02x00 - Witch War

I am the true queen of the night!

You should never have come back.

We end it here.

Here's a first look...

At "Salem, season two."

"Salem season two: Witch war."

First question people are always asking is well, witch war, you know, who's at war?

Andand the real question is, who's not at war?

It's a more complex narrative this year.

The plague plays a big role on Salem.

The grand rite that Mary Sibley was implementing last year actually results in a supernatural bioweapon.

It's gonna be war this year.

Okay, cut.

Action!

This season, Mary has found herself in exactly the same place she started in season one.

She's come into her own and she's empowered but everyone's trying to strip her of it.

She doesn't trust anyone. And marker.

Tituba, Mercy and in season two, it's kind of the beginning of Mary's war.

Salem will be ours soon.

Isn't that the best revenge?

Sometimes the best revenge is revenge.

Right away in season two, Mercy, uh, kind of oversteps her bounds.

Mary sibley went behind her back and killed all her friends.

Now, it's time to pay.

You wanna know the truth?

If you defy me, only horror awaits you!

John Alden in season one, he's, uh, shot and left for dead.

She believes him dead but there's a part of her that still thinks, "What if."

And you wonder why we don't trust you.

Cut!

Season two, John is on a bloody thirsty quest to end any witch's life.

I intend to kill every last devilloving witch.

Cotton Mather, you return here to Boston.

Six weeks later, leaving in your wake a fullblown witch panic.

For Cotton, the stakes are high.

I mean, the grand rite was completed.

Hell could possibly be on earth.

The witch pox that's invaded Salem was the result of the witch's grand rite in season one.

It's so great to be back in Salem again.

Back in the most amazing costumes and the most amazing set.

It's so atmospheric and it just takes you right back in.

All our new characters are very mysterious.

Dr. Wainwright, played by Stuart Townsend, certainly falls into that bag.

Often the most fearsome landscapes are hiding the most succulent gardens.

We're so fortunate to have Lucy Lawless on the show.

Part of the key for the countess is discovering Mary Sibley, the most curious creature of all.

If and when she comes to Salem, I don't think Mary's gonna be happy about it.

Who are you? Last of the true witches.

She's gonna bring a whole new level of evil into this witch war of Salem.

Salem is fighting for it's life.

The war is on.

The battle has begun.

The front line isn't safe.

Kill them all!

Nobody's safe.

I have just fell in love with the time.

It's not only scary and cool, it's about a particular time in history when America was in its infancy and it was anybody's guess as to who would control it.

The devil was never going to let a promised land be built here without a battle.

And witches armed with deadly malice are the most malignant and insidious weapons in that battle.

Salem is a small frontier community.

People are working class folk.

Very small homes, minimal standards of living.

Most people are living in one room.

Imagine a family of eight or ten people having one bedroom to live in and the kids sleeping on the floor in the kitchen, maybe.

And in the winter where, uh, you may not have enough firewood.

Houses tend to be quite cold.

You don't have the modern conveniences.

It's a pretty rough, spartan basic life.

Of course people in Massachusetts in the 17th century are puritans, which means everything in 1692 was seen as being part of their Faith, part of their religion.

You know, it's hard for even the most devout person, uh, today to understand just how all encompassing religion was.

The devil was real.

He could affect changes in the physical universe.

He could tempt women into sin.

They had very literal sense of the ways that evil could be brought to bear in their everyday lives.

In fact, the most famous book that talks about Salem is written by a very famous puritan theologian named Cotton Mather and he wrote a book called "The Wonders of the Invisible World."

We can't underestimate how brilliant Cotton Mather was.

Probably the smartest man on earth at that time.

That guy was done at Harvard by the time he was like 14.

Guy could speak eight languages, including several Indian languages.

Selftaught all of them... From ancient Greek to Abenaki.

I mean, brilliant.

He loved science.

But at the time, to love science is to be almost a heretic because everything about the natural world should be in the Bible.

