And we’re back with another episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! As always, spoilers ahead! Ahoy ye scurvy hooors!
Sidenote: I keep trying to successfully embed little gifs but so far it’s nothing but FAIL.
Per usual, we pick up where we left off: Principal Hawthorne has been possessed by none other than the Debil himself. Boy they really want Sabrina for TEAM SATAN.
The majority of this episode centers around Sabrina’s trial for breach of promise. Poor Hilda has to give up a tooth for collateral and with their powers locked up, she and Zelda are aging rapidly, which will continue until Sabrina gets in line.
We see Zelda trying to help in her own way by appealing to Blackwood, but then they kiss and some of her hair falls out and…ew.
On Ambrose’s suggestion, she visits a man named Daniel Webster. Ambrose says, “He’s a mortal but rumored to have beaten the Devil himself.”
Thanks to a dive down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, I learned that there really was a Daniel Webster. He was, among other things, a state representative of New Hampshire and Massachusettes, the Secretary of State under 3 presidents, and one of the most prominent attorneys in New Hampshire. The neat part is that there was a short story written by Stephen Vincent Bonet called “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” In it, Webster defends a farmer who sold his soul to the Devil. He also drank A LOT and ended up dying of a subdural hematoma and cirhossis of the liver. Ouch.
Webster does defend Sabrina in the infernal court and here’s another neat thing: when they show the flashback of Sabrina and her moment with the Book of the Beast, we can see the names of Ursula Kemp and Sarah Good.
The big reveal here is that everybody has screts and Hilda’s is a doozy. First, we must know that Sabrina’s father, a powerful warlock, signed over his firstborn so he could marry Sabrina’s mother, a human. But that’s not all – Sabrina’s mother had her baptized, as evidenced by the baptismal certificate Hilda produces, having be a witness.
Sabrina feels betrayed, and the court declares she will retain her life but has to go to the Academy of Unseen Arts and attend weekly black mass.
The side plot involves Ambrose, who has been keeping the dead witch-boy’s iguana (Zelda threatens to make it into a purse). He meets the guy’s boyfriend and they have a little tryst in Ambrose’s room. The next morning, the iguana is dead.
Writing Spider Prediction: This boyfriend dude? Luke? HE’S the witch killer Ambrose has been investigating.
We also learn
Ros is going blind (ugh…boo)
Harvey got lost in the mine and saw the Devil (TERRIBLE)
Wardwell is still gunning to get Sabrina (I’m kind of over this story line…)
Hilda and Zelda share a room (er…okay?)
My questions for this episode:
Why are the old aunts sharing a room?
Is Luke the witch killer?
WHEN DOES THIS SHOW TAKE PLACE?
I’m still having a hard time with the old trope that witches are evil and in league with the devil, but I remain hopeful.
I’m back for round two! I hope I can manage to get these out on Wednesdays because Witch Works Wednesdays sounds kind of cool. Also SPOILERS.
On to the review!
OMG ZELDA KILLS HILDA WHAT IS HAPPENING I HATE THIS SHOW.
Yes. I’ll get to that in a second. Just had to get it off my chest.
We pick up where we left off, with Sabrina, the aunties, Ambrose and Blackwood in the parlor discussing Sabrina’s upcoming marriage to Satan dark baptism. Sabrina pulls zero punches in her questions to Blackwood. She asks if she’ll have free will, reminds him that the Devil (“DARK LORD”…omg is this Harry Potter fanfic??) is the embodiment of evil, and blurts out in the most teenager way possible, “I’m not an evil person!” Her doubts about this business carry through the show.
In a cool little trick, Zelda spies on Hilda confiding in Sabrina that if she could go back, she’d have burned the woods down before her dark baptism. Ooops. You pissed her off, Hilda! So later, as Hils is marveling at her turnips, Zelda wallops her on the head with a shovel then buries her in the garden with the aforementioned turnips. OMG NO. Because I love the character but also, she was one of the only allies Sabrina has.
