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David T. Cole

S01.E01: The Vow

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Mary is a young, unwed pregnant girl in Salem, a Puritanical town. She believes her love, John Alden, has died in the war, since he never wrote her letters. She must now either face the Puritans' stocks and forehead branding or sell her soul to the devil. Having done the latter, she marries George Sibley, one of the town's influential men and enslaves him, claiming his wealth and power for herself. Preacher Cotton Mather believes witches have arrived in Salem and want their own world. John returns home to witness a witch hunt, wherein Mary attempts to use the trials to get the Puritans to kill each other, allowing the witches to rule Salem.

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Been reading that a lot of people do not get WGN America so I guess this forum will be kinda quiet.  There were plenty of WTF did I just see moments in the premier for me.  I really like the premise of this story and they are really pushing the boundaries of basic cable.  The reverend and the prostitute having sex was extremely graphic, I thought I was watching HBO for a minute.

Question, the older guy (was his name Colby?) that was killed at the end, was that Anthony Cooper aka John Locke's father?  I looked it up on IMDB but the role wasn't credited.  Speaking of his death, what is that called?  Stoning is throwing stones at a person resulting in a slow, torturous death but is it still a stoning if large rocks are piled on someone's chest until they die?

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That was definitely Kevin Tighe (aka Anthony Cooper)!  Albeit with a really, really bad wig.

This was definitely in the guilty pleasure territory for me.  I enjoyed it, but I'd be super-embarassed to watch it with anyone else.

The frog (toad?) being kept in the husband's stomach?  Truly unexpected.  Kudos, I guess, to the writers for still coming up wtih ways to shock me!

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Speaking of his death, what is that called?  Stoning is throwing stones at a person resulting in a slow, torturous death but is it still a stoning if large rocks are piled on someone's chest until they die?

It's actually called peine forte et dure (leave it to the French) and was based on the factual death of the only man to die during the Salem witch trials, Giles Cory. It was also said that he refused to confess and even begged the torturers to add more stones, like in the show.

From wiki: Giles Corey, an 80-year-old farmer from the southeast end of Salem (called Salem Farms), refused to enter a plea when he came to trial in September. The judges applied an archaic form of punishment called peine forte et dure, in which stones were piled on his chest until he could no longer breathe. After two days of peine fort et dure, Corey died without entering a plea.

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I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Cotton Mather leading Mercy around like a bloodhound in that creepy head cage thing was extremely disturbing. 

She must now either face the Puritans' stocks and forehead branding or sell her soul to the devil.

 

I like that these were her only two options. But I admire her for her commitment. Mary went all in on that hand. 

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OMG that scene with Mercy was intense! And the second she was about to point out Mary, Mary did a little bewitched nose-wiggle and BOOM, it was over for old man Trapper Colby! 

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Ah, good to see we got a thread.  I saw it On Demand, and thought it was fun enough to keep going.  Loving both Seth Gabel and Janet Montgomery as Cotton and Mary, and Shane West is fine as Alden, although he looks like he could be related to Sleepy Hollow's Icabod Crane, with the long hair and rugged look.  Just needs a trenchcoat.  

 

Poor Kevin Tighe.  There was no way he was going to win this, I suspect.  If he said he was a witch, he would have died.  If he said he was innocent, they probably would have convicted and killed him anyway.  He took option C and he still dies.  It was just bad back then.

 

The sex and nudity did come off like a gratuitous, "We can be adult and crazy too!", trying to hard attempt from WGN.  Not that I'm going to complain too much about Janet Montgomery in the buff. 

Edited by thuganomics85

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I wasn't sure what to expect from this, given some middling reviews I read before the premiere, but I think I could be on board with this as a guilty pleasure-watch at least.  I agree with those who said the scene with Cotton leading Mercy around the square was super disturbing.  Actually, every scene with Mercy was pretty disturbing, including Cotton's lingering eyes and fondling of her while looking for "teats" or whatever he said.  Mary nursing the frog from her leg and then cramming it back into Sibley's mouth was gross too.

 

I'm surprised that Mary seems so firmly on the dark side.  I hadn't really expected her to be so fully committed to the witch thing, but I definitely prefer that over her being some helpless victim or someone who is only around for romantic love interest storylines.  I hope she continues to be a badass as the series progresses. I am not really too familiar with the actress, but she was one of the high points of the premiere for me, along with Seth Gabel as Cotton.

 

The sex and nudity and squick-factor of some of the scenes did seem a little over the top, but I'm never really bothered by these things.  I think WGN America is just trying to throw it all out there and make a statement that they can be as boundary-pushing as AMC/FX/HBO and the like.

 

By the way, did they explain what happened to Mercy's hair?  Why did they shave it all off? Looking for marks/signs of witchiness or something? I think I missed something there.

Edited by Matteo
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By the way, did they explain what happened to Mercy's hair?  Why did they shave it all off? Looking for marks/signs of witchiness or something? I think I missed something there.

 

Yep! Cotton was looking for wounds that he could prove were not self-inflicted or a extra "teat" that only a witch would have to feed her familiar. BTW, that thigh teat on Mary, that she used to suckle her toad, was not the jam. 

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Cracky and tacky.  I'm down.

 

It's funny I'm totally on board with the criticisms that say there's something a little uncomfortable about a show with a premise that basically amounts to "the Puritans didn't kill enough people in the Witch Trials" (I believe that's almost verbatim what the A.V. Club said).  But the show went so far over the top that I don't even care.  Bring on the crack, I has a popcorn.

