Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Okay, I just have to lead with what I hope is not too unpopular of an opinion here: Sabrina, still not exactly the brightest blonde in the box. I’M SORRY. I am pro-Kiernan Shipka, and have been since her earliest Mad Men days! But I feel like Sabrina is actually just bad at everything; possibly the bleach from her (adorable) platinum hair has seeped into her gentle brain? Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: planning, executing her non-plans, prioritizing, recruiting help for her missions to/from hell, knowing when to find a grown-up and when to wing it with her fellow teens. (She is great at choosing a statement lip color, but I think she just learned that from Prudence, who deserves the real credit there.) She brings Lucifer back from hell and then, after pointedly making a circle of salt to trap him in his cell, just … drags her foot across the salt on her way out of the dungeon, leaving an opening that any idiot could slip through?? And at no point does she think it would be a good idea to alert her aunts — who are way more powerful and experienced than she is! — to all these goings-on?
This would not bother me so much if it were season one. But these are exactly the kinds of impetuous and sloppy mistakes Sabrina was making when we first met her 21 chapters ago. I know time in Greendale isn’t moving at the same speed as time here in real life, but still: Is our main character supposed to show zero growth? I feel like she’s even less savvy and thoughtful than she was when the series began.
She’s the queen of hell, a mantle she impulsively grabbed so she could get her boyfriend out of hell — even though her boyfriend and her dad, Lucifer, were a two-for-one deal, and she was the one who orchestrated putting Nick/Lucifer in hell in the first place not TWO episodes ago — and yet she balks at having to do what, so far, is her only job: dragging the damned to hell. What did she think this role was going to entail, exactly? Did she not realize she would have to do a bunch of hell stuff? Does “queen of hell” really sound like a vanity title?
But let’s go back to the beginning of this 55-minute episode, which includes two (2) unnecessary musical numbers, if you count band rehearsal and cheer practice. (I will rant about this until change arrives: Just because Netflix gives you all the time in the world doesn’t mean you have to take it! None of these episodes need to be more than 42 minutes long. I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL.) Sabrina’s dad is sharing a body with her boyfriend, which whoooo, boy is there a lot going on there that I guess we’re just not going to get into, but it does involve the Dark Lord snarling “Call me daddy” at Sabrina through her boyfriend’s mouth that has her dad’s tongue inside of it.
Brina’s plan is a soul transference — essentially evicting the Dark Lord from Nick’s body into another flesh prison, and now all she needs is another body, and also the spell. So, both parts of the thing, for everyone keeping track.
After cheer practice, Lilith, looking magnificent, corners Sabrina by the bleachers. Time to start job training for the new royal! Sabrina is scandalized that she is being called upon to do anything at all, and I have to say, I really feel for Lilith, who has seen yet another undeserving and unprepared candidate be promoted over her for a job she’s been owed for ages. Sabrina’s No. 1 job as the queen of hell is to hold people’s hands into the underworld. They’re already damned, so she is not a part of the evaluation process; she’s a soul collector, with the muscle (icky-looking demon, very Buffy season one) on hand if she needs it.
Sabrina goes out soul-collecting while wearing her cheerleading uniform, as one does. Her first soul is this old man playing chess. Based on extremely scanty intel, Sabrina determines this soul does not deserve to go to hell, so she puts him in a white car instead of a black one, which is presumably headed to heaven. Lilith says that Sabrina is the worst, and I cannot argue with her. (Why is there even a white car on hand at all, if it’s already determined that the soul should go to hell? Do demons really believe in backsies?)
Back in hell, Lilith insists that Sabrina is just a rookie getting the hang of a new job, and she will not mess up again. Her next assignment: Jimmy the ice-cream truck driver, who is so parodically evil — in exchange for an extra seven years of life, he hands over an “innocent soul,” a.k.a. a child, to the devil — even Sabrina decides he can go to hell. But of course her real motive is that if she does this, she can save Nick. Her entire worldview is essentially “things that save my boyfriend = good; everything else = bad.” She gets all this information from her dad, by the way, who points out that if she cannot handle her job, the demons in hell who don’t like her will see to it that she loses it.
Jimmy has stashed his innocent soul in a top-secret location. This is when it would be quite helpful if this show gave us any guidelines, at all, about how magic works and what spells exist and who is capable of what. Why is Sabrina able to mind-control Lucy’s mom later on into forgetting any of this ever happened, but she can’t use magic to get Jimmy to reveal where Lucy is hidden away? The fact that we have zero parameters around magic make this already irrational show even more confusing. I know this is counterintuitive, but when the magic on this show has no clear limits, it doesn’t feel like magic; it just feels random and meaningless.
