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Sabrina flexes a little magical muscle and saves the day

Illustration for article titled iSabrina/i flexes a little magical muscle and saves the day
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As Sabrina endeavors to straddle two worlds, it was perhaps inevitable that those two worlds would begin to overlap. Something is clearly brewing in Greendale, and the spillover into the mortal realm is likely to be equal parts dangerous and difficult for Sabrina to conceal.

For the first time, she’s stuck trying to pretend that magic doesn’t exist because it’s beginning to directly affect her friends. The demon that’s been possessing Uncle Jesse (sigh) has begun to try to expand to more mortals, and there’s no way Sabrina is going to let that happen. Unfortunately, it’s all part of the Dark Lord’s plans for her, which suggests there may be a lot of collateral damage to be expected along the way.


It also seems to be the first glimpse at something concrete in Wardwell’s plans. She’s always been trying to push Sabrina into doing something, but there are apparently specific actions she needs to take. Since the exorcism was a fundamentally benevolent act, it’s still hard to see exactly what the plan is here. Whereas before some of the actions she was pushing Sabrina into seemed like efforts to influence her into bad behavior, here she’s simply taking action to save a man’s life.

And since Wardwell tells a very obvious and very bad lie about what she’s doing in Greendale, we’re no closer to discovering anything real about her. Why doesn’t Sabrina ask her why she started dressing and acting completely differently? Even if she increased her surveillance around the time of Sabrina’s dark baptism, it doesn’t explain the personality transplant. It’s frustrating, especially given the promise of the cliffhanger from the prior episode. Sabrina isn’t initially willing to trust Wardwell, but she makes no effort to figure out what the actual truth might be.

Even if Sabrina can’t find out what Wardwell is up to yet, it would be nice to give the audience something to go on. She does a lot of ominous smirking. It feels like every scene Wardwell is in ends with her making some final facial expression intended to clue us in on what she’s truly feeling, but it doesn’t really add up to anything revealing. Is she touched in the scene where Sabrina thanks her for her help? Or is she still playing a part? She looks genuinely thrown. But then the next thing we see her do is murder Uncle Jesse. Is she actually feeling some degree of hesitation regarding her mission for Sabrina?

The only person who regards Wardwell with a healthy enough degree of skepticism is Zelda, and even she’s far too willing to believe the absurd cover story. It just seems like the witch world of Greendale would be small enough that everyone would be far more curious about any new figures within it.


In the meantime, Harvey, Susie, and Roz inch a tiny bit closer to figuring out what’s going on in their town. Harvey, in particular, seems like some kind of magnet for magical activity. How long can this go on before he figures out his girlfriend is part of the world that’s been tormenting him for years?

The show is maintaining an intriguing ambivalence about religion. Father Blackwood and the rest of the witches treat Catholicism the way Catholics treat Satanists, but we know the Dark Lord is pretty evil. On the other hand, Roz’s father has apparently been telling her that her grandmother was harmed by a lack of faith in God. If anything, the show seems like it doesn’t have much patience for organized religion in general. The help that Sabrina, Wardwell, and her aunts call for is from other witches. They don’t ask Satan for help. If the ultimate goal for Sabrina is meaningful opposition to Satan, it’s hard not to wonder which side she’s on. Is that side ultimately her own alone?


Stray observations

  • Come on, Harvey and Sabrina separate immediately upon entering the haunted mine? We know they like scary movies. They should really know better than this.
  • Possibly because Sabrina herself isn’t suspicious enough, I don’t trust anyone who is nice on this show. Harvey’s brother is evil, right? And Luke? Luke is evil for ghosting, obviously.
  • Sure, being immortal and having powers might be nice, but not if the trade-off is being pregnant for 13 months.
  • Well, I obediently wrote down “Maerceci” in my notes. Damn you, Uncle Jesse!
  • I know it was supposed to be menacing, but there was something a little funny about a demon (possibly Satan himself?) hiding behind a corner, like an actor in a haunted house awkwardly waiting for his cue to go on.
  • I assume the perhaps limited Venn diagram of Battlestar Galactica/Sabrina fans were excited to see Lieutenant Gaeta pop up.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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