Michelle Gomez (Miss Wardell) has been killing it. I expected no less from Missy.
I don't think this show can be redeemed.
Well, here we are. Episode six, and I am now officially embarrassed for the modicum of praise I offered this show during its first episode or two. I am also asking myself, why did I choose to binge this half-baked show rather than 'The Haunting of Hill House'?
Obviously, this show has no intention of leveraging either the Sabrina property (or witch lore) in any way that might be meaningful or insightful, either metaphorically or symbolically. This is now just a magical soap opera universe where social problems are based on supernatural conflict rather than the ordinary business dealings, romantic relationships or social climbing. Perhaps this show was always this sort of cheap schlock, and I am extremely dumb for hoping it would or could be anything more. It even looks like Roz is primed to enter the soap opera conflict as another supernatural player (with the cringeworthy Magic Negro trope on full display, no less). Maybe next week, Susie will get hit by a meteorite and become Super Gender Fluid Person.
It's a shame, though. One could unpack almost any sub-plot of the Harry Potter mythos and find something interesting in terms of how it might relate to our own non-magical lives. But very few elements of 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' are so relatable, and the show seems to have zero interest in making Sabina in any way noble. Whereas Harry Potter wasn't a hero exclusively because he was a wizard, Sabrina is only ever a hero because she is a half-witch. Her mystical power, not her character, tends to fuel her progress. In the Sabrinaverse, only mystical power or arcane knowledge provides the solution to a problem. Not self-sacrifice, rarely the support of friends or family, and hardly ever a quick wit.
This show's simplistic view of conflict, too, continues to grow less interesting with each episode. Its moral framework is muddled at best, and outright hypocritical at worst. Too often deception, manipulation, and threats of violence are Sabrina's first choices for dealing with her episodic problems, despite the fact that these methods are exactly what she constantly accuses The Dark Lord and her enemies of using on her. Unintentional or not, this season has really become a stark political lesson in how corrupt systems serve to effectively corrupt even the good actors struggling to bring reform. With each and every episode, Sabrina grows more comfortable being underhanded and weaving her Machiavellian intrigue.
Oh, sure, Sabrina talks a good game when it comes to the dignity of the individual (particularly in the next episode where one of the Weird Sisters wants to become the main course of the coven's cannibal Thanksgiving), but nothing that Sabrina does indicates that she takes this dignity seriously. How many times has Sabrina wiped Harvey's memory or lied to him about something he experienced? How many times has she threatened to choke someone on their own blood? Even Zelda, one of the aunts that Sabrina might be expected to seek moral guidance from, is quick to turn to blackmail (and threats toward Lord Blackwell’s unborn twins) to protect her own social standing. But who am I kidding, almost every key player in this show is amoral and murderous, and the show presents this as just a matter of course. The problem is, few episodes provide a clear hero to provide any contrast, so everything just becomes dark and grim and boring.
The exorcism is a potential moral victory over the forces of evil, but it’s impossible to take Apophis seriously with the amateurish makeup and the broad over-acting and the bad ADR. Never mind Ms. Wardwell conveniently having a copy of the banned exorcism rite Edward wrote, right there in her purse. Beyond all that, though, trying to tie the whole debacle to Susie’s (inherited?) gender fluidity was ridiculous no matter which way you slice it.
After last episode's bore-fest filler, they sure made up for it with this one! An exorcism is always good fun! This episode was darker and juicier than usual, resulting in one of my favourites, so far. The only thing still missing is Salem, Sabrina's feline companion is barely in this show...
Not gonna lie, Sabrina got trolled pretty hard when asking the demon for its name.