Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e05 – Dreams in a Witch House

This episode starts immediately after the previous one—Kiernan Shipka has just opened a demonic Rubik’s cube, designed by her dead father when he was in the same witch academy she now attends, and released a sleep demon (a make-up encased and excellent Megan Leitch). The episode is just the demon getting into everyone in the house’s heads. So Shipka, aunts Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto, cousin Chance Perdomo. Meanwhile Michelle Gomez finds out about it because she’s been remote spying on Shipka, turns out she knows Leitch, they don’t get along—Leitch is going to kill everyone to take revenge on the father, Gomez doesn’t want Shipka harmed—so Gomez ends up traveling through everyone’s dreams.

It starts fairly amusing then starts getting really good and not stopping that upward quality climb. It’s the first episode of “Sabrina” to really deliver a special hour or whatever of television. It’s terrifying. Leitch is great. Even when the nightmares are predicable—Shipka’s worried about human boyfriend Ross Lynch rejecting her (like he did before she magicked his memory away in the first episode)—they’re well-executed and full of emotional weight. Like when Perdomo finds himself in a loop of performing his own autopsy from both perspectives simultaneously, it all turns into great acting material. Everyone in the cast—save Leitch because make-up—is able to find extremes for their characters and, well, frolic in them.

Like witch aunts (and sisters) Davis and Otto; turns out have very different feelings about one another, which gives them an endless fount of acting possibilities. It’s all excellent character development as well. The episode has a decompressed narrative but does a bunch of expository work with that extra time. I’m not sure if Matthew Barry writes the best “Sabrina” script or Maggie Kiley directs the show the best, but this episode’s a definite standout. It leverages the actors far better than any of the previous episodes, giving them a lot more range, while still acknowledging their caricature aspects.

Wonderful scene for Bronson Pinchot too.

And the cliffhanger with Shipka confronting Gomez? Awesome. It’d be really frustrating to have to wait another week for what comes next.