It’s not just that Sabrina’s decision to try resurrecting Harvey’s brother, in “The Burial,” was a dumb one, fueled by the hero complex of an over-confident witch. It worked, to an extent. Tommy’s back but as a soulless warm body. His body was resurrected, but his soul’s stuck in limbo. He needs to be put out of his misery. Everyone in the witch world, save for one Sabrina Spellman, knows it. Even Harvey and his dad begrudgingly admit it by the end. But not Sabrina … Sabrina, at first refusing to believe it so, then decides she can save him by entering human limbo to find Tommy and bring his soul to safety.
Further and further down the hole she goes in “The Returned Man,” the best episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with one episode to go in season one. It’s an epic emotional tragedy. Here’s someone convinced they can fix what’s happened, first that Tommy has died and second that his resurrection didn’t produce perfect results, while only putting herself in a worse spot.
One of the problems with the idea in the first place was that even if it had gone perfectly, there’d be concern about how it happened. Sabrina’s assumption that “miracle” is sufficient is shortsighted. Tommy’s been gone an extended amount of time. Even if he had been alive in the mine, he’d die over time from the lack of oxygen. So, how in the world could he have suddenly emerged? Even though he’s back, he’s not himself. Why? People need answers, especially after the doctor’s diagnosis wears off. The answers require Sabrina to come clean about who she is, and that’s a lose-lose.
By conjuring the miracle, Sabrina’s risked the exposure of the witching world. And she’s created an imbalance in the mortal world.*
(*It’s owed a body.)
That she’s done it without any one significant confidant knowing puts her on an island and prompts the most intense and emotional argument between Sabrina and Zelda. She’s cutting herself off from everyone around her — even Hilda! — by betraying their trust. This, she never considered.
Even more, Ros and Susie start to consider the secret Sabrina may be keeping because Sabrina’s asking Ros to do some strange things through her “visions” and it’s suggested by the ghost ancestor Susie’s been talking to. Ros and Susie, however, are about the only two friends who haven’t (yet) rejected Sabrina because she has not directly told them.
She ultimately has to tell Harvey, the conversation this entire season has been building to ever since she told him and immediately wiped it from his memory at the start of the series, and he unsurprisingly reacts negatively; after all, she’s put him through all of this with Tommy, instead of allowing him time to morn the loss. He then decides it should be him to kill Tommy and Sabrina walks home, completely heartbroken and collapsing into Zelda’s arms on the steps of the Spellman mortuary.
Everything’s gone so wrong, and Sabrina’s world is permanently impacted.