After Susie gets into a fight with the school assholes, Sabrina goes to Miss Wardwell/Satan’s Lady. Wardwell suggests that she should “fight fire with hellfire.” Natch.
Sidenote: Michelle Gomez is fantastic in general. In the role, she sort of looks like she’s about to throw off her clothes and have an orgy with whomever is in the room.
And who does Sabrina enlist to help her fight? The Succubitches!
They lure the guys into a mine, give them a tale about it being a gateway to hell, then take off their clothes. Under those Wednesday Addams getups, they’re full-on burlesque with black lingerie, garters and stockings. After a trick that makes the boys think they’re making out with the hot girls, they realize they’re making out with…each other.
I mean…I guess? It comes of a tad homophobic. Like…’this is the worst thing we could do!’ Maybe it makes sense because the boys were making fun of Susie for her gender fluidity and so forth, so maybe having them confront what’s probably at the heart of their own behavior IS the way to get to them? Dunno.
Sidenote: I have two sons. And on some level, everything I watch/read/consume is filtered through the lens of parenthood. So when I see boys acting like these guys, I feel afraid that my sons would ever be like that. Don’t be assholes, kids!
Also, this scene reminds me of the movie Heathers. When Veronica (a name from the Archie comic-verse) and JD lure the asshole football players into a clearing, shoot them, and then write suicide notes that imply they were gay.
This scene ends up being interesting because Sabrina asks Prudence about the whole dark baptism arrangement. She voices her concerns and Prudence is like, “Yeah but…you get power so…it’s even.” (Nope not how that words, Pru.) When Sabrina says she wants both, Prudence says, with a hint of resignation, that “he’ll never let you do that.”
Uggghhhhh and you know why? “Because he’s a man, isn’t he?”
Cue my rage against the patriarchy. I know, I know, it’s not like Prudence (or anybody) is going to be like, “Oh yeah, that is SO going to work out!” but I am really hoping hoping this show is going to turn that bullshit on its ear.
Sabrina seems to decide she’s going to go through with things, especially after (a returned, alive, and very contrite) Hilda tries to calm her fears. She decides she’ll have one more night of fun with her friends and heads out (in her mom’s AMAZING wedding dress) to a Halloween party at Ros’s house. I love that Susie is dressed like Eddie Munster.
At the appointed hour, Sabrina runs off to the woods to do the baptism thing, at which point her white dress turns black (except NOT her slip. I love how magic is so dumb sometimes.)
The baptism grotto is full of the coven members, including Miss Wardwell hiding behind a tree. Blackwood orders the aunts to undress Sabrina (which is how we know her slip didn’t get all black), and I’m not sure why she doesn’t have to get totally naked (probably the show didn’t want to ‘go there’). At the last minute, Sabrina decides NOPE and runs home.
She arrives bloody and muddy, followed by the coven carrying torches. Ambrose protects her and the coven leaves. But Zelda is MAD.
There are a couple final scenes, including one where principal Hawthorne is briefly possessed by Satan himself in order to remind Sabrina that he is in control here, not her.
Final observations and questions on the episode:
WHY is everybody so keen on Sabrina signing her name in the book? The aunts say both that they promised their brother (Sabrina’s father) and that they have no choice. Why is Wardwell/Madam Satan (thanks IMDB!) so bent on getting Sabrina to the Academy of Unseen Arts?
There are no boys at the Academy of Unseen Arts, according to a throw-away comment from one of the Weird Sisters. WHY NOT? Where do THEY go?
Why do Ambrose and Hilda have British accents and Zelda (played by Australian actress Miranda Otto) has a mostly American accent?
Why doesn’t anybody notice Miss Wardwell at the baptism? I mean, if you go to the same church all the time, you can tell the ones who have never been there. Just sayin…
I would like Zelda’s entire wardrobe please. Right now.
