Friday, October 26, 2018

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - Several Family Secrets Surprise Sabrina in 'Chapter Three: The Trial of Sabrina Spellman'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 1.03 "Chapter Three: The Trial of Sabrina Spellman"

As Sabrina confronts a long line of family secrets, Harvey faces turmoil at home - and shares a secret of his own.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

"Chapter Three: The Trial of Sabrina Spellman" was written by Ross Maxwell and directed by Rob Seidenglanz

It really shouldn't take three hours for a new show to establish its premise. And yet, that seems to be the case with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It takes until this episode to establish that Sabrina will maintain her connection to the mortal world while also being welcomed at the Academy of Unseen Arts. However, all of the introductory beats aren't over with quite yet because she still has to be seen in that new school environment. This hour mostly just deals with Sabrina and the entire Spellman family being put on trial for breech of promise. The Dark Lord is essentially suing Sabrina for not signing her name in the Book of the Beasts. She was promised to him as part of an agreement that was stuck so that her father could marry her mother. But even then, the show still allows for plenty of courtroom drama where the theatrics quickly take over and surprise the viewers. Zelda betrays Sabrina with the reveal that she never really had any choice in the matter. She was always destined to serve the Dark Lord. Any pretense of free will was a complete fantasy. However, Hilda also kept a massive secret from the family. Sabrina was also baptized in a Catholic ceremony by her mother. That occurred before her name was first signed into the Book of the Beasts. As such, the Dark Lord has no legitimate hold over her. That's what allows her to continue to live her life as a half-witch, half-mortal. It continues to establish that Sabrina is the only person capable enough to take on the Dark Lord and potentially win. It's also just further proof that he has a number of tricks up his sleeve. The world around Sabrina is completely loyal to him. Even her own family questions her antics and decisions in the courtroom. They believe Sabrina can just plead guilty and accept the minimal punishment. They hope she will still sign her name. They need her to because they are losing their powers. But in the end, that's just an empty threat. Their powers are restored even though all of this also leads to Hilda being excommunicated from the church for her own betrayal. Moreover, the narrative expands the worlds of a couple of the supporting characters to make them seem more important. It's not abundantly clear what happened to Connor and if his death should be of huge concern to anyone in Greendale. It suggests that there may be a new witch hunt about to start. But that also feels like one plot point too many in a show already bursting with story. But Ambrose finds himself taken with Luke who can provide valuable insight into Connor's identity as a warlock. Elsewhere, Harvey opens up about his fear of the mines because he saw the Dark Lord down there when he was a child. Meanwhile, Roz shares that she is going blind. Her sight is deteriorating very quickly. As such, she fights against the school's policy of silently banning books. This exploration of these characters' worlds is important setup for whatever happens next. Wardwell suggests to Blackwood that the most efficient way to corrupt Sabrina's soul is to destroy her connections to the mortal world. That means the audience should be very afraid of what's bound to happen to Harvey, Susie and Roz. They may be oblivious to the supernatural world around them. But they are in danger because of Sabrina's secret. That just means that they better learn the truth sooner rather than later - especially with her spending more time away from them soon.