REVIEW: ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ Episode 1 – “Say the Words”

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REVIEW: 'Motherland: Fort Salem' Season One, Episode One - Say the Words

With franchises like Harry Potter, The Magicians, and Lord of the Rings being as popular as they are, it’s no wonder why many forms of media dealing with magic and fantasy have become such a prominent staple in popular culture. One of the most recent shows to fall under this category is Motherland: Fort Salem, which premiered its pilot episode, “Say the Words,” this week on Freeform. The show is set in America where witches hadn’t been persecuted in over 300 years. A group of witches cut a deal with the government to stop the persecutions and in exchange, the witches would fight their wars for them. Upon a woman’s 18th birthday, they are chosen to attend For Salem and receive military and magic training.

In “Say the Words,” hundreds of women partake in Conscription Day, which is the day when they take an oath to join Fort Salem and dedicate their lives to the military. The main focus is put on Raelle (Taylor Hickson), Tally (Jessica Sutton), and Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) who all come from different backgrounds and have separate reasons for joining the military. The trio makes their way to Fort Salem, but not everything is as they imagined. Places where they once felt unique are traded for harsh drills and the desire to defeat the evil group known as the Spree. Meanwhile, the Spree continues their heinous attacks that result in major casualties.

REVIEW: 'Motherland: Fort Salem' Season One, Episode One - Say the Words

Even after watching the trailers and several tv spots, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the show. However, the opening scene in “Say the Words” might be one of the most menacing scenes I’ve seen in quite some time. It not only shows the dangers that the trio is going to have to go against but it also shows how menacing the Spree really are. After the scene ended, I was already in for whatever happened next in the show. It’s quite impressive for a new show to capture my attention that quickly. No real plot or central characters were introduced. The mere shock factor of what happens in the scene was enough to let me know that I’m going to watch this show every week.

I was surprised at the amount of world-building that went into “Say the Words.” Given that it’s the pilot episode, I would’ve expected more details about the show’s universe to be revealed as time went on. In under an hour, we were told about the war against the Spree, Fort Salem, and introduced to a lot of key characters. I expect more information and secrets to be revealed later, but establishing the basics would’ve helped this episode instead of including too many details.

Even though a lot of information is introduced in under an hour, one of the most prominent elements is the main trio. They all have different reasons as to why they joined the military and have different sentiments towards the world they live in. I was able to sympathize with all three of them since “Say the Word” goes into full detail on their backgrounds. While there’s still a lot more to be revealed, getting a good picture of Raelle, Tally, and Abigail helps with there being more plot development. One thing’s for sure, each one of them is dead set on saving the world from the Spree.

REVIEW: 'Motherland: Fort Salem' Episode One - Say the Words

Almost with any show that has magic as a main element, there’s a lot to worry in terms of how the magic would look like. There haven’t been any real fighting scenes with magic, but the few instances that have shown magic are incredible. A lot of why they look incredible has to do with the technology that makes it possible. There aren’t any overtly obnoxious hand movements being made. Everything about the use of magic on the show feels natural. There’s one particular scene near the end of the episode where the use of magic was aesthetically pleasing to look at. Overall, I’m eager to see how an actual battle with magic will look like.

Overall, I really enjoyed the pilot episode of Motherland: Fort Salem. I’ve been really excited about this show since I saw the trailer back in May of 2019. Even though it’s been nearly a year since the first trailer dropped, “Say the Words” made the wait worth it. From its immense world-building, unique main characters, and the way the magic looks, this is already shaping up to be an incredible show. I’m excited to see more of Fort Salem and just how rigorous the training will be.

Motherland: Fort Salem airs every Wednesday at 9 pm EST / 6 pm PST on Freeform.

Motherland: Fort Salem
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

I really enjoyed the pilot episode of Motherland: Fort Salem. I’ve been really excited about this show since I saw the trailer back in May of 2019. Even though it’s been nearly a year since the first trailer dropped, “Say the Words” made the wait worth it.