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Yeah, I loved it. Loved everything about it. When that whole toad thing happened, I was squealing with glee, half hiding behind a pillow. So awesome. Loved the scene with Mercy in the head-cage thing. I did see her bite her own damn finger off, right? I feel a little incoherent, sorry.

I'm surprised that Mary seems so firmly on the dark side.  I hadn't really expected her to be so fully committed to the witch thing, but I definitely prefer that over her being some helpless victim or someone who is only around for romantic love interest storylines.  I hope she continues to be a badass as the series progresses.

That surprised me a bit, too, but I was glad for it. Girl, if you're going to sell your soul to the devil, you better just own it.

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Been reading that a lot of people do not get WGN America so I guess this forum will be kinda quiet.

 

 

The pilot just appeared on Hulu.  Not sure how long it will do that but for now I am enjoying the show.  It is just twisted enough to make it interesting.  It has a nice American Horror Story vibe.  I like enough of the characters.    I will keep with it for as long as Hulu keeps it on.

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Mary is a young, unwed pregnant girl in Salem, a Puritanical town. She believes her love, John Alden, has died in the war, since he never wrote her letters. She must now either face the Puritans' stocks and forehead branding or sell her soul to the devil. Having done the latter, she marries George Sibley, one of the town's influential men and enslaves him, claiming his wealth and power for herself. Preacher Cotton Mather believes witches have arrived in Salem and want their own world. John returns home to witness a witch hunt, wherein Mary attempts to use the trials to get the Puritans to kill each other, allowing the witches to rule Salem.

 

I wanted to bold the last two sentences, but IE kept closing on me. Point being, the last two sentences were the only things we saw in the pilot. Didn't see any of the other stuff. Yet. I hope we find out why Mary had to marry Sibley, when she already aborted John's baby. And he acting as if John had any control over how long the war would last, (he thought it would only be a year, but seven years passed) just made me want to slap her.

 

But this was twisted, sick and I'm not ashamed to admit, that I closed my eyes during some of the more gross scenes and peeked through my fingers at the things coming out of the muck in the circle.

 

Also, if Mary is the top Witch if you will, why is she still listening to Tituba? From the beginning, the latter was telling her what to do and urging and persuading her...why isn't Tituba the head Witch?

And Alden, is the weak link for me, because he acts, talks, and sounds too contemporary for this 17th century setting.

I can understand going after the town 'leaders' if you will, for killing all those innocents, but why is Mary and her coven intent on killing all the puritans? What did they do to her? It's not as if she was a witch born. Was she? And I don't like that the witches are the evil ones in this adaptation.

 

Though it's very nice to see Xander Berkley back on my small screen.

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Also, if Mary is the top Witch if you will, why is she still listening to Tituba? From the beginning, the latter was telling her what to do and urging and persuading her...why isn't Tituba the head Witch?

 

 

My guess...she is black.  Also my guess there is some other evil (IE I Once Upon a time shit) going on that Tituba doesn't want to do.  It is easier to lead from the shadows and disappear when the shit hits the fan and point at the evil evil witch who made you do those bad bad things.  

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Also, if Mary is the top Witch if you will, why is she still listening to Tituba? From the beginning, the latter was telling her what to do and urging and persuading her...why isn't Tituba the head Witch?

 

 

My guess...she is black.  Also my guess there is some other evil (IE I Once Upon a time shit) going on that Tituba doesn't want to do.  It is easier to lead from the shadows and disappear when the shit hits the fan and point at the evil evil witch who made you do those bad bad things.  

Okay, that makes sense. Though I think that Tituba has a thing for Mary, the way she was caressing her shoulders when talking about the Circle.

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And Alden, is the weak link for me, because he acts, talks, and sounds too contemporary for this 17th century setting.

I gotta say, I'm so trained in watching TV that my ears were trying and expecting to hear English 17th century accents, but other than Mary Sibley, everyone else was just speaking in full formal sentences with no hint of accent that i could hear.  I guess the formal pronunciation and sentences are supposed to give you the hint that it was 17th century.  I'm not even that good at hearing the accents, I didn't care one flip about Kevin Costner's fakery in Robin Hood.  But I guess if the actors can't do it right, they are not allowed to do it at all.  That's the only thing that threw me off.

 

Pros:  Mmmmmm, Seth Gabel and Shane West.  Yay Xander Berkeley.  As long as I can find it on WGN, I'm in.

 

I've heard pretty good things about this show and for it to be on crazy competitive Sunday nights is really saying something.  I hope it finds its audience and sticks around!

Edited by christinama

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I actually was quite pleasantly surprised by this show. I wasn't expecting much to be honest but it certainly exceeded all my expectations.

 

I like that there is really something going on and it isn't all hysteria. I admit I don't know much about the actual Salem Witch trials so I don't know how much is history and how much isn't but I do remember from history class that quite a bit of what went on (maybe not everything) was hysteria so it's interesting to see that put in a more supernatural light.

 

Anyway I'm in for awhile. Just wish I got WGN in HD.

Edited by SanLynn

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In actual history it was all "group hysteria" which is pretty fascinating stuff to read about.  And it's why some people are criticizing this (I'd say read the A.V. club review if you want some broad strokes critique; they encompassed all of the complaints I've read elsewhere).  And truley, I expected to dislike it based on that very angle.  But I found it just the right mixture of crack to work for me.  Go figure. 

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Yeah, it's like torture porn.

 

Are we supposed to hate Mary or sympathize with her motives?  It's always a dangerous position to start with a character you can't even get that bead on.

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