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'Salem' recap: Run the world (girls)

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “In Vain” | Aired May 4, 2014

The power struggle in Salem took a turn this week, as Mary and her witchy rival, Magistrate Hale, proved that the person who holds the most power is the one with the least to lose. In this case, that would be Mary, who already gave up her unborn child, along with any hope for a reunion with her seemingly lost love John Alden. Despite Hale’s best attempts to take over as the leader of the witches, Mary showed him who the real boss is in this town.

In another instance of lady power, Anne Hale stood up to her father and called him out for being complicit in the would-be murder of an innocent man. Anne is really starting to turn it around after seeming like nothing more than a bratty lovestruck teenager in the first two episodes. While not necessarily working on the same side, Mary and Anne both came out ahead this week … if you can call almost dying at the hands of a doll “ahead.” Let’s take it from the top!

In one of the weirdest scenes not involving mutilated or unorthodoxly placed animals, Anne has a sex dream about John that quickly turns into a sensual nightmare in which Cotton and Mary are berating her while the four of them are in bed together. Frankly, this is much less terrifying than what Anne actually wakes up to, which is Mary’s cursed doll that leers at Anne all episode long, like some possessed Raggedy Ann toy that got run over by a truck. There are so many people on Mary’s hate list right now, it’s hard to keep track. Anne is no trouble at all compared to her father, the magistrate, who is still obsessing over finding (read: murdering) whoever it was that saw him and his groupies dancing in the woods. Mary tries to get him to take a chill pill and let this whole thing go, but Hale’s petticoats are all in a bunch, and he will not be dissuaded from his mission — even if it means spilling more innocent blood.

Panic and mayhem are on the rise in Salem, and as a result, people are starting to do stupid things, like ransacking orphanages. This means poor, scowly John Alden has to step in and threaten thieves at gunpoint to restore order, and you know how he hates having to be noble before he’s had his morning coffee. Anne is there, of course, because everyone in this town is always everywhere, because there’s literally nothing to do but walk around in circles until something exciting happens. Anne blames her father and Cotton — looking more disheveled than usual, like he had one too many five-hour energy drinks and then crashed — for pretty much everything that’s going wrong. Then she asks John, the only decent man left in Salem (and obviously the hottest), to walk her home … *wink*. (Actually, things don’t go anywhere close to the way they were going in her dream earlier.)

Hale goes to see the Seer again, who informs him that Isaac and some other faceless person were the ones who saw Hale and the witches performing the ritual in the woods. Hale does not appreciate vagueness, and lashes out at the Seer for not being able to see the second peeping Tom. John, meanwhile, stumbles onto the Seer’s taxidermy collection, one of which turns out to be not so dead. Or, as John so eloquently says to Hale when he runs into him outside the tent: “They looked dead. Until they didn’t.” Such a poet, that John Alden.


The winner of the “Worst Week” title goes to Isaac, who starts off the episode carrying a corpse to the woods, while people throw things and curse at it. Would you believe things only get worse from there for old Isaac? Next he’s kidnapped and molested by a hag, who drags him into the woods so that Hale can put a spell on him and try to find out who was with Isaac when he witnessed the ritual. When he can’t get the information, Hale plants some things on Isaac to frame him as a witch. This is Hale’s fun new hobby. (I guess he’s bad at butter-churning, or whatever else they did for fun back then.)

In this week’s obligatory Cotton-has-sex-with-a-prostitute scene (I’m not complaining, because any excuse for Seth Gabel to take his shirt off is fine by me), Gloriana starts crying because she’s understandably worried after watching her friend Bridget hanged for allegedly being a witch. She asks Cotton why he sentenced Bridget to death, but she’s really just asking if he has daddy issues. (Among other fun emotional baggage, yes, he does.) Their almost-tender moment is interrupted when Isaac, in a witchcraft-induced stupor, barges into the brothel and starts causing what I believe would technically be considered a “ruckus.” Though Cotton’s initial reaction is to run and hide, he eventually puts his clothes back on and attempts to stop Isaac’s rampage. John, however, manages to incapacitate Isaac — since apparently he has to do everything around here.

In the meantime, Mary talks with Rose about her power struggle with Hale, wondering if she gave up her unborn child and her former life all “in vain.” Rose helps remind Mary of what a great leader she is, and how she has reclaimed her ability to choose after it was stolen from her. If nothing else, Mary has certainly gained the power to decide her own destiny, and no one will stand in the way of that — not even Hale. Although John may prove to be a little bit of a hiccup, since he’s the only area in which her judgment gets a little cloudy. John approaches her about saving Isaac from a doomed fate, appealing to her compassion. This doesn’t work at first, but in the end she swears to John that he has her “complete allegiance.” When Mary discovers that John was with Isaac the night they saw the Sabbat ritual, she stays true to her word and helps protect John from incurring the Wrath of the Ponytail.

When Hale comes to question Isaac, John stands in front of the cell and simply says, “No.” As gutsy as it is, this strategy only works for approximately 2.5 seconds, after which Hale tells the guards to take John out. Honestly, I think John is grateful for a chance to kick and head-butt some people. He gets a few good hits in before Cotton discretely releases Isaac and tells him to go help John.

On the XX-chromosome side of things, Mary’s doll finally has its way with Anne, slowly choking her until Hale comes home to find her and realizes that Mary is behind it. He begs her to spare his daughter, and Mary coolly explains how she isn’t vulnerable the way that he is, because she lost everything she cared about years ago. In other words, suck it. Hale runs back home to find Anne doing much better. He tells his wife that he now understands why his parents chose to send him away. “A parent will do anything for the life of their child,” he says. And apparently that includes giving up one’s own pride and power.


After watching John get beaten up, Cotton offers him a handkerchief and basically tells John to rub some dirt on it. It seems like just yesterday that John was beating Cotton to a pulp in a whorehouse. Now the two find themselves begrudging allies who can’t stop giving each other sidelong glances full of playful contempt and thinly veiled physical attraction. The only better bromance this episode is John and Isaac. After John tells Isaac that he isn’t going to die (today), Isaac gets all choked up and thanks John for saving his life. John freezes like a deer caught in the headlights of talking about his feelings. He only does that with Mary, and these days even that’s a rarity. She and John share an amicable meeting in the town square, where she tells him that she can’t protect him. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.

It’s strange to think of the two of them on the same side for the time being, but I suppose it’s all relative. Cotton is even looking like a sort-of good guy after this episode. He must be easing up on the crazy pills lately, because he sounds like he might actually want to be fair and just — when it comes to judging if someone is a witch or not. The “villain,” Hale, ends the episode as a good father, despite his own daughter accusing him of being an accessory to murder in the first 10 minutes of the episode. I really appreciate how none of the characters on this show are clear-cut in terms of good or evil. The baddest baddie has some good in him, and the best of the best (John Alden, of course) is nowhere near perfect. (Remember that time he didn’t call or write for 10 years while his girlfriend had a magic abortion?) Nothing in Salem is black or white. Everyone is some shade of gray, and the color may vary depending on the week. That is how you keep a show interesting: Create well-rounded characters who can’t be defined by just one thing — and add a wig or some facial hair for good measure.

What did you think of the third episode of Salem? Sound off below!

 Salem, rated TV-MA, airs Sundays at 10/9 C on WGN.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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