If you thought you'd seen everything you could see on TV, perhaps you were as delighted as I was by the shot of a dead man's putrefying face being ripped off by a mute, then pulled taut so it could chime in on some local gossip. Perhaps the best mental image of "Lies" was Tituba having a cozy tête-à-tête with a flayed-off face. That is the lasting mental image that, were I to bake this show a cake, I would have printed on the icing up top.
The best line was Mary Sibley asking Shane West, "Are you ever grateful to be no longer young?" This came after Ann Hale well and truly showed her ass by having a meltdown about Shane West/men in general "not caring" in the middle of Salem's mud-encrusted outdoor mall. Mary's wry observation was only slightly undermined by the giant plumed Thanksgiving hat atop her head, and if I'd had my giant scoring cards I'd have flashed a 9.5 at my TV screen, but they were still in my purse for when I go to Trader Joe's, in case I see someone drop a glass jar.
With just these two story points "Lies" had already done a B++ job but then it answered allll the extra credit questions right by unveiling a "wheel within a wheel," (insight into the witches' inner workings), and ushering in the most fascinating element of the real-world Salem witch trials: the psychopathic "afflicted" teen girls who picked off their neighbors one by one in a real life Mafia Game in which the stakes were life and death itself. Like, finally.
Also: the puzzle box got even weirder, Shane West confirmed a rumor, and Gloriana troublingly swept her own rape right under the rug. Let's get to it!
The top of the episode was a dazzling array of witches we hadn't even met yet, who spoke backwards like they were in Twin Peaks' Black Lodge and who didn't seem that concerned about their skincare regimens. Bubbles, flakes, grown-over eyelids are just some of the skin conditions that didn't seem to bother them. But they were very bothered that Mary Sibley, their greatest creation (AGREE) was acting a mite too fond of Shane West. What if her crush derailed her from opening up a can of Grand Rite on the New World? They decided to commune with the guy who was killed last episode (Hooke) who knows Shane West's secrets, and then use those secrets to drive Shane West out of town. ("He was... in.... A Walk to Remember...")
Meanwhile Mary Sibley showed up in Mercy Lewis' room and was like "Okay, hussy: I'm the giant apple doll whose been licking your face and biting your neck these last few weeks. How does that make you feel?" and Mercy Lewis's eyeballs answered "Aroused."
Mary Sibley warned her to be good, smooched her on the lips, then hurried out to the market with Tituba, and immediately Mr. Hale appeared asking for Tituba's help to make, LOL, salves. Mary knew he was lying but sent Tituba off with Hale anyway, who sure enough escorted Tituba out to "the Crags," a body dumping ground where a certain disembodied face was waiting for a little chat.
I just want to take a moment here to offer my appreciation to the extras who appear in the shots of "The Crags." We see you, babies. Laying there, mostly naked amongst the fake bones, getting stepped on by the primary actors, often not blinking through long shots. We salute your patience and dedication to ambiance!
Shane West meanwhilst was examining the Hellraiser-esque box he'd taken off Hooke last week with a cleaver. It popped open to reveal a charming, well-carved wooden apple, but the second Shane West grabbed that apple he saw a lot more sick naked extras. Shocked it wasn't just a World Market novelty kitchen timer, Shane West took it over to Cotton's house, barged into his room, and caught Cotton in flagrante delicto with Gloriana.
Last week Gloriana was "humiliated" by Cotton in her words, "raped" in mine, and now she's accepted a position as Cotton's full-time kept lady. It's not a good move for the character, and it could be argued a rapist and his victim engaging in a romantic relationship is an irresponsible message to send on a TV show. Then again if anybody out there is seriously taking their social cues from Salem then I have an industrial-strength panic room I need to go build. Still, I feel obligated to remind the young'uns that having a relationship/sex with a guy consensually does not excuse him from raping you later. PSA over.
Gloriana hurried back to the brothel to pack up her office, Cotton and Shane West pored over his leather-bound Wiccapedia to learn what the puzzle box was: the Apple TV Box of the Grand Rite, essentially. The rite that makes it possible for Satan to come to Earth! Sigh.
What is Satan's obsession with physically walking around on Earth? Does he want to try out the new Vibram soles he's heard so much about? Doesn't he realize that he's much better off as an abstract metaphor for chaos, inhumanity and sadism? Sigh.
But just when I was all "UGH, the Devil on Earth? Boooring! What about the afflicted girlz?!" there was a knock on Mercy Lewis' door and lo and behold, there were three jumpy tween ladies, all of them VERY interested in Mercy Lewis' recent gig as Panicked Bald Girl Hung From Church Beam Via Crotch Holster. They mooned over her like she was Miley Cyrus, complaining about how parents/Puritans/Salem just doesn't understand, and then Mercy decided to FALSELY ACCUSE A DUDE just to help them out.
Were you ever so young that you bent over backwards trying to help someone just to thank them for liking you? That's how young Mercy Lewis is. She accused one of the girl's awful dads to set her new friend free, and she and the other girls celebrated by dancing around in the woods in their chonies. With no music playing. Awkward, I know, but teens wilding out in the woods has been a traditional "starting point" in Salem historical fiction since The Crucible, so this was VERY exciting.
Back in town, Tituba had finally loosed Hooke's lips to learn West's terrible secret, and confronted Mary Sibley with this hot topic: Shane West had killed 20 people. Mary Sibley snuck into his house and confronted him. You killed 20 people!?
"Yup." said Shane West.
But you didn't want to, right? It was an ill-fated circumstance. The dice were loaded, the cards were stacked! He felt like awful about it too, right!? Right?!?
"Nope." said Shane West.
And then Mary Sibley kissed him so, so passionately. Maybe because she was relieved (he's a sinner like her, with a hole in his soul as big as the last ten years) or because she wanted to say goodbye to the man she thought she loved. It was ambiguous in the best way.
And when Mercy Lewis said to Mary at the close of the episode "I want to be just like you" it was an explosion of feels. We understand fully the beautiful, glossy weapon Mary Sibley has become and we understand other people want to wield her. We also know she's haunted by the normal life she could have had with Shane West (so is Mandy Moore). And it was devastating.
And then a witch got impaled by 16 sharp pointy stakes trying to get the puzzle box from Shane West's bedside table. Poor Rose! She was kind of amazing. And just like Rose fell perfectly on those stakes, everything fell perfectly in place to really take off, and the episode was over.
[Image via WGN]