Hello and welcome to this recap of Motherland: Fort Salem, season 3, episode 4, “Happy Yule!” Don we now our gay apparal!
Previously on Motherland: Fort Salem, Raelle got swallowed up by the ground, Nicte gave Scylla a hard time for being “distracted” by her love for Raelle, Hearst stole a voice from a witch, Alder showed up very much alive and is collecting pieces of a song to bring about world peace, what’s left of the Unit (and the friends they gathered along the way) got captured by the Marshals and are awaiting trial in the Cession, and a bomb went off in the White House where President Wade, M, and Anacostia were all seen last.
Phew. So much happened in those first three episodes!
This week’s episode opens with Silver being sworn in as acting president, what with Wade dead. He fakes solemnity and no one seems to notice Brandt smiling hungrily behind him.
Back at Fort Salem, down in the morgue, some necromancers are preparing Wade’s body when her hand starts to crumble. Petra comes in and knowingly declares that they’ll have to have a closed casket funeral, and the witches abandon their duties for reasons that will become apparent later.
In the Cession Abigail and Tally are trying to be supportive of Scylla, whose hope is starting to flicker ever so slightly with each passing hour that she doesn’t hear from Raelle. They stumble upon one good way to distract her from her feelings by telling her that Alder is alive, is seeking pieces of the first song, and that Tally has a piece of it in her pocket. Tally muses, almost to nobody, that Alder is the real Alder but she’s…different.
Back at base, Petra is stressed that Anacostia and Sterling are missing. She’s giving her people orders when Silver strolls in, all haughty and smug, saying he wants answers, too. He says since the president’s assassination showed evidence of a witch bomb, he’s going to leave some “civilian oversight” on base to keep an eye on the witches. In fact, he has personally assigned someone to watch her on a 1:1 basis. Thanks, I hate it!
The two share a lot of fake pleasantries and Petra agrees to the oversight but the tension in the room is palpable.
With little to do trapped in Marshal Mansion, Scylla decides to try to talk to Raelle again, this time via dead mouse. She tries to tap into the mycelia, singing her song, calling out to her beloved.
A black smoke comes out of the wee corpse and for some reason Scylla decides to breathe it in like she’s shotgunning weed at a college party. She’s hoping this will give her a vision of Raelle, but instead all she hears and sees is the Marshal walking by her door with a goat slung over his shoulder. Casual.
To celebrate their new president, a bunch of DC’s richest and terriblest gather together, lead by Hearst, who is giddy as can be even though his new, stolen voice box keeps glitching. He’s waxing poetic about making it “our” America, and shows them the evening’s entertainment: three cages full of witches he’s going to make fight to the death for their amusement. Two of which are Anacostia and Sterling.
Anacostia immediately tries to magic her way out of the tube she’s in, but the glass is magic-proof and her work comes back at her and knocks her clean over. As Anacostia gets up, Hearst introduces the new President, Brandt beaming nearby.
The witch gang really wants to escape, so they try to plan a way to ambush the Marshal. Tally doesn’t understand what he wants, and has questions about the goat. But Abigail doesn’t care about the goat! She cares about results! (I’m with Tally though. I’d have questions about the goat, too.)
At Fort Salem, with the help of Izadora the Necromancer, Petra manages to ditch her oversight in the hallway. (Because of “frequencies.” I’m going to start telling men who annoy me they can’t get too close because of frequencies.)
Izadora shows Petra what she’s been working on: Penelope. In the flesh! Asking for milk! (Which…if I learned anything from Pretty Little Liars it’s don’t trust a person who walks around drinking a glass of regular milk…) Petra is amazing, but it turns out whatever the Camarilla did to Penelope to make her a delayed-release host for the witch plague also prevented her from dying entirely, so she was just chilling as mist for a while until Izadora figured it out. But she came back a little…different…
She has some rage issues they’re working out, but soon she’ll be ready to show the public and exonerate the Bellweather Unit. After all, you can’t be charged with murder for a person who isn’t dead.
Meanwhile at the rich people shindig, Sterling tries to appeal to the dad in Silver, recounting when Penelope learned to ride her bike, and how Sterling was there for it. It almost seems like it’s working, like Silver is starting to have a singular feeling, but Brandt shows up to put an end to that right quick, much to Anacostia’s dismay.
Later that night at the manor, the Marshal does his usual rounds, and the witches try to ambush him. But even though allf four of them do their little SSKA magic at him, he reacts like he just caught a gentle breeze off the river. He chuckles at their attempt and whistles them into submission. Before he leaves them, still writhing in pain from his whistle, he yells, “Go to bed!”
I find him and his unflappable babysitter act very endearing.
The next morning, the girls are in pain from the Marshal whistling while he worked, and stare him down when they find him casually reading the paper at the table.
They grab the paper from him when he says they’re the front page story. Tally reads the pape with her face beamin’ back at her, and they read that President Wade is dead. Nicte things it’s Raelle, because the article mentions the witch bomb, but Tally and Abigail quickly shut that theory down. The paper also says they were at the white house when clearly they were not.
