Motherland: Fort Salem 3×04 Review: “Happy Yule!”

"Happy Yule!"
Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) and Adil (Tony Giroux) in “Happy Yule!”

The holiday of Yule arrives in the world of Motherland: Fort Salem, bringing proof that not all hope is lost for the unit in “Happy Yule!” (Motherland: Fort Salem Season 3 Episode 4).

As bleak as things appeared to be for the unit in “Oh Elayne…,” not everything is as it appears in “Happy Yule!”, episode 3 of Motherland: Fort Salem season 3. It is set around the Yule holiday, the witches’ version of Christmas. As fun as it was to explore witches’ Halloween traditions last season, the episode shows how witches celebrate their version of Christmas. Most notable of these traditions is a yule log carved with symbols, which helps Tally (Jessica Sutton) further her abilities with a potentially catastrophic vision.

The previous episode ended with the unit captured by the mysterious Marshal (Michael Horse) and President Wade (Sheryl Lee Ralph) assassinated by an explosion. However, the episode quickly reveals that it was all a ruse. Petra (Catherine Lough Haggquist) and M (Ess Hodlmoser) helped fake Wade’s death and the Marshal is in fact an ally. The ruse was very convincing, and I was relieved to see that everyone survived after all.

On the heels of President Wade’s supposed assassination, Vice President Silver (Victor Webster) hosts an inauguration party with his Camarilla associates. The party’s entertainment is the trapping of three pairs of witches for the purpose of fighting each other. Among these pairings are Anacostia (Demetria McKinney) and Sterling (Luc Roderique). Overall, these parts of the episode were the most out of place and confusing. If Wade’s death was faked, how did Anacostia and Sterling still end up in Camarilla clutches and why does nobody seem concerned about their whereabouts?

Back in the Cession, Petra, Wade, and M reunite with the unit at the Marshal’s house and the reunion between Petra and Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) is particularly moving. Wade is surprisingly a fun character when not dealing with the stresses of being president, and she spends the episode celebrating with the unit and kissing the Marshal before having to leave the party at the end.

Khalida (Kylee Brown) summons Alder (Lyne Renee) and the two begin a mission to recover the rest of the first song. Alder shares a nice moment with the Marshall as they go over their centuries-long history but shares an even more emotional moment with Tally before leaving for the quest. Alder calling Tally by her full name for the first time and the embrace the two have is very touching and shows the surprising depth of the evolution of their bond. Khalida also shares a tearful goodbye with Adil (Tony Giroux) and Abigail, reiterating once again that they are family.

Scylla (Amalia Holm) spends the episode attempting to contact Raelle (Taylor Hickson) through the Mycelium, even using a buried goat heart to try and reach out. When Scylla is nearly about to give up hope, Raelle responds with a message of her own that is a nice callback to the way Scylla communicates with Raelle through the letter drawn on her hand.

Though the show found a clever way to work around Hickson’s injury-related absence, it’s hard not to wonder what a final season with Raelle beside the unit would have been like. Though the group dynamics have been overall solid this season, the show’s central dynamic between Raelle, Tally, and Abigail has been sorely missed.

Tally (Jessica Sutton) in “Happy Yule!”

The unit spends the evening celebrating the holiday, and they get an opportunity to relax amid all the stress that they’re under. Scylla insisting that Nicte (Kandyse McClure) not spend the holiday alone despite their friction throughout the episode is sweet. Adil and Abigail’s moments together, complete with mistletoe and dancing, are also delightful.

The surprising highlight is the dynamic between Tally and M. Given the opportunity, M details their struggles with entering the gender-divided military as a non-binary person and affirms their support of Tally. The two have a great conversation, and it will be interesting to see if their dynamic develops any further.

The fun of “Happy Yule!” comes to an unfortunate end, as Tally sees a vision of an apocalyptic scenario involving Raelle and Silver blames the unit for Wade’s assassination in his address to the nation. The vision is concerning, but likely has a different meaning than what it appears to be. After a brief respite, it’s time for the unit to get back on track.

What did you think of “Happy Yule!”?

Let us know.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.


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