Zelda says of Hilda, “You’ll be the death of me. And I of you.” And she mentions that at some point, she’ll kill Hilda and Hilda will STAY dead. Which…Oh man. HARSH.
WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SLASH THE PALM WHEN YOU NEED SOME BLOOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I know it’s looks dramatic and all but it is SO DUMB.
That’s all for now! Tune in next week for Chapter three! And tell me what you think of the show in the comments.
Welcome to the first installment of Witch Works! Every week I’ll post a blog about a work that involves…can you guess? Ok, fine, yes, witches. Could be a book, a TV show, a movie, a YouTube series, or something YOU send me! SPOILERS: If you haven’t consumed the work of the week and want no spoilers, don’t show up here and complain I’ve ruined something for you. (FAIR WARNING.)
First up is the first chapter of Netflix’s the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you are a person of a certain age, you might remember Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It ran from 1996-2003 and starred Melissa Joan Hart as the titular witch. If you a person of a differnt age, you might remember her from the comics.
I was a big fan of Hart’s Sabrina but I had been a fan of the character since middle school when I read Archie comics, first introduced to me on a trip to Toronto where the brightly colored tomes appeared at every grocery store and magazine rack in the nation, it seemed.
We start with the fantastic credits (see above) and a voiceover that sets us up as being in Greendale, where it always feels like Halloween. Ooooh, I’m calling my realtor NOW because that sounds like the BEST. Sabrina and friends Roz and Susie, and boyfriend Harvey, are at the movies. Slasher flick, natch.
We meet Ms. Wardwell, a teacher at the kids’ school, Baxter High, played by the most amazing and excellent Michelle Gomez, aka Missy/the Master in Doctor Who. You know something terrible is going to happen to poor Ms. Wardwell. She’s the buttoned-up spinster type but not for long! And when we cut to her driving home, singing along with CCR’s Bad Moon Rising, you JUST KNOW. And when she stops to pick up a young woman on the side of the road who’s been hurt or seems lost or whatever, well. YOU KNOW.
Post-movie, the kids are in the diner, chatting about the film and Susie has some really deep ideas about the movie. I LOVE this scene. It reminds me of being in high school and college and having those long conversations about everything and nothing, when you’re figuring things out and testing out your adult thinking skills.
It also kind of reminded me of the time in college when I was obsessed with my theory that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was an allegory about the Seven Deadly Sins. (I still believe this. Hmm….maybe a future blog post in the making…)
We then go with Sabrina and Harvey to her house, where she lives with her aunts Zelda and Tilda (more excellence from Mirando Otto and Lucy Davis, both of whom are invited to my house any time for any reason), and cousin Ambrose, and from whence the others run the family mortuary business. The best bit of this scene for me was Sabrina’s little dance up the staircase after Harvey kisses her.
We learn that Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday is coming up and she’s going to be brought into the coven via a “dark baptism.”
It’s this point when I kind heard the faintest “womp womp” in the back of my brain. Whyyyy are they Satanic witches? Why can’t they be, like, badass women in charge of their own lives and who also do magic FULL STOP. I’m kind of tired of there being this continued virgin/whore dichotomy with the witch trope in popular culture. I’m tired of the idea that a woman has to sign her autonomy to a man in order to be powerful, except NOT since he still holds all the power. I was really hoping this show would forge its own path instead of relying on the old standbys of…Satan and his Book of the Beast. Not only that, but the aunts, at least, are also cannibals.
I remain hopeful, since it’s only the first episode.
Meanwhile, Ms. Wardwell has been gruesomely killed by her stray hitchhiker and is now possesed by some entity who promises Satan she will deliver Sabrina into his hooves.
Again, we’re relying on the old horned/hooved animal as Satan. (Cue eye roll.)
There are some really nice lines and one-offs in this episode. My two favorites:
“Penny dreadful for your thoughts?”
