Sunday, October 24, 2021

‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ Recap: Season 2, Episode 5 “Brianna’s Favorite Pencil”

As the Camarilla grow bolder in their attacks on witches and Samhain arrives, the Unit discovers an age-old tradition while Scylla and Anacostia’s mission takes a startling turn in this week’s episode of Motherland: Fort Salem. Lets jump into “Brianna’s Favorite Pencil.”

Khalida, Adil, and General Sharma speak about the Tarim settling in India while riding on a train. Tea is served, and Khalida gets down to business, asking what the General expects in return for their offer. General Sharma sips her tea, but before she can answer, the black tendrils of the witch plague creep up her face and hands. The Camarilla are attacking. Adil and Khalida run down the aisle to escape the growing witch plague, but the train is already derailing, crashing to a halt.

Following Tally’s demand for answers, Alder invites Tally to sit, asking where she heard about Nicte. Alder insists she wasn’t there, but finally Alder confesses she felt it necessary to hide her involvement in the Liberian Conflict and subsequent Martyrdom. She claims Nicte deserted shortly after, and Alder considers it a failure, hiding Nicte to preserve her image. With that, Alder puts Tally in her place as she reminds her she cannot storm into Alder’s office demanding answers she isn’t owed. Tally confesses that she’s seeing visions, and Alder says Izadora will give her something to sever the connection.

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Raelle finds Anacostia in the halls to confront her about Scylla’s escape and the photo she found at the center riot. Anacostia admits that they have known Scylla was at large and will continue to watch her “as long as it benefits the military.” Raelle isn’t satisfied with that answer and asks how Scylla got the photo, but Anacostia has said all she can and leaves.

At Willa’s, Scylla calls Bonnie about the upcoming Halloween party. As she does, a Spree agent named Jonas storms in to collect his things. Willa asks him not to go on his “suicide mission,” but he says he’s here to change things, not fight the Army’s wars for them. Scylla asks how dying will achieve that. He calls her soft and weak for being so complacent, no longer a fierce Spree warrior, and then he leaves.

Petra finds Abigail packing up her things in the hospital wing. Abigail asks if they found the Camarilla who attacked her, but there’s been no progress. She’s disturbed that Petra and Alder lied about who attacked them and that the Camarilla continue to target her as they did Charvel. Petra reminds her she survived but Abigail retorts, “Maybe I shouldn’t have,” because of her stupidity for walking into the trap.

Raelle and Tally eat breakfast, and Tally tells her that she’s taken something from Izadora to sever her connection with Alder. However, she still believes Alder isn’t telling the whole truth. Raelle notices the dining hall tables being set with black table cloths and chairs covered with black linens. Abigail arrives and explains that it’s for the Dumb Supper for Samhain. Meals are eaten backwards in complete silence in honor of the dead, and the black chairs are reserved for spirits to join. Tally asks how Rae celebrated in the Cession, but Willa only lit a candle to honor the dead and then took Rae trick-or-treating. Gregorio arrives, checking on Abigail. She lets off a snarky comment about recovering, but he sits down to give her the news about the Camarilla attack on India’s government train. General Sharma is dead, and Abigail is clearly shaken by the news.

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Petra and Alder discuss the news of the attack. The Hague has publicly blamed the Camarilla, and Petra has retrieved some tapes that will prevent the Camarilla from hunting witches in the schools. Still, there is more news: Vice President Silver has halted the opening of new testing sites, and the President is still “under the weather.”

Dressed to the nines, Anacostia and Scylla arrive at Bonnie and Shane’s before heading to the Halloween party. They learn that Bonnie is staying home with their daughter, Brianna, who is sad her friend Tiffany is still “on vacation” and can’t go trick-or-treating. Shane ushers them to the car quickly.

In combat training, Abigail and the instructor practice with scourges. Abigail is not at her best as the instructor throws her to the mat. Tally comments that they should go home with Abigail on Fall Break. Abigail is frustrated and taps out before she storms outside. Tally and Raelle follow. She’s been attacked, Adil and Khalida are possibly dead, and when Tally and Raelle offer to come home with her, she tells them they won’t be safe. Tally reminds her they fought off the Camarilla and will continue to do so. That’s when a large group including their other Coven members walks by holding lit torches. Gregorio silently motions for them to follow. They join the group heading into the woods. Meanwhile, as it grows dark, Alder throws the tapes from Petra into a bonfire.

Deep in the woods, the group breaks off into their Covens and circles around a previously constructed campfire. They light it as M explains this Samhain tradition. The veil between worlds is thin. She slits Raelle’s hand as the others follow suit and drip blood into the flames. They will wake the spirits of the dead as is tradition in the Defending of the Hearth. The Lost Regiment fought long ago in the French and Indian War, battling through the night without a fire lest they give away their position. However, the cold being too much, they lit a single fire, but it cost them their lives. Now, the spirits of those soldiers want to extinguish the fires lit by the Covens, and they must defend it until midnight. The winning Coven receives the chance to each speak to any dead witch.

Freeform/Jeff Petry

Scylla, Anacostia, and Shane arrive at the Halloween party where it’s clear the possible benefactors are wealthy. Shane tells them the Camarilla “take care of their own,” and their cause will be set if the night goes well. Scylla mutters a small Seed, realizing they can’t use any Work. Shane continues that the Camarilla have cops, judges, real estate, schools, everything at their disposal. Anacostia mentions that Bonnie isn’t there, but Shane says she’s too weak. They follow Shane in where they are handed white masks, a problem since they plan to take the Camarilla Exarch’s face. Scylla notes that there aren’t many from the movement present, and Shane says he got on the list by providing a little gift for the Camarilla.

