Motherland: Fort Salem - Coup - Review Roundtable: Shattered Hope By Aimee Hicks (May 18, 2020, 10:00 pm)
Motherland: Fort Salem
This review was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans (DJRiter), and Ellys Cartin.
Motherland: Fort Salem delivered a complete game-changing episode with Coup where everything ended up turned upside down. Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Raelle (Taylor Hickson) and Scylla (Amalia Holm) had a very tense reunion. Scylla realized that Raelle believed everything they told her. While Scylla confessed that her feelings for Raelle were true there were a lot of hard truths laid out for Raelle to digest. Raelle angrily told Scylla that she wished they'd never met then confessed to Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) that she still loved her. Do you think Raelle and Scylla can come back from all the betrayal and hurt? What will it take for Raelle to trust Scylla again?
Aimee: I fully expect them to eventually come back from this, but I think it'll take a fair bit of the first part of a potential Season Two for them to work through everything they've been through. Right now, where things stand, when they parted ways in this episode, both women thought that was the last time they'd ever see each other. Both ended that encounter broken and in pain. Scylla had to accept that while she chose Raelle over everything else that mattered to her, Raelle did not do the same for her. I can see Scylla having a bit of resentment, too, when she eventually goes free. There is very little doubt in my mind that Anacostia will find a way to utilize Scylla in a potential fight against Alder. She already proposed trying to turn Scylla to their side, so the idea is already in her head. Plus, Raelle has already done a lot of the work, teaching Scylla what true love is. I think we will see them back together one day, but it will take time before they get back to where they were before the wedding. As for trust, that is going to take equally as long to recover. It is going to take them going through some major stuff together to help repair the trust issues they both have. They still both love each other dearly, but there is a lot they each must deal with individually and together before they can rebuild a relationship. I am very curious about what part Scylla will play in the season finale and how Raelle will handle things.
Donna: At this point Raelle is in a lot of pain, not only from being betrayed by Scylla but I think also by what the Army is doing to the captive. She may be angry at both Scylla and herself for being so gullible. Regardless of the obstacles before them, I do believe these two will find their way back to one another but first, they must confront the demons and challenges facing them in their lives in the Army and with the Spree. It would be great to see that for them to survive the battles that are to come they must work together. Love is a powerful weapon and the love these two have will survive.
Ellys: What we saw in the scene where Raelle and Scylla reunited was Raelle realizing the truth: Scylla does love her, but Scylla also targeted her. And, under the circumstances, one doesn't matter as much as the other. If anything, it makes the betrayal that much worse. It would take a major turn of events for Scylla to even be freed at this point and reunited with Raelle. I think we are more likely to see Anacostia let Scylla escape in the next episode or let her guard down to the point that Scylla can overcome her. I also expect to see the other Spree agent revealed, perhaps even helping Scylla escape as well. If Raelle and Scylla find each other again, it will be far down the road.
Anacostia had her world turned upside down when she saw Alder (Lyne Renee) puppeting President Wade (Sheryl Lee Ralph). After learning that Raelle revealed to Petra (Catherine Lough Haggquist) that Scylla was being held on base was a big shift for Anacostia. She immediately recognized the danger that Raelle and her unit were in. What do you think Anacostia fears will happen to the unit when Alder finds out how much they know? What will she have to do to protect her cadets from Alder?
Aimee: We've seen that Alder is rapidly becoming unhinged and I think Anacostia fears that there isn't anything Alder won't do at this point. After all, she witnessed with her own eyes that Alder was breaking a multitude of rules by taking control of Wade. This comes on the heels of everything else she has recently witnessed Alder doing. I think she is right to fear for the unit because as soon as Alder finds out that they are the ones who went to Petra, all bets are off. Anacostia's loyalty is going to be challenged immensely in the season finale. I think she already picked a side and that side was the Bellweather unit. That puts her in just as much danger as them, as they all must deal with Alder and whatever she is up to. I think that is where they'll have to bring in Scylla. Anacostia will make the tough call to break the rules herself and retrieve Scylla who she knows has a common interest in protecting Raelle. The unit, based on how Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) and Tally (Jessica Sutton) talked Raelle into giving Scylla a break and going to see her, indicates to me those two won't be opposed to the extra help. Raelle, on the other hand, might have to be talked into working with Scylla and I expect it to be quite tense. I simply don't see the season ending with Scylla still locked away, so I hope I'm right and Anacostia will utilize Scylla the way I hope she will. I think Anacostia will go above and beyond to protect her cadets and especially the Bellweather unit.
