There is nothing more genre specific on Freeform than their series Motherland: Fort Salem. The story focuses on a group of supernaturally gifted individuals —witches— who make up the U.S. Military. Returning for its second season on June 22nd, Motherland follows three young women Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), Raelle (Taylor Hickson), and Tally (Jessica Sutton) as they continue their training.
I came into the first two episodes with very little knowledge of the show, and immediately felt at a disadvantage having not seen any of season one. While there’s definitely a learning curve, the show kicked off with enough exposition and detail that I was able to piece things together and comprehend what was going on. That said, current fans will be delighted to get right back to the stories of the lead trio.
Motherland wastes no time returning to its otherworldly setting. Audiences get glimpses at stained glass melting while a woman sings; an unknown body covered in colorful mushrooms; and a strange, shadowy attack on a group of witches — all within the first act. The ancient threat known as the Camarilla is rumored to reemerge; and civilians are rallying in protest of the military’s seeming inaction at putting a stop to the Spree —a terrorist group of witches.
Speaking to the pacing, at times the show plays like a soap opera, jumping around between stories and characters in quick succession before returning to unveil important information. It’s a credit to the writers for finding a nice balance in building intrigue and mystery and delivering just enough answers to satisfy viewers.
With multiple storylines happening simultaneously, Motherland features a large and diverse cast of mostly women. Best of all, it’s a celebration of sisterhood and not a defence of female empowerment or a bashing of the opposite sex. Men are part of the story and not just as love interests. As our trio progresses in their training, there are fellow classmates and a teacher who are male, they’re just not central to every story arc, and guess what? That feels natural.
On the technical side, the score is lovely and dramatic, reminiscent at times of the ubiquitous superhero soundtracks of the last decade. As for the visuals, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the special effects. They aren’t perfect, but things have certainly improved since Buffy the Vampire Slayer dealt with the Hellmouth. From elemental manipulation and facial changes, to living organisms and more, everything looks remarkably believable for this world.
Motherland is such an interesting premise for a show. While it’s hardly the first time a network has delivered a series about magical beings in everyday situations —Charmed in my era and anything on The CW now— it’s a positive take on national service, women in leadership and a unique look at mothers and daughters. I’m anxious to uncover the mysteries surrounding the series and anticipate a charged second season full of intrigue, unexpected pairings, and hopefully an epic showdown.
I give Motherland: Fort Salem 4 out of 5 acceptances to War College.