Last year a show premiered on WGN called Salem that gave viewers a glimpse of what life was like in the times of the Salem witch trials, and it was not for the faint of heart. Blood, sex, sacrifice and witchcraft co-mingles with the life and politics of seventeenth century Massachusetts in such a way as to make some viewers squirm in their seats. To put it simply, Salem is pushing up against the boundaries of decency and fearlessly stepping over without looking back. The show’s second season premiered on April 5, 2015.
The show takes the infamous Salem witch trials and turns history into a drama that is fitting for the period, and shows a side to witchcraft that has yet to be shown. While films like Hocus Pocus, or Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem have taken on the subject of “Satan’s lovers”, there has yet to be a program that has truly delved into the matter. Some shows such as Charmed, or Sabrina The Teenage Witch have dabbled in the dark arts, but Salem brings to light a spectacle of horror that few media sources have yet to explore.
The theme music alone is enough to inspire dark thoughts, having been written and performed by Marilyn Manson. The show takes on a tone that is edgy in its depiction of the puritan age. Some viewers may not be able to understand the dialogue because it stays true to the time period, meaning it does not sound like modern verbiage. In an especially brilliant mixture of old English and modern edge, one witch says to another,
“I remember well what rose told me: only a broken heart can fuel true malice, watching you walk my son back into the darkness brings it all over again, every night. So have no fear, my malice is in full bloom. Rest assured you traitorous little b***h, once they have tasted it, you will choke on it.”
The first season of Salem brought viewers into the hearts and minds of pastors, witches, war heroes and professional prostitutes. Treated though they were to a variety of traditions and taboos of the time period, the first season of the show promises that the tale depicted therein has barely scratched the surface of witchcraft yet to come. In other words, when it comes to witchcraft, the show utilizes the creative possibilities of a witch’s power, and has no end in what can be accomplished with it.
The character of Mary Sibley, played by Janet Montgomery as one of the witches meddling in the lives of common folk, has been setting plans in motion for more than a decade. She is a witch that one would feel sorry for, if she was not the manufacturer of countless deaths. Considering the death toll, Salem seems like it is not a place where the faint of heart would wish to travel to.
Sibley is but only one witch of many as viewers discover over the course of season one. A coven is what a group of witches is typically called, and Sibley is the witch who has been tasked to start a pox outbreak using witchcraft. She is able to complete this task by manipulating the town into doing her bidding. Aiding her, though unknowingly, is a man of the cloth who has been sent to the town to root out the evil that is infecting the area. Using his teachings from the church as well as the training he received from his father, this witch hunter named Cotton Mather played by Seth Gabel, attempts to thwart the witchcraft surrounding Salem. Unfortunately for Mather, he is actually a pawn in the witches plot.
The second season of the breakout show premiered tonight and showed viewers some of the interesting possibilities that witchcraft can bring to the television screen. Many people think of old, ugly, wart-faced women riding on brooms when they think of witches, this show might change that outlook. In Salem, which is a show too graphic for the faint of heart, witches are shown as powerful, sexy women who are ready to take over the world. These witches mean business, and Salem is a show to catch up on if readers want to see a brutal reality of what the Salem witch trials might have looked like. Viewers beware, this show is not for the squeamish.
By Benjamin Johnson
Viewing of Salem
Photo by Luca Rossato – flickr license