'Motherland: Fort Salem': Scylla and Raelle's LGBTQ+ relationship leaves a lot more to be desired
Spoilers for 'Motherland: Fort Salem' Season 1, Episode 4: 'Hail Beltane'
It's one step forward, two steps back when it comes to queer representation on 'Motherland: Fort Salem.' The show has done an admirable job for queer representation with its focus on one of its lead characters, Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson) and her relationship with Scylla (Amalia Holm). Unfortunately, as the only confirmed LGBTQ+ representation on the show, their relationship leaves a lot to be desired. Raelle deserves much better — and so does the fandom.
From Raelle's perspective alone, it's a wonderful relationship. The two characters have a lot of on-screen chemistry, and it's important to have a relationship like theirs openly acknowledged, accepted, and welcomed. The audience, however, gets to see more than just Raelle's side of things. The show's very first scene is of Scylla committing mass murder on behalf of the Spree, without any apparent traces of remorse, or coercion. More recently, the last episode saw her coerce an old flame into committing suicide the moment he brought up accusations of her being part of the Spree. Scylla doesn't appear to be haunted by what she's done — she only lives in fear of being caught.
She's lied to Raelle constantly, made her question her beliefs, and also manipulated her feelings in very direct ways. The most egregious example was when Scylla took on the form of someone else to get Raelle to see Scylla in a more positive light. Along the way, Scylla may have begun to develop true feelings for Raelle, but it's hard to trust someone who lies so well, who has been seen to have little in the way of morality, and who has a very sinister agenda in mind — Raelle's recruitment into the Spree.
It makes for a compelling story, but as the only canonically queer couple to be seen on the show, it's a horrific example of a relationship. There's no way to enjoy the two characters together without sweeping a mountain's worth of Scylla's sins under the rug. No relationship is smooth, or easy, sure, Raelle surely deserves more than a partner who consistently lies to serve her own agenda.
There's hope, however, for this relationship to turn from blatantly wrong to merely problematic. We're starting to see hints that Scylla may be coming to actually care for Raelle, as more than just manipulation, as this episode we see that Scylla's superiors are upset with Scylla's tactics thus far — implying that the relationship Scylla is cultivating with Raelle was not part of the plan. We need to be able to see some evidence that Scylla's more murderous actions were coerced — or, given all the shapechanging that goes on, that the woman we saw in the opening had nothing to do with Scylla at all — and some remorse on Scylla's part for her actions.
It's possible that Scylla is a redeemable character, as some of TV's best love stories have been between characters on opposing sides. However, at this point, it feels like hoping for that is simply making excuses for a relationship fans desperately want to succeed.
The next episode of 'Motherland: Fort Salem' airs April 15, on Freeform.