Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale 1×05 Review: Episode 5

Episode 5 of Sanctuary: A Witch's Tale
Sarah casts a powerful spell by herself in Episode 5 of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale

With only two more episodes to go, Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 5 had Sarah finally decide to do something about her hometown turning against her. It didn’t seem to work the way she expected, but at least she tried.

Trigger Warning: This review of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 5 mentions sexual assault. Tread carefully.

The fifth episode of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale opened with Sarah and Abigail looking at a video from six years ago on Facebook. The friends and their kids appeared so happy back then. However, as far as my opinion goes, it was always an illusion due to Sarah’s friends continuing to use her magic to accomplish their goals instead of giving Sarah anything in return.

A single “No” from Sarah was enough to make Abigail turn on her in the present and episode 5 also had Bridget and Julia distance themselves from a witch they used to casually ask favors from when Sarah needed them the most. Sigh!

Due to Harper being nearly drowned at school by a group of boys upon Beatrice’s orders in the previous episode, Sarah rushed to school to make sure her daughter was okay. While I understood the people of Sanctuary opposing witchcraft over what happened to Daniel and Abigail bringing up Albie’s cheating scandal in public, the way Bridget’s wife Cheryl handled the situation was disappointing. Instead of punishing Beatrice and the boys, Cheryl refused to acknowledge that what happened to Harper was a witch-related hate crime. 

I was waiting for the religion vs witchcraft battle to pop up and it sure did during the fifth episode. Cheryl’s dislike for witchcraft also led her to give Bridget an ultimatum. Cheryl forced Bridget to choose between their marriage or helping Sarah with a spell (which I will get to in a bit). Of course, Bridget decided to stick with Cheryl. No surprises there. Again, Sarah should have invested her time in finding true friends or building relationships with other witches. She really wasted years keeping Abigail, Julia, and Bridget around as part of her so-called Coven.

Jake’s mother Mary Ann also picked up her cross to fight Sarah’s witchcraft. With Jake falling ill, Abigail and Jake poured more fuel on the fire by insinuating that Jake had been cursed by Sarah. The scene with Sarah trying to calm an emotional Mary Ann in front of a small group of people was intense. No one was willing to give Sarah the benefit of the doubt. And while witches like Sarah aren’t real, that particular scene did draw parallels from members of the queer community being considered devils and attacked by religious bigots.

As for the video leak, the latest episode revealed the truth. The original video was discovered and it clearly showed Harper asking Daniel to stop. The leaked footage as well as the drowning incident gave Maggie what she needed to arrest Beatrice. However, that still didn’t mean that the townsfolk would stop going after Harper and Sarah. They were adamant about kicking the two women out of there, especially because of Jake’s “curse” and the unresolved mystery surrounding Daniel’s death.

Maggie’s investigation had her look into three registered witches living near Sanctuary. Two of them had solid alibis. So, Maggie decided to contact a witch named Shula Maloney (Ally Ni Chiarain). Apparently, Shula was a professor and conducted research related to witchcraft, science, and religion. Shula told Maggie that she and her family had nothing to do with Daniel’s death.

Now, I’m still a bit unsure about how I feel about introducing an entirely new witch so late into the season. Not only that but it was revealed that Harper had been hanging around with Shula and her son Jonny Maloney (Cian Hoyne). They even knew about what Daniel did to her. The way none of the new characters had been namedropped earlier by Harper or Sarah didn’t sit right with me. They seemed to appear out of thin air due to plot convenience. Unless I missed something? Anyway, let’s see if Shula and Jonny will play a role in the remaining two episodes or not.

Maggie’s conversation with Harper involved the detective learning about Daniel coaching the girl’s football team at school and assaulting some of the young team members.

Surprise, surprise! Abigail and Michael were aware of Daniel’s disgusting behavior. The scene the two shared in the kitchen showcased their toxic nature as parents. Both refused to take responsibility for allowing Daniel to do whatever he wanted. In a sense, I would have sided with Abigail stating how Daniel was messed up because he only had Michael as a role model if she had done anything to stop Daniel from turning into his father. But she didn’t. Both parents were to blame for ignoring their son’s actions to protect the false image of being a happy family.

The scene also revealed how dangerous Michael had become. Michael was aware of Abigail using Sarah to cast spells that would help him progress in his career. All of the witchcraft used to grant materialistic wishes and Abigail’s unhealthy encouragement had given Michael a God-complex. In all of the drama, Michael was enacting a sinister plan that involved Jake and quite possibly spreading the “curse” across the young men in Sanctuary. I think he wanted Sarah gone because she was capable of telling everyone that all of the power Michael had gained over the years was because of her witchcraft.

With everyone continuing to stand against her, Sarah decided to cast a Sunstone spell. Apparently, it was supposed to offer clarity and resolve disputes. Though I liked Sarah finally doing something, I think her decision will come back to bite her in the next episode. I get that it wasn’t dark magic, but having Sarah use animal bones to cast it will surely be used to support the false claim she had cursed the town. 

Also, Sarah insisting on casting a powerful spell by herself after Bridget and Julia refused to help has been telegraphed to take a toll on her magical abilities. The way she asked Pierre to leave when he was hesitant to offer his energy for the spellwork… ufff… Sarah, you need people to stand with you!

There’s a fan theory about Sarah being punished for all of the spells she has cast. And you know what? At this point, I feel like agreeing with said theory. A main narrative theme in Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale is consent. Daniel did what he did without consent and Sarah cast spells on and for other people without theirs. Sarah also saw her reflection when she cast the Divination spell during episode 2. The fifth episode also had her spellbook turn to the page depicting the dark symbol as she cast the Sunstone spell. Something dark is clearly interfering with Sarah’s magic.

Let’s see if Sarah’s capable of taking responsibility for her actions and doing what’s required to cleanse the dark energy that’s in play.

Other thoughts and questions:

  • Witchcraft being capable of impacting electronics and digital content (the way Sarah and Shula were able to) has added a powerful development to the show’s lore. At this point, I would rather the people worry about witches messing with sensitive digital data to topple governments instead of worrying about small-scale curses.
  • Yes, to Julia finding out that Albie cheated on her with Abigail. However, Julia needed to fight with Abigail instead of distancing herself from Sarah because Harper, understandably, pressed charges against Beatrice. Here’s to hoping Julia sees some sense soon.
  • Again I ask, is there something up with Izzy? She just seems to exist to appear occasionally instead of having her own character arc. I can’t help but side-eye her.
  • I would have liked more of an explanation surrounding the ingredients Sarah used to cast the Sunstone spell.
  • I think Beatrice is a lost cause. Even though Maggie offered much-needed help, Beatrice’s obsession with Daniel and hatred for Harper has clouded that young girl’s brain.

What did you think of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale episode 5?

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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