Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Well, someone’s been reading my recaps! Harvey Kinkle, clearly heeding my call to have sex with Roz before he becomes a virgin sacrifice, is about to have a real window of opportunity to escalate his relationship: Roz’s dad will be out of town at a church convention for a whole week. I would also like to say that it’s very cool to see Roz being the one leading this conversation; I feel like 99 percent of teen shows, in my day, were about a guy pressuring a “good” girl and the girl having to catch up to his readiness, and I appreciate that on CAOS we get the whole spectrum of experience, with the Roz/Harvey dynamic being one way and the Brina/Nick one being another, and all of them generally existing in a universe where no one says that sex is something to be ashamed of. Like, even when Nick gets busted cheating on Sabrina with sex demons, she is pretty understanding about the underlying psychology there. Which is uncharacteristically mature of her, especially considering the circumstances.
Also: I love that Kinkle is in his underwear and Roz is completely dressed, and then we get to Nick GLISTENING as he emerges from the shower in nothing but a towel. This show’s commitment to gratuitous male shirtlessness is one of my favorite things about it. Praise Lilith.
So in accordance with the Inviolable Rules of Television Health and Medicine (for the uninitiated, some background on the IRTH here, here, and here), Nick is going to become addicted to whatever substance is in that little dropper. (At first I was like, oh so that’s why his skin is so good, he’s using serums! But no, it’s drugs.) By the end of the scene we see him guzzle it straight from the jar, and later, he pounds absinthe at Dorian’s and swings by the dungeon — shirtless! — to pummel Satan to a mortal pulp. “Oh, how I’ve missed your virility,” says Satan, whose shirt is also falling open. Inside of Blackwood’s mind, Blackwood and Lucifer are strategizing; they know that this miserable boy can be wielded against the Spellmans.
The first sign that something is not quite right about the carnival crowd — aside from their generally weird vibes and presence in Greendale — is that the snake charmer is already bunking with Harvey’s dad, who seems so smitten that he doesn’t even mind leaving her alone with his young son and then in their empty house.
Back among the witches we already know and love, it’s time to celebrate the Hare Moon. This is an opportunity to boost morale among the coven, whose powers are in decline because, as Ambrose will soon discover, the Dark Lord is out of commission/extremely pissed at them. Sabrina, as the coven’s youngest living member, has an important role to play in this ritual. Reading the four questions? No, it’s a song. In the Archieverse it is always an unnecessary and jarring and/or anachronistic musical number. (They end up singing “The Song of Purple Summer” from Spring Awakening which… what? Isn’t this supposed to be an ancient ritual? Why would it revolve around a song from 2006?) Anyway: Aunt Zelda demands Lucifer restore their powers, but Lucifer naturally only consents to this if he’ll be set free, which the Spellmans are not so keen on. He also outs Sabrina as the Queen of Hell. Why she thought she shouldn’t just deliver this information to her aunts herself in a timely manner, I will never know. The way Aunt Zelda says Brina has to go upstairs NOW is my new religion, no offense to Lilith.
“Being Queen of Hell isn’t a summer job,” Aunt Zelda correctly chastises her young ward. Sabrina craves power—“which is healthy, up to a point,” Z says, YES—but what’s not okay is our fair heroine’s savior complex. This is such a fair and accurate assessment of Sabrina. I wish there were real consequences for any of this but I know there won’t be, because this show cannot bear to hold Sabrina accountable for her actions, even when her aunts want to do exactly that. Sabrina thinks the power must be infernal and that there’s probably “a battery” in hell. (Aunt Zelda’s face when Sabrina says there must be a battery… Miranda Otto is, in fact, magical.) Zelda makes Sabrina bring Ambrose as a chaperone to hell to investigate.
Also doing some investigating: her mortal Scooby gang. Roz, Theo, and Harvey want to know what’s up with the carnival, which they’ve sussed out has witchy origins. Robin doesn’t go because Robin Goodfellow is secretly evil, and instead tips off the carnival crowd to these oncoming intruders. The snake charmer gets her hands (snake tongue?) on Roz and leaves her stricken with some magical curse.
In hell, Lilith explains that Lucifer’s gifts originate within him: he’s a fallen angel, not a native hellion. The gifts are celestial, not infernal, and no, Sabrina’s half-mortal blood doesn’t quite have the juice they’ll need. Time to find another angel. Sabrina remembers that Dorian has one trapped in a painting — really into how cleverly the show is using Dorian this season — and Dorian agrees to assist in a bloodletting. He is a bartender, after all. (“You can hardly expect me to decant a celestial without sampling the vintage,” he says after taking a taste.) But Sabrina gets distracted when she hears screams, and then her plans crumble: First, she sees (shirtless) Nick in the middle of this Sleep No More situation with two sex demons, and then when she gets back to Dorian, she discovers her bartender got high on his own supply and left her barely a test tube of angel blood to supply the entire coven.
