Salem Episode 1×10 “The House of Pain” Review

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Temper Tantrums, Caged Children & Instruments Of Torture – This Episode Of “Salem” Fought Fire With Fire As Increase Tightened His Stronghold Over The Town

Loyalties were tested and love was the betrayer in this week’s episode of Salem, as the devil showed his face through fear and torture. Episode 1×10 “The House of Pain” left Mary helpless to stop Increase from extricating information from Tituba, and the price of her incompetence could be John’s life. Meanwhile, Anne investigates her father’s weird objects, only to wind up in the woods where the worst kind of monsters reside. Hale recruits John to help find his daughter, although neither of them are ready for what they find. From terrible flashbacks to personal reflection, this episode stirred the emotions and jolted the heart with both sympathy and terror. So heathens, you ready to enter Increase’s House of Pain?

RELATED | Salem Episode 1×09 “Children, Be Afraid” Review

I Did It For You

Well, we can’t say we didn’t see Tituba’s accusation coming. It was always going to be Mercy or John who felt her wrath, as they both stand in the way of the woman she loves. Nevertheless, the lead-up to Increase’s name drop was nothing short of nerve-wracking. After she’d held out for so long – enduring Increase-knows-what – it was almost a shame for Tituba’s will to crumble. Ah, but as it turns out, Hale understood Tituba’s dedication to the cause more than Mary did. I love that the writers used Tituba’s tricky situation to explore her past and how she came to Salem. It was as pivotal for Ashley Madekwe as it was for her character: not only did we learn of Tituba’s hardships but it gave Madekwe a chance to shine… and shine she did. When she started to talk of the Arrowak tribe and the flashbacks took us there, you could almost taste the fear and fire in the air. Likewise, when Tituba reflected on her time in the cage, there was such pain mixed with longing in her voice. It was a true testament to Madekwe’s skills as an actress that we believed Tituba’s plight and personal scars. It makes you wonder if Tituba does have a plan to escape Increase’s clutches, or if she would die to protect Mary – so long as she could drag John and Mercy down to hell with her. It is curious that Increase – as perceptive as he is – didn’t realize Tituba was protecting Mary as a witch as well as a friend. Unless he does know and is waiting to use such knowledge to his advantage (it seems plausible). Nonetheless, I am eager to see where this name-drop takes us, and how it will affect Mary’s love for Tituba and John’s love for Mary and – of course – the outcome of Increase’s witch hunt.

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Tituba: “I am a child in a cage, given less to eat than the animals of the ship. I fear I will never see the sun again… and then a man comes. It was he that brought me to Salem only to be bought and sold again. I am sold from hand to hand, from man to man but at least I am no longer in a cage.”

Truth Through Pain

Anyone else get the feeling Increase Mather is a little deranged? I have to commend Stephen Lang’s performance in this episode; it’s a rare human being who can display such composure while trying and testing various instruments of torture. His self-inflicted punishment (or was it spiritual cleansing?) at the start of the episode reminded me of Silas from The Da Vinci Code: complete with bizarre utterances of wrath and hellfire. This gave us some fascinating insight into Lang’s character and his connection with “evil forces,” although how this plays into his witchy intent we are yet to find out. While Lang’s best interactions in this episode were with Ashley Madekwe, his brief stints with Janet Montgomery perhaps unearthed more of who Increase is as a man rather than simply addressing his fondness for surgical items. The way he gazed at Mary while toying with her; using words like “love” and “betrayal” to conjure a reaction seemed to suggest that his greatest weapon is not his power but his insight. Yes, he spins words like a man accustomed to getting exactly what he wants (even better than Mary I think), but his watchful eyes pick up more than anyone would like to admit. We saw how he exploited Cotton’s relationship with Gloriana, and now he has used Tituba’s feelings for Mary to further his purpose in Salem. Oh but let’s not forget his knowledge of Mercy (which is sure to cause more damage) and John’s arrest (which any person could see hurt Mary in all the ways that count) – both giving Increase the upper hand. I dunno heathens, when Mary said Increase was an equal opponent I’m worried even then that she underestimated him. Still – bring on the bloody chaos.

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Cotton: “My father who art in Salem, hallow be thy name. Thy kingdom come, your will I shun, on earth as in the hell you’d make of heaven.”

