are planning a fancy dinner party for the President and her…cabinet? Don’t @ me with political words. She works with the medic, whose name I finally learned is Izadora, to set up ways to basically insight check the President. When Anacostia looks uncomfortable with this plan, Petra reassures her that unlike Alder, she doesn’t want to MANIPULATE the President’s mind. She just wants to know what’s in it. And she’s trusting Anacostia to make sure she never crosses that line. Oh also? Anacostia is in charge of keeping Grandma Bellweather and the President apart, because there’s some bad blood there.
The Witch Gang sneaks into the chemical plant, Tally noticing Scylla is crawling out of her skin and taking a moment to reassure her that Raelle is their priority and that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
They sneak and snoop and watch trucks of poison be unloaded, and even though it’s against their nature, they know they’re not meant to intervene, so they just take in the information…until they see Hearst. They all know what she’s going to say before she says it but Abigail says it anyway: she’s issuing new orders. They’re no longer going to sit idly by.
They run in and start hissing at enemies and honestly I am surprised the guards were all witches for two reasons: one, I forgot male witches who weren’t Earthbenders like Adil existed, and two, why on earth would any witches be part of this? If this like internalized witch-phobia or something? Because I can’t imagine a world in which a man would give up power? Like no metaphorical power Hearst is offering them could be better than literal magic powers, right? Are these just political extremists who would rather a human patriarchy than a witch matriarchy, even if it meant not being able to do magic anymore? Am I overthinking this? Do you regret me having unlimited characters to talk about this show?
Okay so back at the party, the evil VP and his plus one, Brandt, show up, all smiles and phoniness. And it seems M got the security gig because they are in an impeccable suit. Anacostia is being pulled in too many directions though, because she dropped the ball on one of her jobs and before long, Grandma Bellweather and Madame President are face to face and glaring at each other like exes. Is it me or does it sometimes feel like everyone on this show has sexual tension with everyone else?
At the chemical plant, Abigail and Adil join forces to fight some guards, and apparently what they mean by the Union of Earth and Sky is ROCK TORNADO?! It’s pretty cool and Tally agrees. I still hope the baby thing was a red herring, but also I could see how a child that is born with two of the Captain Planet rings at once could be more powerful than anyone is ready for.
Nicte and Scylla, not trained with the morals or guardrails of the military, are a little more ruthless in their fights and Nicte is glad Scylla hasn’t lost all her Spree teachings. The Witch Squad looks around and seem to be out of immediate danger, but also they realize they don’t see Hearst.
At Fort Salem, Petra is anxious that the President and her mother have been talking for a long time, but M won’t let her in the room where it happens. They explain that they have to excel at their job, or they’ll get pulled off the service and they won’t have their mole anymore. Petra is a little annoyed but mostly respects their integrity and strategic thinking.
Later, once the dinner part of the evening begins, the conversation turns political and the VP fully admits to a room full of witches that he wants to restrict their voting rights. To their faces! It’s bold and terrible but the President emerges from the room and promises she won’t be signing the bill; she won’t be in the business of restricting anyone’s rights, witch or human, thank you very much.
At the chemical plant, the Witch Gang sees a helicopter take off from the chemical plant, and Tally can’t tell if Hearst is on it, so Nicte summons some bats and has them take it down in a fiery crash. Which frankly was cool as heck but made me sad about Batwoman all over again. I guess just the sight of bats is all it takes.
They start to run but then Tally uses her Tally senses and knows that Hearst and one guard got away, so they run toward them instead. Nicte kills the extra guard with a neck snap that would make Klaus Mikaelson proud. Hearst smiles eerily upon seeing them and Abigail punches him square in his stupid, smug face.
Anacostia tells Petra about the explosion at the plant but reassures her there were no reports of the military being involved; specifically, no military casualties. They also got an update from Izadora that the President was being truthful in her declaration, and they can be assured that regardless who is at her right hand, she doesn’tt seem to be part of the Camarilla. (Unless, of course, we discover she hates martinis.) The only issue is, that means she’s their #1 target.
The witches throw Hearst in a truck and Tally notices Scylla off to the side, desperately scratching an S into her palm. She says she keeps sending it so Raelle knows they haven’t given up on her, and she sounds so desperate and sad. Tally promises they’re going to solve this, together, and pulls her in for a hug.
Hearst is somehow still smug even after being captured and makes some snide remark about how “blondie” must not be feeling well, which earns him another punch, this time from Scylla.
Back at Fort Salem, Izadora is analyzing the black rain, and uses a contraption to turn it into steam that then MATERIALIZES PENELOPE. Just a casual resurrection! Penelope is confused at first, and then goes fully feral, so Izadora puts her back in the contraption and returns her to mist. And it’s now that I remember she’s not technically the medic, but the head of the Necro department, and I have some Concerns about what’s going on here.
The Witch Gang starts to head back to their camp, but they realize the guards they were hiding from aren’t at their posts. They assume the border is still up so they leave Hearst unattended and sneak closer to their camp, but Tally can’t sense Khalida nearby. And then they see shadows in the forest; the Marshalls. They start walking slowly and whistling like an enemy from The Last of Us 2, and Adil decides to try to sneak past them to find his sister using his invisibility spell. But it doesn’t take them long to realize that the Marshalls are more powerful than that and they can see right through it.
And so, they run.
Hearst realizes the barriers they were counting on are down and makes a run for it, and the witches decide to let him go even though I think they should have let Nicte magically eviscerate him for what he’s doing to magic, and to Raelle.
Speaking of Raelle, she’s not just hanging out, buried alive. She instead wakes up in her childhood bedroom, or something like it. There’s Myscilia at the windows, and her mother at the door.
As Raelle starts to clear the fog from her head, she sees Scylla’s S on her hand and starts to ask questions, but the person who is currently taking the shape of Willa Collar quickly tucks it under the blanket and out of sight and promises Mother will take care of her…but there’s no warmth behind that promise.
Next week: More chaos, and a long-awaited reunion!
I am brand new to this show (as in, knew nothing except the premise until I marathoned the first two seasons while I had covid a couple of weeks ago) so I know nothing about the extended lore of the show, but I am CONVINCED that Khalida is actually ancient or holds the soul of an ancestor or something, because she knows way too much and I love her.
Regarding Alban Hearst’s goons using witchy voices, there are indications in the season trailer and publicity stills that the Camarilla are surgically implantating harvested witch vocal cords in members.
Yeah that’s not new information, we learned back in season 1 that the Camarilla had figured out how to steal Witch magic.
You’re absolutely right, I TOTALLY forgot about that whole plotline. Thank you!!
Man I had jokingly compared the Witchplague to The Filth from The Secret World back in season 2 but now it really is The Filth because now they’ve got their own “John” counterpart in Penelope. I look forward to her trying to play mind games with everyone.
So the guards in the base aren’t witches. The Camarilla figured out back in season 1 how to harvest Witch vocal cords to steal their powers. I’m surprised no one on the show has called out the jealousy angle with the Camarilla, that for all their talk about hating Witches they sure have done a lot to emulate them.
You’re so right; I remembered that they ripped out vocal chords (Abigail’s cousin will haunt me forever) but I forgot that they STOLE them to USE them. Thank you!
Team M always. There should be a soccer scarf.