Ambrose, who is far and away the most useful member of this family, realizes that they could use the Hare moon to activate the angel blood, as “celestial substances are activated by celestial bodies.” Aunt Z says “thank you” to everyone else for their contributions and this demonstration of gratitude and humility nearly kills her, but she manages.
The Hare Moon ceremony is very Free People catalog meets Midsommar, with the aforementioned awkward singing. Brina carries a bunny into the woods and there she discovers a swarm of carnival baddies in scary animal masks. Hilda manages to cool everything off, for now, by inviting them to join the picnic, and everyone does a little recon on each other. Turns out the carnival gang are “pagans,” witches whose style of worship is even older than our more Judeo-Christian witches, who pray to Lucifer. This is an interesting dynamic, although the whole look of someone like Aunt Z saying things like “causing havoc, as pagans are wont to do” is… not great, no?
I love that the snake charmer has the superpower of knowing who has been having sex and with how many people. “You reek of sex,” she purrs at Nick. Dorcas, who looks magnificent, corners Nick by a tree and points out that he’s not “the only witch who parties with sex demons,” but this conversation is interrupted by a snakebite. Circe just sucks all the venom out, but Nick chopped the snake in two which does NOT go over well. From there, it all escalates: The carnival crowd say their time has come to rise again. Nick refuses to apologize (“I detest teen angst,” says Aunt Zelda, my hero), so Dorcas goes off to make amends, carrying a moon pie.
Meanwhile Nick and Sabrina have it out. She wants to know exactly what he went through, and Nick obliges. As usual, some of this torture sounds extremely sexual—“I took the Dark Lord inside me,” “I was stripped naked and put in chains my Lilith”—but also a lot of it just sounds very harrowing and painful. “All to protect you and this world that you care so much about,” he says. Sabrina says she’s sorry and Nick says that’s not good enough, and you know what? Fair! “You let me sacrifice myself for you and you weren’t worth it.” This is also when we learn that, despite all the context clues suggesting otherwise, Nick and Sabrina haven’t had sex, and Nick suspects this is because Sabrina is still “saving herself” for Harvey. WHY THOUGH. “Every time I look at you, all I see is your father,” he says, which again, is sexually confusing and probably not an ideal foundation for this relationship.
I like that this show is challenging what I like to call Bella Swan Syndrome, which is when all the male characters in a story are obsessed with a girl who is totally, aggressively ordinary, and the only reason readers or viewers are given for this is something like “her blood is actually made of glitter and tastes like honey” or whatever, as opposed to grounding it in her actual personality and behavior. Based on what we’ve seen of Brina and Nick, his objections check out. I hope it is not blasphemy to say so! Lilith, forgive me.
Nick storms off to the dungeon where Blackwood/Lucifer exploits poor Nick’s misery by offering him what I assume is the magic world’s equivalent of… heroin? It’s all in exchange for a “tiny favor” which, as we’ll see when Brina finds Nick frothing at the mouth in the salt circle, is probably not such a tiny favor after all.
But first, everybody strip down to your fabulous lingerie for the moon bath! (Prudence in thigh-high black stockings for this religious ceremony where everyone else is wearing white? I love her.) This ceremony takes ages and is one of the many sequences in this episode that could have been several minutes shorter, and then this episode would not be 57 minutes long, which it did not need to be. Everyone glows with the magic of the angel blood and the Hare Moon, until they get eclipsed, literally, by the carnival witches, who take that moon pie peace offering and devour it with their bare hands.
Our coven retreats to the Academy, where their powers are still weak and their beds are full of writhing snakes. Dorcas has been turned to stone — this is also Roz’s fate, despite Harvey and Theo’s best efforts — and Agatha is just twirling around her in a trance. The pagans are outside to report that “the blood ways are coming back.” Either the coven has to accept the old gods or they will all be murdered; they have three days to decide. You know, it’s not like the gods the Spellmans have are so great! But this is not their attitude. Zelda decides they need to free Lucifer, even though there will be actual hell to pay. But when Brina goes to the dungeon to get him out, no one is there but Nick.
Ongoing mysteries: What’s going to happen when Wardwell figures out what Lilith was up to with her body? And that Sabrina knew and never told her? Where did Lucifer go? Is there a version of this story where Nick and the Dark Lord end up in an evil relationship and exact vengeance on Sabrina together? Because… I’d watch that show. Also: Will Zelda get over herself and be happy for Hilda’s engagement, or is she going to be the Jo to Hilda’s Meg here and lament that getting married is tantamount to abandoning a sisterhood and tearing apart her family?