Tati Gabrielle

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e11 – A Midwinter’s Tale

It’s a Christmas special—or a Winter Solstice special—set before winter break for the teens, which adds to the weirdness because even though Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) said farewell to beau Ross Lynch last episode… turns out they’re still going to the same school. Yes, even though she’s all in on the witch stuff now, Sabrina’s still going to the human high school.

Even though back at the beginning of the series it was assumed if she went all in on the witch stuff she’d just go to witch school. So when she went all in and said her farewells to the humans, you’d think that meant she was changing schools.

But no.

She’s still doing human school during the day and witch school at night. I guess being a witch means you don’t have to sleep? It’s about the only way anything in the show makes sense, twenty-four hours in a day.

The episode’s interesting because it does appear to have been filmed after the first season—so a real holiday special—because Tati Gabrielle’s all of a sudden got a new haircut, which you think Shipka’s going to mention then doesn’t, and the show seems to have realized it didn’t have any phones. There are two ostentatious phone calls this episode.

The initial main plot is Shipka deciding to hold a seance for her mom (a frankly eh Annette Reilly; they really should have stunt-casted the part). Even though everyone tells her not to do it and even though everything Sabrina’s done in the last, say, five episodes has resulted in emotional turmoil and worse for her, her friends, her family, she goes ahead and does it anyway.

And because of the seance, the house gets infected with “Yule lads,” basically invisible gremlins led by witch of some sort maybe Heather Doerksen. Doerksen’s real good.

But the Reilly stuff and Doerksen stuff is all just prologue to Lachlan Watson getting kidnapped by a child-killing demon. Sabrina’s got to save her, with the help of aunts Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto, which is pretty cool because seeing Otto kick ass is fun.

There’s some more with Lynch—Shipka uses their temporary holiday reprieve to… poison his father. For a good cause but still… poison his father.

The show really doesn’t seem to know how to do Shipka “out” as a witch to her human friends. All of a sudden Jaz Sinclair and Lynch are just at the house, even though they never went there earlier in the season and Watson didn’t even know Davis by sight. Even though the episode opens with a flashback to she and Shipka as kids going to see Santa.

Did they not have a show bible or did they not share it with all the writers….

There’s also a resolution to Otto’s adoption arc, which might be the biggest red herring of the show so far.

It’s an effective episode—Watson’s the most sympathetic character on the show—but… with some major qualifications.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e08 – The Burial

Maggie Kiley directs this one and Kiley’s so far the best director on “Sabrina,” so I went in with high hopes. It doesn’t disappoint, which is something given how much the episode does. It starts with a mine collapse in Greendale, last episode’s cliffhangers—mean girls Abigail Cowen and Adeline Rudolph (but expressly not Tati Gabrielle can’t forget) smash effigies of Ross Lynch and Justin Dobies with rocks (payback for hunting and killing a witch’s deer familiar), while they’re in the mine, hence the collapse. Lynch gets out but Dobies doesn’t.

Again with the first act bait and switch—the episode sets up one expectation, then turns it into just a plot point—Lachlan Watson is the only one who can fit in the collapsed mine to search, which leads to her just finding a crushed helmet. A crushed helmet Lynch and Dobies’s dad, Christopher Rosamond, is more than happy to bury the next day so he can collect on the insurance. Writers Christianne Hedtke and Lindsay Calhoon Bring do not shy away from Lynch confronting Rosamond and the repercussions, which only stay “calm” because Miranda Otto’s not going to allow any fighting during a funeral. It’s a great sequence, easily the most impressive acting from Lynch in the series to date.

So Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) gets the great idea to resurrect Dobies—even though they technically don’t know for sure Dobies is even dead—which violates the witch’s prime directive; they can’t meddle in mortal affairs. There’s also the problem resurrection spells don’t work right on humans, Shipka can’t even convince cousin Chance Perdomo to help her, and the whole thing would have to be a secret from Lynch as well. But Shipka’s got to do it because—the whole town agrees—with Dobies around, Rosamond will beat Lynch to death because he’s an extremely abusive drunk. There’s a beat everyone just sits with, “oh, yeah, the dad will totally beat him to death, for real, no joke, hashtag real talk; it’s sad, huh.”

Subplots include High Priest with the pregnant wife at home Richard Coyle sniffing around an interested Otto and Lachlan having more visits from her ghost ancestor, Anastasia Bandey.

There’s some of the virtual Vaseline rub and it’s bad but the episode holds. It’s got a terrifying cliffhanger too.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e07 – Feast of Feasts

Netflix did drop “Sabrina” all at once so who knows if this Thanksgiving episode was meant to “air” on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving theme doesn’t last long—enough to introduce the hilarious idea of Miranda Otto sitting and watching football all day for the violence–but once the witch alternative, the Feast of Feasts, comes in… it’s all about the Feast.