“Succubitches” (in reference to the trio of sexy Wednesday Addamses from the show’s version of Hogwarts).
Sabrina has to prepare for her dark baptism with cleansing green smoothies, and thinking about how “delicious” it will be to sign the Devil’s book and go to the Acadamy of Unseen Arts. She’s not really keen on it though. She’s into Harvey and her friends, and she wants both her own autonomy and be a powerful witch.
Things I love about the new series:
The anachronisms: it’s modern day but Zelda dresses like a 1940’s film noir star, complete with cigarette ring, Hilda dresses like your grandma from the 1970s, and Sabrina’s copped Sally Draper’s Mad Men wardrobe. I’m here for ALL OF IT.
Octoslenderman: Sabrina summons herself a familiar and he appears first in the shape of what I am calling “Octoslenderman” but then transforms into the black cat Salem we all know and love.
Lucy Davis: I mean, come on. She’s the perfect touch of comedy! Also, let’s be honest. If I was in this show, I’d aspire to be a badass Zelda but I don’t have the ovaries for it. I’m a total Hilda.
Nods to a variety of cultural icons/themes/ideas: There are a lot of interesting shades of Christian theology (the apple gives you knowledge, etc.).
I love that Jeff from Coupling plays Satan’s right hand man.
The faint traces of feminism: For all her family’s pushing, Sabrina still wants to have a say. Maybe there’s hope for the show yet.
Things I do not love:
Mostly they revolve around the use of Satanic witches. This idea is so old, my lord, you all… Women couldn’t possibly be powerful or magical on their own, they have to whore themselves to a demon for that. Satanism is a response to theocratic patriarchy and yet…and yet…women are still subservient to the male and only get their power with his blessing.
This is a complicated subject and one I’d like to dive into more but let’s just leave it at this.
I did not love the violence against bats in the first episode. I love bats and when Sabrina smashes one with a book, I almost turned it off and walked away. But at least she buried the poor thing.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season! Are you watching?
I love bats. In my last house, I had a bunch of bat-themed stuff in the first floor half bath. I called it the batroom. (Ha.)
Two nights ago, I was in the middle of an oddly boring dream. Then some lightning started (in the dream) and thumping. But it was a dream so…par for the course right? But what jolted me out of my slumber was a very insistent THUMP, a BANG, and a lot of cursing.
The lightning was my husband’s flashlight. The thumping was him trying to get out of the way of a swooping bat as it soared into our bedroom.
“WHAT IS GOING ON?” I demanded.
“Uh…there’s a bat in the house…”
I put on my glasses. Sure enough, there was a little fluttery shape flying in circles around our ceiling fan. (We turned off the fan.)
I got up and put on a robe, because I am a sensible person. Husband, however, chose to deal with the intruder the same way he came into this world: naked and waving his arms around.
We got wee Batman to fly into the hall and then rest on the doorjamb of Thing 1 and 2’s room. Poor thing. But cute as could be. And no white nose, so that’s good. I got a towel and tried to gather him into it, but he took off and spent the next five minutes swooping up and down the stairwell.
Husband got a broom and opened the front door.
Me: Why are you turning on all the lights?
Him: I don’t know! I don’t know what to do!
Me: Turn the lights off, you don’t have any clothes on.
Him: Sara, it’s 4 a.m…..
Batman landed on a picture frame hanging on the wall. I gently laid the towel on him and he gave a tiny squeak.
Me: Crap. Did I hurt him? Why do you keep ducking? He’s not going to hit you.
Husband: I know, it’s just a reflex.
I stuck the broom up in the air, hoping Batman would land on it and I could launch him safely off the porch. Gently, bit by bit, we herded him right out the front door and back into the night.
Me: Thank god nobody is awake, you gave quite a show… This is why you need to have a bathrobe.
Husband: I’m going back to bed.
I’m not surprised we had a chiropteroid visitor. It’s an old house. I’m sure we’ll have more.
