Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018) s01e19 – The Mandrake

This episode gets off to a rough start wrapping up last episode’s cliffhanger—Sabrina and the gang discovering a shrine to her in the mines, which is at least hundreds of years old. Kevin Rodney Sullivan’s direction is peculiar in a bad way (unless there’s a good reason for it like they reshot all of Ross Lynch’s one-shots). Then there’s Joshua Conkel’s script, which has Gavin Leatherwood forgetting Lynch’s name even though it’s been established Leatherwood obsesses over Lynch as a romantic rival for Kiernan Shipka.

Luckily, once that not good scene is over, The Mandrake turns out to be rather excellent. Shipka decides she’s going to get rid of her powers and so she and cousin Chance Perdomo make her a mandrake root clone, which is going to magically syphon off Shipka’s powers. Only they don’t think it works so they go off to try something else. Meanwhile, turns out the cloning did work and so now there’s a different Sabrina (Shipka) around; it’s got all her powers, the non-clone one is depowered. After some fun scenes with the saccharine sweet clone, Shipka gets to start being weird and evil to her mortal friends. It’s very cool (eventually), with a great Invasion of the Body Snatchers reference, even if the scene with Shipka the clone and Lachlan Watson is icky as hell. Watson gets to play hero later, which is great.

Meanwhile, at the witch academy, Richard Coyle is instituting his “Church of Judas,” which is basically just a He-Man Woman Haters club for warlocks. Miranda Otto tries to tell Tati Gabrielle not to trust dad Coyle but, continuing her lousy arc as of late, Gabrielle doesn’t listen when she should and instead needs the point hammered in three times. Lucy Davis is sort of part of this subplot, working behind the scenes; some excellent moments for Davis as far as acting goes, just not the best use of her (or the audience’s) time; it’s filler.

The other big, nearing the end of the season development comes as Shipka finally figures out Michelle Gomez isn’t actually her guardian… angel, but a Machiavellian villain. It’s not the best stuff material for Shipka, who’s too busy with her clone subplot; however, when Gomez and Leatherwood realize Shipka’s unintentionally going to unleash literal Hell on Earth, great material for Gomez. The episode ends up successful enough you’ve got to wonder what happened with that opener.

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