About halfway through the episode, under the cover of talking about superheroes, Sabrina asks Harvey ‘What Would Harvey Do?’ if an old man told him he could fly if he broke-up with Sabrina. Harvey forsakes flying, but while it’s one thing to forsake something you’ve never had, it’s another to give up power that corrupts, and no matter which way Sabrina looks at her Dark Baptism, she’s looking at a loss.
Except, after treating option C like a non-starter all episode – the choice to stay a witch and not change schools – that’s what Sabrina chooses, when she refuses to sign the Dark Lord’s book but says she’ll remain a witch anyway
Is that even possible? Cutting the show some slack for a moment, this isn’t a question to be answered over a single weekend/hour, but while we don’t know the consequences of Sabrina’s actions yet, having the episode end without her facing retribution for her obstinance (and the Dark Lord appearing as her principal for some choice words doesn’t count when it’s the same bluster she’s been hearing from Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle)) feels like a mistake. There’s no doubt that retribution’s coming but, considering the size of Sabrina’s betrayal and the coven’s threats, their recourse should’ve been swift to remind us why option C was never an option.
Sabrina’s vulnerable. In her efforts to learn more about her baptism she’s broadcasted to the entire coven who they should hurt to get to her, but so far everyone’s ok (including Sabrina, who somehow made it past those Evil Dead trees) and they really shouldn’t be.
It’s not like Sabrina’s decision is undesirable. Here you have this guy, in charge of a women’s group, telling Sabrina it’s too late to change her mind and she calls his bluff. Father Blackwood’s cagey, with his politician answers, but now he insults her. Throwing his lies back in her face and thinking she’ll comply, Sabrina refuses to be his pawn. If he wants her signature in the Dark Lord’s book, then he can put his promise that she can leave the Church whenever she wants in writing.
Hilda says the times are changing but not even Sabrina’s dress is allowed to stay white at her baptism, and all that talk about free will, which was meant to get Sabrina to do what they wanted, was a charade. Since humans don’t know about witches it’s truly propaganda for the sake of tricking their own kind. Hilda doesn’t mean to manipulate her niece, but that’s why it’s so important that Sabrina take the initiative to interact with other witches this episode.
Not that she’s thinking about her baptism when she asks the Weird sisters (led by Tati Gabrielle‘s Prudence) to help her reap vengeance against Susie’s bullies. Isolated at home, with Hilda and Ambrose (we’ll get to Zelda later), you might not think witches and warlocks are so bad. Like Sabrina, they don’t trust their leaders blindly (if Hilda usually quells to them). Ambrose is completing his own investigation into whether there’s a witch hunter in town, after being told by Father Blackwood there wasn’t. His word should’ve been golden but it’s another instance where you realize Father Blackwood can’t be trusted.
This is very early, though, for Sabrina to be calling a truce with her own bullies (they cursed her last time they met) and that the Weird sisters agree to it makes them instantly more complex and interesting. These are three siblings who hate Sabrina but, in giving her a taste of what she’ll encounter at the Academy, they’re doing her a favor. Yes, they go off plan, but that’s indicative of the Academy, and they don’t wrest control away from Sabrina. In that they’re better than Father Blackwood, because if Sabrina disapproves of their methods they give her the power to undo them. That’s fair and after Sabrina’s first encounter with them, you wouldn’t expect fair.
In the end, it’s Aunt Zelda who’s the most ruthless (when Ambrose makes a show of placing a protective circle around the house that only Spellman’s can cross, I wasn’t convinced she wouldn’t go after Sabrina and force her hand) but after killing her own sister with a hammer, you can’t be certain what (or who?) Zelda might execute.
Other thoughts on “The Dark Baptism:”
- Originally, I thought the hanged witches dated Sabrina’s vision, but it sounds like she’s under the impression it was the future, not the past, she saw with the malum malus.
- While we haven’t cleared up what happened to them, we do have our first suspect in the deaths of Sabrina’s parents: not only does Father Blackwood hold the position of High Priest that was once her dad’s, but he was surpassed by her dad (his pupil) for the position (which, for an ambitious warlock, must have stung).
- One of the reasons Sabrina gives for not signing the book is seeing her parents telling her to run, but it’s important to clarify that it’s Sabrina’s mom (Annette Reilly), the mortal, who gives her the order. Are we supposed to believe Sabrina’s dad (George Daburas) was completely different from the High Priest Father Blackwood’s become?
- Intriguing detail but, like vampires, the witches are really pushing the aging difference as the reason Sabrina can’t stay in touch with mortals.
- Also intriguing: I love how the show keeps showing us how much Sabrina takes to using witchcraft, even if that makes her morally compromised. It’s unclear when the switch happened, or if it was ever her making out with one of the jocks, but Sabrina didn’t hesitate and betrays no guilt when she runs into Harvey later that night (also, did anyone notice the frowning jack-o-lantern decoration when they kiss for the first time after the baptism?).
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming on Netflix.