See You In Hell

What lies in the woods? Damnation AND salvation, apparently. At least, according to Cotton. I’m not going to lie, it was downright refreshing to have a good Cotton ramble in this episode (especially with Isaac’s absence). Seth Gabel is positively brilliant with his drunken yammering and mini temper tantrums. What did it achieve? Nothing really, but a bit of light-hearted fun never hurt anyone (and his piss missed John so we’re all good). Besides, Cotton’s scenes of psychotic wonder and fear reminded us of the demons within his soul as well as those lurking in the woods. It’s not as if his Woe-Is-Me attitude is unwarranted; heck, if my father was a sadistic power-hungry maniac with a hidden ju-ju side I’d be gulping down bottles of rum and squishing my toes in the foliage too. It was almost gratifying to watch Cotton dangle on the edge of insanity; as if his personal enlightenment might solve the issues with his dad (even if that is a foolish hope). It would be ironic if Cotton was the key to Increase’s downfall – if the man we all underestimated because of his drunken folly took up a stake and rammed it into his father’s heart. Of course, there are larger issues at play – namely the Grand Right and now this Kanima creature – so Cotton’s retaliation might have to wait. Speaking of which, are these creatures the one being? Or was Tituba’s tale of said demon indicative of multiple deities out to ravage Salem? More than likely it’s the latter. Either way, kudos to the production crew for creating such terrifying demons. I bit my tongue when Anne chanced upon the Kanima in her woodsy adventure, and I doubt that will be the only time we want to crawl under our blankets and hide.

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Mary: “If. Such a small word with such immense consequence… for all of us.”

This episode – aptly titled “The House of Pain” was a pivotal shift in Salem’s plotline. With Tituba’s betrayal comes the horrifying thought – Mary could lose her love forever, and if she does, how will that alter the witch’s plan for the Grand Right? I’m not sure what writers Adam Simon and Joe Menosky were after in this episode, although I was concerned when Cotton’s attempted suicide and subsequent peeing-and-shoe-flinging enlightenment had me howling like a hyena. Hopefully their intention was to evoke laughter; at least with Cotton-related parts of this episode. To be honest, I felt a little bipolar watching “The House of Pain,” as one second I was cringing, the next I was jumping back in fright and the next I was weeping. From Tituba’s imprisonment and torture to Increase’s self-punishment and eerily calm facade to Cotton’s “My Father” prayer, there were layers of feeling and meaning to all aspects of this episode. Even John and Hale’s unexpected meeting with the Indians was curiously thrilling, and the introduction of the “Kanima” via Tituba’s personal recollections was both freaky and impressive. Directorial wise, David Von Ancken had an exceptional week: with the variety of sets and change in lighting, he was able to showcase the severity (or the hilarity) of the situation. One shot that stood out was when Cotton laid eyes on the beast skull before seeing the butterfly emerge from its eye socket – coupled with the music, this scene had the required impact for his state of “enlightenment.” To be fair, I’d hoped for a greater reaction regarding Mercy’s betrayal, and this episode lacked our neighborhood friendly fornicator which was a shame. But on the whole, this episode was well-balanced with character development and enjoyable, purposeful dialogue and laced with just the right amount of creep and gore. Heathens, I can’t wait to see what madness next week brings.

Questions, Comments, Concerns…

  • Cotton: “MY SHOE WILL KILL THE DEVIL.” Me: “Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, killer boots.”
  • I know these people like traipsing through the woods, but seriously guys – what kind of monster is going to scare you into staying within the town borders? The devil isn’t enough? Yeesh.
  • I’m confused. Did Mary crush Mercy’s spidey familiar or Tituba’s?
  • Someone gots to teach Anne how to creep down a hallway. First lesson: remove heels. Apparently she skipped Sneaking Out Basics 101.
  • “Then we will taste each other’s ashes.” That was probably the only time I’ve found Mrs Hale even remotely interesting.
  • Indians in the woods?! How long have they been there?? Dude gave me a fright when he jumped on Anne.
  • Shane West, shirtless two episodes in a row. Careful now, or you’ll make a habit of it. #CantComplain #Yum
  • Most people have a stop button. Not Increase. *hides from Papa Mather*
  • “I felt the earth breathe.” Cotton, you on drugs man. Let me hook you up with a support group.
  • John be like, “Imma find Anne! Oh wait, that’s Cotton.” #Awkward
  • I really liked the ominous music in this episode. Nice touch composers.
  • I tend to agree with Hale – John IS a mystery within a mystery, but I think he needs to be with all the other intriguing characters in Salem.
  • Why’d the rain over Anne’s head stop so abruptly? Never thought I’d be concerned with sudden showers.
  • Tituba, you got some major issues girl. I vote counselling sessions for the entire town. After the witch hunt of course.
  • I actually like that Anne chose to protect her father. Family can be a persuasive thing when it comes to loyalties. Wonder how this will play out next episode?
  • Mercy Mercy, you’re in for it when you get home child. #DidntYourMotherEverTeachYouNotToBetrayAWitch?
  • Speaking of Mercy – or rather, her minions – what in the actual fuck? Sigh. I miss the days when girls spent their time braiding each other’s hair, not tossing bodies into the crag. #WhatIsLife
  • Was I the only one who had flashes of Llamas With Hats when Anne put on her father’s mask? #RawFaceIsJustGross #YoutubeIt
  • So. Who’s crazy excited for next week??

Salem Episode 1×10 “The House of Pain” airs Sunday 22 JUNE at 10/9c on WGN America