‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Episode 7 Serves Up a Cannibalistic ‘Witch Thanksgiving’ (RECAP)
Thanksgiving is a time for family; when loved ones gather around the dinner table to pig-out on food, share memories and argue about modern politics. In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Thanksgiving is all those things too, with the added caveat that one of your dinner guests will be eaten.
“Witch Thanksgiving,” written by Criminal Minds alum Oanh Ly, is another tasty treat of an episode that works as a standalone piece of comically dark horror-fantasy. That’s another of Sabrina‘s selling points; it isn’t afraid of the episodic format. You could pretty much dip in at any point of the season and easily pick up what’s happening. An episode can be enjoyed on its own merits without the baggage of complex series arcs and overcomplicated mythology.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t recurring plot points or character-arcs, there definitely are, but it’s not required research to appreciate an individual installment. The past three episodes in particular (“Dreams in a Witch House,” “An Exorcism in Greendale,” “Witch Thanksgiving”) have championed the episodic story. Some might argue this slows down the pace, and while things certainly aren’t moving as fast as the first half of the season, there is enough character growth within these episodes that the show still feels like it’s pushing forward.
This Hannibalistic episode puts family at the forefront of the story and uses those familial differences to shed light on the characters. The Spellman family is once again at the center of the drama when they are chosen to participate in the Feast of Feasts — an unholy tradition of the Church of Night in which 14 witch families are selected and must nominate a tribute to represent them in a lottery.
The lucky lotto winner is not awarded a monetary prize but is bestowed the honor of Queen of the Feast and subsequently devoured in a sacrifice to the Dark Lord. Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and her Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto), the only Spellmans eligible to be picked, once again argue the moral ethics of such an event. Zelda preaches tradition, while Sabrina blasts the Feast as an act of unnecessary barbarism, one that it turns out her father had banned when he was High Priest.
After Zelda nominates herself as tribute, Sabrina tries to bluff her bullheaded aunt by interrupting the ceremony and nominating herself in her place; hoping Zelda will come to her senses. Instead, Zelda begrudgingly allows Sabrina to replace her; perhaps wishing to teach her niece a lesson. Sabrina is spared being served for supper, instead, she draws the lot of Handmaiden, who is required to indulge the chosen Queen, her arch-frenemy, Prudence (Tati Gabrielle).
This is a coming out episode for Prudence, who up until now has primarily been used as an effective but fairly one-dimensional mean girl bully. Gabrielle shines as we begin to get a better understanding of what makes Prudence tick, and we see, yet again, that she is another young woman who has fallen victim to the lies and secrets of powerful men.
Prudence is utterly devoted to the Church of Night and all its debauched rituals and traditions. In her eyes, becoming Queen of the Feast is akin to being named Prom Queen. She cannot wait to be eaten by her fellow witches and be “transubstantiated” into the Dark Lord’s heart forever. She spends her days leading up to the Feast trying on dresses, having Sabrina bathe her, and partaking in sex orgies (“Get in or get out,” she hilariously tells Sabrina when she interrupts the sordid party).
Sabrina tries to get Prudence to see things from a different perspective. She drags her along to Baxter High (with the promise of being able to torment mortal boys), hoping that she might learn the meaning of life. When that doesn’t work, she calls on the help of Miss Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), who takes the girls (along with the Weird Sisters) into the Greendale woods to visit Dezmelda, an excommunicated witch who once rejected the Queen’s crown.
Dezmelda, a proper old-school, warty, pointy-nosed witch, tells the story of when she was selected for the Feast as a young girl. The High Priest ordered that not only should she be eaten, but that she must first sleep with him as part of an “initiation,” and so she ran. Sabrina points out that Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) could similarly be abusing his power for his own corrupt desires. What if the Feast is not the Dark Lord’s wishes? What if Prudence isn’t “transubstantiated” and when she dies her life is simply… over?
