Sunday, April 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - Everyone Worries About the Future in 'Chapter Fifteen: Doctor Cerberus's House of Horror'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 1.15 "Chapter Fifteen: Doctor Cerberus's House of Horror"

Sabrina, Theo, Roz and others attempt to navigate the lines between fact, fiction and fate when a mysterious stranger sets up shop in Cerberus Books.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

"Chapter Fifteen: Doctor Cerberus's House of Horror" was written by Ross Maxwell and directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

This is a format-breaking episode. It tells story in a way that is different from the rest of the series. It's a kind of experiment that doesn't always work even though it helps break up the monotony of a season. It's a familiar trick used over on The CW's Riverdale - which is the other show overseen by Sabrina creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Here though, the conceit is many of the characters learning about the tragic futures that are awaiting them. However, it's difficult to gauge just how much anyone should believe the stories that are being seen. At first, it all presents as a mysterious stranger telling fortunes at Cerberus Books. There is always something off about her. She keeps invading the lives of the main characters. But the visions she gives them spell out their fates that could become reality if they don't heed her warnings now. In the end though, it's all revealed to be a trick orchestrated by Madam Satan. She uses her shape-shifting powers in order to gather information about the people who make up this world. She is arming himself with intel that could potentially be used against them at some point in the future. As such, it all presents as a very selfish idea that no one should take seriously. However, the characters are all bound to make major decisions about their lives because of the visions they receive here. Sure, each vignette is deeply rooted in the fears that define who they are. Sabrina wonders if she can truly trust Nick as her boyfriend. Theo and Roz want to know if they should undergo surgeries. Harvey wants to see what's awaiting him outside of town. Zelda worries that she won't be able to keep Blackwood's secret child away from him forever. And Ambrose realizes that he actually wants power and may do anything to get it. All of these are key character insights. The way in which this hour depicts those stories is very problematic and makes it all seem as if it is pointless filler that somehow carries significant importance. As such, Sabrina may be doubting her instincts and trusting Nick completely in order to avoid floating away into the cold darkness of space. All of these vignettes end with some kind of tragedy befalling the characters. That one is the first of a somewhat ridiculous nature. Zelda's is that way as well. She sees a future where the child she gave up could have been used to regain another witch's youth which can, in turn, be used to seduce Blackwood because he doesn't know any better. That's outrageous even though it's important for the show to remember that child and the tension it should place between Zelda and Blackwood. With Theo though, it's a very meaningful story about being comfortable in one's own body. He believes that he has to look like the other players on the basketball team in order to be seen as a boy. It doesn't matter how much they may accept him. Those fears will still linger in his mind. It may be useful for Wardwell to see Theo communicating with his ancestor. However, it's all a pretty hacky message about not cheating in order to get what one wants. The overall story with Theo is fascinating and important. He has been accepted by those who matter to him. Any kind of gender surgery is a very private decision that should be respected no matter what is decided. But Theo doesn't have to look a certain way in order to be a boy. He already is because that's who he truly is. Roz's vision may also feature Wardwell trying to teach a meaningful lesson. It forces Roz to accept that her father may have a corrupted view of the church in order to help pay for the various expenses in their lives. She doesn't want that in order to see again. She has to be fully aware of the world and the potential consequences of her actions. Harvey has to feel the same way. He is mostly just scared into staying even though he has been dreaming about getting out of this town for his entire life. That's mostly because Wardwell needs him to stay close in order to manipulate him in the coming war. And finally, Ambrose's vision is the most lethal and dangerous. It has nothing to do with his current relationships. Instead, it may prove just how willing he is to betray his family in order to return to a good standing within the church. He may fear what Blackwood is capable of doing but he does want to be seen as special and important once more. That could be very enlightening for the future.