Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
When we last saw Sabrina, she had recently found out that her dad was not the Spellman she adored but Lucifer himself, also known as Lucifer Morningstar, also known as the Dark Lord, also known as Satan, because this show will never give a thing or a person or a demon just one name when it could throw out, like, five or six options to keep your friendly neighborhood recapper on her toes/going slowly insane. So the Dark Lord wanted Sabrina — who, again, is his daughter — to reign at his side as his bride (??) and be the Queen of Hell. (Is she not already, by birth, its princess? Seems like we’re all making this harder than it needs to be!) For reasons, the Dark Lord could only be captured in a few specific types of prisons, one of which is the body of a mortal: Nick Scratch, Sabrina’s boyfriend who was lying to her because he was working with Lucifer this whole time but also, whatever, he loved her! He is very cute! Harvey is boring! We have to root for the men we have!
So they trapped Lucifer in Nick’s body and sent him to hell with Lilith, who has both brought the real Wardwell back to life and is still wearing Wardwell’s skin-suit because Wardwell is a smokin’ vixen. And hey, no judgment here. I’d probably keep that body, too. Like how we’ve all “accidentally” stolen something from Rent the Runway; we hail a relatable queen (of hell). Meanwhile, Faustis Blackwood, being a misogynist and all-around scumbag, ran off after trying to kill his whole coven. Prudence, his daughter who he disowned, and Ambrose, who is hooking up with Prudence because people that attractive will always find each other, are hunting him down. Zelda and Hilda are running whatever is left of the Academy/Church of Night.
One of the things about this show that is regularly crazy-making is how it has failed to build a world that makes any coherent sense or is even remotely consistent. Like: Is there more to the “coven” than just the students at the Academy? Don’t any of these teens have parents? Where are THEY? Also, witches talk about hell as if it is their equivalent of heaven. (A helpful person is a “hellsend,” for instance.) But hell is still this awful place full of nightmare torture where nobody wants to end up. So … do witches also have a heaven? Why do witches suffer in hell if hell is really their heaven?
But, like mortals on an ill-advised quest to the underworld, we press on. Sabrina wants to get her boyfriend back from hell. She doesn’t have to worry about her aunts finding out, as they are distracted: All the former Academy students have been bunking at the Spellman house, but it’s time to get them out of Zelda’s perfect hair, so she can have hot water again. Zelda will reign as Directrix of the school, which will reopen, and by the end of the episode they swap out the prayers so everyone is praising Lilith instead of the Dark Lord. Using a glamour and some bewitched honey cake, the aunts convince a few members of the Council that Blackwood is still in residence and is not, in fact, on the lam, and that nothing is amiss here. (Even though male members of the Council have noticed that they’re lacking in “virility” and wonder if Blackwood could maybe tell them anything about that. Is that seriously what happens when Lucifer is out of commission? Nobody can get hard in this magic kingdom? What a weird, weird world.)
As for Blackwood, Prudence — as usual, the best-dressed person on this show by miles — and Ambrose track him to New Orleans, where they meet Mambo Marie. Using some real-deal voodoo mixed with blood magic, she reveals Blackwood is in Scotland.
Sabrina, without consulting any of the adults in her life, decides to just open the gates of hell all by herself. I mean, Harvey is there, but she is essentially alone because he is useless. Where will she put Lucifer’s body once she has it? She has no idea. BRINA. Her planning skills are as abysmal as ever.
Wardwell — the real one — has returned to Greendale High and she’s teaching the kids Dante’s Inferno, naturally. Sabrina’s mortal friends continue to try to keep her engaged at Baxter High by encouraging her to do things like “try out for cheerleading” and “be in our band” while she is preoccupied with “get my boyfriend back from Satan, who is also my estranged father, and who is currently trapped in hell.”
