“The Dark Baptism” forces Sabrina to make some serious choices about her future. As the episode progresses we slowly learn more about her and the world of witches as she gets pulled in even deeper.
This review of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Episode 2, “The Dark Baptism”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I very much enjoyed the first chapter of Netlflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina but it felt like it was having to throw a lot of ingredients into the cauldron before it could really get something simmering. Chapter two, “The Dark Baptism”, rounds out the first chapter, taking us right up until Sabrina’s much-discussed ritual. While both episodes are great fun in their own right, they really felt like two halves of a whole.
“The Dark Baptism” felt like a change in pace for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Without the need to introduce the characters we’re now starting to get a feel for what’s actually going on. There’s a mysterious secret about the boy who appeared in Hilda and Zelda’s mortuary, Mrs Wardell (or whoever is inhabiting Mrs Wardell’s body) has got a hidden agenda, and then there’s the normal high school fun and games. That’s not to mention the central mystery about Sabrina’s parents and whatever is going on at the Academy of the Unseen Arts. there’s a little bit more on show from Zelda and Hilda this time out, as Zelda shows us just what the benefits are of signing up to a deal with Satan after she’s murdered with a shovel, buried and is then resurrected. All of this because she annoyed Zelda. This is definitely not the lighthearted Sabrina that I grew up watching but its own beast entirely.
Michelle Gomez is clearly having a lot of fun as Mrs Wardell (or at least the creature who looks like Mrs Wardell), delivering a performance that’s both over the top camp fun and unhinged malevolence. It’s not a million miles away from what she was doing as Missy/The Master in the last season of Doctor Who, but that’s no bad thing. Ambrose gets a little more to do in this episode as well; I think there’s going to be more to his character than we know at present and he’s playing it so well.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina gets a little more room to breathe in this episode, although there is definitely a lot of plot crammed in there. I was pleased to see that high school life hasn’t taken a back seat as the series progresses because it’s really good to see the other side of Sabrina. The bullying of Suzy continues, led by Billy (Ty Wood – of ReBoot: The Guardian Code “fame”) causing Sabrina to take matters into her own hands. I think this could set up quite an interesting theme as the show progresses; Sabrina has a foot in both worlds (mortals and witches) so I’m intrigued as to how she’s going to balance that out.
I’ve still not quite figured out what era Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is set in, but I’m quite happy to just assume it’s set in its own bubble or alternate version of the world where 1950s fashions and stylings are still going strong.
Kiernan Shipka continues to be superb as Sabrina, balancing both sides of her personality perfectly to give a character that’s engaging and sympathetic. She manages to play the teenage high school life with very little effort and then is able to just flip into “unsettling teenage witch” mode with ease. I’m expecting that at some point in the series there’s a chance that Sabrina skirts on the edge of real darkness only to be redeemed by Harvey and her best friend Rosalind (Jaz Sinclair) and I’m fine with that. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is putting in the groundwork to establish the importance of the relationships between Sabrina and her closest friends and (I hope) it’s going to pay dividends as the series progresses.