The Marshal isn’t fazed by this news, not really. He’s more focused on preparing for the Yule celebrations. To which I say…wait, what? Is Yule still celebrated in December in this fictional reality? How far away from DC did they get?? I know it’s cold out but it doesn’t seem Northeastern midwinter cold? What IS time? Anyway, that is neither here nor there. What’s important is, Tally finally knows what the goat is for.
The Marshal tells them he’s going to change the borders on the wards from the manor to the edge of the grounds so they can get some fresh air; the truth is, they’re not really PRISONERS so much as they just need to stay put until they can present their case for being in the Cession illegally and blowing up chemical plants to the Council.
Scylla tells the girls that the Council is fair, so Abigail knows they just have to tell them the truth and make sure they believe them. Nicte laughs at this overly earnest plan, but doesn’t want to share her own thoughts. Abigail, annoyed, says, “Once a terrorist, always a terrorist,” which makes Scylla squirm in her seat.
It’s almost sweet that Abigail says this knowing Scylla could hear her; because she doesn’t believe it, not really. She grew to care about Scylla, even if she might not trust her AS much as she trusts her Unit. But it’s almost like she forgot she ever thought of Scylla that way; which of course, isn’t the best way to make your sister’s girlfriend feel welcome, but I do think there’s a silver lining to this off-hand hurtful comment.
At the Gala of Horrors, Brandt finds Hearst and continues to degrade him. She starts insulting his performance earlier, just really belittling him…and then she lays her head on his shoulder and says, “Mom and dad would be proud.” And friends, I gasped! I had not even CONSIDERED that that they were siblings. And listen, I have a little brother, and we can barb each other, but she takes it to the next level in a way that makes me nervous laugh whenever she gets going. However, with his newfound potential powers, I think she might live to regret bullying her little brother, who was apparently showing at least one of the early signs of being a serial killer: hurting animals as a youth.
Finally allowed outside, Tally wanders the grounds and finds Khalida singing. Her song makes the vial in Tally’s pocket burn, and she drops it, but then suddenly Alder appears.
Alder tells Khalida it’s time, and the little girl says she’ll go say goodbye to Adil. Once she’s gone, Alder explains to Tally that she’s taking all the Stewards of the first song somewhere safe until they can find all the pieces and heal the world. Tally asks her to stay with them, but Alder says she can’t. Tally asks about Raelle again, hoping for more clarity, but Alder says, “I’m sorry, Tally Craven, I don’t know.”
Tally points out that this is the first time Alder has said her name, She looks at her former General desperately and asks for an answer, any answer. Alder steps closer to her and brushes a hair off her face. She pulls Tally close and tells her all she can: trust the Mother.
Alder goes to talk to (and play what looks like mancala with) the Marshal. He’s not surprised she didn’t die and she thanks him for the magic he taught her to keep her alive all these hundreds of years. She tells him that she has a song that was stolen from his people, and asks if he can help her find its rightful Steward so she can protect them.
Inside, Adil is fighting with Khalida because he doesn’t want her to leave. She knows he won’t understand this decision, but she asks him to respect it anyway, so eventually he relents. She promises they’ll see each other again, and gives him a little mushroom to use if he’s ever in danger, and hugs her big bruvver goodbye while Abigail watches on, fighting back tears.
After Khalida leaves, Adil busies himself with the Yule log. Together, with Tally, they decide to not tell Nicte that Alder was here…but this is the least of Tally’s concerns. She really wants to be able to hone her sight to the point of being able to see Raelle, to know what’s coming, to be able to HELP.
But before she can come up with her next steps, Petra walks through the door and Abigail runs to her mom, hugging her tight. Abigail immediately starts blurting out all the things ricocheting around in her mind: Wade is dead, Silver is in charge, how did this happening, they have to DO something, they have to fight this!
And right on cue, in comes Madame President herself, saying that fighting is exactly what she plans to do.
Also, M is right by her side. Bless. I knew in my heart of hearts this would be the case, that this show wouldn’t let me down and that they had protected Wade from the witch bomb…but damn, I still got chills when she walked through that door.
I think this deserves a full gif moment, to be honest.
— Motherland: Fort Salem (@Motherland) July 13, 2022
When they realized the president was in danger, Izadora made a golem of Wade and M managed to sub them for each other right before the explosion. M is humble, because of course they are, and says they were just doing their job, but I, for one, was thrilled to hear M getting accolades from the literal president. (And from the lips of Emmy nominated actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, no less!)
When Petra asks where Raelle is, Nicte chimes in that she’s dead, which pisses off Scylla, Tally, and Abigail.
Abigail reassures everyone she’s just healing in the mycelium, and the president asks who this rando even is. Nicte introduces herself as Louise the Soup Chef, and Petra tells her to get back to the kitchen, which made me laugh.
