Hello and welcome to this recap of Motherland: Fort Salem, season 3, episode 6, “Book Club,” in which we get one step closer to unburying our gay.
Previously on Motherland: Fort Salem, Raelle got swallowed up by the Mother and also maybe her actual mother, the new evil president sent Oversight agents to Fort Salem, Penelope came back from the dead…kind of, the Bellweather unit (plus Scylla) were banished from the Cession but then Thelma Bearkiller saw what they were up against and reconsiders that decision.
We open in New York, where Silver is talking to some allies, but it truly might as well be Brandt talking. And at this point I don’t even know if he realizes he’s being puppeteered by her. Hearst bursts into the room in a tizzy, still shook from his encounter at Marshal Manor. He recounts what he saw: Alder returning and killing his men, Thelma Bearkiller attacking, etc. Brandt doesn’t care about his men, but she does care that she can use this information to her advantage. She wants to invade the Cession. (And also I know that technically probably “We need Congressional approval,” and “We have the votes” are normal political things to say but you better believe I had Hamilton stuck in my head for the rest of the episode.
Brandt’s plan is to pit the witches in the Cession against the witches in the military so she can keep her hands clean. Hearst doesn’t think she understands how powerful Alder and the mycelium are now (and he accidentally calls it The Mother) but Brandt just tells him to drown the mushroom and leave her alone.
After the kerfuffle at Marshal Manor, Thelma realizes they must have a mole in the Cession Council, and is going to let them all do what they have to do, and help in any way she can. Scylla is going to tell Abigail how to sneak onto the base to get Alder to the mushroom wall, but she can’t go with because she has to get Edwin to safety. Tally wants to go home to make sure her mom is safe.
She’s also still worried about the vision she had, but Abigail tells her to get over it already. Thelma is going to help them all get to where they need to be and Abigail is really appreciative. Before they part ways, Scylla tells Alder to send Raelle back to her.
The girls get ready to say goodbye, and Tally expresses her concern that this could be a forever goodbye.
Abigail gives her girls a squeeze and promises they will see each other again.
Back at the base, Petra finds Anacostia and asks for a debrief about what they saw at Camarilla HQ. Petra warns her about Silver’s plans to make them invade the sessions and her plans to hold it off as long as possible, but they have to stop him ASAP.
With Thelma’s help, Tally makes her way back to California, and while she rides in the back of a truck, she notices cops harassing witches and notices they have red collars on. The driver explains that all witches have to publicly identify themselves and also have their powers dampened, plus there’s a curfew and other such nonsense. It’s martial law and it’s terrifying.
As Scylla and Edwin plan their road trip out of the Cession to Quinn’s place, Edwin accidentally asks Scylla if her family did road trips, forgetting they were Dodgers. He’s nervous, and it’s awkward but in a cute way. He thinks of road trips with Willa and thinks she and Scylla would have gotten along well, having no idea how right he is about that.
Tally gets to her mother’s house before her mom does, and while we wait for Mama Craven to show up, I want you to know that my recap notes here say, “Tally’s flannel is a duster!!” because I was really into Tally’s (gay) outfit this episode. When Mama does get home, Tally realizes there’s a man with her, so she slinks out of sight and stays out of sight like a damn shadow ballerina. Eventually her police escort leaves and it’s just Tally and her mom, together again.
Mom is worried that her fugitive daughter is sneaking around in a town overrun by men on mall cop power trips, and wants to take her back to the Cession, but Tally can barely hear her over her devastation about what her mother has been living through; she even has a collar on. Her mother pulls off the collar easily and tries to wave Tally’s worries away, saying she has things to do tonight and Tally won’t cramp her style. Tally is shocked by this; what could possibly be so important? The answer: Book Club.
Back at Fort Salem, the Oversight agents are giving the witches orders, saying all Cession witches must be collared and detained. Petra nods politely but all the while she gives her soldiers secret ordres via magic. Petra knows she has to technically follow orders but hell if she isn’t going to drag her heels about it. Vive la résistance!
