Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Review: The Punishment Fits The Crime

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When conflict doesn't come from the outside, sometimes it has to come from within. 

With the appearance of the magic school and the sleep demon, it would make sense that they are the new entities posing a challenge for the characters when in fact it happens to be the people themselves. 

During Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 4 and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 5, Sabrina is stuck trying to conquer the harrowing that the Weird Sisters descend on her at The School For Unseen Arts. She then runs into similar trouble with a sleep demon that is seeking revenge against her father.

Meanwhile, Zelda and Hilda have to learn to approach their relationship with one another differently. Also, Ambrose tries not to fall under the weight of his house arrest and his inability to access real freedom. 

The Weird Sisters - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

"Chapter Four: Witch Academy," written by Donna Thorland, and "Chapter Five: Dreams In a Witch House," written by Matthew Barry exercise the potential of bottle episodes, trapping the main characters in situations that pushed their limits.

That also made room for them to reflect on their choices, and similarly, consider some changes along the way.  

The double feature creates a new challenge for itself and the show by taking a tangent from the perceived journey. This ends up bringing a new conflict to the forefront of the story and challenges character development as well. 

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The Sabrina Torture

That was a massive step back.

Don't get me wrong, following Sabrina's adventures at the school was a fresh approach because it doesn't let the show dwindle too much in one place.

But after Sabrina teamed up with Prudence and the others to take down those bullies, naturally the relationship between them could have reflected that change when they met again.

Prudence: Careful, Nicky, or she’ll cocktease you the way she did the Dark Lord.
Nick: Why do you have to be such a bitch all the time, Pru?
Prudence: I don’t know, Nicky. Why do you have to be such a warlock slut all the time?

Instead, it was like that never happened, all for the sake of a hazing ritual that the story needed Sabrina to go on but had to have someone push her on that path first.

It came off unsatisfying because it just became this stereotypical idea of girls fighting for no real reason.

Prudence isn't happy that Sabrina is a half-witch with a connection to a High Priest, but is that worth torturing her this way? It is cruel, and it paints an off picture of the Weird Sisters. 

Roz and Susie - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 4

There is an opportunity here to explore interactions between women that could be in the middle of perfectly close and perfectly cruel. 

Sabrina has friends, so the Weird Sisters aren't there to fill that void for her. But this fixture of them becoming a new set of bullies seems like an easy way out when they need their lead in danger.

It would be more creative to allow unexpected forces to throw obstacles in Sabrina's path instead of forcing her into this corner where she is in this constant battle with Prudence and the others.

It also limits the Weird Sisters as a group; their only trait right now is this definition of evil that Sabrina doesn't want to be.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina walks the line of what can actually be considered bad when all these witches thrive on the darkness.

But then Prudence, Agatha, and Dorcas embody everything that is wrong with the darkness; they represent it. 

It isn't fair to have them in this box and not allow them to grow out of this occasional enemy position. These three have more to offer, even if only to get more of their side of the conversation.

Sabrina Spellman Watches - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 5

For now, everything comes from Sabrina's interpretation of their actions, and they aren't coming off well. Rightfully so.

Now it is time to give them a more prominent voice or expand their role, so they don't get stuck in a loop of showing up only to stir trouble.

They deserve better, Sabrina deserves better, and the show deserves better.

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The Ambrose Torture

We got more insight into why Ambrose is locked in that Spellman house, and that only makes us want to know more.

This might be subjective, but the nightmare that Ambrose went through was upsetting because it haunted for so long

Sabrina's worries about Harvey and her friends finding out about and turning on her is recent. The more time she spent reflecting on being a witch since the baptism, the more she focused on the fact that she has another side to her life.

The same goes for Hilda and Zelda; they always had a dramatic relationship, but it wasn't until they wound on different sides at the trial that it took a toll on them.

I’m not proud of it but I was arrested for trying to blow up the Vatican.

Ambrose

Their back and forth became a hurtful experience for Hilda that Zelda wasn't picking up on until it was possibly too late.

But Ambrose, the energy about him from the first time we met him was all about how locked in he felt.

He was always around, but he felt trapped regardless of the place he was in, and this nightmare confirms that he worries it will never end.

That had to be amplified by him trying to go on that date with Luke and almost risking his life. Which by the way, why not be honest with Luke?

Madam Satan Watching - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 5

Ambrose was fine opening up about why he was on house arrest so why not take that extra step and explain that he can't date outside of his house. Luke already came over, and he wouldn't have any issues going on a date there this time.

