Last review, when I mentioned the pace seemed to be picking up, I wasn’t thinking “The Burial” would begin with a mine collapse. Not that that’s unclever. Harvey and Tommy were the sole targets of Agnes and Dorcas’ attack, but it doesn’t look personal when four other guys are trapped with Tommy, and Harvey isn’t one of them, but smart wasn’t the vibe you were getting from Agnes and Dorcas, when they were slamming stones into Harvey and Tommy voodoo dolls. Where a personal attack would’ve made sure we knew Tommy’s fate right away, “The Burial” has to spend time confirming whether or not Tommy’s dead. In the end they don’t search long enough, since Harvey’s dad barely waits twenty-four hours before declaring his son dead, but it’s a lot of time for the end result to still be no body, a fact that, for good reason, rubs Harvey the wrong way.
It’s not that the missing body doesn’t serve the plot. For Sabrina’s necromancy stunt to work it helps that people think there’s a chance Tommy survived but if he’s not dead then Sabrina doesn’t need necromancy. Ambrose astral projected and didn’t think anyone was alive (and he wouldn’t lie about that), but no body means Ambrose could be wrong and you’d think before jumping to conclusions and trying to resurrect Tommy, Sabrina might’ve tried to locate his body first.
This is where timing hurts this episode too, because if Sabrina had acted right away and tried to use magic, maybe she could’ve gotten him and the other miners out. Granted, there’s no way of knowing that. Tommy might’ve been killed instantly, and if anyone had seen Sabrina it would’ve caused all sorts of trouble, but when you’re used to superhero shows, where heroes have secret identities to protect, but always finds time to save people, Sabrina’s approach is too much, too late.
Instead of trying anything else, Sabrina jumps straight to necromancy. Instead of dealing with the reality of the situation in front of her, she tries to change reality, and why? Because her experience as a witch has taught her that she can. Both her aunts are too distracted to realize what’s going on. Zelda’s starting an ill-advised affair with Father Blackwood. Hilda has her job (and maybe a relationship if “working late” means spending time with her new boss (Battlestar Galactica’s Alessandro Juliani)) but when Sabrina asks her what to do, she doesn’t leave any room for doubt. It’s a firm ‘no’ from Hilda. Coming from her, that should tell Sabrina something, too, but instead she steals Miss. Wardell’s Book of the Dead (using information Miss. Wardell plants in hope she’ll do just that), and slits Agatha’s throat.
The more extreme the circumstances have been, the more we’ve witnessed this ugly, witch mentality about death and “The Burial” is the ugliest yet. Until this episode Hilda’s resurrections were a mystery but it turns out the soil’s the culprit, not her. Witches aren’t naturally able to resurrect. That means when Prudence threatened to kill Sabrina in episode two, it wasn’t because she thought she’d come back. It was to kill her.
Now you have Sabrina justifying killing Agatha because she knows about the Cain Plot, but Dorcas doesn’t. when she agrees to participate. Like Prudence, these are two people who love Agatha and they put her through death. Even that Agatha admits she was the ringleader, when Sabrina made it clear a confession would get her killed. The lack of loyalty and resignation about death is horrifying. Necromancy is dangerous in any form. That Sabrina thinks cheating will produce better results and not disaster, as Ambrose predicts (since being on house arrest means being the one who’s around to chastise his cousin) is the worst kind of teenage naiveté.
The episode ends with, assumedly, Tommy knocking on the Kinkle door in a Monkey’s Paw situation, but after being disappointed by Sabrina‘s last cliffhanger, I’m guarded about this one.
Other thoughts on “The Burial:”
- Ultimately, we only met Tommy a couple of times, but the picture Harvey builds of him, over the course of this episode, makes him come alive posthumously. This is Harvey’s episode and Ross Lynch shines, with the stronger material.
- The flashback scene to Sabrina casting the protection spell on Harvey reminded me of David Simon regretting doing a flashback scene in the pilot of The Wire. Especially given Netflix’s binge model, the reminder isn’t necessary.
- The show needs to stop seesawing back and forth with Zelda. Zelda can be fully committed to the Church but after having her share of doubts recently, it’s like she completely forgets them when talking to Father Blackwood.
- Fun Pun: Roz saying “Weird, right?” in regard to her vision, not knowing the two girls she saw are Weird sisters.
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming on Netflix.