Saturday, October 27, 2018

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - Nightmares Terrify the Spellman Family in 'Chapter Five: Dreams in a Witch House'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 1.05 "Chapter Five: Dreams in a Witch House"

A mysterious demon wreaks havoc on Spellman Mortuary. Sabrina goes rogue and puts her powers to the test.

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 Five: Dreams in a Witch House" was written by Matthew Barry and directed by Maggie Kiley

This episode only moves the overall story of the season forward a tiny bit. And yet, it's the most effective and compelling episode of the season so far because it is so focused on exploring character. It actually examines everyone who lives in the Spellman house. In the four previous episodes, they were all functioning as constructs. They all had roles to play in the overall story. And now, it's so completely fascinating to spend a little bit of time on each of them and how they see the world. That makes this hour a tragedy in many ways. It delves into the fears that they have for how their lives will turn out. But it's also so rousing to see Sabrina break her way out of this situation and trap the demon who is causing all of this chaos. Sure, she doesn't do it alone. Wardwell is fortunately spying on the house and can infiltrate Sabrina's dream to wake her up. It seems like she is only roaming around in that world in order for the plot to feature that surprise of Sabrina knowing her teacher is more than she seems. She easily could have woken Sabrina up without going into her mind. But that's really the only plot complication of this episode. The rest of the time is well spent. Sure, it shows just how trivial and small Sabrina's world can still be. Right now, her biggest fear is that Harvey will turn on her in some way. At first, it's him breaking up with her. And then, it's him wanting to kill her as soon as she tells him about being a witch. The season has actively teased that reveal. She is so frightened of how he'll respond. He isn't able to have a natural response though. That should inform the audience that he will have an unexpected reaction to the truth. Meanwhile, it's clear to see the pain that Ambrose's confinement has had on his life. He has been a delightful side character who encourages Sabrina to indulge in her powers. And yet, he lives his life in complete fear that he will never be able to leave this house again. He fears that he will die and no one will care that he is gone. He just serves a very minor purpose in this life. One that Hilda and Zelda could do without him around. And finally, it's so compelling to see how closely Zelda and Hilda's fates and fears tie in to one another. They love each other and they hate each other. It's such a complicated relationship. Hilda fears that she will never get to experience love in her life. She believes she too will stay trapped in this current arrangement. She will forever be the little sister tormented by Zelda. Even if she does find love, she fears that it will only be the torturous kind that will ensure that she can never leave Zelda for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, Zelda fears that one day Hilda will never come back to her. She relies so heavily on their dynamic. She once resigned herself to the fact that Hilda would be the death of her. And now, it's so traumatic to fear that she has killed her sister and she doesn't resurrect again. This is a pattern they have established in their lives. It's something that Zelda enjoys doing over and over again. But she also fears how the Dark Lord could turn away from her in favor of her sister. She doesn't want to be left alone in this world. All of these fears are absolutely legitimate and heartbreaking. Sabrina visits each of these nightmares as she gathers the tools to defeat the demon. She succeeds and feigns ignorance when they ask her about them. And yet, this has the potential to change the dynamic for the Spellman family. It's going to be very fascinating to see who changes their actions in order to avoid these tragic fates coming to life.