‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Episode 8 Raises the Dead (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
Photo: Netflix

Sabrina Spellman’s (Kiernan Shipka) heart is in the right place. She is a spunky sorceress who is not afraid to fight for her friends and stand up for what is right. She questions authority and rejects patriarchal tradition. Ever since she refused her Dark Baptism she has sought to forge her own path. But her quest for both freedom and power comes at a cost, for herself and others in the eighth episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

“The Burial,” written by Lindsay Calhoon Bring and Christianne Hedtke, is a turning point for Sabrina, both as a budding witch, and a teenage girl trying to find her way in the world. She’s becoming more comfortable with her powers and learning how to wield them to her benefit. Don’t get me wrong, Sabrina has always been willing to use her witchcraft for a worthy cause, but her spells have progressed from prank-level spider stunts to faux-lynching to literal throat-slitting. That is eventually going to take a toll on the psyche.

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Sabrina performs her darkest and most disturbing spell yet in “The Burial,” an episode which revolves around the death of Harvey Kinkle’s (Ross Lynch) brother Tommy (Justin Dobies). The Kinkle mining side-plot has been one of the weaker aspects of the series so far, but it’s been kept in the background enough not to detract from the main narrative. Here it takes center stage; to varying levels of success. Lynch does an admirable job drawing emotion out of Harvey in reaction to his brother’s death, but the tumultuous father-son relationship is almost too trope-filled to fully invest.

Harvey, who, thanks to Sabrina’s protection spell, escaped the mining collapse with just a few cuts and bruises, blames himself for Tommy’s death. Tommy could have left Greendale and gone to college but he stayed around to protect his little brother from their sadistic father (Christopher Rosamond). He hated the mines just as much as Harvey; something the grieving sibling makes clear to his dad during a heated argument at Tommy’s funeral. Now Harvey has no big brother looking out for him and is forced to live with a man he despises.

Photo: Netflix

Sabrina’s heart breaks for Harvey, and so, she does what any girlfriend would do, she comforts him and tells him everything is going to be okay. What else can you do in that situation? Well, if you’re half-witch, you can probably resurrect the dead, right? It’s a suggestion that even the usually supportive Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis) warns against, and she knows first-hand about death and resurrection. But as Sabrina later argues to Miss Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), what’s the point of having these powers if she can’t use them to help those she loves?

And so, the young witch sets about putting the pieces in place for a resurrection. She is nudged along by a manipulative Miss Wardwell, who tells Sabrina that for the incantation to work, she will need a blood sacrifice. In order for Tommy to live again, someone else must die.

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Sabrina finds the perfect victim when Roz (Jaz Sinclair) comes into contact with Tommy’s mining helmet and has her first vision. Roz sees a crazed Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen) in the mines, smashing their Kinkle voodoo dolls with rocks. Sabrina knows exactly what that means and swaggers into the Academy to confront the Weird Sisters. She finds an unlikely ally in Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), who tells Agatha she will pay the debt for acting behind her back. Not one to miss out on a bit of necromancy, Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) tags along for the trip too.

The resurrection scene is easily the darkest this series has gone so far. Even though Sabrina had a plan to use Hilda’s magical graveyard plot to bring Agatha back to life, she still held a blade in her hand and used it to slit a fellow witch’s throat. The moment took me by surprise. I was expecting a swerve or for Sabrina to be unable to go through with it and need Prudence or Nick to do the deed. To have the hero of the story essentially commit murder was a genuinely shocking but brave move for the series to make.

Photo: Netflix

The impact of what Sabrina has done is expressed best through Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who up until now has tolerated, and at times encouraged, Sabrina’s flights of fancy. But here, the usually chilled cousin is angry with Sabrina. She is meddling with a potent force more dangerous than the Dark Lord himself… Death. She doesn’t have “special privileges” to decide who lives and who dies, he tells her. “You’ve crossed a line this time,” Ambrose yells, “no, you’ve completely erased it.”

Ambrose’s outrage likely comes from a place of experience. In this episode, he meets with Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) to discuss having his sentence commuted, and we learn that he once studied under the tutelage of famed occultist Aleister Crowley, who is believed to have used magic for a number of nefarious means. Ambrose has seen and done a lot, and he knows the risks of interfering with evil forces. He is just trying to protect his cousin the same way Tommy looked out for Harvey.

It’s not until the next day that Sabrina realizes that Ambrose was right. Tommy didn’t reanimate in the woods as she expected, and when she wonders why, Ambrose informs her that the soul returns to wherever the body died. Which means Tommy is still lost in the rubble of the mines, trapped and suffering and perhaps about to die all over again. As Ambrose says, there is no cheating fate, no matter how good the intentions.

The question is, has Sabrina crossed a line to the dark side? She didn’t want to sign her name in the Book of the Beast because she believed one could live a life following both the Path of Night and the Path of Light. But what happens when one side starts to outweigh the other? Sabrina has a lot of self-reflecting to do as we head towards the final two episodes of the season.

Additional Notes:

-Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) sleeps with Father Blackwood. There has always been this weird chemistry between the pair, but the scenes here certainly feel like Blackwood abusing his power and taking advantage of Zelda’s vulnerabilities. Zelda wants to see this as a potential romantic connection, whereas Blackwood turns it into some sort of BDSM relationship.

-Zelda also informs Blackwood that his wife Constance (Alvina August) is pregnant with twin boys.

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-It’s not just Zelda with the secret dalliances. Aunt Hilda seems to be smitten with her boss Dr. Cerberus – nobody should be that happy about going to work every day.

-Susie (Lachlan Watson) continues to have visions of her Aunt Dorothea, who has become a sort of ghostly support system. It’s Dorothea who encourages Susie to crawl into the mines and bring out Tommy’s battered and bloody helmet.

-There’s somebody knock, knock, knocking on Harvey’s door at the end of the episode. Zombie Tommy? The Dark Lord? Or someone else?

Click here for more episode recaps for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Streaming, Netflix