"Motherland: Fort Salem" Opener Casts Promising, Flawed Spell [REVIEW]

As first episodes go, Freeform's Motherland: Fort Salem did a strong job of meeting season-starting expectations. It set the series' tone and introduced us to our main characters without having to beat us over the head with their pasts. It grabbed my attention and kept me watching. By the time the hour passed, I was actually surprised to see it end and interested to see where it takes viewers – especially with that saw-it-coming-but-was-still-awesome ending.

Motherland Fort Salem
(Freeform/David Bukach)

In just its first outing, "Say the Words" presented its world in a way that was inviting to the viewer. Granted, there is still much to still learn about this alt-history, but it got me curious and for now that is enough. I enjoyed the set-up and look forward to seeing more of the witches' training, their historical philosophy, and the secrets that seem to be hidden throughout.

We also got to meet our lead trio: Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton), and Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams). Three young ladies with three distinctly different pasts drafted into the same unit to fight for America against The Spree – an anti-military witch-terrorist organization that is the cause of some horrific attacks in this episode (and an opening scene that brought Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story to mind).

Motherland Fort Salem
(Freeform/David Bukach)

They also gave is just enough about the trio to keep us interested, but so far? Other than Tally, none of them are really likeable by the end of the opener. Abigail seems to have a broomstick up her ass – even with the "family legacy" pressure. As for Raelle? So far, the cliche "rebel" who is going to end up "breaking all the rules" but also learning more about herself in the process – making everyone better. Plus, didn't she choose to join? Isn't it a little tough to "rebel" against something you chose to do?

Yet with that said, Hickson and Williams prove that they're ready to handle the responsibility of more layered characters – hope they get better opportunities to demonstrate their acting chops more.

Another thing… while I am glad that they did not take forever in getting us up-to-speed on what we needed to know, I was confused at certain points by the timing and pace. Still, Motherland: Fort Salem more than passed our "first episode" test, and I am looking forward to getting to know more about this world – always a good feeling coming out of a season-opener.

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