Um, but there's this insatiable curiosity inside of Cotton to understand the world in ways that goes beyond Bible verses or in ways that help understand those Bible verses even more.

Cotton Mather was the Junior Minister of the second church of Boston.

Along with his father Increase Mather.

He is frequently held up as a boogeyman in this whole thing.

Fear no man's war.

For only a war from hell could destroy Salem.

This was a time and a place and a group of people that believed in God and believed in the devil.

The world didn't just believe in magic and the supernatural, but held it to be absolute fact.

Such absolute fact that it was actually written into law.

The devil could be lurking anywhere.

And the devil doesn't want, um, a town to be built that represents God.

So in their mind, they were spiritual warriors in a new place where there was no protection from anyone else.

He was describing the way that the devil was stalking around the edges of the Christian community that they were trying to establish in New England.

There was a hideous war going on just outside Salem.

And those were the French and Indian wars.

Most of the settlements of New Hampshire and Maine have been attacked.

Most of the settlements in Maine have actually been destroyed.

A lot of people living in Salem village have family members who are refugees from that community.

It's a very tense situation because it really looks like the native Americans and their French allies up in Canada might actually drive all of the new englanders back into the sea, back to England.

And what do you think Captain Alden?

The Indians?

They're so mysterious.

Soulless savages.

It's an alien civilization to the English settlers.

The assumption that other gods, other forms of worship are really the devil's delusions, so the devil's behind that.

Once there's a town on the frontier is burned and people are kidnapped and taken hostage, that doesn't give confidence to anybody.

And it sends a lot of refugees from those outlying towns, many of which are abandoned at this point, into Boston and Salem.

People in Salem are under a tremendous stress.

They are in a constant state of panic.

People have saw phantoms of French soldiers and native American warriors invading the town and they weren't there.

They were so panicked, they were imagining this.

Many of the afflicted girls like Mercy Lewis had lived on the frontier and clearly were suffering what we would consider today to be post traumatic, uh, stress.

I can't see their faces.

Like there's these heads of animals, like a stack.

Mercy Lewis, she's based on the very first victim of malice.

The one whose possession led them to start trying to unravel who are the witches amongst us.

Certainly Mercy Lewis by our standards today, uh, was a very troubled young woman.

Uh, she seems to be, uh, drawn by an invisible force into the fire as she's possessed.

Why the witches chose her is because she's the Reverend's daughter.

So, of course, anybody would listen to someone who is so pure.

Um, of course, she's not really pure.

Why won't you tell me their names?

'Cause she won't let me.

She?

Yes.

Who?

Who is she?

Mmm...

In a society where really where children were meant to be seen and not heard, this really gave them a chance to really, sort of, act outside their traditional character.

I think Mercy definitely gets drunk off of the power.

No women were allowed to speak unless they were spoken to.

So, it's a complete turn around.

Sometimes we joke and refer to her as the 17th century Lindsay Lohan.

The first American celebrity, uh, tabloid sort of celebrity.

There's a part of this story that is about young people, especially young girls suddenly being empowered to turn on their elders and destroy them.

She will show us the witch.

It's fairly clear that there was some fraud going on by some of the girls.

Um, but the question is how much of it was in their control or to what degree were they suffering from psychological anxieties?

Maybe even medical ailments that, that led them to act the way that they did.

She's clearly touched in the head.

She needs a doctor, not your prayers.


In season two of Salem, we want to raise the stakes and expand the world.

It's a more complex narrative this year.

We sent you to Salem with the case of one disturbed girl who might have been haunted by a witch, and now six weeks later, we got 13 people hung.

We got a fullblown witch panic.

Despite or even because of our relentless efforts, the witches completed, their dreaded grand rite.

This year, Salem's been ravaged by the plague.

Salem is more paranoid and people won't come outta their houses.

We're using it to tap into the reality of history, the role smallpox played in the development of early precolonial America.

Just a few years before the witchcraft outbreak, there was a smallpox epidemic in the region.

Smallpox broke out around this time.

What if we found out the witches made that?

