Salem Season 1 Review “Ashes Ashes”

Salem Episode 12 Ashes, Ashes (3)

In the latest episode of “Salem,” it was crunch time for John Alden, as his trial finally got underway, in “Ashes Ashes.” As Mary scrambled to find a way to have her Grand Rite and save Alden, too; Cotton found his loyalty to his friend wavering in light of new information that may not have cleared Alden of witchcraft, but made him look undeniably guilty of other crimes, including murder and treason. Meanwhile, Mercy lamented the unfortunate circumstances some of her followers were in, as Increase continued to torture and accuse them of witchery. How would all of this play out in the end?

Well, Alden’s fate still lies in the balance, but the girls, despite their cooperation, ended up on the short end of a long rope, as Increase accelerated their sentence and hung all four of them as witches. This did not go over well with Mercy, who was still hiding out in the woods. It looks like she is going to be leading a rebellion with the younger members of Salem, in order to overthrow and take back control of the town. But will others join up, given the fates of four of the girls already? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

Mary, on the other hand, was told by the elder witches that a sacrifice was a necessary evil to complete the Grand Rite. Mary did her best to let things go, but the trial proved too much for her, and in the end, she caved and visited Alden and did something witchy to allow him to escape to another world, albeit perhaps only in their dreams. Did they actually transport to the woods, as with Anne that time, or is it only their consciousness that is elsewhere, while their bodies remain locked up in the holding cell in Salem? Hard to say, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find that out, too.

Speaking of Anne, we didn’t have to wait to discover if, as her father admitted, she is almost certainly a witch by birth- she most certainly is. Cotton may not have found a mark of the devil on her body, but we saw that she was decidedly not entirely human, as evidenced by her red eyes and snake-like tongue. What will be her fate if the Grand Rite fails? She might not be involved, but it could still affect her, depending on what happens. Or maybe she’ll escape notice and be the head witch in Mary’s place, should she fail, which is looking like it will be the case.

We also discovered that Increase has dealt with the Rite before, and had stopped it from happening previously. Indeed, it was that very scenario that blackened his hands and nearly killed him in the past. Be that as it may, it didn’t stop Cotton from hammering him in court, exposing his heinous torture methods to everyone. We did discover that the only way to stop the Rite was to kill the witch who set it into motion, which would be Mary in this case. (Apparently, in Increase’s situation, it was a six-year-old child, which he strangled to death- yikes!)

Finally, at long last we got Alden’s whole story, as he was left for dead by his own men in the war, only to be saved by the Mohawk tribe, who nursed him back to health. When he saw the heinous acts committed by the military, Alden switched sides and adopted war paint to combat the troop responsible, killing them all but one, whom, as we know, he finished off in Salem later on. Alden didn’t deny his crimes, and allowed that he deserved to hang for them, which led to my favorite line of the series so far: “Salem finally sentenced someone to die for something they actually did.” True enough.

That was about it, but it was an engaging and tense episode throughout, to be sure. Between Mercy’s soliloquy in the woods in the opening scene to Alden’s trial and subsequent back-story, there were some pretty memorable scenes. I loved seeing Cotton and Increase go head-to-head in court, with both managing to make some valid points, despite the overall wrongness of Alden’s accusations of witchcraft. Increase’s methods of extracting confessions are horrible, and Alden is guilty of treason and murder, so is anyone really wrong about their claims? I’d say not.

Meanwhile, the real threat is getting ever-closer to achieving their goals. Will the Grand Rite succeed, or will Mary blow it for everyone? What will Mercy’s rebel faction do, if anything? Will Alden escape with his life? Will Cotton and/or Increase play a role in stopping the Rite? What will become of Anne and will she play a role in the Rite as well? Let me know what you thought of “Salem” this week below, and see you next week for the big season finale!