Sabrina realizes she could get into hell through a window instead of the front door, so she swings by Dorian’s to ask him if one of his portraits is a portal to hell. It is, because sure! He’s feeling hideous because he has a pimple, and if I understand this episode correctly, he agrees to let Sabrina and her trio of mortal sidekicks into hell and bring them back safely as long as they make sure to pick up some haunted Clearasil. They could all die doing this, I guess, but no one seems too concerned about that. They’re just like, plucky and down for a field trip. I eagerly await the day when this show figures out what the stakes of these misadventures are supposed to be. Maybe later this season?
The teens wash up on the shores of hell, where they meet this Hollister model demon, who is just hanging out with his shirt open like he’s posing for the cover of a romance novel in the underworld. (I admire this show’s commitment to featuring chiseled, shirtless men as frequently as possible, regardless of whether it is plausible or even relevant to the plot for them to be half-naked.) What follows is an exceedingly long (this episode clocks in at nearly an hour!) upside-down version of The Wizard of Oz, as these kids traipse along a blood-path through some spooOOOOooOooky obstacles to Pandemonium, the capital city where Lilith sits atop a throne that looks like a Fisher-Price play set spray-painted gold. On the way, they pass people you’ve probably forgotten about — Harvey’s brother, Theo’s uncle, Principal Hawthorne, Roz’s grandma — who are moaning to be set free from their little torture-prisons. It’s a lot of janky, Halloween-y nonsense.
Lilith thwarts their journey until she decides to change her mind about that, which doesn’t really make sense considering she and Sabrina were totally on the same page about what was going to happen at the end of last season — Lilith in hell, guarding Nick/Lucifer, while Sabrina sorted things out on Earth — but okay. She keeps Nick’s tongue in a jar of formaldehyde.
So Lilith explains to Sabrina that she’s having trouble maintaining her grip on her kingdom, since nobody recognizes her right to rule. And what she could really use is a formal coronation from Sabrina Morningstar, who is of royal blood. Seems simple enough, so it’ll probably be a disaster.
The demons cry “treason” because Lilith is a “concubine” whose brief reign — she’s been on the throne a month — has thrown all the realms into chaos. Who should rule instead? The beach demon, whose name is Caliban. His platform: restore stability, conquer the Earth and make it the tenth circle of hell. Not looking good for Greendale! Just as Wardwell stage-whispers the obvious to Sabrina (“this is a coup”), Sabrina’s dad eyeball-zaps her inside of Nick’s body (?) for a little father-daughter chat. He’s mad that his disappointment of a daughter won’t take the throne to restore balance in hell, because if there’s no balance in hell, there’s no balance on Earth or in heaven. “It’s basic cosmology,” he tells her. He essentially says Lilith is unelectable. Then Nick appears, also shirtless, to make out with Sabrina. If Sabrina claims the throne, she can save her boyfriend. Though this also means bringing Lucifer out of hell, since he’s in Nick’s body, and probably this is something Lucifer wants and could benefit from, Sabrina has decided that rescuing her boyfriend is priority number one.
So she announces that she’s going to be queen, even though the demons are all “she doesn’t even live here” and honestly, they are not wrong! She appoints Lilith as her regent and dismisses the infernal court. Her friends stand there like dopey, useless bridesmaids. Lilith warns Sabrina that this gambit might have bought her a little time but those demons will be coming back to take what they believe is theirs. Sabrina takes this lesson to heart by going back to Greendale and declaring her intentions to cheerlead. They store Nick in the school dungeon in chains forged of Damascus steel inside a salt circle so, not a major improvement on hell, but at least he has his tongue back.
Ongoing mysteries: How is Sabrina supposed to do her Queen of Hell duties (assuming she has any) and continue attending school in Greendale? Is the coven the same thing as the Academy, or are there members outside of the school who we don’t really see? Did any of these kids have parents or families, and if so, why does everyone have to stay at the Spellmans’ while the school is closed? How long before the aunts find out about Sabrina’s extracurricular jaunt to hell?