Sunday, October 28, 2018

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - Sabrina Suffers the Consequences of Her Actions in 'Chapter Nine: The Returned Man'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 1.09 "Chapter Nine: The Returned Man"

Sabrina recruits Roz for a crucial mission. Susie reconnects with her past. Lord Blackwood challenges Aunt Zelda's authority.

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 Nine: The Returned Man" was written by Axelle Carolyn & Christina Ham and directed by Craig William Macneill

Sabrina's life completely implodes here. It's so absolutely devastating but also completely of her own making. She walks around with confidence because she has a solid understanding of what she can do as a witch and the willingness to help the people in her life. And yet, most of her actions this season have been done out of selfish reasons. She was making a significant difference in the lives of her mortal friends while also lying to them about her true nature. None of them know that she is a witch. Instead, Roz and Susie are just briefly entertaining the notion and wondering what it possibly means going forward. They don't know if they can trust her. Meanwhile, Sabrina is finally dealing with the consequences of her actions. After an entire season of buildup that made her feel like the most powerful witch who could bring change to the coven, she is completely destroyed because her actions only make things worse. She wasn't operating under Harvey's orders to try and bring his brother back to life. She resurrected Tommy because she saw it as the best thing to do for the Kinkle family. She saw a chance to fix a problem created by witches in the first place. She saw it as the right thing to do. That's how she can justify all of her actions throughout this entire story. She wants to save lives. She doesn't want to destroy people for some sinister plan. And yet, she has done exactly that because she is still too naive to the supernatural world. She believes that she can cross into the mortal limbo and reunite Tommy's soul with his body. But that's such a dangerous and reckless mission. Everyone around her is absolutely right to question her judgment and refuse to help her. Blackwood is right to say that Zelda has failed to reign in her niece and her impulsive actions. Zelda, Hilda and Ambrose are horrified to learn everything that Sabrina has done and don't want any part in only further adding to the complications. Even Harvey is right when he says that it was brutal and unforgivable for her to bring Tommy back only to have to kill him. This seems like the moment where she is destined to break and be completely susceptible to the Dark Lord's plans. Wardwell has spun her tale and made her influence known. And now, she's well-poised to reap the benefits of her patience. Sabrina's connection to the mortal world has been destroyed. This happening in the penultimate episode ensures that the finale will be even more dramatic and uncertain.

All of this produces the best episode of the season because of just how moving and emotional an experience it is for all of the characters. The focus remains squarely on Sabrina and her dealing with the repercussions of her action. But it's also so passionate and optimistic to think that she is capable of fixing things if she just embarks on yet another journey. She believes that she is only one spell away from changing things for the better . Instead, the Kinkle family has their grief prolonged with the idea that Tommy has come back to them. Meanwhile, Agatha is dying because the underworld was promised a soul and wasn't delivered one. Sabrina tried to perform this ritual without having to pay the severe cost. She doesn't realize the extent she has had to corrupt herself just in order to provide this potential happiness. And now, it is destroying everything for her and her family. Blackwood no longer trusts any Spellman to do what they are told. He sends Prudence and Dorcas to finish the job instead. Meanwhile, Zelda fears that she has failed as a maternal figure and that Sabrina would have been better off being raised by her actual mother's mortal family. After all of this goes wrong though, Zelda is the one who comforts Sabrina. She may not know where to go from here. Her life has forever been damaged. Her connections to her friends may never be as strong as they were because of her lies. Harvey lashes out immediately. This is what Sabrina always feared when telling him the truth about being a witch. This is the third time this season that she has done so. The show took back the previous two attempts with a spell and a dream sequence. But now, there is no undoing this. Harvey, Susie and Roz know the truth. Sabrina at least tells Harvey. She is honest with him. That's the only way to protect him from the person who looks like his brother. It's a kindness that she extends to him. It's just devastating because he's the one who ultimately chooses to kill him. Sabrina has no plan in that regard. She has just created this new hardship for Harvey that will now forever traumatize him. He may know that this person isn't his brother. And yet, he will always remember this as the night that he killed Tommy. That is bound to torture him and there is nothing Sabrina can do to help. She is just now starting to realize that there are limits to what she can do even though she is a witch.