This is what you’d call a rush job. It’s midnight in the middle of the woods, there are fires burning everywhere around Sabrina Spellman plus a coven of witches and warlocks looking on, her palm has been cut open*, she sees a vision of her parents and another of a red-hued future where witches are hanging lifeless from trees, and Father Blackwood is speeding through the reading of her, let’s say, rites. This is the chaotic, distracting setting we’re meant to experience, as directed by Lee Toland Krieger for “The Dark Baptism,” that of Sabrina’s, episode two of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
(*As is traditional campfire bro code.)
And suddenly, Sabrina catches an inconsistency between what Father Blackwood is telling her now and what he promised her earlier, where we left the premiere episode and pick up this one, in the family room of the Spellman house as he makes certain assurances of free will to her, to convince her to go through with her dark baptism. Interjecting into his spiel, Sabrina says, “That’s not what you said earlier,” and she starts to pull away, hesitate.
Really mentally present is this Sabrina, played by Kiernan Shipka, when few of us watching are. Two episodes in, I’m amazed at the way Sabrina compartmentalizes her life and stays so convincingly present in every part of it.
Earlier in this second episode, on Halloween, Sabrina’s birthday and day of the dark baptism, her Aunt Zelda is calling her niece out of school sick. When Sabrina asks why, she explains that the day is better spent in deep, internal thought. I didn’t think anything of this at the time because of course Sabrina doesn’t oblige — she goes to school and, not only that, a Halloween party that night, which makes her late* to the midnight baptism. But during the intense, hectic baptism scene, you bet I thought back to that explanation again.
(*Was she though?)
Yeah, I think I’d definitely want a day to think about what the hell is about to happen to me. But that’s just me projecting. When I’m about to go on a big vacation, for example, or even a three-day weekend, for goodness sake, I’m a useless warm body at my workplace for days. That’s not Sabrina.
Sabrina is so much more poised. She has an uncanny ability to compartmentalize her complicated life, so much so that not one of her friends really senses something’s up. So much so, that she loses track of, dancing the night away at her friends party, that she must sprint back to the woods to avoid being late to the biggest event of her life.
What must be going through her head? How long is she running for?
She’s in a full sprint all the way up to the gate, or what I’m going to call the gate, to the big show. Then, her white dress turns black, she walks through blue fire and up to her step, front and center to be baptized. It’s a jarring emotional and mental U-turn that develops so quickly, and is executed so perfectly on screen, but doesn’t seem to bother Sabrina, who’s still aware enough in the middle of it all to catch Father Blackwood in a lie and renounce her oath.
And that’s where we are. Much of the first two episodes was spent, as an audience member, wondering how Sabrina would get around the rules to have her cake and eat it, too.
This, honestly, was not what I expected. My expectation had Sabrina finding a way to maintain her human life, while committing to the coven. Either way, she’ll try to do both. But regardless, I didn’t see it coming that everything almost instantly returns to a version of normal — that, like, she says No! and then she and her aunties and cousin all just go back into their house.*
(*That part, I was kind of like, “Oh. Well, OK.”)
But of course, Sabrina’s not home free. Father Blackwood, Ms. Wardell and even the Dark Lord himself* will continue their efforts to recruit** Sabrina to sign her name to the list or, seemingly, make her life a living hell so long as she refuses.
(*If you read my last post, you saw the twist ending coming because of the blur effect.)
(**Is it now, technically, recruiting?)
Sabrina’s conviction will be tested. What will happen to it when the two worlds she so expertly keeps apart start mixing together as the dark world aggressively seeks her?
What did you guys think of the second episode?