The first original program produced for WGN America, Salem, recently concluded its first season on TV and the cast and creators appeared at a Saturday afternoon Comic-Con panel in Room 6DE to talk about it. In attendance were actors Shane West, Janet Montgomery, Seth Gabel, Ashley Madekwe, Iddo Goldberg, and Elise Eberle, as well as executive producers Brannon Braga, Adam Simon and Josh Barry.
Set in the volatile world of 17th-century Massachusetts, Salem explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials. Following a look back at footage from the first season and the panel, there was an audience Q&A.
Simon said if the motto of last season was “witch among us”, the motto of season two will be “witch war”.
Eberle loved her arc last season, changing from good to bad.
Barry said next season will be amazing to bring everything back together. “We blew the shit out of that town.”
Braga said, “This isn’t the History Channel.” It’s safe to say the story will branch off.
Simon added, “What if American History were more what Lovecraft would be?”
West said his character didn’t have much time to process what happened at the beginning of the season finale. The reality of the situation goes beyond the supernatural.
Braga said they’ve considered flashing back to the “good old days”. But, the issue is making the cast look younger. Montgomery gasped, “Excuse me?”
Gabel said about his character (and other), “Right when you think you know someone, information is given that reveals their truth.”
As Eberle spoke of her character’s spirit being crushed by Montgomery’s, Montgomery interrupted, “Welcome to the real world. That’s what happens; people disappoint.”
Regarding the liberties WGN America gave the show, Barry said, “If anything, they’ve been pushing us.” Gabel interjected, “Next season, there’s going to be more butts.”
When asked about the relationship between West’s and Gabel’s characters on the show, Gabel joked, “It’s an honor to be ‘shipped with this man.” They both spoke about the yin and yang of their characters.
Madekwe added a comment about sexual chemistry between the two and Gabel explained, “I wear those pheromones you find in the back of Popular Mechanics.” (For those who don’t watch Salem, this is all a joke; the characters are not gay.)
Montgomery defended herself, “I did not crush a real mouse. I would never ever do that.”
When asked if the cast studied history to prepare for the show or if there was a historian on set. Gabel said, “Time travel.” Then Montgomery added, “We’re not very accurate, so obviously we don’t.”
Simon said the line between science and magic is something fascinating to explore and it’s what Salem will be dramatizing.
Braga said that other than The Crucible, there really hasn’t been a story like this shown, so they have a wealth of material for stories.
Of the other Comic-Con panels I’ve attended this year, the cast of Salem seemed more willing to speculate about their characters and storylines without looking over their shoulders for the approval of the showrunners. It was somewhat refreshing. Salem returns to WGN America in 2015.