WGN America recreates historic Salem in their first scripted series.
The new series created by WGN America is set in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. John Alden returns home from the Seven Years War to find the town in a state of panic over a phenomenon they cannot explain, but will root out and exterminate at all costs; witchcraft.
Witches, witches, witches! I’ve been interested in them for years and Salem perfectly captures the eerie suspense of the unknown forces at work while hitting viewers with the gritty and bloody reality of the witchcraft that is shown. Janet Montgomery stars as Mary Sibley, who makes a pact with either a demon or the devil and gifts her unborn child, Alden’s child, to the forest in exchange for powers. Alden had left for the war, and in a Puritan society she had little choice but to abort the pregnancy.
John Alden (Shane West) and Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery)
Fast forward seven years and Sibley is the most powerful witch and woman in town. The writers of Salem are masterminds, they have placed the witches as the instigators of the Salem witch trials. Key members of the town authorities are dabblers in witchcraft or heavily influenced by those who are, such as Mr Sibley, now suffering under Mary’s magic for forcing Alden out into the Seven Years War. With witches at the helm of the trial no character is safe, as they will decide who hangs. The affiliation between them won’t last forever though, they will surely turn on each other once the Puritans have torn each other and Salem apart.
Montgomery’s performance was by far the highlight of the first episode titled “The Vow”. It certainly was an episode of vows, both broken and kept. Alden vowed he would return for Mary after the war’s end, and although it took him seven years he made good on that deal. Mary however did not keep her vow to wait for Alden, however this is understandable and I do not blame her for remarrying, and it was for revenge anyway. Mary clearly loves Alden but is holding strong for now. The witches vowed to take Salem by pitting the Puritans against each other, a vow they will certainly intend to keep. Perhaps the most important promise in the pilot was the vow made by Sibley to do evil deeds in service of dark powers, without which there would be no story.
In conclusion Salem is a promising series for fans of supernatural thrillers, historical dramas and horror flicks. There is potential for rich storytelling and some serious spine tingling witchcraft action. WGN you have earned this rating:
Check out the promo for next weeks episode: