My first impression of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale was that this might be a low-budget British version of Big Little Lies, only with the inclusion of witches, but I was very wrong. This show will transport you back to the early 2000s with the way it’s made, the styling, and the way some of the themes of the show are addressed. In this world, “Sanctuary” is a safe haven for witches, who can live as registered individuals freely and safely. The show begins with an incident that takes place six years ago, where somebody got seriously wounded before Sarah, the resident witch, made a cut on her hand to cast a spell and save that person. We don’t see who this is, but by the end of the first two episodes of Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale, we will learn who it was and what happened to them eventually.
What Happens In Episode 1?
In this new world, Sarah can practice her craft legally, and people come to her for special spells, mostly to deal with their nerves or any sort of emotional damage. This includes signing a consent form, and Sarah even keeps the hair of the person she’s cast a spell for, along with their files (like a shrink), for… research purposes. Sarah’s daughter Harper isn’t a witch, and we find out later that witchcraft can occasionally skip a generation. In Sarah’s family, her grandmother had the abilities, and then she did. Harper was skipped, like Sarah’s mother. Apart from the feeling of being a disappointing child, Harper’s also a rebellious teenager with a “freak” mom, so she’s got a lot on her plate. Of course, they don’t get along very well.
Sarah has three friends in her coven, and she can draw from their non-magical strengths to enhance her power (pretty cool). All of their kids are currently at the age of going off to college, and everyone is celebrating with a town auction. Dan is the poster child of perfection in the town, and everybody loves him. He’s the son of Abi, Sarah’s best friend, and has the whole town wrapped around his rugby ball-throwing fingers. Dan and Harper used to be a thing, but she’s been an outcast since they broke things off. At night, there’s a party, and Harper decides to go, despite being very upset about the whole situation. There’s also Jack, who claims to be Dan’s bestie, and Bea, who also likes Dan, so she won’t talk to Harper anymore (yikes). Harper tries to talk to Dan in front of all his friends, but he simply casts her away like a shadow, dismissing anything she has to say (ew). This party is happening in an abandoned warehouse, and a little into the night, the parents get a call alerting them of an accident.
Dan is dead, and there’s a massive fire in the warehouse. DCI Maggie Knight’s called into town for the case, which at first was ruled an accident. Dan fell down some stairs and broke his neck—an instant death. As for the fire, nobody knows anything just yet. Jack happens to be the town police captain’s son, which mucks things up a bit. While Abi is unable to deal with the loss of her son and doesn’t know how to keep living, her husband doesn’t seem to care at all and is desperate to keep working. On the other hand, Sarah can’t get through to Harper, who is in the hospital, because of the shock of it all. DCI Knight finds her and asks her some questions, but Harper eludes them. She does mention that Dan wasn’t happy with her and calls herself a slur, making it seem like she was mad at the party. News about a scandalous sex tape showcased at the party spreads through the town like wild flower. Abi thinks that Maggie is trying to smear her son’s image, but Maggie is simply doing her job, digging up everything that happened on that terrible night. Beatrice doesn’t have much to say about the situation except that the sex tape was of Daniel and Harper, making Harper look somewhat suspicious. Harper sees her mom use Dan’s hair for a spell, and she’s in utter disbelief. Apparently, Sarah is just trying to help Harper and Abi through their healing process, but Harper thinks Sarah is trying to simply make her forget Dan completely.
What Happens In Episode 2?
Out of the blue, Jack decides to come forward as a witness, accusing Harper of murder. His evidence is in the form of a video where she’s swiftly moving her hands around in anger on the stairs while Dan is on the landing. Jack claims she killed him through witchcraft, but the whole town knows Harper doesn’t have powers. Seeing Maggie’s reaction to his story, Jack isn’t quite satisfied, so he chooses to tell Abi about his theory to instigate her against Harper and Sarah. Grief-stricken Abi is easily swayed because of her vulnerable mental space. She actually sees some truth in Jake’s words, even if she dismisses them completely at first.
It turns out that during Harper’s “test” for witchcraft, only Sarah and The Moot (a priest-like fellow for witches) were present as witnesses. Sarah feels as if Harper always knew that she didn’t have the power, which is why she insisted on having no friends around during her test. On the other hand, while Maggie is going around asking people about Dan and Harper, she remembers that she’s been in Sanctuary before. The last time she was there, there was a call about a boy falling down and hurting himself, but when she reached the house, he was completely fine.
What Happened To Dan Six Years Ago?
Six years ago, it was Dan who fell down (which could possibly have been a suicide attempt), and Sarah saved him by performing a miracle. This is why, when Maggie arrived at the scene, he was completely fine. We can imagine that this is also why the ladies all have so much trust in Sarah, because they were all present with her during this situation. Maggie doesn’t see any obvious connections between the old situation and the present one, but I can’t help but see the similarity in the way things have turned out. Is it possible that Dan didn’t want to be saved? In the meantime, Bea accuses her dad of berating Dan before the party, but he denies it. Although he does mention wanting to wring his neck himself (whoops), for the way he treated Bea.
It turns out that capital punishment for witches is still a thing if magic is involved in murder. If Harper is found guilty, Sarah won’t be able to do anything to save her. After some deliberation, Sarah decides to perform a spell that will reveal what happened to Dan at the party. A difficult spell that may not always work. Sarah puts in all her effort to try it out. The bowl she’s using for the potion explodes, and she’s left more confused with no answers. Before the explosion, her ears were ringing, almost making it look like someone might’ve been interfering. In the meantime, at the school, Maggie calls out Jack for trying to get with Dan romantically but being rejected. This makes him look suspicious too, and because he may simply be jealous of Harper, he could’ve blamed her. Elsewhere, Abi tries to convince the other two women to take her side, but the women are adamant that Sarah would never do anything to hurt them, so instead of fighting against her, they should be looking to her for answers. The team decides to get a magic investigator on board.
At the end of the episode, Abi asks Sarah to bring Dan back to her because she has no purpose in life without him. If she can’t do that, then Harper will be taken to court, and Jack will testify against her (ugh, no, woman!). In the preview, we see that there’s a book of black magic involved in this whole situation. Who is the secret witch of the town who wants to get Sarah in trouble? Does it have anything to do with Sarah not getting consent from Dan all those years ago before saving him? We’ll find out next week in Sanctuary: A Witch’s Tale.