Anyway, since Sabrina is incapable of having a thought in her brain for more than .02 seconds without acting on it in the first way that occurs to her, she decides to find Lucy before bringing Jimmy to hell, and gets her mortal friends to assist. This does mean they could be late to the pep rally, but duty calls. I love that when Brina and Roz talk to the other cheerleaders, ostensibly their classmates and peers, they sound like baby-boomers pretending to be teenagers. “We’ll totes be there!” Roz says, like a cop.
Sabrina and Roz figure out that Lucy is in a freezer (I mean … Jimmy drives an ice-cream truck … industrial freezer seems like an obvious choice), but instead of calling for backup, or Googling “industrial freezers + Greendale area” on their phones, which if they are really teenagers living in 2020 they would be using ALL THE TIME, or coming up with any strategy whatsoever, Sabrina just zaps herself there. Of course Jimmy anticipated this, and the freezer is a trap Sabrina cannot escape due to Jimmy’s counterspell, helpfully painted on the wall. Thankfully, an adult — Lilith, as always — comes to clean up this mess and rescue Sabrina and Lucy. Lilith returns Lucy to her grateful mother, and Sabrina gets to be all sassy at Jimmy before having her muscle-demon escort him to hell.
The demons are still unimpressed. But Sabrina is here to make sure that hell doesn’t affect the lives of mortals, and also to give hell “a makeover.” Sabrina is like the substitute teacher who refuses to just pop in a VHS and instead decides to assign a pop quiz and three more chapters of reading.
In other news: Because Sabrina kicked open the salt circle, beetles that poured out of Nick/Lucifer’s mouth (ew ew ew) have infiltrated the Academy. They’re evil Satan beetles that make all the students extra-annoying and inspire Zelda to smack Agatha across the face. Eventually the aunts figure out what’s what. You know what would have helped them realize this sooner? If Sabrina had bothered to tell them that she brought Lucifer back from hell. If this show is really set in the year of our false Lord 2020 and not, as it is clearly aching to be, 1965, why doesn’t anybody text anybody important information? Sabrina doesn’t even try to call anyone from the freezer! Can’t they at least say some perfunctory thing like “mortal technology never works in a room full of witches” or some shit, just to close that gaping logic hole?
Oh, also Prudence (still looking fabulous) and Ambrose played Outlander in Scotland and found Blackwood, who — because this show needed to make things even more convoluted and difficult to follow than it already has, even for a professional like me who is being paid to pay attention — has been existing on an alternate timeline in which 15 years have passed. He looks like Tom Hanks in Cast Away now, and the twins, Judas and Judith, are part of some elaborate sacrifice involving a fish monster from the ancient times/the bottom of a lake. Prudence wants to murder her dad, but Ambrose intervenes, bringing the whole lot of them, along with this glowing fish egg, back to Greendale.
When Sabrina gets home from her whole ordeal, her aunts are waiting on the steps to read her the riot act. Sabrina is unrepentant. Just as she’s saying all they need to do is find a new body for Lucifer, Ambrose and Prudence appear with Blackwood’s convenient body in hand.
Prudence and Ambrose stash the twins in this magic dollhouse, where they will have no sense of time, pain, or hunger, and the egg in a little aquarium while they wait to see what hatches. In the meantime, everybody gets to make out. Remember when Prudence’s biggest worry was whom to invite to her witch orgies? Simpler times!
I’ve been dragging this show a lot this episode, but there is still plenty to root for — namely all the grown women, plus Prudence and Ambrose, and I am ever so grateful for its commitment to gratuitous shirtlessness. Nick, still only half dressed, is recovering in Sabrina’s bed. They also make out. And then Roz and Harvey make out in a truck, because making out is for mortals and witches alike. To round out all the love and love-adjacent stories, Theo meets-cute a new student, Robin, in the hallway early in the episode. Hope Robin’s not evil or anything, but given Greendale’s population, I am not optimistic about that.
Ongoing mysteries: So, what’s in the egg? Who are these demons that are even older than the oldest baddies that Father Blackwood is obsessed with now? Are we ever going to figure out why being in another location on the mortal plane — Scotland—also means being on a timeline in which 15 years pass in the span of one month?