The plague has released as pox.

Something like a pox or a plague is not to be understood as a natural occurrence but precisely as the definition of some divine intent.

God has given us a clear sign that we have offended him.

A plague is not an ordinary disease.

It's a social disease.

We have a hard time imagining what it was like, the level of disease.

I mean the Ebola outbreak that's been recently in the news gives us some level of understanding of what people endured on a semiregular basis in the early modern period.

Something as intense as a plague to take over a population, it's, it's horrible and it's devastating.

People really feared epidemic disease.

Don't go in there.

Who's down there?

Death.

There was little understanding of disease and how it spread, often the cures were exactly the wrong thing to do.

17th century Europeans are not their best friends when it comes to just things like public health, you know.

They pollute their rivers.

They don't drink water.

They all drink alcohol.

They all drink what they call small beer, even the youngest children.

They didn't really know about germs, about how these infections spread.

They had a version of human health and sickness that the body had four substances in it.

What they called "humors".

Two kinds of bile, blood, and a phlegm were the four humors.

And a healthy person had a good balance of those.

So if you read about people being bled, you know, blood actually being taken out of their veins, that was done to George Washington on his deathbed.

That was in effort to balance his humors and therefore bring him back to health.

Bring out your dead...

Bring out your dead!

The plague was an idea we had from the very beginning when we were conceiving Salem.

Wanting to both connect to history and deviate from history was that that should be kind of a variant of smallpox.

Smallpox was one of the things that arguably sculpted the early American landscape in a most hideous and horrible way.

In the 20th century, smallpox was the single greatest killer.

Smallpox killed hundreds of millions of people.

It was the one that you were all afraid of getting.

It is as if the Angel of Death himself has descended upon the town.

A pox.

Is this it?

If you saw the people in colonial America, quite a few of them would actually have marks on their faces, pock marks, which would indicate that they were survivors.

This is it.

I passed over...

Did I make it to Heaven?

Or am I in Hell? Neither Heaven or Hell, sir.

Merely Salem.

Europe had already had many, many cycles of smallpox.

So the Europeans who arrived on these shores were basically immune to it.

If they hadn't been, they would have died long ago.

Native people, especially at times of first contact who had no history of... of this illness in their communities and no natural immunities would die in huge numbers.

After a particularly recent outbreak that had come during some very fierce warfare between puritan settlers and the local Indians, and a wave of smallpox has come through and basically wiped out their enemies for them.

As if the mighty hand of God had come down and cleared the battlefield for them.

A month from now, every man, woman, and child in this cursed town will be dead by the pox... Or on our side.

So, there was something delicious in the idea.

If the puritans perceived the smallpox to have been simply kind of an arrow in God's quiver to help them in their battle against their enemy, the Indians.

And help them seize control of the land.

Well then why wouldn't the witches themselves use a similar weapon to clear their enemy or to control their enemy, the puritans, from the land, the new world they wanted to make theirs instead.

The plague, what we call the witch pox plays a big role on Salem.

It turns out that the grand rite that Mary Sibley was implementing last year actually results in a supernatural bioweapon.

The witch pox decimates our enemies but cannot touch those of witch blood.

It's an excuse for Mary Sibley and the witches hiding beneath the cloak of puritan power to draw a curtain around Salem.

She's able to use her power over the town to seal the borders and to control people's behavior.

Curfews, the curtailing of civil rights.

I mean any plague during that time is gonna cause so much fear and paranoia.

It will open people up in a vulnerable way to be taken advantage of, to be controlled, to be tricked into destroying each other.

For the sake of all our people, your wives and children, it's clear what must be done.

We end it here.

It was a hysteria that went to the bones.

And they discovered that there were witches.

Who are you?

Oh, my dear, i have had so many names.

Hecate, Medea, Belial are just a few.

I'm the Swallower of Souls.

She who flowers from her own wounds.

I'm the last of the first, the last of the true witches.

One of the things that makes, uh, witch trials interesting is because they're examples of women, in particular, acting out.

