Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Father Blackwood, with a Brylcreem sheen in his hair and an evil glint in his eye, assures Sabrina that the Dark Lord is a super-reasonable guy, definitely not “the embodiment of evil,” and that witches don’t even believe in hell, and anyway, she won’t die for like a million years, so she has nothing to worry about!
Sabrina is, as a rational person would be, terrified. But she keeps her cool and even has the chutzpah to ask why she has to dump Harvey if her parents were allowed to stay together — turns out her dad got “a special dispensation from Satan himself,” which, whoa — and, as long as we’re on the subject, were her parents murdered?
“An inquiry was held,” Father Blackwood assures her. Hmm. I have a feeling this inquiry was about as thorough as one of those internal investigations they did at NBC to determine that none of the network heads did anything wrong and never even heard the faintest whimper about Matt Lauer’s under-desk door-locking button.
What clinches the deal for Sabrina is that Father Blackwood tells her there are, to use a scientific term, backsies: She can go through her Dark Baptism, attend the magic school to ask them her questions and get some answers, strengthen the witch community with her probing mind, and if she doesn’t like it, she can just leave. I do not buy that, personally; I just get the feeling that signing your name in blood in something called The Book of the Beast is a little more permanent than all that. But Sabrina says she’s in.
We also learn that Blackwood used to be Sabrina’s dad’s mentor, until Sabrina’s dad, a cool, handsome genius, surpassed him. (“He could’ve been a movie star, like cousin Montgomery.” Um, CLIFT? I promise to keep Harry Potter references to a minimum here, but Sabrina’s dad sounds extremely Sirius Black–like, and I am here for it.) Hilda admits to Sabrina that she had her own doubts about signing the book, but “us girls didn’t have any options back then,” and sometimes she fantasizes about burning down the entire forest. But everything is going to be fine!! Zelda overhears this blasphemy and MURDERS HILDA, which of course is merely a temporary thing, but apparently older sisters are allowed to just kill their younger sisters in the witch world? As a youngest child I am not about that life (and by life I mean death).
Harvey swings by to surprise Sabrina for breakfast. Zelda gives him a death stare over a little Get Out–style stir of her tea. But Harvey is undeterred; he wants to spend every Saturday with Sabrina forever and ever. Aww! I’m trying to enjoy this couple while I can because you know there’s gonna be some dark, handsome witch boy at the Academy of Dramatic Magic Tricks or wherever Sabrina’s about to enroll, and Sabrina (and I) will forget all about this kid.
Those football pricks bully Susie again, and while she makes this valiant effort to just ram into them, the whole fight ends with her badly beaten and also suspended. With some encouragement from Witchy Wardwell, who tells Sabrina to “fight fire with hellfire” by “enlisting the baddest bitches you know to help,” Sabrina turns to her tormentors: the Weird Sisters.
“There are four mortal boys who need to be taught a lesson,” she explains, and after promising that if they help her out, she’ll stay at Baxter High — she’s got her fingers crossed behind her back, naturally — the mean girls agree. The plan involves tricking the boys into following them to this scary mine shaft, then using a magic illusion to fool them into stripping to their underwear. These boys think they’re hooking up with four hot girls who hit on them in a parking lot, apropos of nothing — and who are all wearing coordinating black lingerie, as you do — when in fact they are just all over each other. Damning Polaroids secured, Sabrina is ready to end the operation, but Prudence and the girls go rogue and play “devil in the dark,” which means they make their faces into spooky-scary hollowed-out melted zombie masks. The best part of this gambit is the Weird Sisters also “took their boyhoods.” No getting hard till Sabrina says so!
A neat little twist is that Prudence and her sidekicks knew that Sabrina was lying about attending the Academy. They just didn’t care. “We don’t need a reason to torment mortal boys.” Upon learning about Father Blackwood’s little house visit, they also inform Sabrina that the Dark Lord will never give her both freedom and power. “He’s a man, isn’t he?” I know they’re supposed to be trouble but, honestly, I love these witches. Misandry 2020!
The day has arrived: Halloween, Sabrina’s sweet 16, and that blood-moon eclipse. Aunt Zelda ruins Sabrina’s last day of human school by telling her to stay home studying her Satanic verses. So Sabrina, as your teens are wont to do, decides to sneak out. She puts on her mom’s old wedding dress, which is … not a costume, but who cares? She looks so dreamy! Harvey shows up with a mining helmet on (Ambrose: “How clever, you’re dressed as your future”) to take Sabrina to the Halloween party, where they dance to the most obvious songs imaginable — “Monster Mash,” “Sixteen Candles” — until Sabrina has to split for the woods.
I love this whole sequence. It’s so eerie and over-the-top but in the best way. Even though I did squeak out a “don’t do that to her mother’s wedding dress, noooooo” when the magic of the woods dyed it black. (Sorry to be sentimental, but HELLO, it’s her dead mom’s gown!) Looking very dainty and stylish in the slip she has to strip down to, Sabrina Edwina Diana Spellman begins the ritual.
But — as perhaps you may have expected — Father Blackwood is singing a real different tune now that the blood moon is high and Sabrina has that Practical Magic slice across her palm, blood dripping onto the page. “You swear to obey without question?” he asks, and Sabrina is NOT feeling this bleed-and-switch situation. She has visions again of those dead women hanging from the trees, and then she sees her parents telling her to run.
HOW SCARY IS THE PART WHERE THOSE TREES TURN INTO SENTIENT ROPE-MONSTERS AND TRY TO TIE HER UP?! I yelped. I mean, I’m giving myself over to the experience of the show, and also I’m kind of a coward about these things but still, so intense, no?
Everybody chases Sabrina back to her house, where Ambrose (who, unlike Sabrina, is a phenomenal liar) pretends to cast some circle of protection around the house that will burn up everyone who tries to cross it, save for the aunts.
“My name is Sabrina Spellman and I will not sign it away.” YES. I am sure this will go over swimmingly and there will be no negative consequences!
Three days later, Aunt Zelda is still not speaking to Sabrina, who tells the whole family about her visions of her parents. So Sabrina is still going to Baxter High and, for now, still has her witchy powers. Who says you can’t have it all? Only the Dark Lord, who slips into Principal Hawthorne’s skin to foam at the mouth and growl-shout at Sabrina that all mortal flesh must burn. Wow, okay. Hope you really love Harvey.
Ongoing mysteries: So that dead boy had a familiar; who do we think is out here hunting witches? Did Father Blackwood kill Sabrina’s parents? If Sabrina doesn’t get dark-baptized, how long before she starts to lose her powers? How can she fight the Dark Lord without superpowers?