All good things must come to an end — and on Wednesday (Jan. 25) WGN America sent “Salem” off into the bloody sunset… And took some beautifully bonkers turns in its final hour. When the news hit that Season 3 of the witch-themed genre show would be its last, we had our own questions regarding just how the series will tie every loose end, close every gap and answer every question left.
Would Black Sunday come to pass, destroying Salem and the world? Were John Alden and Mary Sibley (Shane West and Janet Montgomery) destined for their own happily-ever-after? Can the Dark Lord (Oliver Bell) — in all his stitched-together glory — be defeated? And what role pray tell, does Marilyn Manson play in all this?
Fans will be happy to know the series finale brought the story to a close in a sufficient manner. But something tells us — since this was the absolute end — the EPs made the conscious decision to go for broke in the aptly-titled “Black Sunday.”
A show known for copious amounts of blood, laugh-out-loud calamities, and bizarre twists would only be doing itself justice by pulling out all the ridiculous stops in its finale, and “Salem” did not disappoint. In no particular order, the 5 most WTF moments from “Black Sunday.”
The Dark Lord’s triumphant — disturbing — return
Seer Tituba (Ashley Madekwe) proved she’s pretty handy with a needle and thread, as she did her part in making the boy Devil whole once more. One can only assume how challenging this sewing job would be — as you’ll recall, the Essex witches committed a mass suicide, which led to a Sam Raimi-style tree-murder sequence in which branches and vines ripped the boy’s body into various less-than-operational pieces. But with limbs and head reattached, young John Sibley is finally able to reach his full potential as the creepiest kid in town.
John Alden & Baron Marburg fight… For love
Sure, the Devil returned in the wake of the Sentinel’s (Samuel Roukin) death, to see his apocalyptic dream fulfilled — but it’s the confrontation between Baron Marburg (Joe Doyle) and John Alden that really had our attention… At least for a minute.
If ever there was a moral to be had from the series as a whole, it’d be: Never trust anyone named Marburg! With Thomas Dinley (Marilyn Manson) restrained, Marburg supernaturally throws Alden around the barber-surgeon’s shop like a ragdoll. The odds, as they say, are not in John’s favor — and there’s definitely something about Mary, isn’t there? With minutes left before world’s end, it’s very “Salem” that the biggest knock-down dragout would be about something else entirely.
Cotton Mather makes the ultimate sacrifice
Poor Cotton (Seth Gabel)! Of all the citizens of Salem, the shamed holy man’s arc has always been among the most compelling. He went from being a slave to the bottle, giving into his heathen desires time and again, only to come back to the light with the false promise of fatherhood.
Learning the truth behind Anne’s pregnancy led to the real test of Cotton’s character… And it didn’t come in the confrontation with his wife, but with the Devil himself.
It turns out, after all that chest-beating and hellish rhetoric, Satan opted for a simple compromise in his Black Sunday plans. Instead of banishing the citizens of Salem to an eternity of demonic tortures beyond imagination, the Dark Lord accepted just a single soul: Cotton Mather’s.
After all this, it just took Mather, a twist of a doorknob and step over a dark threshold to defuse the situation, and save humanity in the process.
Who knew it’d be so easy to save the human race!?
Countess Marburg returns to have sex with the Devil… Or something
It’s been evident for quite some time that, though she hasn’t physically appeared in Season 3, Lucy Lawless’ role throughout the 10-episode arc was very relevant.
Those secret conversations Baron Marburg had with his very dead mother — seriously, this surpassed Norman Bates levels of creepy — found him feeding her doses of Mary Sibley’s blood while she doled out love advice to her beloved son… And eventually, she takes over Mary’s body altogether!
But her goal isn’t just to have sex with the now-strapping adult John Sibley — who by the way yes, is still her son, but also very much Satan! — but to steal his power and rule the world herself.
Sure, the image of mother and son consummating their relationship left a very awful taste in our collective mouths, but there is a catharsis — no matter how silly — that immediately followed this grossness.
A manipulative witch hero emerges
All this time, right under our noses, Anne Hale (Tamzin Merchant) has been devising a plan. Sure, the baby in her womb isn’t her own — but in “Salem,” heroism can crop up in all sorts of gray areas. For a series that once had a man’s penis turn into a crow, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
After coercing her holy man husband to step into hell and throw away the proverbial key, Hale worked some otherworldly witch magic to kill lovers Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) and Hathorne (Jeremy Crutchley), leave Isaac (Iddo Goldberg) to die at the hands of the citizens he once led, murder the Devil and her own mother — post-coitus, of course — and lead John Alden and the real Mary Sibley to their well-deserved and easily predictable happily-ever-after.
As for Anne… Well, it looks like she’s the only surviving witch remaining in Salem. With the Dark Lord dead and her husband spending eternity in a literal world of fire and brimstone, Anne remains, to lead Salem into a new age… One where the legend of the infamous witch trials can be dictated from her own perspective — no matter how grandiose or fictional.
Throughout its three seasons, “Salem” established itself as a horror series unafraid of taking chances, while doing its best at staying true to its genre roots. The finale was true to itself in every way, but especially this one: The show goes out on its own bloody — and bonkers — terms.