Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale 1×03 Review: Episode 3

Sanctuary A Witch's Tale Season 1 Episode 3 review
Abigail loses it after watching the news in Episode 3 of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale (Image: Trailer)

Things got a lot worse for Sarah Fenn and her daughter Harper as a sinister truth was revealed about Daniel in Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 3.

Trigger Warning: This review of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 3 mentions sexual assault. Tread carefully.

With Abigail asking Sarah to return her son Daniel from the dead, episode 3 opened with Abigail continuing to pressure Sarah into performing the forbidden resurrection spell. Abigail didn’t care to understand Sarah’s hesitance to do something so unnatural. She also didn’t care about how the consequences of bringing a human back to life would mean life imprisonment for Sarah and even the death penalty.

I can see some of the reasoning behind why Abigail was trying to process her motherly grief in such a toxic manner, but putting the grief aside for a moment, I think the show has done a good job of telling the audience that the friendship between Abigail and Sarah was never a two-way street. Sarah was always there for Abigail and yet for Abigail, Sarah was nothing more than a powerful witch she could use to get what she wanted. The basis of their friendship (from Abigail’s side) was dependent on how useful Sarah would continue being to her. So of course Sarah deciding to stand her ground (for, what I assume, the first time ever) over using a resurrection spell didn’t sit well with the all-demanding Abigial. Even if the two managed to come to some sort of understanding by the end of this show, I hope Sarah’s capable of seeing Abigail for who she is and decides to distance herself.

Heck! Abigail didn’t think too highly of her other two friends either. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

Along with trying to deal with Abigail’s threats and noticing the townsfolk continuing to turn against her, the third episode had Sarah still trying to figure out what kind of magic was responsible for Daniel’s death. She couldn’t find any traces of magic at his grave. That’s why the only option left was for her to visit the warehouse and see if she could tap into something supernatural there. Magic’s supposed to leave behind traces.

I liked the tension the writers were able to create by having Maggie and her partner Ryan arrive at the warehouse while Sarah was still in there. Maggie had brought along a magical investigator named Morgan to help with the case, and there was a risk of Morgan sensing Sarah’s presence. While I liked seeing Morgan being the one who got attracted to the dark magic still present inside the warehouse, I was kind of surprised nothing happened to them afterward. The scene where Morgan got engulfed by a cloud of dark smoke and yelled for it to go away had me thinking it was a fatal encounter.

The third episode used Morgan for some lore-building. Even if no traces of magic were detected, it’s possible to tap into the emotion behind the spell being cast. For example, Morgan decided to tap into the negative emotions responsibly for a spell used to kill someone inside the warehouse.

It’s also revealed that witches were capable of sensing each other’s presence if they were close enough to each other. We got a scene of Morgan walking around town trying to detect a possible unregistered witch. We also got to learn that witches had the choice to step away from doing the bidding put forth by the leadership of global witches. For example, Morgan had parted ways with the High Coven and had been working with local police officers to ensure witch-related cases were handled justly instead of immediately branding accused witches as guilty.

However, Morgan’s work was easier said than done. Even though Morgan told Maggie that Harper’s hand movements in the recorded video were a clear indication she wasn’t casting any kind of spell, the rest of the public didn’t care. For them witchcraft, while legal, remained untrustworthy. They didn’t care if Harper wasn’t an actual witch. She was still Sarah’s daughter and could (according to them) possibly be an unregistered witch being protected by Sarah.

Another bit of lore we got via Morgan was how spellwork required precise hand movements and focus. Harper didn’t demonstrate any of that in the video. She was simply acting as an upset person. But again, the rest of the people didn’t care.

Coming back to Sarah and the cloud of dark smoke she witnessed in the warehouse, we got to see her open an old book about dark magic. And behold, the shape the dark smoke created was the same symbol present inside the book. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, the center of the symbol in the book resembled a woman in a white gown. So there might be some kind of clue there.

A major revelation in episode 3 of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale dealt with the video of Harper and Daniel being uploaded online for everyone to see. The episode showed a few seconds from the video and you could immediately tell something wasn’t right. While the idea of young people like Harper and Daniel filming a video might be considered as something consensual during the first two episodes, the third installment made it clear that not only was the video not consensual on Harper’s part but Daniel sexually assaulted her during a recent party.

Though the video should have been evidence enough of Daniel forcing himself on Harper, the townsfolk didn’t care. All they saw was a daughter of a witch being an S-word, which linked back to how people were aware of witchfolk giving their children more freedom compared to non-witch parents. It also linked to how people were, unfortunately, quick to label sexually active women as harlots and didn’t think poorly of sexually active men.

Sarah also brought up how parents like her didn’t keep their children on a leash to Maggie. And while I’m against helicopter parenting, I do feel that Sarah should have done more to at least keep an eye on Harper’s well-being. There’s a difference between reaching out to your children for much-needed emotional check-ins and placing strict rules on them for their “safety”. I mean, Sarah was oblivious to everything Harper had been put through until Daniel’s death and Harper bringing up the incident later on during episode 3.

