REVIEW – Motherland: Fort Salem Series Premiere (SPOILER FREE)

Some shows are going into hiatus, and some have shut down production.  That doesn't mean there is nothing new and interesting to watch, quite the contrary.  Starting tonight (Wednesday) at 9pm Eastern Time, Freeform debuts their first episode of Motherland: Fort Salem.  The series tells the story of witches who are set to serve on the U.S. military, as they have done for the last 300 years.  If you need more info, or to see the trailer, see our previous story about the show.  If not, let's dive in to what I thought of the show.

Freeform gave me an early look at the first episode (and a few more as well), so I thought I would give you an idea of what to expect.  While you get to see more than your fair share of witches, the series does center around three in particular.  Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams) is the strong willed, serious member of the group who comes from a legacy family.  There is a lot of pressure on her, and it shows in this very first episode.  Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson) is certainly the rebel of the group, and doesn't take things nearly as seriously as Abigail does.  Then we have Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton) who is like a walking ray of sunshine, eager and definitely seeking approval for reasons that you'll have to watch to find out.  It creates a very interesting group dynamic as the episode unfolds, but there is something about the three of them that just works so well together on screen.  There are certainly clashes of ideals, their personalities don't necessarily jive with one another, but that's what makes them so compelling.  I found myself gravitating to each of them for different reasons, but it's hard for Tally not to be the early favorite.

I mentioned that Abigail had a lot of pressure on her, really they all do in their own way.  Plus, this is still the military, and that by itself is a pressure packed responsibility.  One of my favorite things about this episode are the scenes of the early basic training.  It's not something I would have expected, but it added something so real and grounded to a story that's about magic.  It's also one of those things that will either bond you or break you.

There is also some powerful imagery in the show.  We get to see the witches take their oath, and how it hits them all differently.  You also get to see what some of them are capable of, with some especially powerful scenes with Raelle early on.  Each witch also has their own classification in the academy, where their skills would be best suited.  We get to see one of the other witches, Scylla (Amalia Holm), show what she can do and it's pretty amazing.

The instructors are as strict as expected, but there are some human moments there as well.  As you can expect, there are some underlying political themes here, but this first episode really just scratches the surface of that.  We are also at the very beginning of their training, so expect their roles to expand as things go.

Finally, I want to talk about the villain.  Better yet, I would actually refer to them more as the enemy.  There is a supernatural terrorist organization that you will see in this series, and a major reason why the military needs witches now more than ever before it seems.  This is an enemy you will take seriously right away, no doubt about it.  You will get to see something that they do, and it's pretty brutal.  When this episode is over, that is something that you will remember without a doubt.  So if you're hoping for a credible threat, you will definitely be getting that.  This is, again, an onion that will be peeled more as the season goes on.

Motherland: Fort Salem puts women in the spotlight, and in the positions of power in a way that I'm not sure any show on television is doing right now.  The amount of screen time alone is dominated by women, and it was quite refreshing.  This show seemed to bill itself as a supernatural show about powerful women and it delivers on that promise.  The show also makes it's characters relatable and gives you that real world feel through it's main characters.  You'll root for them, get frustrated by them and there will be plenty of elements that should intrigue you by the time this first hour is over.  This show isn't just one of those that you should check out because there isn't much new on TV right now.  This show is worth your time, and you just get that feeling, that it's only going to get stronger as the episodes go by.

Photo Credit: Freeform/David Bukach