The soldier spirits approach on horses as the Coven circle the fire. Abigail says she would talk with Charvel, while Raelle would reach out to Willa, and Tally to Esterbrook (from the Liberian front). M warns them they won’t see the arrows until the last second, but they must use anything they can to stop the arrows and not get hit themselves.

The Exarch steps onto the platform to address the party-goers. Behind him, a large device is covered. They intend to start the party off by reinstating a tradition, the killing of witch. Tiffany (Brianna’s friend) is bound and brought to the platform. This is the gift that Shane provided.

The Coven uses their scourges to stop arrow after arrow. Tally’s back is turned as one heads right for her and Gregorio jumps in front, the arrow piercing through his left shoulder. Tally grabs him as he falls and M shouts for Raelle, who yanks the arrow out and begins healing him.

Meanwhile, the Camarilla Exarch motions for everyone to take a stone as they reveal the device under the cloth, a huge wooden structure that will hoist Tiffany’s hands up and keep her in place as they stone her. Anacostia and Scylla jump into action, Anacostia heading one way while Scylla walks down the stairs to the platform.

Raelle gets Gregorio healed as the first chime of midnight sounds. She races out away from the fire to use a windstrike on the attacking spirit. It manages to loose another arrow but the final chime sounds. Their fire is still lit, they’ve won.

Meanwhile, Anacostia is searching for the break box to shut down the power and end the constant sound playing that inhibits their Work. A Camarilla soldier whom she’s fought twice before finds her, but he’s no match for her as she kicks him to the ground and a fight ensues.

Realizing she has no other option, Scylla demands they stop and offers herself in place of Tiffany. She says she’s a witch, a member of the Spree who has killed thousands of civilians. The Exarch seems pleased; he says he’ll take her vocal cords and make the child watch. That’s when Anacostia makes it to the breaker box, causing panic as Scylla throws the Exarch across the room with a Seed. Scylla approaches, using her lighter to set his face ablaze and inhales it. Mission accomplished. Anacostia and Scylla grab Tiffany and leave.

Back inside, M hands out the candles for summoning the dead and gives instructions. Go somewhere quiet and alone, light the candle, and say the name of the witch. The messenger will be freed from the wax and retrieve the requested. They have only until the candle burns out to speak with them. As they spit, Gregorio tells Abigail that he will tell Libba hi for her.

Alone, they each light their candles and make their requests: Willa Collar, Valda Esterbrook, Charvel Bellweather. From the wax crawls a spider, away from the girls and into the dark.

Tally sees the ghostly figure of Esterbrook. Tally asks why she martyred herself and Esterbrook yells, “Lies!” and pins her to the wall, showing Tally a vision of that night. Esterbrook tells her fellow people that they are surrounded by the Army, and she’s surrendered. A bottle breaks through the glass window, and everyone begins killing themselves with their machetes. Tally is curled up on the ground when the candle extinguishes and the vision ends.

Charvel comes to Abigail, and the first words she speaks are, “You’re a failure.” Abigail agrees that she failed Charvel, but Charvel tells her she’s failed herself. She’s been victimized too long, the Camarilla using Abigail’s insecurities against her. Charvel wants her to take action and stop letting others do what she should doing herself. Abigail must become a warrior.

Raelle sits with her candle waiting for Willa. She watches as the wax slowly melts away until finally it extinguishes. Willa didn’t come, and Raelle is heartbroken.

Now morning, Abigail finds Tally sitting with Raelle, who tells her that her mother didn’t show up. She’s gone over the conversation so many times in her mind, and doesn’t understand why Willa would choose not to come when they have a chance to finally speak again. Crying, she stands to pack for their break; she’s going home to see her dad. Tally apologizes to Abigail. She wants to go with Raelle on break, and Abigail understands. She tells Tally she plans to take back Charvel’s voice, kill those who murdered her and bathe in their blood. Tally is understandably shocked by this declaration and talks her down. Petra arrives and Tally awkwardly dismisses herself, Petra tells Abigail that Adil is alive.

Adil arrives back to base, and Abigail sprints outside to hug him. He and Khalida were the only survivors of the train attack. Khalida stayed with the Hague but sent Adil back to Abigail. Both are tired of being hunted and agree that it’s time for the Camarilla to be the ones who feel hunted.

Bonnie finds Shane still in bed. She’s returned from dropping Brianna at school and asks if he’d like breakfast, so he rattles off his order like he’s in a restaurant without even looking at her. Bonnie smiles sweetly and grabs a pencil, “Brianna forgot her favorite pencil.” She climbs on top of Shane and begins whispering, “Not our daughters,” before stabbing him through the ear with the pencil. Sitting up, she lifts a lighter to her face. It’s Scylla who has exacted revenge for his attempt to kill an innocent child. As she’s leaving, Bonnie arrives home. Scylla tells her to find something to live for, like her daughter, because hate will consume her if she doesn’t. Bonnie heads inside, and Scylla hears the piercing scream as she walks away.

Motherland: Fort Salem airs Tuesdays on Freeform. Check out the synopsis and images for next week’s episode here.

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Brianna
Brianna works full time in the publishing industry, passionately building books to bring to the masses. Her first fandom was Harry Potter, which she joined at age 11. Her love for books took her abroad to earn her Masters Degree at University College London, after which she lived in New York City, and now resides in Austin. She loves all things fandom including Supernatural, Doctor Who, and more. Ever the introvert, she can usually be found reading, playing with her dog, listening to music and practicing yoga. Brianna joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2018 where she unites her love for all things "nerd" with her passion for writing. Find her on Twitter here: @bookbag09

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