With Sarah telling Harper that Abigail was behind the local news accusing Harper of Daniel’s murder because Sarah refused to bring him back from the dead, Harper took the opportunity to tell her mother the truth about what Daniel had done to her. The flashback was, understandably, uncomfortable to watch.

Due to Harper finally opening up to her mother, I could see why she expected Sarah to do something about it. Harper wanted Sarah to support her in telling the local news the truth about Daniel. Having said that, I also understood why Sarah was reluctant to do so. Abigail was out for blood, and going public with Daniel’s true nature would mean pouring more fuel to Abigail’s already potent fire of revenge. The townsfolk were against Sarah and Harper and would take Harper’s story as a desperate attempt from the mother-daughter duo to smear the memory of someone as lovable as Daniel.

Sarah needed Abigail to calm down a bit before she brought up Harper’s trauma. And that’s where their mutual friends Bridget and Julia intervened. With Bridget learning the truth about what Abigail wanted Sarah to do, she reached out to Abigail to have a much-needed talk. I liked the scene where Bridget and Julia reminded Abigail about all of the things Sarah’s done for her. They helped Abigail realize that she was allowing her pain to get the better of her and putting Harper in so much danger didn’t make any sense.

The moment Abigail was shown to feel a level of remorse and wanting to apologize to Sarah, I knew something bad was going to happen. Abigail being willing to mend her relationship with Sarah after everything she put her and Harper through didn’t make sense to me. It happened way too quickly. But I understand why it was done. The plot required Sarah and Abigail to try and bury the hatchet because it was about to rock the boat in a major way.

With Abigail saying that she realized Harper had nothing to do with Daniel’s death, Bridget’s wife called the women to watch a breaking news segment. And… drumroll… it was Harper talking to a reporter on live television and sharing what Daniel had done to her.

Of course, that pushed Abigail over the edge and she swore to destroy Sarah and Harper. 

We only have four more episodes left and a whole bunch of scenes from the trailer are yet to happen. Buckle up for Sarah and Harper realizing just how easy it was for people to turn against witchfolk.

As for Abigail having a conversation with Julia and Bridget, remember how I mentioned she didn’t think of them highly as friends either? Well, it’s revealed that Abigail and Julia’s husband had an affair. She wanted Julia’s husband to run away with her and start a new life. But he decided to break things off.

Abigail has been portrayed as a person who wants everything without considering how her decisions will impact others. She still had feelings for Julia’s husband. The why she continued to hang around with Julia, knowing she had hooked up with her husband behind her back… despicable behavior. Of course, Julia’s husband was in the wrong too. They both can fall in a ditch somewhere as far as I’m concerned.

Episode 3 tried to make Abigail a sympathetic character by revealing she was in an abusive relationship with her husband. But again, being in an abusive marriage doesn’t mean you go out and have an affair with the husband of one of your best friends.

I wonder how long it will take for the affair to come to light and cause more drama.

Before I conclude my review, I have to bring something up. I don’t know what to think of Harper and Daniel being in a romantic relationship for so long. In my opinion, children who basically grew up together because of their mothers being close friends tend to have a “sibling” or “cousin” vibe amongst them. But I guess if you live in a small town, romantic options are limited?

Not only were Harper and Daniel a couple, but Daniel and Beatrice had a one-night stand after Harper broke up with him. And apparently, Beatrice’s still not over him. It’s implied that she was jealous of Harper and Daniel’s relationship since it began.

Beatrice’s father clearly didn’t like Daniel being around Beatrice. Did he see Daniel being abusive toward Beatrice or… just to be messy… was Daniel related to Beatrice’s father and Abigail because of their affair, thus making the two teens half-siblings? Ufff!

There’s a whole lot that happened in an approximately 45-minute-long episode. As I mentioned in my review of the two-episode premiere, this show seems to be operating on numerous levels. That’s why a traditional runtime will feel longer when you sit down and think about what’s going on between the characters and what the narrative’s trying to say about the type of society we live in. 

Though witchcraft isn’t real (depending on what you believe in), people like Abigail very much are. Countless lives have been ruined due to unbridled thirst for revenge, fear, anger, hate, and the ensuing mob mentality.

Some other thoughts and questions:

  • Do you think there’s something up with Bridget’s daughter?
  • The scene Maggie shared with Jake’s father Ted highlighted how tough it was for women, especially Black women, to be taken seriously in male-dominated workplaces. Even though she was the head investigator, Ted did what he could to undermine her.
  • How long do you think it will take for Jake’s sexuality and crush on Daniel to be revealed to Ted and the rest of the town?
  • I don’t know why Maggie’s boyfriend (and her boss) decided to come to Sanctuary.
  • While Sarah insisted it wasn’t possible for her to bring back Daniel because it was too late, I think it’s safe to assume that dark magic can still be used to resurrect someone from the dead days or weeks after the fact. There’s a high probability that someone might do it down the line.
  • I wonder if Daniel was always manipulative and abusive or if he became such a teenager because of Abigail’s unconditional love and watching an abusive father. There’s also a possibility that Sarah using unnatural magic to bring a young Daniel back from death six years ago messed him up somehow.

What did you think of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 3?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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