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What Motherland: Fort Salem Gets Wrong About Being In The Military

Alternative histories are a fun way to find fresh new angles on narratives that have been told over and over, and the Freeform series "Motherland: Fort Salem" is an especially surprising version of a story everyone knows. 

Created by Eliot Laurence, "Motherland: Fort Salem" is set in an America in which the persecution of (real) witches was resolved 300 years ago with an agreement known as the Salem Accords. The U.S. government agreed to end the unfair treatment of witchcraft by forming an elite branch of the military run by witches. From then on, witches are conscripted to train in magical combat and use vocal sounds to enact strong spells. The series follows Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams) and Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton), three new recruits at the Fort Salem base, as they get used to life in the army and train to battle a terrorist witch organization, the Spree. 

Over the course of the show's first two seasons — with a third and final season on its way — "Motherland: Fort Salem" continues to develop and expand this magical, alternate world, but some fans have pointed out that the show's depiction of the U.S. Army is very different from the real thing. Here's what the supernatural drama doesn't get right about military life.

The witches dominate the military but don't use traditional weapons

One big difference between the "Motherland: Fort Salem" military and our own is the reliance on technology. Because magic exists in the "Motherland: Fort Salem" universe, weaponry, phones, and other devices are several decades behind the real world. Most of the Fort Salem witches don't even carry guns.

In a Reddit thread on military technology in the show, several commenters noticed that the lack of extensive armory doesn't make sense. U/William_147015 wrote about how "the small number of witches means that an army made out of them would collapse in a war – mostly because there'd be massive stretches of land for an enemy to march through."

Many other Redditors, like u/medvezhonok96, felt that the lack of guns and traditional weapons for witches was partly for "plot armor" so that the characters can't be easily killed. U/papadoc19 also commented that there are "instances in the show where witches have had issues against darts and arrows... so I have major doubts they could handle bullets."

Battle strategies and tactics aren't shown on screen

Another post in the "Motherland: Fort Salem" subreddit by u/lt9946 was titled "Anyone else think this show really needs more military/action scene advisers?" The fan noted that at least in Season 1, the new recruits aren't very experienced, so their defeats make sense. But by the second season, "all these crazy powerful witches are getting taken down so easily."

The user further wrote that "It looks like the witches just make a perimeter and wait for trouble to come at them. No stealth attacks, no recon, no repositioning, and they look quite weak against any kind of long distance projectiles." Indeed, for a show about the rigors of military life, "Motherland: Fort Salem" doesn't really depict the use of basic battle strategies, instead only focusing on the witches and the use of their powers in action. 

Another Reddit user and viewer of the show concurred, replying that "As for the tactics, it was one of the first things that stood out to me when they went to the Tarim region. They had zero tactics. It seemed like the Camarilla was more tactical than the Army." As strategy is a key part of the military, fans are surprised that the show completely glosses over it. Luckily, "Motherland: Fort Salem" is coming back for a third and final season (via Freeform), so hopefully the show will showcase more military strategies of the witches in the final bout of episodes.