Our scope of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s universe, Greendale, is expanding with its third episode, “The Trial of Sabrina Spellman.”
We could see the central resolution of the episode written on the wall, not just because it’s in the title. Sabrina wins her case to continue living her mortal life while holding onto her powers, with the exception that she attend exclusively the school for witches. This is where the story’s been leading.
But thinking about how the show is digging in now for the rest of its 10 season one episodes, with its initial conflict basically resolved, the more important takeaway from the episode is how it starts to trace the town’s relationship to the underworld. Specifically, stories about Harvey and a new character we meet, lawyer Daniel Webster, begin to create a picture. Basically, at least these two people have been exposed to this other world that Sabrina is now making deals in.
Harvey doesn’t know it, at least he’s not convinced he knows it. His story, that he tells Sabrina, involves him getting lost in the mine.* While he’s down there wandering around, trying to find his way back out, he sees a beast — yeah, that beast — and it terrifies him. Hearing this, Sabrina knows exactly what he’s describing but can’t say anything. He’s seen the devil and he doesn’t know it.**
(*This is the place his family — an angry dad and a caring older brother — is employed. Greendale seems like a mining town.)
(**Maybe, though, he subconsciously does.)
This certainly connects Harvey to Sabrina in an interesting way and makes you wonder what would’ve happened had she continued to tell Harvey the truth about the significance of her 16th birthday, rather than wiping that conversation from his memory.
The new character, Mr. Webster, was knowingly involved with the underworld; in fact, he made a deal with the devil that made him the world’s greatest defense attorney, but it cost him his daughter’s life.* He’s the one who comes to Sabrina’s aid to help her with her case, which he’s motivated to do because although he lost his bet with the devil, maybe she can be the one who finally beats him (the dark lord).
(*In his defense, he didn’t know it would.)
This episode tells us a lot.
Sabrina’s father signed her name into the devil’s book just days after she was born as his bargaining chip to marry Sabrina’s mortal mother. Her mother, however, baptized Sabrina in a human church a day earlier. Such a complex timeline is why Sabrina, here, had bargaining power to take the deal she takes.
But Greendale’s relationship to witchcraft, initially by the examples of Harvey and Mr. Webster, is important because of the John Doe brought to the mortuary, whose funeral was held during this latest episode. Ambrose continues to be concerned about the circumstances of his death, as he was a witch living in the mortal world whose death appears to have been premeditated.*
(*Another new character, Luke, is a warlock who shows up at the funeral and has apparently had a relationship with the deceased.)
Why is it concerning? Well, now, because this is the type of situation Sabrina is willfully walking into. How many other times have the worlds of Greendale and the dark lord crossed? And is there a certain negativity that exists because of it? Should Sabrina ever be found out, what does that mean for her?
Who killed the boy? Why?