Motherland: Fort Salem (B+,B+,D)

Motherland: Fort Salem (B+,B+,D)

The first two seasons of Motherland: Fort Salem are taut, gritty, and compelling. The show has high stakes, a serious tone, and welcome emotional depth as we follow the lives of the three main-character cadets and watch as their initial hang-ups and interpersonal conflicts give way to the esprit de corps and camaraderie of a cohesive unit. All set in a cool, sci-fi, alternate-history modern day where witches have become another main branch of the Armed Forces.

Somehow, though, the third and final season is complete crap.

It feels like mediocre fan fiction written by junior writers fresh off 80's TV action shows.

The military training and gravitas is gone; instead our heroes bumble around from one awkward plot point to the next, spouting painful dialog full of clich├ęd bravado. There's a trite, wacky-sinister bad guy in charge of thousands of generic, anonymous soldiers who show up about six at a time to fight our girls hand-to-hand, eventually overwhelming our heroes or being defeated by them as called for by the next plot point.

Several important characters come back from the dead, damaging the overall dramatic credibility of the show. And speaking of dramatic incredulity, we learn that the mysterious Cession is run by... an HOA-like squad of dorky, slovenly-dressed middle-aged ladies with yoga pants, nose rings, mom glasses, and beanies. Expectations: subverted.

It's still worth watching the first two seasons and then calling it good.