Salem Episodes 11 and 12 Recap: Judge, Jury, and Executioner

Tituba’s stuck in a torture chamber and John has been arrested for witchcraft! Puritanical terror has descended upon Salem! So much cliffhanger.


Episode 11: Cat and Mouse

A Witch Accused

Considering everything that John’s gotten away with (murdering Pirate Dude, dragging a woman through town in broad daylight to conduct witch interrogations, having bewitched orgies in brothels), it’s ironic that he’s finally been jailed for something that he didn’t do.

Keep him on speed dial, and he'll spring you outta the slammer.

Keep him on speed dial, and he’ll spring you outta the slammer.

Anne Hale confronts her dad, Lucius Malfoy Hair, about his Death Eater mask, but he pleads the fifth and keeps his mouth shut. Since he won’t answer her questions about witches, Anne threatens to go ask Escalate Mather. Even though Lucius Malfoy Hair keeps a poker face during this scene, you can tell that he’s freaking out inside.

Maybe if you'd just stop cosplaying as Death Eaters...

Maybe if you’d just stop cosplaying as Death Eaters…

George still can’t speak, but he’s not going to let magical frogs and cobwebs silence him. He uses non-verbal communication to cast his vote for John’s witchcraft trial. Mary’s panicking now.

Trapping Escalate Mather

The rest of this episode revolves around a half-baked scheme to kill Escalate Mather. The elder witches seem completely terrified of Mather due to his witch-hunting exploits abroad, so no one wants to challenge him directly.

Mary enlists the help of supervillainess killer witch Mercy, who’s been slinking around the town’s dead body dump and running around the forest. I’m confused by how Mercy became so powerful this fast. I mean, do you think Dark Magicks are a nature or nurture type of thing?

Mary and Mercy do some kinky dom/sub things out in the woods to prep for their upcoming battle against the muggles:

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Mercy's look here is so priceless.

Mercy’s look here is so priceless.

Basically, Mary wants Mercy to scratch up her back, so that she can return to Salem and claimed that she was attacked by a witch in the woods. Then Escalate will chase after Mercy and get killed. Seems pretty half-baked. Why would you give the newest witch on the block the task of killing the most formidable witch hunter?

Mary bewitches Isaac to corroborate her story and lead Escalate into the woods.

Poor Isaac always gets caught up in these witch dance-offs.

Poor Isaac always gets caught up in these witch dance-offs.

Mercy appears, and the show-down is ON!

The Witch Matrix

Instead of bullets, this scene is full of slo-mo flying daggers and wooden stakes flying between Mercy and Escalate. Considering how disempowered Mercy has been throughout the beginning of this show, it’s pretty neat to see these two duke it out.

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That reverse Matrix bend seems really bad for your back. But great for limbo.

That reverse Matrix bend seems really bad for your back. But great for limbo.

Mercy gets slashed across the stomach and decides to bail. Escalate Mather turns around and realizes that poor Isaac caught a wooden stake with his belly.

Ow ow ow

Ow ow ow

So what did this plan accomplish? Pretty much nothing. Except everyone in Salem, the witches and witch hunters, all feel shitty for dragging Isaac into their war. He’s badly wounded and remains bedridden for much of this episode.

Finally, Anne learns that only true witches can teleport with the Death Eater mask. Lucius Malfoy Hair reveals that she must be a witch! (Still, they don’t clear up the whole nature / nurture thing. Maybe it’s both?)

Actually, Anne's not all that thrilled.

Actually, Anne’s not all that thrilled.

The theme song I chose for this episode is “Creepy Crawler” by Zombie Girl. It feels like the perfect aggro industrial track for Mercy’s fight scene. Go listen and see what I mean on our Ladies’ Night in Salem Spotify playlist.


Episode 12: Ashes, Ashes

Since this is the second-to-last episode of the season, get ready for the pressure to rise! It seems that Salem is on the brink of war. The witches are getting ready to use the Malum to fulfill the Grand Rite. Escalate Mather’s hanging people left and right. What’s gonna happen!?

The Battle for Salem

You can tell that Mary’s gearing up for an epic fight since she’s running around in the woods wearing gold-threaded duds.

But damn, doesn't she look regal?

But damn, doesn’t she look regal?

Mary wants Mercy to bring the fight to Salem, since her girl gang is being tortured by Escalate Mather. He’s been spraying them with scalding oil to force a confession. Jeez.

Meanwhile, Anne is freaking out since maybe she was a witch this whole time and didn’t know. Yeah, I can’t even imagine what this coming-out process would be like. She rushes to a drunk Cotton Mather and begs him to search her body for unnatural witch marks. Y’know, like nipples on your legs. Stuff like that.