On Tuesday (Or Sunday, if you ask Amazon……..) my first book came out.
A year or so ago, I listened to an interview with Tom Lennon (from The Odd Couple). The interviewer asked how it felt to have “made it” in his career. Lennon said something about having worked so long and hard that he’d built up sort of an armor. Not that it’s No Big Deal to have finally achieved success, but that it had been so long in coming it’s just a bit anticlimactic.
I feel this way, too. Muddy Waters is my third completed novel. It took about 18 months between initally querying agents to getting published. Before that, I queried the first two books for three years or so with varying degrees of success but no contract.
Writing your first book isn’t like winning the lottery. You’re not poor at 8:00 p.m. and filthy rich at 8:01. You don’t go from not-published to published overnight.
Is it like a marathon? Maybe. If you have tiny victories at random intervals and then by the time you cross the finish line, you’ve been running so long it’s all you’ve ever known and it’s just another day in your life, and then there’s still a 10K to run when you’re done with the 26.2 miles.
There were so many little milestones I celebrated but at no point did it feel like NOW THIS PART IS DONE. There was the email from the acquisitions editor asking for the whole manuscript. There was another email asking for revisions. There was a call extending a contract. There was the cover design, the Amazon listing, the news that Audible would offer it as an audio book. There were a couple of meh reviews.
So when the book was actually alive and in the wild, it didn’t FEEL different, except that I have been anxious to the nth degree for about a week.* I don’t know what I expected but I don’t think this is it.
I’ve just been stressing over whether I’m doing the right thing with promotion? Is there something else I should do? Did I invite enough people to the launch party? Did I invite TOO MANY people to the launch party?
This is not to say that I’m not thrilled this has finally happened. But I get something now that I didn’t get before. I get the pressure we feel after putting something out there. I get why some authors write a book or two in the promised trilogy and then vanish. I’ve made a promise to the readers, to the publisher, to myself. And what if I can’t fulfill those promises? What if I do The Wrong Thing and the book tanks and everything sucks and my grand plan for the series is sucked into the hole?
I wish I was happier about it. I wish I was more at ease. I wish I felt less stress that my book is finally a reality. I wish I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering when I will sit down to finish the second book, or terrified that I’ve missed some awesome opportunity.
*It does not help that I also lost my job last month, and as I haven’t had a single interview, my shoulders creep ever-closer to my ears.
I was never the girl picked for kissing in truth or dare. I didn’t have boyfriends in grade school like some of my other friends. I was super-shy, awkward…the usual cocktail of adolescent horror. So by the time I got to high school, and not only made friends, but started dating, it was a new world.
My first boyfriend was a year older than me and I knew him from lunch. He sat with some of my friends. I saw him at a homecoming dance, and we talked and danced (awkwardly). Before he left, he asked for my phone number, which I wrote on the back of my dance ticket.
Neither of us could drive, so for our first date, he and his parents picked me up and dropped us as the mall. This was back when one of the malls in my part of town had a movie theater and a food court. We ate at (I think) KFC, then we went to see Mermaids (which remains one of my favorite movies ever–that scene where Christina Ricci comes in with the pumpkin on her head cracks me up every time).
His parents picked us up after. I thought it was weird that they both came, but he was an only child and they were older parents so maybe they were just really protective? They parked in the front of my house, but my family always went in the side door. It was a blessing, in hindsight, although maybe he wouldn’t have kissed me if they’d been able to see us from the car.
We said our good nights and then before I turned to go inside, he grabbed my arms and pulled us in. Oh my lord, this is really happening, but why is his tongue out?? He wound up sort of mashing his tongue against my front teeth.
Then he was gone.
I went inside, wiped off my teeth, and realized I’d just had my First Official Kiss. And it had been weird.
We went out maybe one more time, again with his parents as chauffeurs, and sat together at school whenever possible. This was before the days of cell phones and we all used phones that were stuck in the walls at our houses. So he and I talked as much as we could.