On their way back to safety, Edwin and Scylla get stopped by a Cession officer and Edwin almost has him convinced to leave them alone but Scylla doesn’t want to take any chances so she steps in and uses Spree magic to convince him to leave them alone. Edwin immediately blows up at her, saying she has to be more careful, she shouldn’t be so reckless. This outburst is unlike him, so Scylla just plainly asks him why he’s so mad, and he takes a step back and tells her what he’s actually feeling under the performance of anger: she’s all he has left. And he wants to protect her. He can’t lose her, too.
Scylla’s eyes get soft and she promises she won’t lose her. She also reminds him that Raelle is not gone. He wishes he could believe her, that he could hear her voice, and Scylla thinks she might be able to help with that.
Meanwhile in Fort Salem, Penelope is enjoying a very regular dinner with Izodora, and there’s still something…off about her. I was fully expecting her to eat the spoon or take a bite out of the bowl or something. But before she can do that, Abigail shows up with Alder, who is in desperate need of the mushroom wall. When Abigail sees Penelope sitting there, she is shocked. She watched Penelope die, she’s being charged with her murder, and yet here she is sitting in front of her.
But when Penelope sees Abigail, she flips out. She accuses her of trying to kill her, and launches herself at her. Abigail is too stunned to speak, and barely even flinches when the girl scream-melts a candle and attacks. Izodora calms Penelope down and explains that she’s not quite human yet. As she looks from the formerly dead Penelope and the previously assumed dead Alder she says, “Death isn’t what it used to be.”
Though death might be in Sarah Alder’s future if they don’t get her to the mycelium stat, because now not only is her hair getting greyer, but her skin is too.
And speaking of the mycelia, Scylla finds herself a dead possum and uses it to make a myscelia microphone to talk to Raelle. In her mushroom…room, Raelle wakes up and is delighted to hear the voice of her beloved.
Mr. Collar talks to his baby girl, and tears spill down Raelle’s cheeks and she tells her dad she wants to go home. But then Mushroom Willa comes in and growls that she’s safe here and makes the flower microphone disappear.
Scylla, Edwin, and Willa’s best friend Quinn all recognized the voice they heard before their connection was cut, and Scylla knows they have to talk directly to her if they have any chance of getting Raelle out of there.
Finally facing the mushroom wall once more, Alder gets ready to return to the Mother, and Izadora wants to come too. And I know we’re supposed to be #TeamMycellia here but I still don’t trust this whole situation. I know it’s where their power supposedly comes from but it just has such strong cult vibes it makes me uneasy. Alder tells Izadora it’s not her time yet, and as she says goodbye once again, Abigail reminds her that they want their sister back, and Alder promises to do what she can. And this time, instead of turning into a tree, she turns into tendrils and gets absorbed into the wall, and frankly I hated looking at it.
In California, the Book Club gathers at the Craven residence. Tally decides to crash, but, in the words of one Jeff Sadecki, there is no book club. Instead, there is a spelled recording of a book club pouring out of an old-school Tupperware container while the real Book Club is actually a meeting in the kitchen over blueprints, where they are planning on raiding a government building.
Tally thinks this is a TERRIBLE idea, not because of the act itself, but because she’s worried these civilian witches will get hurt or worse. But Tally comes by her strength naturally her mother won’t back down. Tally decides they have a better chance of succeeding if she goes with them, so she decides, somewhat reluctantly, to join.
Across the country, Scylla can tell Edwin is shook from hearing Willa’s voice, so she finally comes clean about how Willa faked her death, ran with the Spree, then died for real saving Raelle. But, as Izadora said, death isn’t what it used to be, so Willa is one with the mycelium now.
She wishes she could talk to her, but she knows another magic mushroom microphone won’t work, and she never learned Far Speech in the necro unit. Luckily, Far Speech used to be a required class at war college, so Quinn thinks she can reach out directly to Willa.
Speaking of war college, at the base, Izadora calls Petra in, where she finds Anacostia in her military uniform. She’s about to scold her for being out of her hospital bed, but then she steps aside to reveal that Abigail is here. Abigail starts to apologize as if she’s a soldier reporting to her general, but Petra responds as a mom and hugs her daughter tight.
After Scylla is done lighting enough candles to put Bath & Body Works to shame, Quinn uses Far Speech to talk to Willa. As they talk, mycelia tendrils creep into the room in a reverse of what we just saw happen to Alder, and suddenly Willa is standing there before them.
