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'Salem' recap: Papa don't preach

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Departures” | Aired June 8, 2014

Since the dawn of time, there has been at least one consistent thread of conflict among all humankind. This conflict is known scientifically as “daddy issues.”

Even as far back as the Garden of Eden, when God told Adam and Eve, “Hey, kids, have fun in paradise, but don’t eat from that fruit tree, K?” Adam and Eve were basically like, “You’re not the boss of me!” and did it anyway. (OK, so that’s not exactly how it went down, but you see my point.)

Whether it’s low self-esteem, a constant need for validation or a distrust of authority figures, daddy issues come in all different flavors. Cotton can never seem to earn his father’s approval, so he drinks and dallies with women of easy virtue. Anne tries to understand her father, but the more she does, the more she loses respect for him. John, we learned, was not the man his father wanted him to be either. Salem is a grab bag of paternal discontentment, and Increase Mather is making a decent run for Worst Father of the Year.

At the beginning of the episode, Increase is lamenting the decaying moral state of Salem, which has become a breeding ground for drinking, sex and general depravity. It’s basically the Vegas of 17th-century New England, but with fewer sequins. Increase, who has apparently named himself captain of the Fun Police, is determined to eradicate the witches from Salem in an effort to cleanse them of their evil influence. He doesn’t yet realize just how much his son is involved in Salem’s perversion-a-palooza … at least, not until an awkward run-in at the brothel.

Cotton and Gloriana are enjoying a little afternoon delight when Increase pays an unexpected visit to their den of iniquity because, as the reverend puts it, it represents the “commingling of sin and sorcery.” (That should be Salem’s new town slogan!) This marks what I think is the third time Cotton has found himself scrambling to hide from someone at the brothel, and this time he went with the cower-under-the-bed-in-his-underwear option, which was surprisingly effective. Increase may have never found out about Cotton’s affair with Gloriana if not for one damning detail: The younger Mather’s Bible is in plain sight in Gloriana’s room. Oh, the irony.

In the course of his raid of the whorehouse, Increase discovers Mab’s secret stash of witchy things, and just like that, Mab’s fate is pretty much sealed. I mean, we’ve seen what Salem does to people who aren’t even actually witches, so imagine how quickly they’ll kill a woman who is blatantly practicing witchcraft. But before that happens, things get a little interesting when Increase decides to interrogate Mab about who else in Salem is a witch.

First, Increase takes a break from his witch hunt to berate his son some more. Drinking buddies Cotton and John are enjoying happy hour (or what normal people call lunchtime) when Increase decides to come and ruin that for Cotton too. Geez, this guy is determined to embarrass his son at every possible opportunity. He rags on Cotton for drinking, for being too cowardly to enlist in the militia and, oh yeah, FOR SLEEPING WITH THAT WHORE. I think I hear Cotton actually gulp when Increase tells him he knows about him and Gloriana. Cotton is so grounded.

In other Increase-ruins-everything news, Mary is so paranoid about Increase unexpectedly dropping in to check on his dear friend George that she sends her “sick” husband off to Boston to see a doctor, ensuring that Increase won’t catch on to the fact that George is merely under the influence of her pet toad. Nothing gets past old Increase, it seems.

Anne’s father is looking much less evil by comparison. His only real crime is, well, some light murder … and infidelity. But all in all, he’s a much better father than Increase. Anne doesn’t exactly see it this way, though. When he returns from giving Mab the “keep to the code” speech to let her know she’d better die before giving up the names of any other witches, Anne pounces on Hale and starts sassing him like there’s no tomorrow. Hale acts affronted by her implication that he’s anything but honest with his family, and he insists she ask him anything at all. She asks if he believes Mab to be a witch, and he tells her no, he doesn’t, thankyouverymuch. Anne is taken aback by this, and by the fact that her father is less sucked into the mass-witch-hunt hysteria of Salem. Of course he’s lying, and of course this is the one time that they’ve actually caught a real witch, but what’s another half-truth between father and daughter? Anne’s not-hating of her father only lasts for a minute, though, and then she’s criticizing him for not standing up to the Selectmen if he believes Mab is innocent. Man, you just cannot win with Anne.

Increase must have sent out a Facebook invite to everyone in Salem, because the whole town comes out to see him torture Mab for information on her fellow witches. It’s pretty brutal. He repeatedly dunks her in the water while grilling her about who else in Salem is a witch. Finally she cracks and gives him a name: Gloriana. (GASP!) I’m assuming this is the “distraction” Hale came up with when he told Mab, and it definitely works. Cotton flips out, finally standing up to his father, telling him that this whole thing is madness and that they’re putting innocents to death on their misguided witch hunt. Increase gives his son another “disappointed in you” glare and slaps him across the face. You can tell Cotton is like, “Daaaad, you’re embarrassing me,” but he’s too preoccupied with saving his lady’s life to really care. These two need some serious Dr. Phil or something ASAP.