Donna: Witnessing Alder's less than scrupulous actions told Anacostia that if Alder were to discover the team was working against her their lives would be in great danger. She has developed a special interest and kinship with the three young witches and think she will do whatever she must to protect them from Alder's ire, even if it means betraying her oath to the Army.
Ellys: For Anacostia, it was just too much happening at once for her to ignore. She's certainly seen Alder do questionable things before, but the events were far enough apart that Alder could justify them as emergency measures. Deploying the cadets, ordering the deaths of hostages, lying to everyone about the prior two instances, and hijacking the President of the United States are all inexcusable individually, but all together they leave Anacostia completely unsure what to do next. I'm not sure that Anacostia is in a place where she'll be able to stand up to Alder or expose her. She did warn the unit but protecting them is likely something she just can't do.
Alder learned that President Wade knows about everything and is about to replace her. Instead of accepting her forced retirement she went full-on rebellious and broke the rules by taking control of Wade to give herself supreme command. What does this mean for Alder? Have we spent all season watching the birth of a new evil? Do you think Alder's intentions are pure or is she doing all of this to benefit herself? When the season is over, who do you think will be in command? Will Alder hang onto her command or will her recent rash actions cause a rebellion she can't suppress?
Aimee: I think Alder is spiraling out of control. I don't know that she is inherently evil, but even the best generals have fallen prey to the mental anguish caused by war. Given how long Alder has been at this I think she's at a breaking point and when the very thing that defines her existence was challenged, she snapped and went a bit feral. The thing about any bad guy or villain is that they always think they are the good guy doing the right thing. I think Alder has convinced herself that everything she has done and is doing is the only path forward and she took the extreme action she did for the betterment of humans and witches alike. In the true reality of the series, I think she is about to become a formidable dark force that will immensely challenge the Bellweather unit and their fellow cadets. I don't think she will swing completely evil. I hope Alder doesn't stay in control of the Army. For one, it'll be interesting to see her stripped of the very thing that defines everything in her life. I'd also like to see what the Army is like in the hands of Petra or even Anacostia. It is time for changes at the top of the chain of command and I for one can't wait to see what the writers do with Alder. I also must take a moment to commend the writers and Ralph for the brilliant moment where Wade hissed at the Biddies. Ralph had Wade cocky and proud of herself for not taking their crap. I hope she sticks around for next season because I love the push and pull between President Wade and Alder.
Donna: Alder is a power-hungry individual who will step on anyone who gets in her way. I don't know that I can continue to think her as purely evil, however, her actions are not of someone fully in command. If we get justice, Alder will not be in command at the end of the season. She has proven time and again that she should not be underestimated so anything is possible. I do know she is a vengeful person so she will remember who didn't stand beside her in tough times and seek retribution.
Ellys: First, most of the Army and the world is unaware of what Alder has done to hold on to power. Second, Alder has been in power for hundreds of years; she can't imagine a world where she isn't still the one calling the shots. The simple truth is that no one can carry that kind of power alone without becoming corrupted by it. There are no checks and balances on her. She has a special relationship with Anacostia that is almost parental, but even that doesn't seem to carry any real weight. Perhaps another consequence of her long life is that she doesn't form genuine relationships anymore. Either way, Alder won't give up command without a fight and without crossing whatever lines she must. We also learned that Alder either chooses to not eat food because she doesn't need to or cannot eat food, hinting that her long life span doesn't come without drawbacks. We've also never seen Alder use power alone. Is she even able to fight on her own anymore? She also doesn't know that Raelle is responsible for Khalida's recovery.
As predicted, there appears to be a third party in the mix, the Camarilla, who seems to be an ancient threat to witches. Alder says she took care of them over 200 years ago, but all evidence points to the fact that these Camarilla are the ones actually behind the removal of the voice boxes from the Bellweather's and the Tarim, not the Spree. It was loosely implied that this group might consist of humans. What do you think about the Camarilla? Will they end up being a human version of the Spree? Are they human at all? Will they be a new enemy against the witches? Could they up forcing the Spree and the Army to work together? How you think the existence of a new power in the mix changes the dynamics of the show?
Aimee: After doing some Google research I discovered that the Camarilla is a bit of a secretive group surrounding a leader. From my research, they have been used in other works of fiction as a bit of an antagonist organization. Thanks to a well-laid hint earlier in the season, it's pretty clear that the Camarilla in this show are no friends of witches. It is too early to tell if they will be worse than the Spree or not. They could end up being Spree adjacent and be a rival dark force. What we do know with a fair bit of certainty is that they are likely behind the deaths happening within the Bellweather family line as well as the murder of Tarim in order to acquire their voice boxes. The fact they are targeting witches doesn't instill any faith that they will be a friendly new player. I suspect they are going to try to weaponize the songs and that is bad for both the witches of the Army and the Spree since witches seem to be their intended target. It may force witches of all factions to work together, but that sort of alliance won't come easy given all the bad blood. Depending on how the writers craft out the story for a potential Season Two, the Camarilla could be real game-changers.
