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    Five Thoughts on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s “Chapter Four: Witch Academy”

    By | November 21st, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Welcome one and all to Multiversity’s very own ‘Witching Hour,’ in which we take a look at Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Join me every Wednesday for a recap of the first season. With Sabrina’s trial over and her Aunt’s immortality and powers returned, Sabrina must uphold her part of the bargain. She must enter the quite frightening world of school… for witches. Warning, spoilers ahead.

    1. Welcome to Witch School

    So, as the title suggests we finally get to see Sabrina’s destined school, The Academy of Unseen Arts. It’s basically a really twisted version of Hogwarts, and though some magic classes are alluded to, we really only see their choir class. Kiernan Shipka gets to sing solo in front of the whole class (cause that wouldn’t give a person a panic attack on their first day of school) and does surprisingly well. It seems like our old friend Prudence, lead bitch of the Weird Sisters, is none too happy that Sabrina just might take her place in the choir, as her choir teacher Lady Blackwood (also Faustus’s wife), tells her that she has some competition.

    Speaking of competition, there’s a new guy in Sabrina’s life, a Nick Scratch, and despite the lovey dovey moment early in the episode between Harvey and Sabrina (Roz acts as the audience’s proxy by telling them Sabrina will only be gone for three days), she’s fascinated by him. Well she’s fascinated that he is in conjuring classes and has access to a restricted library. Sabrina tells Ambrose early in the episode that the only reason she’s going to the Academy is to conjure The Dark Lord, bind him, and banish him. That seems like a huge undertaking for someone who needed help scaring some bullies just a couple of episodes back. She’s determined as ever and asks Father Blackwood if she could be enrolled in more challenging classes. He gives her a kind of Satanic Rubik’s cube called the Acheron Configuration. If she can solve the puzzle, which was of her father’s design, he’ll allow her to take some proper magical classes. I mean, choir? How is that an Unseen Art?

    2. Meanwhile, in Greendale…

    Sabrina’s arc is the main focus of this episode, and it’s also the most compelling. But the show must remind us that Sabrina is a “half-breed” and has ties to the mortal world. Sabrina’s friends have a subplot involving Susie’s uncle. He worked at the Kinkle Mines for years before he “saw something.” Susie explains to Roz that she and her father look after her uncle and most of the time he’s sedated. The one weekend Susie’s father leaves town, this dude starts causing a ruckus. He’s tied to his bed, restrained, and he’s definitely possessed. Hey, remember when Harvey saw something too? Yep. This subplot is nesstled into the episode so that folks are reminded that there is something evil lurking beneath the Kinkle Mines and Harvey hasn’t been the only one who knows about it.

    3. The Astral Plane.

    The other subplot happening in this episode revolves around Cousin Ambrose. Luke, that charming young man who most definitely killed his last lover Connor, has asked Ambrose out on a date. However, Ambrose has a little problem called house arrest. He can’t physically leave the house. But we’re dealing with witches and warlocks folks, they can do all kinds of cool stuff we mortals cant. In this case, Ambrose convinces Hilda to help him project himself through the astral plane so that he can “leave” and go on a date with his crush.

    Hilda is reluctant at first telling him that only dead souls walk among the astral plane and if he’s discovered by psychopomps, little devil birds, he’ll be killed. Astral projection is pretty dangerous in Sabrina’s world. After Zelda belittles Hilda, an occurrence that is becoming all too common, Hilda decides to hell with it, and chips in to help her nephew.

    All Hilda has to do is wake Ambrose up before the psychopomps can get him. Easy enough huh? Not when Ms. Wardwell comes snooping by. Hilda just lets the woman in and rushes back downstairs to tend to Ambrose, leaving the unstable demoness FREE ROAM of the house. I love Lucy Davis’ Hilda. The show wants the audience to like her more than Zelda, as she’s just downright mean (more on that later). But damn, Hilda, that was a stupid thing to do. For once I agree with Zelda after she catches Wardwell descending their stairs.

