There are a lot of reasons why “Dreams In A Witch House” is a great episode but the biggest, and most due for credit, has to be Batibat (Megan Leitch) and her refusal to play by the Dark Lord’s rules.
How refreshing is it for a demon not to care what anyone else says? To not yield or ask permission before launching, full-speed, into revenge, and to not open the floor for comment, whether counteroffers are better or not? This is a force Miss Wardell can’t control or bribe. In other words, she’s exactly what a demon should be, and, in that case, I guess we should thank Sabrina’s father and Father Blackwood, too, for bringing the sleep demon into the Spellmans’ home.
Here’s a list of things “Dreams In A Witch House” does so well:
- The 50/50 Chance That Zelda Caught The Sleep Demon In Time: Until Hilda tucks Sabrina in and tells her that they wouldn’t realize it, if the sleep demon had been successful, you have no reason to believe Batibat’s not in the urn and that they were goners the moment they heard the first note of “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.”
- Last Episode’s Preparation For Miss. Wardell To Be Involved: By establishing that Miss. Wardell had made Sabrina’s mirror two-way in “Witch Academy,” she’s able to find out what’s going on and intercede.
- The Dream Logic: This may be my favorite detail, but I love how Matthew Berry, who wrote this episode, wrote-in contradictions that you’d find in dreams, like the aunts and Sabrina discussing whether Sabrina should marry Harvey, given how her parents died, but then Edward walking Sabrina down the aisle for her nightmare wedding.
- The Polar Opposite Nightmares of Hilda and Zelda: While Hilda’s nightmare is forever being attached to her sister, Zelda’s is losing Hilda, by her own hand.
- Zelda’s Character Development: Where last episode’s change of heart about harrowing felt unearned, using Zelda’s nightmare, as a place where she would be vulnerable and show her soft side, couldn’t have been better played. For one thing, Zelda roasts a Child of Night so “soft” needs a new definition but it’s not just her unhealthy relationship with Hilda (mostly her fault) that falls under fire but how she responds under pressure, whether it’s an unexpected dinner guest or Sabrina needing help and not being able to provide it.
- The Plot Progression: Sabrina knows Miss. Wardell’s a witch, so that should push storylines ahead. Also, how about Miss. Wardell, who’s never attempted to act like the woman whose body she stole before, lamely playing with her glasses when Sabrina shows up at her door?
- The Streamlined Narrative: No B-stories for Sabrina’s friends this time and, like the focused episodes of Game of Thrones, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is stronger for it.
Other thoughts on “Dreams In A Witch House:”
- Could Salem be a traitor? The show has never questioned why he decided to be Sabrina’s familiar, but he has been coming through for her a lot so lately maybe we’re due for a betrayal, where he’s really working for Miss Wardell (since he didn’t pick up on the mirror and a few other things to do with her magic).
- Hilda (and, for that matter, the joyful Lucy Davis) has truly become the integral heart of this show. She’s the only one who’s central to all four dreams: Ambrose’s accomplice, Zelda’s competition, Sabrina’s romantic advisor, and Principal Hawthorne’s date (that dream’s her own).
- While realizing Hilda’s spider familiars are the real heroes (and their dream catcher spiderweb), the nostalgia for playing Cat’s Cradle was strong, watching Sabrina beat Batibat.
- You’ve gotta love the simplicity of Father Blackwood’s transformation into the devil: a pair of horns, a moustache, and a goat-like beard and he’s the spitting image of the Dark Lord.
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming on Netflix.