Donna: The Camarilla are likely to be a greater threat to both the Army AND the Spree. A formidable foe lurking in the background pulling the strings is always dangerous and it appears that this group are masters at that very thing. They are waiting patiently for their moment and while the Army and the Spree are both wasting resources going after one another they will strike. I think their presence and whatever actions they have planned will have long-lasting effects on the show.
Ellys: It's entirely possible that the Camarilla created the Spree as a way to turn public opinion against witches. If they are an ancient foe, then they may have a leader like Alder, someone who has been around long enough to know how Alder operates. Their targeting of the Tarim could be part of a plan to lure Alder away from Fort Salem. The other unusual factor is, of course, the voice boxes. Why are they targeting just these two family lines? And why draw attention to themselves with the wedding assassination? Was it an opportunity they just couldn't pass up because they knew the Spree would be creating a distraction? Does the Camarilla have an agent inside the Spree?
Abigail was left to deliver Libba's (Sarah Yarkin) eulogy. She went off script and, in the process, seems to have managed to heal some of the bad blood between the Swythe and Bellweather families. Her mom ended up being proud of her and hinted at the fact that leadership with the Army was about to change indicating she may be getting promoted. Abigail was not able to keep the secret to herself and confessed to Adil (Tony Giroux) that big changes were coming. She used that information to keep him from going behind Khalida's (Kylee Brown) back to get help for his people. When Alder took control of Wade, he looked shattered and angry. What does Alder taking supreme power mean for both the Bellweather and Tarim families? Can either family survive Alder on the warpath? We've seen Abigail's feelings for Adil growing, so what lengths will she go to help him and his family stay protected from Alder? Can their fledgling relationship survive the stresses that lay ahead of them? Will Alder's betrayal cause her to step up and be more of a leader now?
Aimee: I think Alder usurping power isn't good for any of the main players and certainly not for the Bellweather family or Tarim. Regarding the Bellweather's, Petra already has a target on her because Alder is likely smart enough to know who was poised to take her position. Alder won't let a threat to her command stand without blood being shed. As for the Tarim, she is obsessed with their song. Obsession never leads to clear thinking, so Alder's laser focus on them probably won't end well for either party. If she gets their song, she will almost certainly weaponize it, but who her target will be may not be clear cut. I think bigger things are in play that are going to cause fury and chaos to break loose. No matter how this all plays out, Abigail is in a very precarious position. As Petra's daughter and as an up and coming leader in her own right I think Alder could come to see her as a threat as well. Not to mention, Abigail's growing emotional ties to Adil could lead her to act impulsively to try to help protect him and Khalida. I see so much conflict on the horizon and I do think it will all force Abigail to step up and become a leader. With each of the past few episodes, we've seen her growing and maturing and slowly walking a path to eventually becoming a formidable leader. She showed some of her potential when she broke protocol and spoke honestly at Libba's funeral. If Anacostia can find a way to nurture that in Abigail and teach her to embrace her natural-born leadership skills, then Abigail could end up even better than her mom one day.
Donna: I think Alder's power grab does not bode well for anyone. Adil's calming influence is what I think is helping Abigail become both a more rounded person and leader. She exhibited leadership qualities for the first time for me in this episode. She, in many ways, is a bit like Anacostia in finding her idols to have feet of clay and that is causing a lot of self-introspection. Not liking what she saw, she is taking steps to change that beginning with going off script and will probably go further off plan to protect Adil and his family.
Ellys: What Abigail didn't know was that President Wade had no intention of helping the Tarim. The change in power wouldn't have helped Adil and his sister, the latter of whom is quite mature beyond her years. Khalida would rather her people die because their songs could destroy the world in the wrong hands. What Khalida doesn't know is that with their voice boxes being taken, her people's songs are already in the wrong hands. Despite everything Alder has done, she is the only hope to stop the Camarilla. No one's chances look particularly good heading into the finale. As for Abigail, despite her moving eulogy, a speech from the heart does not a leader make.
