A show’s final premiere is always bittersweet as you come to realize that it’s truly the beginning of the end, and Motherland: Fort Salem’s Season 3 premiere is no different. In a TV landscape where everything is either a reboot or an adaptation, Motherland’s strikingly unique vision from creator Eliot Lawrence has been a breath of fresh air, and it’s devastating to see it end after just 30 total episodes later this summer.
Motherland: Fort Salem, which first premiered in 2020, has become Freeform’s summer staple for the past two years. The series takes place in a United States where the army is made up of witches, all of whom are able to track their lineage down the maternal bloodline. Motherland follows soldiers Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Abigail Bellweather (Ashely Nicole-Williams), and Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton) as they navigate life at Fort Salem, under the watchful eyes of Captain Anacostia Quartermain (Demetria McKennedy) and General Sarah Alder (Lynn Renee). As the witches gear up to fight their ancient enemy, The Camarilla, they also work with Spree members Nicte Batan (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart) and Scylla Ramshorn (Amalia Holm) to save all witches from the rapidly-growing wave of anti-witch sentiment. After the Season 2 finale left Raelle, Tally, and Abigail as fugitives from justice, Season 3 finds them on the run as they struggle to clear their names and adapt to life on the road.
In just the first episode (the only one available for review), Motherland follows its game-changing Season 2 finale with ease, transitioning from life at Fort Salem to life on the run. As the Unit adjusts to living and working with a network of draft dodgers—an arrangement obtained through Scylla’s contacts—they come to realize the true danger of life off the base, especially as the world quickly becomes more and more anti-witch by the day.
The highlights of the episode include the continuation of various threads from the end of the second season. For Raelle, that means finally getting to spend time with her girlfriend Scylla, while simultaneously getting a view into what her girlfriend’s life was like growing up with dodger parents. This experience serves only to bring them closer, and fans of Scylla and Raelle (affectionately dubbed Raylla) will be incredibly pleased with the direction Motherland is heading with their relationship. Abigail faces a similar scenario, where she now has more time to spend with Adil, making for wonderful moments for the other fan-favorite relationship. Tally, on the other hand, struggles the most with life on the road, but for good reason. The most transformative moments for her come from her interesting relationship with Nicte as the show continues to make Tally question everything that was taught to her at Fort Salem.
Differing from its first two seasons, Motherland’s A and B-plots each feature all the characters working towards the same goal, rather than focusing on two separate groups with two separate agendas, as the Spree and Army were showcased during Season 1. Fighting the war against The Camarilla on both fronts allows them to feel like their biggest villain yet, and more dangerous than ever before. Additionally, despite the Unit being missing from the base, Fort Salem is still as intriguing as ever, especially with the newly-placed power structures and Alder’s notable absence.
Despite the numerous slowed down and paired-back moments in the episode, Motherland is still a show that moves incredibly quickly. The episode begins a month after the events of the Season 2 finale, picking up once the Unit has already settled with the dodgers. The accelerated storytelling, both for the Unit and other characters in the episode, feels like a consequence of their criminally short seasons, especially as Fort Salem knows its time is quickly running out with just nine episodes left of their final outing.
Motherland: Fort Salem’s Season 3 premiere is definitely one to watch, especially for any and all die-hard fans of the show, as it allows the audience to view favorite characters with fresh eyes by showing sides we had yet to see from the core Unit. In addition to setting up a nail-biting story for the following nine weeks, Motherland: Fort Salem has already done what all ending shows should aim to do: Make the audience forget about mourning these characters in favor of being sucked into one final, incredible story.
Motherland: Fort Salem premieres Tuesday, June 21 at 10/9c on Freeform.
Anna Govert is an entertainment writer based in Chicago. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert.
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