If that public display of family drama-rama isn’t enough, things only get more embarrassing from there. Cotton tries to reason with his father (a completely futile effort), telling him to check Gloriana for the Devil’s Mark, because a witch would have one, and Cotton is pretty certain she doesn’t. (And he would know.) Increase actually agrees to this, but insists that Cotton look for the mark … while he watches. So awkward. Cotton is forced to undress his girlfriend (I guess? I don’t know if they’ve had time to DTR) while his creepy father watches and judges them. This scene actually makes me more uncomfortable than the toad-suckling scene from the pilot. On the plus side, they don’t find a mark, so Cotton is like, “So we’re good, right?” And Increase tells him that the Selectmen will decide her fate at the trial. We all know how they like to err on the side of death when it comes to anyone accused of witchcraft. (RIP Giles Corey, Bridget the midwife, the whole Barker family, etc.) This does not bode well for Gloriana.

Cotton goes to find John, because that’s what they do when one of them is having a bad day: hang out together and drink and gossip and braid each other’s hair. They talk about their fathers, and Cotton explains why Increase hates him (“for what I am and for what I am not”). Then Cotton starts talking about how John is basically the perfect man, and how they should run away together and get married … OK, maybe I imagined that last part. John agrees to talk to Increase and try to convince him to spare Gloriana, because a bro always helps another bro save his prostitute girlfriend from being murdered for witchcraft. It’s in the Bro Code.

Increase knows what’s up as soon as John walks in. (Probably because anyone who has ever met John knows that he’s not one to just drop by for a social call.) John plays it cool, subtly mentioning that they both know Gloriana isn’t a witch. “She has bewitched my son,” says Increase. Nice play on words there, pal. Instead of talking about Cotton, John uses inception or something to get Increase to realize he sort of does love his son a little bit. Maybe. First John tells Increase about how Alden Sr. didn’t approve of him, despite the fact that John is a brave “war hero” with excellent facial hair, and really, what more could a father want in a son? When Increase asks why John’s father let John make all those decisions he so disapproved of, John says, “He knew the difference between loving his son’s choices and loving his son.” Who needs Dr. Phil when you’ve got Dr. John Alden? Wow — way to go, John. That was beautiful.

While this whole Gloriana distraction is brewing, some other shenanigans are going down in the woods a few miles away. Isaac, who was supposed to be taking George to Boston, comes back to find John and tells him that George is bleeding in the woods somewhere after the carriage crashed, and George took the opportunity to remove the toad from his stomach. So, moral conundrum: Do they leave George there to die? After all, he did brand Isaac and send John off to battle … plus he’s, you know, married to the love of John’s life. So John tells Isaac to just leave the douchebag to die, but Isaac has a little trouble with this notion.

Part of John’s beautiful speech about loving your disappointing children must have stuck in Increase’s mind because the reverend announces to the town that Gloriana will not be tried as a witch. BUT (there’s always a but) she is nowhere near innocent, and she is henceforth banished from Salem for being a ho. Cotton is devastated and rushes to give Gloriana one final kiss before she’s carted away. Cotton is understandably upset at his father for, you know, being a huge dick, but Increase is like, “You’re welcome.” He sees it as a favor to his son that he “removed temptation” from him so that Cotton is in a better position to possibly become governor one day. (Ha!) Great, another absurd expectation to put on your son, who already believes he’ll never live up to your standards.

Continuing his town-wide tour of sabotage, Increase happens upon Isaac, and he inquires as to how Isaac managed to get back from Boston so quickly. That’s basically all it takes for Isaac to spill everything to Increase — or at least enough that the reverend rushes out to find George. At the same time, Tituba is tracking George as well, knowing that he’s free of Mary’s toad spell. The Seer and Tituba get there first, slipping George a potion that puts him out of it. Then Increase shows up, gathers up his friend, and takes him back to Salem to stay under his care, ensuring that no witches will be able to harm him again. Tituba comments that the potion will wear off after a day, and then George will be free to tell his BFF Increase all about his horrible toad trauma and the witches who were holding him captive.

Well, I’d say Increase has sufficiently turned the town upside down since his arrival. He has managed to ruin pretty much everything: Mary’s plan for control over Salem and the Grand Rite, Cotton’s relationship with Gloriana, and, with the death of Mab, most likely the extramarital affairs of half the men in Salem (if the brothel has to close without its madam). Will Cotton lash out against his father, or will he embrace the destiny Increase imagines for him? How will Mary stop George from spilling the beans about her to Increase? Did Anne really come to John to discuss her father’s secrets, or is that just an excuse because she wants to make out with him? If Mab was going to kill herself anyway, what was the point of the whole Gloriana distraction? I mean, I didn’t really like her either, but come on, that seems kind of mean.

At least now there’s nothing stopping Cotton from acting on his feelings for John. I’d like to see what Increase has to say about that romance. Were you guys happy about the “departures” that did and didn’t happen in this episode?

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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