Tally felt like a vastly different and jaded character in this episode thanks to everything she has been through in these past few episodes. She seems to have fundamentally changed as a result. She was even much more controlling with Gerit (Kai Bradbury) and was not having anything to do with the Hilary (Rhianna Jagpal) threesome that he arranged behind her back. What will it take for Tally to get back any faith in the Army? How far will she go to help restore the idealized version of the Army she thought she was joining? Does Gerit have any place in her life anymore given how much she has changed since they first met?
Aimee: Tally has probably had the most extreme evolution since the start of the season. She came into her time with the Army with rose-colored glasses on and now that those have been ripped off, I think she may start to better understand what her mom was trying to protect her from. Just in the past few episodes, we've seen a major shift in her. She went from a bit timid with Gerit originally to full-on taking control of him and using him for sex like she had seen Abigail doing with guys before Adil came along. I did find it interesting the way she reacted to the whole Hilary setup. I also respect Gerit for admitting to what he and Hilary had come up with to handle his affair with Tally. I'm not going to lie; I would like to see how Tally would handle being embroiled in that emotional minefield with Hilary and Gerit if she were to sleep with them both. I'm not sure how much longer Gerit will be a big player in Tally's life. She's caught up in a whole world of mess now and I think Gerit and his threesome loving wife will take a backseat while she tries to keep herself and her unit alive. I think when things settle down, she may not have room for Gerit in her life. Regarding Tally getting her faith back in the Army, I think it's going to take Alder being run off-campus and out of the Army for her faith in the institution to be restored.
Donna: Gerit has burned any bridges he had with Tally and for her, he is now just a form of release. In Tally's mind, the Alder led Army has tainted and is destroying what her Army ideal should be. In a manner speaking, she thinks the higher moral code she believes in is what will restore the Army to its true glory but to do that first they must confront Alder and her duplicity.
Ellys: No one else on the show is speeding towards rock bottom the way Tally is. In the span of just a couple of episodes, the romantic disappointment and murder of civilians have stripped her of the leadership qualities and patriotic zeal that distinguished her in earlier episodes. She is in a dark place, but no one seems to notice because she hasn't endured a visible loss on par with what her teammates have experienced. I don't expect Tally to move forward with Gerit, nor do I expect to see Tally return to her optimistic nature. There are things you don't come back from.
Khalida was willing to sacrifice her people to keep their songs out of the hands of Alder and the Army. What do you think is so special about their song that everyone wants it? What do you think the foe taking their voice boxes intends to do with them? Do you think Khalida was right to not accept help or is Adil right that they should do whatever is necessary to protect their people?
Aimee: I think Khalida was completely right to not accept help from Alder. Help would have come at a cost and she knew it. I like how this show lets someone young (at least in appearance) be such a force of reverence and power. As I mentioned in an earlier comment in this article, I think the enemy that is taking the voice boxes will weaponize them. We have only seen small snippets of how powerful the Tarim song is, but we saw Khalida bring Alder and her Biddies to their knees when she used it on them. If it can do that under the control of a high ranking Tarim like Khalida then it could be catastrophic in the hands of a beholder not true of heart. As sad as it is, I think Khalida may have made the right decision to be willing to sacrifice her people for the greater good.
Donna: Khalida was 100% right in not accepting Alder's help. She sees through Alder and questions her true motives and as the elder of her people I believe her to be she will do whatever she must to protect her people and their song. The foe taking the voice boxes wants to adapt and weaponize them for their own purposes. I'm not sure what the special meaning of their song is but hope we get that answer in the finale.
Ellys: As mentioned above, Khalida doesn't realize that it's likely already too late to protect the songs. I expect to see a rift between her and Adil develop if they survive the finale.
Next week is the season finale. What do you expect to happen? What storylines do you think will be left hanging? What storylines do you expect to see concluded?
Aimee: I expect so many things to happen. I've already mentioned some of them. I think Anacostia will set Scylla free to help her protect the unit. I think Alder will continue her downward spiral. I expect a big confrontation, but with the Camarilla in play, I'm not as sure anymore that the big confrontation will be the Spree versus the Army. I think we'll learn more about the Camarilla, Spree, and Tarim. The story has been slightly one-sided only telling things from the perspective of the Army, but I think that is intentionally being done. I think we'll see the Bellweather test in unimaginable ways. I'm a bit curious where and how the three of them, Anacostia, and Scylla will all end the season because I expect the five of them to be challenged in unimaginable ways. The past few episodes have been jam-packed and I expect the same from the season finale. As for storylines that might be left hanging, I don't think we'll get any resolution with the ongoing Spree storyline and the Tarim will still be a bit of a mystery as well as the mysterious mushroom thingy. Despite how much I want some sort of reconciliation between Raelle and Scylla, I don't think we'll get it. I think a potential Season Two will look quite different and hopefully branch out a bit more off the Fort Salem campus. I also think we'll see the beginning of the Camarilla being incorporated into the bigger world of the series. I'm extremely excited for the season finale. This has been my favorite show of the year and they have been so strong and solid in the writing and acting all season that I expect a mind-blowing season finale that will stun and surprise us. I so desperately need Freeform to give this show another season. In my opinion, this show has more than earned the right to continue telling its spectacularly original and engaging story.