Poor Cotton closes his eyes through the entire exam and tries to wish away an awkward boner.

Poor Cotton closes his eyes through the entire exam and tries to wish away an awkward boner.

While in the throes of accidental passion, this look flicks across Anne’s face. Either she’s ordered some rockin’ new red contact lenses ….or she’s magical.

Don't you just hate when that happens?

Don’t you just hate when that happens?

Phew! That was close! Cotton's clueless-ness saves Anne a lot of trouble.

Phew! That was close! Cotton’s clueless-ness saves Anne a lot of trouble.

The Crucible

The middle of this episode strongly echoes Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In fact, they allude to it during the John’s court scene.

In fact, they allude to it during the John's court scene.

Escalate plays into the town’s superstitions and presents the following “evidence” that John is a witch:

  • John was a skeptic who called witchcraft “bullshit” during early Season 1, but he was probably trying to minimize suspicion.
  • One of Mary Sibley’s servants saw John break into her home in the middle of the night for that tryst
  • He forcibly kissed Anne Hale in public that one time he was bewitched with sex dreams
  • Emily, Elizabeth, Susanna, and Charity all accuse John of witchcraft (they do this at Mercy’s behest, so that they won’t be burned at the stake)

Gotta say, it’s not looking good for John Alden!

Cotton Mather, Feminist Champion Lawyer?

Cotton Mather starts bring his A game to these trials. He decides to represent John Alden in court, in opposition to his father. Cotton’s not drinking so much anymore, and it really seems like he’s attempting to do a character 180 to redeem himself for the execution of innocent citizens.

“Put to the rack, threatened with death, even an innocent girl might think herself a witch, and any man around her a Devil. I submit to you that everything you have seen here today is the result of torture worthy of the Inquisition! Who is it who has really violated women?”

Cotton is finally on the right track by pointing out the coerced confessions.

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Cotton is finally on the right track by pointing out the coerced confessions.

Unfortunately, the system is stacked against these girls, and Increase decides to hang them anyway. At this point, Cotton shatters and seems to recognize the incredibly corrupt system that allows Increase Mather to be the Judge, Jury, and Executioner of Salem.

Secrets Revealed

Even if Escalate Mather can’t get the charges of witchcraft to stick against John Alden, he can still accuse him of treason and murder. Remember how Tituba spoke to the dead Pirate Guy’s face earlier and learned John’s secrets? Looks like she spilled the beans while Escalate was torturing her.

John refuses to admit anything in court (smart), but tells Cotton the truth in his jail cell.

John explains that he was injured and left for dead during King Williams’ War. Some Mohawk tribesmen find John bleeding to death, and they save his life by treating his wounds.

To show his gratitude, John lived with the tribe, going on animal hunts and defending their homes.

To show his gratitude, John lived with the tribe, going on animal hunts and defending their homes.

However, a colonial militia slaughters and burns an entire Mohawk village, because “they couldn’t even be bothered to tell one Indian tribe from another.”

So John goes on a rampage, killing militiamen to get vengeance. And that why Escalate has the clout to execute John for treason and murder.

Mary’s at home, sobbing because she doesn’t know how to save John. Isaac steps in as Salem’s Most Unlikely Cheerleader, and gives Mary an inspiring, empowering, and heartfelt pep talk. “Do you know what I call you in my head, to myself, in my heart? Magic Mary. You were always magic, even back when we was just sprouts.
And you could do anything — always could.”

"Do you know what I call you in my head, to myself, in my heart? Magic Mary. You were always magic, even back when we was just sprouts. And you could do anything - always could."

Awwww. Isaac is such a sweetheart. Too bad all Mary has ever done is cruelly manipulate him with her spells.

She decides to don her Magic Mary superhero cape and go save John Alden. She magicks herself into his jail cell. They share a kiss, then she magicks both of them into the middle of the forest. Why not NYC or London? Who knows.

John is very surprised to learn that she’s a witch.

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Gotta say, the fairy tale ending of this episode made me feel a little pukey. So far, Mary has used her romantic attachments to women (both Tituba and Mercy) as tools for manipulation while she strives toward the Grand Rite or saving John Alden. Also, where the EFF is Tituba? We haven’t seen her for two whole episodes, and I’m freaking out.

Since everyone spilled their secrets in this episode, the theme song is “People Are Strange” by Johnny Hollow. Listen to all of the dark and spooky jams by following our Ladies’ Night in Salem Spotify playlist.

Tune in next week for the thrilling finale recap!

Queer hapa writer inspired by gadgets. Attending the Ada Developers Academy in the third cohort. Uninterested in quitting her coffee habit. Reads and writes sci-fi and horror. Find her at lorainekv.com or on Twitter.

Loraine has written 33 articles for us.

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