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    Ambrose’s date is cut short due to the lurking psychopomps, but we get an idea as to why he’s been imprisoned for 75 years. Luke asks him about the craziest thing he’s ever done, to which Ambrose replies that he tried to blow up the Vatican. Wait… What? It’s kind of a throw away line but it’s out there. I’m intrigued as to why he did this. Is Ambrose some kind of zealot? Is he just straight up crazy? We’ll have to wait and find out.

    4. The Harrowing.

    High School is a weird time for people. Some love it, others love it too much, and there are those who get bullied. One of my talking points from “Chapter Two” was that bullies suck. Bullies are everywhere these days. From the halls of grade school to the threads on twitter, someone is always being bullied. Some people tend to brush these bullies off, others pretend like bullying doesn’t exist, i.e. When Zelda actually bullies Hilda for giving Sabrina protection charms to protect her from, well, bullying. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has made it clear that bullying is no good, but that it happens, a lot. Sabrina, herself has no time for bullies as she made clear back in “Chapter Two,” and she tells Hilda that she can take care of herself. When Prudence’s precious position on the choir team is threatened, she gets her band of weird witches together and they perform a hazing ritual called “The Harrowing,” a rite of passage that all witches and warlocks go through when they first arrive at The Academy of Unseen Arts. We learn towards the end of the episode that Zelda has always and will be a complete piece of shit once again because she was the one who Harrowed Hilda. Even after apologizing and a rare act of kindness towards Hilda, I still think she’s the worst.

    So, Sabrina is awoken by Quentin a small child that welcomes her to the school and warns her not to show the sisters that she’s afraid, or they’ll just kill her. The first act of hazing has Sabrina spending the night in a haunted cell where accused witches were tortured. The spirits of these witches whisper to their victims, eventually causing them to go mad. Shout out to Salem for being such a bad ass, Though we really don’t see how he defends her, as the Weird Sisters unlock the cell door in the morning they find a completely sane Sabrina, telling them that in Goblin form, Salem is quite formidable. I do hope we see more of Salem doing some cool shit. He has come to Sabrina’s aid twice now, and he’s always lingering in the shadows.

    Unfortunately, familiars are not allowed at Witch Academy, so Sabrina must face the second part of her harrowing alone, which she does gallantly. She must stands barefoot and nearly naked in front of the tree where the Greendale Thirteen, the witches who formed the original coven, stood before dying. She is forced to listen to demons mimicking her parents begging her to turn around. It is implied that she will die if she turns around.

    The following morning she is greeted by Quentin, who, as it turns out, was a victim of one of the various Harrowings. He introduces her to about a dozen other ghost children. Hilda and Zelda arrive after this second challenge and concoct a plan of revenge. They’ll be at peace then. So when the Weird sisters decide to just hang Sabrina, she turns the tables on them, tells them their Harrowing days are through and the ghost children begin to cast a spell which levitates the sisters, choking them. Finally Sabrina tells Prudence “I’ll choke you to death on your own blood,” a gruesome threat, if she ever mentions her parentage ever again. It’s a poignant moment, Sabrina’s not going to stand for this.

    5. Rubik’s Cube of Death.

    Having survived the first three days of Witch Academy, Sabrina seeks to unlock her father’s Acheron Configuration. Thanks to Nick Sabrina gets her hands on one of her father’s journals. She decphiers the secret lock, the configuration drops some sand onto the ground and then shit hits the fan. The lights dim and some kind of haggard demon woman approaches Sabrina. End of episode.

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    So what will happen next? What’s this demon that Sabrina released? be sure to tune in next week and find out.

    //TAGS | The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    Matt Garza

    Matt was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, but is really a Cubs fan. When he's not reading comics and writing about them, watching the Cubs or playing Dungeons & Dragons with his roommate, he's most likely working at the library or sleeping next to his dog, who is as lazy as he is. Despite several warnings, he will never stop giving the children in his family superhero clothing. You can find him on Twitter here.


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