Prudence refuses to believe that Blackwood would manipulate her like that. He’s always treated her like a daughter. And she pities Sabrina for her cynicism. “How sad, not to have faith in anything,” she comments. But after spending the day with Sabrina, Prudence begins to realize that the blond charmstress does have faith in something… a mortal boy.
Harvey (Ross Lynch) is having his own Thanksgiving drama while on his first Kinkle family hunting trip. Having been tasked by Miss Wardwell to research his family history, Harvey asks his Grandpa how the Kinkles came to own the Greendale mines. It turns out Harvey’s ancestors basically pillaged the land from the “hill people” that used to live in the area. When he recites this story at school, Prudence notes those “hill people” were witches and brands Harvey and his family witch hunters.
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Sabrina promises Prudence that Harvey is harmless and nothing like his family. Her argument loses some luster, however, when the girls come upon a dead deer in the woods — a “familiar” killed during the Kinkle hunting expedition. “Who would do such a thing?” Sabrina asks. “Men,” replies Wardwell. The witches form a pentagram around the deer’s body, rendering it and themselves invisible, and watch as the Kinkle family stalks the perimeter, looking for their “prize.”
“Once a hunter, always a hunter,” remarks Prudence. Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) and Dorcas (Abigail F. Cowen) want revenge. “Blood demands blood, that is the law.” But Sabrina continues to defend her beau. She knows he isn’t a killer. “How is your faith in the mortal boy any different than my faith in the Dark Lord?” asks Prudence. “And why is your faith more valid than mine?” She has a point, but Sabrina is ultimately proved right. Harvey confesses that he couldn’t bring himself to shoot the deer. “I’m not like them,” he says, and that’s exactly why Sabrina loves him.
Sabrina is also right about the Feast of Feasts being manipulated, but not by Father Blackwood, instead, it’s Lady Blackwood (Alvina August) pulling the strings. While in the middle of a pregnancy-induced panic attack, Constance confesses to putting a spell on the lottery so that Prudence would be chosen as Queen. She suspects that Blackwood has other children, Prudence being one of them, and the last thing she wants is that “slut” laying claim to the title of High Priest.
Constance, after a mouthful of Hilda’s (Lucy Davis) truth cake, spills these secrets over dinner like a drunk relative at an actual Thanksgiving get-together. Blackwood, too, is tricked into admitting that Prudence is his daughter and that her mother killed herself after he refused to marry her. It’s a revelation that sees Prudence spared her Feast fate, though she does still demands she get to sit on the throne of skulls, and who can blame her, it’s a badass-looking throne.
Despite promises from Blackwood, Sabrina does not succeed in having the Feast banned for good. As the High Priest starts his announcement, an overeager witch offers herself up for sacrifice and slits her own throat before the congregation begins chowing down on her blood-oozing carcass. While Sabrina might be slowly changing the views of her own family (Zelda admits she never would have allowed Sabrina to be eaten), she has a long way to go before she brings about change to the sisterhood of witches.
-Roz Walker (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) have their own family history lessons. Roz learns from her Nana Ruth (L. Scott Caldwell) that the Walker women were cursed with blindness after crossing paths with a witch. But with that curse comes a gift, The Cunning, an ability to see things others can’t — things that could save her life.
-Susie, meanwhile, learns of one of her ancestors, Dorothea, a respected frontier who “dressed like a man.” Dorothea helps rebuild Susie’s confidence after her self-doubt surrounding her gender identity brought about by Uncle Jesse’s death.
-Agatha and Dorcas go into business for themselves when it comes to taking revenge on the Kinkles. The two sisters make voodoo dolls of Harvey and his brother Tommy and crush them with rocks, just as the two young men enter the mines.
-Sabrina whispers in Latin as she hugs Harvey. I suspect this is a spell to protect him and will likely save him from the Weird Sisters rock curse.
-Wardwell spends Thanksgiving alone with a pizza takeaway meal. Sorry, that should be, pizza-boy takeaway meal. And that pizza boy was none other than Riverdale‘s Ben Button (Moses Thiessen)!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Streaming, Netflix