Petra tells the girls that they’re to stay with President Wade under the protection of, and I quote, “the Marshal and M,” until they can meet with the Council. She hopes they can come back soon. This phrasing reminds Tally of something important they should probably tell Petra, especially since Nicte is out of the room, so she nudges her unit-mate and Abigail tells her mother that Alder is back, but assures her she doesn’t want her old job back.
Having had quite enough excitement for one day, Petra reassures Abigail that it’ll all work out, reminds her to trust Wade, and hugs her daughter goodbye.
(Side note: when Abigail slumps back down in the chair, sad to have to say goodbye to her mom again so soon, she rests her head on Adil but also Tally holds her hand, and it’s very cute and I love them okay bye.)
After the General is gone, Scylla storms to the kitchen to scold Nicte for saying Raelle is dead. Threatens her, in fact. Nicte says she likes when Scylla is angry, because she’s stronger, but Scylla doesn’t get her strength from anger, she gets it from love.
She says just because Nicte is too lonely and miserable to understand it doesn’t make it less real. As she storms out of the kitchen, she sees the slaughtered goat and has an idea…
Alder goes to find the Steward that the Marshal helps her find (who is a badass, turns out) and returns her piece of the song. She drinks it, and follows Alder, so she can keep her safe with the other Stewards.
Back at Marshal Manor, the group lights the Yule log and talk about a game they used to play, where you try to see a vision in the smoke. Tally used to say she saw new sneakers in the smoke, which is so pure and adorable.
Scylla interrupts this cute little tradition holding a goat heart in her hand and asking for everyone’s help to find Raelle. She buries the heart and says a prayer to the Mother and starts to sing.
Everyone joins in, even Nicte, but then nothing happens. One by one, people leave the circle. Tears fall down Tally’s cheeks as she asks Scylla to come inside and out of the cold with them, but Scylla needs a minute alone. Tally gives her a squeeze and leaves her.
Scylla stands there hoping for a moment, but just she’s about to give up, she hear’s Raelle’s voice say her name, and turns around to see a glowing “R” made of mushrooms. Raelle is alive.
Inside, the Marshal and Wade flirt, and I don’t hate it. Adil and Abigail kiss under the mistletoe and dance around, and that’s also pretty cute.
Adil and Abigail talk briefly about kids, and even though he’s down, Abigail says my favorite line of the night, “Slow down, witch daddy.” She is interested but wants to secure world peace first.
Drink in hand, Scylla goes to find Nicte and apologizes for earlier; she was a bit more harsh than she needed to be to get her point across. But Nicte says she isn’t wrong. Her mom dodged when she was five and her grumpy grandma told her a Yule wish was the only thing that would bring her back, and it never did.
Nicte softens a bit and tells Scylla that Raelle is lucky to have her, before going to bed early to move past this painful holiday more swiftly.
In the other room, Tally and M are at the bar and suddenly I remember a long-forgotten ship I once sailed. Tally says she feels like she’s between worlds, and M tells them about how when they first conscripted they were forced to choose between building weapons with the men or basic with the women, despite not identifying with either group. Tally acknowledges this must have been hard, and M confirms, saying it was actually pretty traumatic. Tally holds their hand and expresses empathy, but M assures her it got better.
M says Alder supported them and saw them and encouraged them to move up in rank and find witches who saw them for who they really are. They tell Tally they see her for who she is, and that she’s the one true constant; she has to count on herself. Plus, M reminds her, Tally has a whole band of supporters on her side.
Tally will drink to that.
Scylla tells the mound of mushrooms she’ll never lose hope, Abigail and Adil dance, Wade and the Marshal smooch in the elevator, and eventually Tally and M find themselves laughing by the Yule log.
But then the childhood game becomes too real, and Tally gets a vision. Not of new sneakers, unfortunately, but of Raelle…and the end of the world.
When Tally snaps out of this horrifying vision, all she can say is that there was nothing left. She thinks Raelle might bring about the end of the world, and the idea of it shakes her to her core, so M holds her tight as she reckons with what she just saw.
Somehow, the ghoulish gala is still going on, and witches are fighting to the death. The final battle is Army vs Spree, so
Chekov’s Scylla’s ex Vira gets thrown into the box with Anacostia and Sterling. Anacostia tries to tell Vira they don’t have to fight, but Vira is already in survival mode.
Vira uses her Spree magic to make Sterling stab himself, which makes Anacostia go into Defense Mode and she screams the skin right of Vira’s face… RIP.
At the manor, the witches watch what is supposed to be Wade’s funeral, but Wade correctly points out that it sounds more like an inaugural speech. And it’s full of anti-witch rhetoric and other such garbage. Wade suddenly has to go, leaving the girls to contend with the Council alone, and she tells them they can’t tell anyone, including the Council, that she’s alive. The Marshal tells them the wards’ borders are going to shrink and Wade tells them to stand down; the witches are annoyed but compliant…at least, for now.
As they stand there, their hands metaphorically tied, Silver’s speech continues and he talks about breaking the binds of hte Salem accord, and his plans to silence witches forever.
Dun dun dun!
Next week, danger, danger, more danger, and also The Council! See ya then!