This is a very patriarchal society where fathers run the household.

Where ministers symbolically lead the community.

Women who were accused as witches tended to subvert those hierarchies, often by claiming more power for themselves in a very rigid, hierarchical puritan society ordered strictly along class, gender lines and race lines.

The witchcraft that we see in Salem is really part of a phenomenon in European society and their colonies called the great age of witch hunts.

In between roughly 1400 and 1750, about 100,000 people are accused of witchcraft.

Proving more than half of them are actually executed for the crime.

Very quickly the accusations began to spread to other members of the community, including community members who were very well respected.

So I was really excited about the opportunity to look at the whole European witchcraft movement that lead to all the burnings and everything.

And they've discovered that there were witches, and this is... this can't be said often enough, there were witches.

That does not mean that all those people terribly burned and hung and tortured were not innocent, they by and large were.

But nobody had ever stopped to say, "Well wait a second.

"In this era, there are people who consider themselves to be witches...

"And many of them were the puritans."

The show has kind of opened up my eyes to understanding that Salem represents fear and mania and hysteria.

There were creaks and sounds in the woods.

There were things that people were unfamiliar with.

They must have had an immense fear that the devil was there, trying to destroy them.

It was a hysteria that went to the bones.

And in the case of Salem, our show, the witches are creating the hysteria and exploiting it to full effect.

In a way, you can't even say what genre this is.

Because it's the kind of pure adventure story that has every genre within it.

There isn't really anything like this series on at the moment that I've seen.

The supernatural in it is so dark and so edgy.

It's dark in its subject matter.

It's dark in the writing.

And it's also dark visually and physically.

The show was lit mostly by candlelight and flame light.

Working on Mary, she really is just sort of a modern woman in this society, apart from the killings.

Mary Sibley was, for me, one of the first little threads in the known story of Salem that I kind of pulled and I was like, "Whoa! Wait, wait, wait."

And pretty soon the whole fabric of what you think you know has unraveled to reveal a completely different picture behind.

And Mary Sibley was that thread.

'Cause I was reading in the transcripts of the trials, and it's mentioned in passing that a very proper puritan woman named Mary sibley playing with this kind of folk magic, and that was like the opening clue to me to think, "Wow, maybe there's a whole other door into this which might illuminate what really happened there."

How can you hope to build a new world on the corpses of the innocents who live in this one?

There is no world, new or old, not founded on bones and blood.

Imagine a world free of the violent hypocrisy and oppression of the puritans.

Freedom of thought, belief and feeling.

This is our chance.

A moment when the future of this land is utterly in doubt.

Ideas are almost more dangerous than diseases when it comes to changing the face of a nation.

Ideas are the most contagious thing there are.

There's no doubt.

And when one talks about how dangerous it is to label something as a disease, ideas are the ones that most frequently have been that way.

The game of telephone.

It's like whispering secrets, you know, it's, uh...

And then once again, you didn't hear that original whisper and you've, uh, changed it to what you'd like to hear or not like to hear.

In America, history is our mythology.

We have George Washington, we have Daniel Boone, we have Davy Crockett, who are historical figures who we also have told clearly, purely mythic stories about.

You're not gonna learn about what it was from us.

They're gonna see history played with as mythology.

But hopefully, also, even the fun wrongness of it will send them to find out what it is.

No character is sacred.

Any one that you grow attached to could die at any moment.

If people enjoyed season one, they'll only be more impressed with season two.

You look like you've never had a lullaby before.

(Singing): ♪ If that diamond ring turns brass... ♪

Have you found what you are looking for?

♪ Mother's gonna buy you a looking glass ♪

What have you done?

♪ And if that looking glass gets broke... ♪
♪ Mother's gonna buy you a black she goat ♪

The battle is in Salem.

I'm the last of the true witches.

Every man, woman and child will be dead.

She could kill any one of us.

Often the most fearsome landscapes are hiding the most succulent gardens.

Don't go in there.

Who's down there?

Death.

♪♪