From the network that gave us TV’s first gender-fluid mermaid throuple comes Motherland: Fort Salem, a wild new drama that tackles an age-old question: What if the United States recruited witches to fight for the military? In other words, Freeform has finally out-Freeform’d itself (in the best way).
We’re introduced to this strange version of our world in Wednesday’s premiere via three new recruits with wildly different backstories: Straight-laced Abigail Bellweather comes from a long line of distinguished veterans; Tally Craven has enlisted in direct defiance of her concerned family; and Raelle Collar — whose half-shaved head screams, “I’m on a post-apocalyptic teen drama!” — is there to investigate her own mother’s mysterious death on the battlefield.
Upon arriving at Fort Salem, the incoming class is greeted by General Sarah Alder, a centuries-old witch whose skincare secrets L’Oreal would kill for. And speaking of senseless murder, Alder warns the newbies that they are living in “a time of ancient hatred and emerging threats.” (Sounds familiar.) The Spree, an anti-military terrorist organization, is working tirelessly to dismantle the very fabric of American society, claiming countless innocent casualties in its wake. (Not that anyone’s really “innocent.” Come on, we’ve all got browser histories.)
As training begins, the women are encouraged to bond with the other members of their unit, but our main three don’t exactly become instant besties. Sure, their initial conversation shows promise — queer energy abounds as the ladies whisper about special birthmarks that become “shinier” when witches are sexually active — but it isn’t long before Abigail is in Alder’s office requesting a new assignment. Not only is her request emphatically denied, but whipping Raelle into shape becomes Abigail’s new mission: “This is on you, Private,” the general tells her. “Turn that girl around until she’s right.”
The trio eventually achieves literal harmony during a test of their powers, but taming a wild beast like Raelle won’t be easy — especially if she insists on spending time (and swapping spit) with Scylla, a bad-news recruit with a nasty secret: she’s a member of the Spree!
As if that wasn’t enough, Raelle discovers a revealing piece of her mother’s writing, in which she expresses concern over poor leadership. Prior to her death, she feared for her life under the command of Petrov Bellweather — Abigail’s mother. So maybe the Spree won’t even have to kill these girls; they’ll just end up finishing each other off.
Let’s talk: Will you pledge your allegiance — or your DVR, at the very least — to Motherland: Fort Salem? Or was one round of basic training enough for you to go AWOL? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.