Although, it is a whole different conversation that one has when you are asking a possible significant other to be with you when you are confined to one space.

Sabrina's Magical Party - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 4

This nightmare of his confirms it; it is always on his mind because he is both versions of himself.

He is the corpse that doesn't have a voice and ended up that way because he can't live a normal life. But he is also ripping himself apart, watching a lifeless version of himself constantly and knowing he can't change the outcome.

This arc had to serve as a turning point for him; it mattered to us because we want him to find some freedom in all this. 

The details are still unclear on his case and even how long this punishment is, but it can't be introduced and not addressed again.

It doesn't look like the Conner case is circling back around, and yet it could be a point that helps Ambrose if he manages to solve it and leverage that in his own case.

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The Hilda + Zelda Torture

Above all else, Hilda and Zelda are torturing each other. 

Zelda tortures Hilda and Hilda took it for so long that she suffers more now because of how tense their relationship got. And it is safe to say that Zelda thinks Hilda is torturing her until she realizes that she will lose her sister if she isn't careful.

It can't be ignored that in both their original dreams they focused on a specific crush.

Foreshadowing might be hinting at the distance that Hilda and Zelda need from one another because they might be lacking on companionship and this caused them to take it out on each other.

Ambrose: Can I help you?
Madam Satan: I’m looking for someone. Not you.

The fact that they have differing opinions on the Church of Night is important to mention as well because Zelda finds happiness from it, but it weighs down Hilda.

Hilda wants to do other things and have a life outside of what was required of her, something Zelda doesn't approve of.

With Hilda getting excommunicated though, there is that chance for her to branch out and for Zelda to support that instead of shutting down something for her sister again.

It wouldn't be what Zelda wants for her family but if she cares about the Church of Night shouldn't she want members that want to be there just as much as she does?

Happy Birthday, Sabrina - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 4

It isn't the perfect fit for Hilda, and frankly Sabrina as well. There can be a middle ground in there somewhere, but first Zelda needs to keep her mind open to it.

She was the most traumatized by her nightmare, which hopefully serves as an indication that she is going to change the way she approaches her relationships in her family.

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Stray Thoughts

  • Madam Satan really didn't think her plan through, at least in the long run. She doesn't have to tell Sabrina the truth, but she dropped plenty of knowledge that Sabrina now remembers. Of course, it is strange how all these unusual things started to happen after her teacher changed her whole vibe and Sabrina never thought to question it.

    Now she will probably have to hear an explanation that won't be true because there is no way Madam Satan will reveal her connection to the Dark Lord and how she messed with Sabrina this whole time.  
  • Why is Nick around? Not to be "that person" but it is difficult to enjoy his presence when it feels like he was created to isolate Sabrina from Harvey, or more specifically make her question if her secret will destroy them. There is also something odd about his interest in her father, a possible detail to check on later.

    So far Nick is seen as a possible foil for Sabrina's relationship, and it's annoying. It has been done before. For now, the narrative only benefits from Nick when he offers Sabrina a look at her father, which can't be a job for long. 
  • Who knew that Hilda had a crush on Sabrina's principal? That's ... interesting. 
  • We knew that Zelda and Father Blackwood shared some history, and yet it is still startling to see the way she is invested in it. 
  • Salem is the cutest cat, and there can never be enough of him. Does he only have to be on screen when Sabrina is in danger? There has to be potential to see more of him, just because. 
  • The Harvey (and Roz and Susie) discover about magic is a slow-moving plot that could do well with being picked up a bit. It is done well, with that parallel of someone struggling with questions and a close friend in their lives have all the answers getting explored before. But there is these sense that all of them can handle that bulk of an investigative story, it only makes the show more fascinating. 
  • Does the fact that there is a witch hunter in Greendale not matter as much right now?

Did you enjoy getting to visit this new school? Was it everything you imagined it would be? Do you wish to see more of it now?

Was the nightmare landscape a good idea to have in the middle of the season? Was exploring each character's worst fears a good use of time? Where do you see them all going from here?

What are you enjoying the most? What are you enjoying the least? What are you hoping to see more of this season? 

Let us know what you think below. 

And don't forget that you can watch Chilling Adventures of Sabrina online, right here on TV Fanatic!

Chapter Four: Witch Academy Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (30 Votes)

Yana Grebenyuk is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

I’m not proud of it but I was arrested for trying to blow up the Vatican.

Ambrose

Susie: The Fly is about body dysmorphia.
Harvey: Isn’t it about a guy who turns into a giant fly?