Donna: It is sure to a jam-packed, action-filled and emotional finale. So many storylines to pull and bring together. There will be the ultimate big battle with all sides surely to suffer losses or consequences. I want to see Abigail, Tally, and Raelle show us the powerful team they have been becoming. I am also anxious to see what the future also holds for the intriguing other characters they have introduced us to, Khalida, Alder, Adil, but most importantly for me, Anacostia. I genuinely want to know more about her background and her becoming a more dominant mentor to team Motherland.
Ellys: I hope that my initial expectations will be exceeded. As it stands right now, I expect an action-packed finale, but I am not confident that it will have a sense of chapter closure that meaningfully marks the conclusion of this first season of story and character development. I think the cliffhangers will be understated, big things will happen to the characters, but we won't necessarily see characters execute big things. I would predict Scylla's escape, Tally's breakup with Gerit, and Alder's mild retribution.
Which performer do you think delivered the most memorable performance in the episode? Why did their performance standout for you? What were their best scenes?
Aimee: While every single performer delivered spectacular performances, I must go with Demetria McKinney. We've gotten to spend a lot more time with Anacostia the past few episodes and they have started to ramp up her story and I think McKinney is doing fantastic work. In the scene with Alder and the Biddies, you could see the wheels turning in Anacostia's head. There were so many thoughts in her mind as she had to grapple with what Alder forced her to do the prior episode. McKinney was brilliant in showing the growing conflict inside Anacostia even then. In the scenes with Scylla and Raelle we got to see a different side of Anacostia, a sympathetic nurturing side. Then we got to see her protective side come out when she put the pieces together and realized how much danger her cadets were in. Throughout the entire episode, McKinney made Anacostia's journey so interesting to watch. I can't wait to see what happens to Anacostia next and in McKinney's gifted hands and with brilliant writers backing her, I expect great things. I must throw out an honorable mention for Taylor Hickson and Amalia Holm. Those two know how to make you feel every emotion their characters are experiencing, and nobody can cut right through to your soul like Amalia Holm can when she's sobbing (and not sobbing).
Donna: As I just mentioned in the previous question, while all three leads, Williams, Sutton, and Hickson were outstanding in the episode I grow more and more intrigued by McKinney's work as Anacostia. This episode we got to see so many sides of this character, soldier, leader, disillusioned child, mentor, and kick-ass soldier. She will most certainly play a vital role in the finale and look for her to become a more prominent figure in team Motherland's lives moving forward. Kudos to McKinney for creating this complex and heroic character.
Ellys: Ashley Nicole Williams brought down the house with her eulogy scene. Every word felt genuine, and I cried. Special kudos to Taylor Hickson and Amalia Holm for that tense, painful reunion scene. They've done wonderful work building the connection between their characters this season.
What are your final thoughts regarding this episode?
Aimee: If you made it this far without realizing I loved this episode then I didn't do justice with my words. Between a strong story, powerhouse performances, unexpected twists, and big surprises, I enjoyed every second of the episode. Few shows nowadays get me to watch every second and keep me enthralled the entire time, but this show does. I can't say this enough, but Freeform needs to hurry up and renew this show. I really hope the show isn't caught in limbo for weeks or months after the season finale. They need to lock the show in for another season so that we can all continue to enjoy it and the world they have crafted.
Donna: This was a well-crafted, well-written and well-acted episode of the series, perhaps the strongest so far this season. It had the perfect balance of emotional moments, intense action, and a few jaw-dropping surprises. There were even a few laugh out loud moments as well, watching Sheryl Lee Ralph's President Wade hiss back at Alder's Biddies may be one of my favorite moments of the season. Overall the show has grown into a solid performer and a strong show since its premiere which in my mind makes it more than deserving of a second season.
Ellys: The finale has its work cut out for it. Over its first season, Motherland has introduced a pantry full of characters, conflict, and mythology. Now it needs to put them together for everything it has done this season to matter.
Please use the comments section to discuss your thoughts on the topics we talked about in the article.