So, I’m just going to start this review out by honestly admitting that the sixth episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina didn’t do as much for me as the previous episodes.
A lot of that, though, is because any show would struggle to follow up an episode as brilliant as Dreams In A Witch House. The show didn’t do itself any favors by following up that episode, where Sabrina had to battle and trap a viscous demon, with another episode in which Sabrina had to battle and trap a viscous demon. That similarity alone makes it impossible not to compare the two episodes against each other and, unfortunately, there’s no way to really top what went on in Episode 5.
Episode 6 does start out with an interesting example of psychological manipulation on the part of Ms. Wardwell. With Sabrina confronting her about both being a witch and spying on her, Wardwell is quick to claim that she once wanted to marry a mortal and that she was an acolyte of Sabrina’s father. Wardwell claims that she’s only been spying on Sabrina because Edward Spellman requested it. Since Sabrina is still struggling to work out her feelings towards her deceased parents and their legacy, Wardwell told exactly the right lie to keep Sabrina from completely dismissing her. However, Wardwell then took it too far by claiming that she had been in love with Edward. Sabrina tells Wardwell to stay away from her but, by the end of the episode, Wardwell has once again go Sabrina confiding in her.
How does Ms. Wardwell accomplish this?
The answer is right in this episode’s title. Wardwell helps Sabrina to do something that no witch has ever done before. Wardwell helps Sabrina to exorcise a demon.
It turns out that Susie’s Uncle Jesse has been possessed by a demon, one who claims to be named Maerceci. (Write it down on a piece of paper and then stand in front of a mirror. As Ambrose puts it, demons have got a terrible sense of humor.) Not only are Roz, Susie, and Harvey being haunted by visions of Uncle Jesse but apparently, the demon is going to possess one of them as soon as it gets finished devouring Jesse. Despite being told that witches are not allowed to perform exorcisms, Sabrina, Wardwell, Hilda, and eventually Zelda do just that.
(It turns out that, in another case of deus ex Edward, Sabrina’s father just happened to come up with a exorcism ritual for witches, which leads to the question of whether there’s anything that Edward didn’t do before he died.)
The exorcism is a success, though Sabrina soon learns that it takes more than just successfully casting a spell to make people happy. Even after he’s freed from the demon, Uncle Jesse still dies. (He’s killed by Wardwell, though Sabrina doesn’t know that.) Thanks to the demon, Roz fears that she’s losing her eyesight because her faith isn’t strong enough. Harvey is still scared to death of going into the mines and worries that Sabrina thinks that he’s less of a man as a result. The demon may be gone but Susie remains traumatized by the demon’s taunts and, by the end of the episode, is declaring, “I won’t be an abomination!” In the end, that’s the main lesson of an Exorcism in Greendale. Just because a story ends in with special effects and a temporary victory, that doesn’t erase the pain that came before.
Anyway, this was an okay episode. It moved forward Sabrina’s relationship with Wardwell so, if nothing else, it served its purpose. I hate to say it but I probably would have had a better reaction to this episode if the demon had been taunting Hilda, Zelda, and Ambrose as opposed to Sabrina’s friends. The witches are just more interesting than the mortals.
Case is going to be reviewing the rest of this season so I’m going to wrap up this review by sharing my thoughts on the show as a whole. As the first season of any show will, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has its flaws. Overall, though, it’s a good show. I go back and forth on whether I like Michelle Gomez’s stylized performance as Ms. Wardwell but Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, and Chance Perdomo are all perfectly cast. (Kiernan Shipka simply is Sabrina.) Ross Lynch also deserves a lot of credit for making Harvey into a compelling character. I’m looking forward to seeing where this show goes in the future.
Oh — and, of course, I absolutely adore Salem!
(photo credit: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock)