HomeTelevisionReview: 'The Trial of Sabrina Spellman' is a Weirdly Brilliant Third Chapter

Review: ‘The Trial of Sabrina Spellman’ is a Weirdly Brilliant Third Chapter

Photo Credit: Netflix

The third chapter of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina exudes confidence. Confidence in its plot. Confidence in its characters. Confidence in the world that’s been built. Confidence in the complex tone.

That confidence, really makes you fall in love with this series.

And it’s that confidence that makes ‘The Trial of Sabrina Spellman’ special.

On the surface, the third chapter of the Netflix series, seems like an odd mash-up of a goofy Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, and a courtroom drama. And that’s basically it what it is — a mash-up of the two.

Think about it — our main character (Kiernan Shipka) is on trial before a court of witches for breaking of her promise to The Dark Lord. Who’s to defend her? Why Daniel Webster, of The Devil and Daniel Webster fame, obviously. The episode also has high school drama, warlocks hooking up, double crosses, and that killer, killer soundtrack.

Instead of playing this for laughs, or cheap camp (and yes some of it is), we’re treated to an episode that has real emotional stakes in it. We dive deeper into Harvey’s (Ross Lynch) character, showing he’s more than just a twitchy heartthrob. We are plunged into a Pandora’s box of a plot twist involving the aunties (Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis), and Sabrina’s parents — casting doubt on everyone’s motivations. We’re treated to a brilliant guest appearance from John Rubinstein, who imbues Daniel Webster with a complex formula of heartbreaking tragedy, and a resolute desire for justice.

It’s an episode that should trip over its own absurdities, but instead saunters into the room and captivates you. This happens because you see the confidence the cast, creators, and creatives on this have in this series. They’ve bought in, and which inspires you to buy in as well.

Of course, there’s no better example of this confidence in the source material than the resplendent Kiernan Shipka. Shipka delivers on the future we all foresaw for her when she was Sally Draper on Mad Men. She takes the best elements of mystical females before her — Buffy Summer, Herimione Granger, Eleven, etc. — and blended them with her natural charm, and staggering acting range. She is the captain of this ship, and she deftly navigates the show’s breakneck tone shifts.

‘The Trial of Sabrina Spellman,’ like the ‘The Dark Baptism‘ is an episode that should be lauded for its merits, but it also does a healthy amount of table setting. The series has yet to fully unleash the marvelous Michelle Gomez, but we keep getting hints of what’s to come from her. The developments with Harvey, and Roz (Jaz Sinclair) will certainly set up interesting conflicts down the road. Oh, and now we’re heading to The Academy of Unseen Arts? When can we start the next episode? Now? Okay, good.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, ‘The Trial of Sabrina Spellman’ is now streaming on Netflix.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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