Apparently witches don’t do communal Thanksgiving every year and only some people get to attend. The Spellman family—Otto, Lucy Davis, Kiernan Shipka—just haven’t been invited since Shipka’s been old enough to remember. Because she’d remember the event where a woman is chosen as Queen of the Feast and then eaten at said Feast.

While the episode sets it up for Shipka to be Queen—she demands to be the Spellman Family contestant, even though Otto’s already doing it—that setup is just… garnish. Oanh Ly’s script for the episode is strong, dialogue, pacing, plotting. So it comes as a big surprise when Sabrina (Shipka) doesn’t “win,” losing to witch academy nemesis Tati Gabrielle. But to keep Shipka essential to the episode—“Sabrina” has yet to give any of the supporting cast a showcase, it’s very much Shipka’s show—Shipka becomes Gabrielle’s handmaid, which means pampering her until she gets eaten by the coven. A great honor, especially after Gabrielle moves into Shipka’s; they don’t have a slumber party, in fact Gabrielle doesn’t even invite Shipka to the orgy.

One assumes the teen orgy wouldn’t have made it past Standards and Practices at a network, even the CW.

Shipka’s disgusted at the whole “eating another witch” thing and tries to get Gabrielle to see reason, which doesn’t work, but the subplot does prepare the audience for Shipka then discovering things are not what they seem and maybe it isn’t Satan who wants Gabrielle gone but someone else. The discussions of blind faith are fairly sharp so one’s got to wonder if the show’s aware the commentary it’s making on Christianity or if it’s actually as unaware as it appears to be; along with the lack of cellular technology, the world of “Sabrina” also seems absent the Religious Right.

Bitchin’.

Pal Jaz Sinclair has a subplot involving grandma L. Scott Caldwell, who tells her about the family curse—the women go blind, but they get the Shining in return. It’s called the Cunning. It’s whatever psychic power the show needs someone to have to nudge the plot along. It’s not an eye-roll so much as a squint and a nod. Sinclair and Caldwell are good enough to get through it.

And now for the big lede bury—Michael Hogan guest stars as Ross Lynch’s grandfather. They’re all going hunting this Thanksgiving, first time for Lynch, which is important family bonding because they used to hunt witches not deer. Lynch being in a family of witch hunters is a great reveal, especially for episode seven; anyway, on the hunt, they kill a witch’s familiar—in the form of a deer—and get on Sabrina’s witch acquaintances’ bad side.

It’s an excellent episode. Not just because Hogan. It’s got the right mix of Shipka’s justness, witch creepiness, and supporting cast material.

Even if it not being a Thanksgiving special seems like a missed opportunity given how funny it’d be to watch Otto and Hogan watch a football game together.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e04 – Witch Academy

I’m very confused; the witch school is within walking distance from the farm where Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) lives. I thought it was a boarding school far away. Turns out it’s a boarding school—Shipka has to do three nights there—but it’s within walking distance. So she was never going to see her human friends again by just not… going to town anymore. Or something. It’s not explained and confusing but fine.

Because the welcome to witch school episode, which is mostly about how the other witches haze Shipka, works out. The characters it introduces, the twists it introduces, the whatever—they all work out. Shipka being terrified when the mean girl trio of witches (Tati Gabrielle is the leader and good, the other two are fine but background) lock her up in a well or simulate burning her or hanging her—it’s called harrowing and the established students put the new ones through it because it’s what the witches went through back in the olden days and the witch trials. Or something. The backstory on it isn’t very important, not after we find out Miranda Otto majorly harrowed sister Lucy Davis back in the day. Also not after Shipka discovers she’s fairly old to be a new student, apparently, because the school grounds are inhabited by the ghosts of all the little kids who died in their harrowings over the decades. They’re not exactly haunting the place, not exactly not.

The ghost kids leads to a great subplot for Shipka, Otto, and Davis, where the show does a fantastic “girl power” move and never pauses to acknowledge it much less congratulate itself for it. “Sabrina”’s very comfortable doing well.

But Shipka not being able to get through the harrowing just doesn’t fit; it does the hazing PSA and well, but it doesn’t really work with Shipka’s character as she’s developed to this point.

Anyway. Simultaneous to Shipka being away for a long weekend—she tells her human friends she’s at the state fair or something—boyfriend Ross Lynch gets some more information about the creature in the mines after it turns out Lachlan Watson has a possessed uncle living in her house and never told friends about it even though the guy’s obviously demonically possessed. It’s a scary subplot. Very effectively done.

Overall, it’s a solid episode. Not perfect, but very solid. They succeed at introducing the school, including warlock love interest for Shipka but not really Gavin Leatherwood.

So, solid.

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