Saturday, January 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - A Carnival Opens in Greendale in 'Chapter Twenty-Three: Heavy Is the Crown'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 2.03 "Chapter Twenty-Three: Heavy Is the Crown"

Sabrina visits a mysterious (and familiar) town. Zelda aims to restore order at the academy. A carnival creates buzz in Greendale. Theo takes a chance.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Twenty-Three: Heavy Is the Crown" was written by Oanh Ly and directed by Rob Seidenglanz

A demon and an Unholy Relic are found in a tree on Blossom family land in Riverdale. That is the most overt connection between this show and The CW's Riverdale so far. Of course, the shows have shared actors as well which has been a bit more blatant this season. Nathalie Boltt and Jonathan Whitesell have both recurred prominently on Riverdale. And now, they have both popped up in this season of Sabrina. Sure, Boltt was nothing more than a cameo as a random character in New Orleans while Whitesell is playing Robin, a character significant for Theo's emotional and romantic development as well as the introduction to the Old Ones world. But the story is also much more playful when it comes to noting that a ton of murders happen in Riverdale. The citizens there may refuse to see their community as anything more than an idyllic and peaceful town in rural America. However, it truly is the home to numerous serial killers. And now, it's clear that there are demons present there as well. The families have a history of connections to the supernatural. Sabrina and Ambrose only take a short detour to uncover this relic. They eventually lose it as well because of how naive they can still be. They aren't the best strategists. That's not unreasonable because so much just happens to fall into their laps. All Caliban has to do to retrieve this relic is watch over Sabrina and wait until she slips up. He's not going to help her defeat this demon. He just hopes that will eliminate the competition. That would allow him to reign over Hell without having to continue with this new competition. Sabrina losing the first round will certainly light a fire within her. She is more than willing to slap Caliban repeatedly. She is determined to win. But again, that runs the risk of converting her to the dark side of how things operate in Hell. She wants to present as a figure of reform. She wants to analyze the deals that have been made with souls on Earth to see if they are unfair. She wants the opportunity to end the suffering of some whom she believes are unworthy of it. She can still be brutal and vicious as well. She has no problem condemning a child killer to a fate of everlasting torture in Hell. But she continues to want a sweet and simple life of hanging out with her friends and being in love with her boyfriend. These characters want to buy into the illusion of how simple their lives can be. That's them essentially lying to themselves though. Roz can't ignore that she saw the carnival ringleader as a demonic creature. But she also wants to enjoy the fun that can happen at a carnival with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Harvey feels the pressure to rise to the occasion and take things to the next level with Roz. Sabrina understands that she needs to talk with Nick about the trauma he has endured and how he is coping with it. He is not well at all. He is willing to cut his own foot off at one point. He almost dies by her side as well. This is a world in which no one can truly let their guard down at any moment. That is stressful especially when the characters want to embrace the simple pleasures of life. Hilda has a wonderful outing that ends in a proposal. That is a victory for her. However, the coven is still under attack through a decrease of magic. Plus, there is the looming hunt for innocent souls now on the horizon. Sabrina facing off with Caliban is one corner of the narrative. Elsewhere, the Old Ones are hunting down virgins to sacrifice for some mysterious reason. As such, this episode is much more frank about the sexual lives of the young characters. It is tentative in that regard a little bit. It shouldn't be all that wholesome considering just how rewarding it can be to see young love blossom. It's moving when Robin and Theo kiss. Robin's ultimate betrayal is a little expected while Nick's is flimsy at best. Again, there is the overwhelming sense that all of this could spin out of control at any moment. That may be the greatest connection so far between this show and Riverdale. The insanity can work a lot of the time. But the focus has to remain on the characters and the consequences of their actions while genuinely being interested in how they cope with all the crazy things that happen in their lives.