They ask for Raelle back, but Willa says her and the Mother have to keep her safe from Witch Haters. It feels very Into the Woods/the witch keeping Rapunzel in her tower in an ill-conceived attempt to protect her. “Don’t you know what’s out there in the world? Someone has to shield you from the world.”
Scylla begs again, she just wants Raelle back.
Edwin, still a bit overwhelmed, grabs Willa’s hand. He accepts her apology for faking her death and says that Raelle has people who will protect her, out here in the real world. She has a new family now. And a woman who loves her. It’s time to let their little girl go from the family she was born into to the family she built.
When Willa doesn’t seem to be willing to budge, Scylla asks if she could at least come into the mycelium to be with Raelle that way, but Willa just apologizes and poofs into dust like a Sunnydale vampire.
Back in California, Tally and the Book Club (band name, called it) break into the government building and start stealing records, and Mama Craven puts Tally and her sight on watch duty. When Tally sees the coast is clear, she also sees something else, and drags her mom into a room full of boxes of red power dampening collars…but these can’t be removed by the wearer.
So Mama comes up with a solution: let’s burn it all down.
Side note: I sure hope burning collars isn’t foreshadowing of the fate of the human Collars…
ANYWHO, as they finish loading the records into the van, Tally’s mom doesn’t look as victorious as she should. She feels like this is one small step forward and the government is going to come stomp its giant boots two steps back. But Tally reminds her that real change doesn’t happen overnight; it can’t happen with one act of rebellion, one protest, one petition. But it’s the cumulation of all these things, all the small battles won, that will eventually help them win the war. Small wins matter.
Tally’s pep talk is interrupted when they spot someone, so they all scurry into the van and pull away as the building explodes behind them.
Upon hearing about this explosion, the government men stationed outside the Craven residents rush inside, but all they see is Book Club in session. (A group of women who are very cute IRL, by the way.) Realizing they can’t accuse them of anything, but still feeling the need to exert power lest their egos be bruised, they tell the women to disperse before curfew. They all smile politely and do just that.
The conversation with Willa left everyone feeling a bit defeated, but Scylla promises to never give up until she finds Raelle. She also promises to not keep any more secrets from Edwin. He says that he trusts her, and as someone who is still trying to shake the Spree stigma, that means more to her than he knows.
Later that California evening, Tally and her mom are doing dishes, and Tally reminisces about how mad her mom was when she left for the military. They smash plates together in a sweet little moment, but then Tally gets serious again. She apologizes to her mom for not understanding before, but she gets it now, what it’s like to be afraid of a future you can’t control. To know your loved ones could be in danger but not knowing how to protect them. She tells her mom about her vision, but her mom just smiles softly at her and tells Tally that she is a warrior. She just has to trust herself and get back in the fight. Doing her best is the best she can do.
They press foreheads and laugh and cry together and gosh darnit it’s adorable.
At Marshal Manor, Thelma and Anacostia watch the news as Silver signs the executive order about invading the session. They really need Wade to resurrect herself, but her and the Marshal are nowhere to be found. (Have they checked all the elevators?)
People start pouring into the Manor and Anacostia realizes that Thelma has been prepared for this, and has a little militia of her own. Thelma tells Anacostia that her and Abigail (who is upstairs resting) can stay or they can go, and she won’t stop them either way, but they have to choose, and choose soon.
In the dark of the night, two construction workers are Annihilationed and Willa and Alder (who is looking much more healthy/brunette) are pleased to realize they’ve taken out the last of the toxic dump sites. Alder has to find the last two pieces of the first song, but also before she goes on that quest, she has to do one more thing: make an appearance at Fort Salem. Her appearance makes the cadets go wild, like their favorite band just came back for an unexpected encore, and they all surround her stomping excitedly. And no one is more excited than my favorite girl, Cadet Cortez.
Alder gives the young witches some words of wisdom, and most importantly: hope.
The Oversight man is spooked and tries to storm to the front to demand answers, but by the time he gets there, Alder has returned to the ground from whence she came.
Next week, the beginning of the end. The battle begins as we round the corner into our final stretch of episodes. See you then!