Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered Part 4: Witch Academy

Sabrina starts work at the witch academy in episode four and meets some ghost children who help her hang some of her classmates.

This episode was a lot better, though they do keep undermining the logic they’ve set up in previous episodes. At least they’re consistent. Specifically in this episode I’m referring to the ages of some of the ghost witches. According to Zelda in episode one, we know that witches are homeschooled until the time of their baptism at age 16. Quentin, according to his headstone, was only 11 when he died (“Harrowed 1892 in the ___11 year of his age.”). Some of it is cut off but there’s no way that boy is 16. There were two other children that appeared to be close to his age as well. It’s really not a big problem but it is something that doesn’t need to be a problem.

I also continue to be confused about Sabrina’s motivations to defeat the Dark Lord. Again, she pretty much is exactly where she wanted to be but she can’t seem to pull her head out of her ass long enough to actually try to learn something. She’s also acting like there’s some sort of time constraint where she has to get this done right away. Why not take her time and figure out what she needs so she doesn’t make some horrific mistake and accidentally just straight up summon Satan in to the mortal world where he’ll probably just immediately rip her tiny throat out? She knows this magic is dangerous so she should be willing to work up to it. And the audacity of Zelda and her asking Faustus for special treatment just because her father was a High Priest; honestly could they be acting more privileged? Sabrina is there on a technicality. Just go to class.

And while we’re sort of on the subject of Faustus; if the end goal of the Dark Lord, and therefore Faustus, is to get Sabrina to fully join the Church of Night by willingly signing her name in the Book, why wouldn’t he be trying to make her experience at the Academy go as smoothly as possible instead of sponsoring this hazing ritual?

I absolutely love what they do with Hilda and Zelda in this episode. When the episode starts, their interactions are practically dripping with tension. Zelda is furious that Hilda has been excommunicated and Hilda, based on what we find out later, is reliving some major trauma that Zelda perpetrated because of Sabrina starting at the Academy. Hilda wants to protect Sabrina from this same trauma because she remembers how terrible it was herself. She drops all these hints throughout the episode about how bad her harrowing was and how girls can be cruel and how bullying affected her experience there all the while Zelda is still bullying her by making fun of her sort of herbalist magic and verbally berating her and even reminding her of the bullying from the past. Zelda, of course, seems to remember the whole experience differently though and expects Sabrina to have as good a time as she did. She probably thinks Sabrina will be doing the harrowing someday instead of being the victim of it now. And even if not she doesn’t see anything that happened at the school as all that bad anyway. When they find out what is happening to Sabrina they both immediately jump to help. Hilda because she remembers and Zelda because how dare they do this to her niece (and also the dead kids). When they eventually talk to the ghost kids Zelda doesn’t really know what to do with them. But Hilda sure does. This is one of those great moments where we see how terrifying Hilda actually is. That glimmer in her eye when she says they want revenge? Tell me that didn’t chill your bones. Hilda is here to burn this down and she’s giving these kids license to do that however they need to. I’m pretty sure if the weird sisters hadn’t relented they would have let them hang there. Zelda sees it too. She’s got this ever so slight look of terror at the damage she apparently did to Hilda. She doesn’t get to see it very often and now she’s made the connection that it’s probably mostly her fault.

Now Zelda is going on a bit of a different journey with all of this. She remembers harrowings happening but now she’s found out that kids have died. Which means Sabrina is in danger. That is unacceptable. In talking to Faustus we find out that she knows about the things kids do but is definitely not ok with them dying and demands Faustus put a stop to it (we’re making demands of the High Priest now too apparently…) because now it’s endangering her family. Aside from this being another instance of her asking for special treatment for Sabrina, this is actually a bold and risky move for Zelda. Like I mentioned a couple episodes ago, the two cores of Zelda’s character are her faith and her family. Now we see one of those things threatening the other and she has to make a bit of a choice. After she makes the choice to help Sabrina, and the ghost kids, we see her at home really wrestling with the choices she made in the past in regard to Hilda and, really, always accepting the tradition of the Church over anything else. We’re starting to see these little cracks appear in Zelda’s veneer as she starts to realize that maybe these things she’s always done and believed in aren’t necessarily the best choices. She is genuinely remorseful and lets Hilda back in where she had been shut out earlier in apology.

Meanwhile, over the course of the episode, the rest of the gang has to deal with Uncle Jesse. Ever since Jesse saw something in the mines, just like Harvey did, he’s been very sick. So sick, in fact, that most of the town thought he’d moved away because he’s been in bed most of that time. When we see him his skin is cracked and discolored. And Roz and Susie are so horrified by his appearance that they immediately retreat from his room when they go to check on him. We don’t yet know exactly what’s wrong with him but we can tell it’s probably going to be important. Especially because of the altercation that goes down when Harvey brings up what they both saw down there. Now this is all really good setup for what’s to come with this character but I would like to call in to question just how inhumanely these teens treat this very sick (as far as they know) man. Susie says he rings the bell when he needs something but not once do we see them actually bring him anything. He just keeps ringing the bell the whole episode but they’re too scared to actually do anything. How is he eating? Drinking? Using the bathroom? By the end of the episode they’ve literally tied him to the bed so anything he could have done on his own before he definitely can’t do now. It’s been like four days and Susie is supposed to be taking care of him but it appears as though none of them have done a single thing to make him comfortable.

There’s also a lot of weird slut shaming (toward Nick for sleeping around and toward Sabrina for loving a mortal) and like witch racism (kind of like in the first episode when we meet the weird sisters) in this episode that seemed unnecessary and out of place.

Next week I get to talk about one of my two favorite episodes and I am very excited for it. If you like what you see here feel free to share it with other people who have seen the show. Now it’s time for questions:

  • Why aren’t familiars allowed? Their job is to protect their witches and a lot of the magic those witches are learning seems dangerous so why wouldn’t they want them around?

    • Why do familiars in general seem to be so disdainfully regarded?

  • How many witches were on trial with the Greendale 13?

  • Why did Ambrose try to blow up the Vatican? Also when?

  • Was Sabrina gone over a holiday weekend?

    • She’s gone for three nights and most of four days but they do say it’s just a weekend.

  • Why are they always taking Sabrina’s clothes off?

  • How did Nick smuggle the journal out?

    • He says they’re brought out one at a time and only mentions one librarian who I assume would keep very close track of these “dangerous texts.” Wouldn’t they notice immediately if one were to go missing?

  • Why did the psychopomps appear so quickly when Ambrose was astral projecting?

  • What is the “dweller in the abyss?”

  • Is this the only Academy of Unseen Arts or are there others?

    • Ambrose says she’ll meet witches from all over the world.