I got out of the shower one night and my mom said he’d called. When I called, back this conversation happened:
Me: You called?
Him: Yeah, I just called to tell you that I’m not going to be able to talk on the phone tonight.
Him: It’s just that the State of the Union address is on tonight.
Me: (Half-joking because I was fourteen) Oh so the president is more important than me?
Him: At this point in our relationship, he is, yes.
I broke up with him a few days later in the 1990s version of a text message: via note passed between classes.
I went on to successfully date a senior from another school, a misunderstood rebel type, and then finished off high school with my first long-term boyfriend. Lotta good kissing after that first rough start.
If you had the time and resources to go back to school, what would you study?
Psychology. I think in another life, I’d be a counselor or psychologist. Mental health is important and fascinating and I love listening to other people’s problems. I don’t think I could do children’s therapy. My sister is a social worker and I couldn’t deal with abused kids. I think marriage counseling would be interesting. Or family counseling.
I use coupons for things like oil changes or kitchen stuff at Bed Bath & Beyond or BOGO shoes. I like Groupons sometimes. But I don’t bother with grocery coupons or stuff like that. I used to try, for a while, but it’s a hassle and I have better things to do with my time than scour the Sunday papers for little bits of paper that I then have to keep track of until I go to the store. And I’ve used the apps like Cartwheel, but it feels so fiddly and I don’t really feel like I get that much out of it.
Someone told me once that manufacturers don’t do coupons for us, for the shoppers. They are doing it for their own good, and YOU don’t save more money than they MAKE on you. It’s uneven.
I use loyalty cards in a couple of stores.
Also, I don’t use the products there are coupons for. Take toiletries. I can’t use anything with chemical fragrance in it (that is, anything that isn’t literally from the plant) or aloe. I use store-brand cleaners. Also, I hate those coupons that are like, “BUY SIXTEEN BOXES OF OATMEAL AND GET THE SEVENTEENTH FOR HALF OFF!”
Write about a memorable experience you had staying at a hotel.
I had just started working for a major corporation in my hometown and my new team was having a big meeting in Miami. I was so excited to see South Beach and check out the salsa scene.
We stayed at the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in: right on the beach with huge rooms and beds, an enormous bathroom, very fancy products on the vanity. There was also a very famous pop star staying at the hotel, so I knew this was a posh place. The country mouse in the city, as it were.
The first night we were there, my boss had a poolside reception for the group we had assembled. She handed me her corporate credit card and told me to open a tab. I went to the bar, which was super-swanky and beautiful. I was gazing around, waiting for the bartenders to help me.
I heard a guy next to me ask for six glasses of Sambuca and a draft beer. The bartender gave him an odd look: not many people in this part of the world order Sambuca. It’s an anise-flavored liqueur and something of an acquired taste. And the guy says, “Yeah, I don’t know, they’re British. They like Sambuca. I think it’s disgusting.”
The way he said it, so smug and like he was trying to impress this bartender, made me want to see what this jerk looked like. He was standing directly next to me, wearing a nice suit. Sort of a Midwestern heftiness to him, sandy hair.
He saw me and said, “Oh, are you like, English or something? You like Sambuca?”
I said, in a perfect London accent, “What did you say?”
He paled. “Oh, so…you’re British? I mean, I just never met anyone who liked this stuff.”
I said, in my cool accent, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I happen to like Sambuca.”
At this point, the bartender is smothering laughter and this guy is backpeddling as fast as he can.
I finally broke into a grin and said in my regular voice, “Nah, man, I’m just messing with you. I’m from Kentucky.”
His face went totally blank. “So you’re…you’re not…”
“I’m not English. I was just messing with you.”
He smoothed his tie, turned, and left. Didn’t take the tray of glasses the bartender had prepared. Or his wallet.
I consider this my first real improv experience with the Yes, and… technique.