Salem Season 1 Review “The House of Pain”

Salem Episode 10 The House of Pain (2)

In the latest episode of “Salem,” things took a turn for the worse with Tituba, as she became the first denizen of “The House of Pain,” which is neither a place you would want to visit nor live, to put it mildly. (It did make me want to re-visit this song and this band, though!) Formerly “The Divining Rod,” aka the local whorehouse, where pleasure was the first rule; Increase converted it into a house of horrors, where the motto was “truth through pain.” Not one to not practice what he preaches, Increase started off his preparation for the day’s festivities with a little self-torture, because that’s how sadomasochists roll. Suck on that, “50 Shades of Grey”!

Once prepared, Increase proudly displayed to son Cotton and victim Tituba the tools of his trade, which included such party-starters as the “tongue tearer,” “skull crusher,” “breast ripper,” “thumb press,” “heretic’s fork,” and the “choke pear,” aka the “pear of anguish.” He then proceeded to go all “Dead Ringers” on the poor girl, which was not pretty, least of all the last item, which was intended for the, ahem, “dark caverns.”

Thanks, I’ll wait around for the re-launch of “The Divining Rod,” where the only thing you had to fear was, um…probably something like syphilis, come to think of it. Okay…maybe I’ll take a pass on both, lest my own rod end up less than divine and more like something emerging from the “House of Pain.” Eep!

Anyway, if Jack Bauer has taught us anything, it’s that eventually everyone talks, and Tituba was no exception. But was it the truth? I think it was maybe a little bit of truth, a little bit of lies, all the better to hard sell what she was really up to: framing John Alden for witchcraft, which worked like a charm, as the episode ended with his arrest.

We also discovered that Tituba was formerly a Native American Indian of the Arawak tribe, whose people were raped and pillaged by the white settlers, including her mother and sisters. Too young to matter to the men (thank God for small favors), she was then sold into slavery in Salem- via Hale, no less- where she bounced around various locations with abusive overseers before settling in at the Walcotts, aka Mary’s parents, where she was finally treated kindly again and developed a sister-like friendship with Mary.

At some point, she meets “Kenaima,” a demon who promises her power and revenge against those who slighted her. She accepts and becomes part of the “circle” of witches in Salem- but who else was among them? Besides Alden, Tituba also points the finger at Mercy and her circle of girlfriends- hey, turnabout is fair play, as they say.

Increase didn’t get around to the girls just yet in this episode, and they already disposed of Emily’s father at the body dump, but I wouldn’t blow it off just yet, if I were them, lest a trip to the “House of Pain” be in order. I suspect none of those girls, save maybe Mercy, will be able to withstand much of that, so it’s only a matter of time before Mary is fingered for being a witch, too.

Aside from that, the rest of the episode revolved around the vanished Anne, who put on a mask her father had at his house, which caused her to literally disappear and turn up in the woods. Upon discovering this, Hale gets a dressing down from his wife, who tells him she’ll take them both down if he doesn’t find her.

So, Hale enlists Alden, who tracks Anne after a fashion, just in time to save her from a demon, who I believe was a Kenaima, as aforementioned by Tituba. They also come across a loony and suicidal Cotton, who’s drunk and crazed and peeing on them from trees (!), raving about something or the other, driven off the deep end by his father’s insanity at the “House of Pain.” Good times!

This episode was not exactly good times for the most part, though, instead more like one of those “torture porn” movies, complete with icky shots of Tituba being tortured within an inch of her life with various insane-looking instruments, which was all shot in a very fetish-like manner. It was not an easy watch, to say the least, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Can we get back to the illicit kinky sex, please? It was enough to make you yearn for the days in which “Salem” featured Cotton railing Gloriana while he shouted out scripture. Now those were good times!

Still, it was an effective episode, with a decidedly high cringe-inducing factor. I didn’t see the big twist of Tituba naming Alden coming, as I assumed she would point the finger at Mercy- which she did, but along with John as well, killing two birds with one stone. It will be interesting to see how Alden gets out of this one. I suspect Mary will risk exposing herself to make that happen, but then, Increase already suspects Mary, so it wouldn’t take much for that to happen, anyway.

Only three episodes left, and things are heating up, to be sure, especially for Alden. I’m definitely curious to see how all this plays out, and what direction they plan to go in for season two. We shall see soon enough, I suppose.

What did you think of “Salem”? What did you think of Tituba’s story? How much of it was real and how much was her just telling Increase what he wanted to hear? Will Anne and/or Cotton meet the Kenaima in the woods again? What will become of Mercy and her mini-coven? How about Alden? Or Tituba herself, for that matter? Let me hear your screams of theory down below and I’ll see you next week!