SALEM, Episode Five
This week, John Alden is forced to reckon with his violent past, while Mary must deal with the monster she created in Mercy.
We start when the head of the whore house walks into the forest to join a group of one-eyed crones. They have summoned John Hale to tell him that John Alden is distracting their “greatest creation” – Mary. And that Alden has just killed a man named Hook to protect his secret. They task Hale with finding out that secret — one that would alienate Mary — and use it to run Alden out of Salem. He says yeah, the problem is the one person who knew the secret is dead. The witches say there is one among them who knows the dark art of necromancy. He says he’s not sure she can be trusted.
Cut to Titula, who is busy with Marydiscussing what to do about Mercy. Mary insists she is worth more alive than dead — even though she showed up last night hissing that she knows what Mary really is.
Mary visits Mercy. She asks her what she plans to do with her information. Mercy tries to threaten her, but Mary says you are only alive because I wish it. She tells Mercy she will kill her if she speaks of Mary’s true nature, but it she would just give in to what they need from her, the suffering and torture will stop. She kissed her on the mouth, and leaves saying she awaits her decision.
John Alden is busy trying to figure out the meaning of the artifact Hook was supposed to bring to the crone. Inside the box he finds an ornately carved wooden apple. While holding it, it singes his hand and he is overtaken by images of corpses.
Gloriana goes to see Cotton Mather, who sent for her. He offers to pay her to see him and only him, to stop working at the whore house. “Will you be mine?” he asks. She slaps him — assumedly for the rough sex in the church last time. Then they start having passionate sex, until they are interrupted by John Alden (Just because you’re not getting any doesn’t mean we all have to suffer, John!) “What brings you here?” Mather asks. “This,” says Alden, pulling the box out of his coat pocket.
A group of three teenage girls visit Mercy. They ask her how it feels to have so much power: “Your finger points to life and death itself,” one says. “No woman has ever had this much power in Salem. Not even Mary Sibley.” It’s clear that Mercy has never thought of it this way before. Later, one of the girls confides that if she had Mercy’s power, she would point the finger at her own father, who intends to sell her to the whore house when she turns fifteen. Mercy is outraged.
John Hale finds Tituba walking with Mary in the square, and asks for a word with her. When they are alone, he tells Tituba that he wants to get rid of John Alden once and for all.
Alden is busy telling Mather about the visions he had while holding the apple. Mather looks it up in one of his books and realizes the artifact is part of the Grand Rite. The object consecrates the earth for the devil’s return. Mather says the Grand Rite has been attempted but never completed. Mather wants to tell The Selectman but Alden says no — we have something the witches want. Let them come to us. Mather is like, they’ll kill us. Alden says, “I’d rather die than have Salem’s finest control my fate. Are you with me?”
Meanwhile, Hale is busy looking through corpses for Hook’s body. (This should be good.) He cuts off his face. (Yeah, it’s good.)
Mary asks Tituba why Hale called her away. She can tell Tituba is lying when she gives her a flimsy excuse. Tituba goes into the woods and kills a rabbit and conjures William Hook by chanting around his dead face. The face starts talking to her. She says tell me John Alden’s secret. He says meet me in hell you b*tch. She says, “There are worst places than hell. Speak!”
Meanwhile, in the square, the teenage girls have Mercy back in her crazy harness and leash. She is running through the square to point out the witch, and Mary is freaking out thinking she is coming for her. Mercy runs at her, and stares her down for a long minute. Mary looks terrified. But Mercy moves past her to point to the girl’s father.
Mary visits Mather to ask him to help get a hold on things. She notices one of his books opened to a picture of the artifact. He dodges her questions. She totally starts kissing up to him, “we are so lucky your father was unavailable.”
Hale tells one of the old witches that the secret about Alden is useless — he owes a gambling debt. The old witch tells Hale don’t believe that — Tituba just said that to use the real secret for her own desire to control Mary. “We have another problem. The object William Hook was tasked to deliver has fallen into other hands.” “Who has it?” Hale asks. She tells him, “John Alden.” Cue dramatic music.
So this is also happening: Anne Hale is crushing hard on Alden. Mather is in love with Gloriana. And Anne’s parents have decided she will soon become “Mrs. Cotton Mather.”
Meanwhile, Tituba tells Mary that she better get her act together and stop yearning for John Alden. She tells Mary that Alden is a murderer, and he killed Hook, and Tituba threatens to turn him in unless Mary finishes the Grand Rite.
Alden walks into his house and finds Mary sitting by the fire. “Time for truth,” she says. She asks if he is a murderer. He says he killed twenty men. She says please tell me it was a difficult choice — so I can still believe in goodness! He gets down on his knees and says that he killed twenty men and he makes no excuses for what he did. She kisses him passionately and then leaves.
Then a weird scene with the teenage girls and Mercy dancing n the woods in the darkness around a fire calling to evil. Mary appears and asks Mercy, “What do you want?” Mercy says, “I want to be just like you.”
Alden is sleeping when a figure creeps into his bedroom to grab the artifact off of his night stand. The figure falls through a trap door and is gravely injured. Alden and Mather rush to the person’s side and find it is the old witch. They look at each other and smile.