Died and stayed dead would have raised the stakes, I agree.
About the feminist/classist/racial reasons for the witch's actions. Even though there are male witches, witchcraft has always been attributed to women. Exploring the gender specifics and coupled with the fact women had less power back then in society plus the hypocrisy, it's easy to see why Mary,Tituba and Mercy might look for scapegoats to justify the bad things they did. Maybe there was too much of it but I think if Puritans in this show had chilled out on the hypocrisy a bit, some of the women could have taken a different path.
On being in love with Mary: the story was about John and Mary. Sebastian fell for her, a lost momma's boy and the Dr was attracted to her. That's all. Isaac loved 2 other women, as did Cotton,Hawthorne, etc. George Sibley was just a lecherous old man who wanted the pretty young girl of the village at the time,Mary fit. Had George been 15 years younger, he would have manipulated things to get Anne or Dolly. That being said, I'm a straight woman and I think the actress is quite striking. I thought she was better looking than Anne by a mile.
I think Anne is prettier but to each their own I suppose, but both women were naturally beautiful though.
"Who lives, who dies, who tells your story"