The opening showdown with Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) confronting Ms. Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) about Wardwell being a witch, spying on Sabrina, saving Sabrina from the sleep demon. Wardwell gives her a questionable tale about how she’s fulfilling a promise to Sabrina’s dead dad to protect her, which Shipka doesn’t quite buy and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be buying it either. But am I not buying it because I’ve read the comic and know more of what’s up or because of the show’s handling of Gomez, who’s definitely “protecting” Shipka but also actively working to harm those around her.
Turns out it doesn’t matter because Gomez joins Shipka’s witch gang by the end of the episode and it works out, albeit with Gomez as an unrevealed black hat in the operation. Because it turns out Shipka’s going to need all the witch help she can get this episode, as she tries to organize an exorcism to save friend Lachlan Watson’s possessed uncle, Jason Beaudoin.
What’s interesting is how right after Gomez goes from lying to Shipka about her backstory, Shipka goes and hangs out with her friends—Watson, Ross Lynch, Jaz Sinclair—and finds out whatever demon is possessing Beaudoin has been terrorizing them in their dreams. At this precarious moment in their friendships, Shipka proceeds to gaslight her mortal pals about the demon invading their dreams. It’s maybe the first time on the show Shipka’s ever appeared unsympathetic. It’s frankly disquieting to see her do it. Sure, she runs home and tells her family she’s got to save the humans and all but… still.
Especially since Shipka’s then got to back things up with Lynch especially, as he thinks he once saw the same demon in the mines, not yet realizing they really are just tunnels to Hell and who knows who he would’ve seen as a kid. Lynch and Shipka then go down into the mines to try to figure out what happened to Beaudoin, which at one point gives Lynch the great line, “this isn’t The Goonies.” Even if it doesn’t seem like the right line for a sixteen year-old in 2018 to spout.
Meanwhile Sinclair has a weird freakout she’s not religious enough.
Lots of Exorcist references throughout the episode, including a great shot of the suitcase and some not so welcome projectile vomit. The way the exorcism plays out with Shipka, Gomez, and aunts Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto is fabulous.
Even with the iMovie Vaseline smudges appearing at the end, it’s definitely the best directing I’ve ever seen from Rachel Talalay. Though I didn’t know she directed it when I was watching, so maybe I wasn’t looking out for issues as much. It’s a good episode. Though I wish Watson’s arc, which involves Beaudoin being… gay maybe… possibly queer… ish, was better. Whatever Joshua Conkel and MJ Kaufman are trying to do there doesn’t work. Especially with Beaudoin’s demon calling Beaudoin a sodomite, especially with Sinlcair’s religiosity becoming a plot point.