Who is the biggest, baddest witch? And to defeat magic, must you also learn to embrace and wield it? These are just a few of the pressing questions facing the main characters in the second season of Salem.
Debuting Sunday, April 5, at 10 p.m., the Game of Thrones-meets-Colonial America horror series on WGN America picks up shortly after Mary Sibley, played by Janet Montgomery, successfully completed the Dark Rite and unleashed a plague on the mortals of Salem. While she is technically top witch, Sibley still must contend with her servant Tituba (Ashley Madekwe), who has her own motives, and also reveals that Mary's long-lost son is still alive. Meanwhile, Sibley has to contend with her former love John Alden (Shane West) whom she left for dead at the end of season one. He has his own desires, and one of them is to stamp out the witch threat -- but to do so might mean using a different kind of sorcery.
As if things weren't complicated enough, a new threat arrives in Salem in the form of the Countess Marburg, played by new cast member Lucy Lawless. Marburg is an ancient witch who arrives to claim what she believes is hers -- but her immense power may actually serve to bring other adversaries together.
I visited the Shreveport, La., set of Salem to talk with actors and creators from the show. In this segment, I sit down with Montgomery and Lawless together, and then West and Madekwe to explore this season.
In the following video, Lawless said that the thing that makes her character such a threat is that she is a survivor, and at least 2,000 years old with a set of dirty tricks. But Montgomery said Mary Sibley is also a real survivor, and that she has an edge because no one knows why she is such a powerful force.
"She has love, which makes [Mary] stronger," said Lawless. "But it's also a weakness, but the Countess' capacity for love died a long thousands of years ago ... the good of me is good enough."
"What makes Mary so interesting is she is conflicted; when she is doing something bad, she doesn't necessarily take pleasure in it," added Montgomery. "Like most great dictators, they have to believe what they're doing is for the greater good."
As for John Alden, West said in our interview below that any love left for Mary is buried deep inside.
"I'm sure it will bloom again but, currently, he's out for blood and revenge."
Also, Alden will be using magic to achieve his own ends.
"I hope, ultimately, he'll use it to fight the good fight, but he's embracing it to fight the fight, and it's burning him," said West. "Being human and not a witch, with this transformation, he has these powers, so to speak ... he ultimately doesn't know what to do with the newfound powers, and you'll see him flail about."
Like Alden, Tituba was rejected by Mary Sibley last year, but Madekwe said her character still has a love for her. Also, she said Tituba is wiser and doesn't fight as hard for her.
"She has seen Mary put Mary first; [Mary] didn't rescue her and she could have." But Madekwe added that the two are still on the same side to prevent the other witches from gaining control.
These actions are in line with Tituba's goals, she said, because she could have never ruled openly in the 17th century, as a woman of color. So she needs to play the "long game" and operate in the shadows.
Because of their shared bond, West and Madekwe said they'd like to see Alden and Tituba join forces. Said West, "They're coming from similar recent histories, and their love, spite and obsession, so to speak, for Mary can bring them together."
"And a common enemy -- not even just Mary, but there are other worse witches out there -- does a lot to bring people together," said Madekwe. "It's better the devil you know than the devil you don't."
Don't miss our other exclusive video interviews with actors Seth Gabel, Tamzin Merchant, Iddo Goldberg and Elise Eberle, as well as with co-creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon.