Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season-Finale Recap: Bow Down, Witches

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Sabrina Is Legend
Season 3 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Sabrina Is Legend
Season 3 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

I will give our fair series this: I was not expecting the season finale to involve a convoluted time-travel plot and bring us the Sabrina version of the evil Kermit meme. So, points for packing this ending with surprises!

That said, it’s not a great sign when the plot device that makes your finale go is so illogical and barely comprehensible that you have to preemptively address any audience complaints by having your heroine say, literally, “It’s like Back to the Future, but with magic. Just go with it.” And as I mentioned in the last recap, this finale really gets at a perennial issue with the show, which is that there are basically no stakes because everyone who dies comes back to life. Seriously, everyone who dies — except for Dorcas — comes out of this whole ordeal in mint condition. Even Wardwell gets her memory wiped so she’ll have no recollection of the fact that the Spellmans are witches. And I’m not really sure what we gain from having the series tell us, over and over again, that it doesn’t matter who lives and who dies. We already know that whatever apocalypse scenario Sabrina is taking on in any given season won’t actually result in the end of the mortal realm as we know it because … there would be no show. To add on top of that inevitability the fact that all these deaths are more like brief, scary naps, well: How are we supposed to get invested in anything that happens here?

The finale leaps ahead a pointedly vague amount of time — why do they all keep saying “decades” and not just 50 years or however long it’s been? Caliban tried to conquer Earth but was pushed back by the Pagans, who now rule over this lush, Annihilation-style Greendale (and, presumably, the planet, though we never get that far). Sabrina is entombed in the ninth circle of hell, and no one can rescue her except … Sabrina, in a cape, from the future/past!

She “explains” how the time loop needs to be preserved in order to keep the realms in place — your standard-issue time travel warning — and adds that the ninth circle of hell exists in its own time pocket. Okay! All the devils are gone from hell, which seems strange, and Pandemonium was sacked. Brina picks up the regalia and also a security detail of guardians whose entire job is to lurk around the regalia and make sure nobody messes with it.

Sabrina goes back to her house, which is all overgrown with vines and trees, and discovers the skeletons of virtually her entire family, plus Mambo, Prudence, and Agatha. Salem and Aunt Hilda are buried in the yard. Sabrina pouts for a while, cuddling those creepy effigies. Really seems like the best place for her to go would be Dorian’s, since doesn’t he live forever? But she heads to the carnival grounds instead. I know that this is supposed to be haunting and sad for Sabrina but it is hilarious that she is ID-ing her friends based on, like, the positions of their skeletons, which have not moved one iota since we saw them in the previous episode, despite the passage of “decades.”

Thank Lilith, AMBROSE is here. He tells Sabrina that, since the Pagans won, the earth is “once more a garden of horrors.” The only safe space is the Kinkle mines, where Ambrose has set up a little bunker/research facility, and where he guards that Loch Ness egg, which has time-warping qualities that can only be unlocked if you have something with a lot of power — namely, the unholy regalia, which Sabrina has in her bag. Handy! Ambrose will speedily make the regalia into an actual morning star while Brina runs home to grab what we soon learn is the Batibat. They head to the Academy, where Blackwood, who is feral and insane and still cannot be killed, is doing … whatever it is he’s been doing all this time, it is not entirely clear. The Academy, it is important to note, has not been filled with pagan vines because of Pesta’s curse of the soil.

Batibat, in exchange for leaving the Spellmans alone, got her (its?) freedom, and has trapped Blackwood in a fantasy dream where he’ll sleep for ages and not pose a threat. Then she and Ambrose use those massive stones to go back in time, so Sabrina can save the world. First stop: her house, where she warns Ambrose, Prudence, and Mambo about Blackwood’s impending attack.

Sabrina says she realizes that Nick was right: She’d let her hell-quest distract her from what really matters. She rescues Harvey, Roz, Robin, and Nick, and soon everyone is at Dorian’s (hey that was my suggestion!) and Zelda is regaining consciousness. She knows Hilda will come back from the dead, as long as they call on Hecate. What follows is a very long ritual (this episode is 59 minutes long), but I’m almost not mad at it because damn, Miranda Otto! Is incredible!! It is also neat to watch the coven’s evolution from “everything for the Dark Lord and nothing for us” to “honestly forget Lucifer, we worship Lilith now” to “we call on OURSELVES to bring back Sister Hilda.”

With Hilda back in the land of the living, it’s time to prevent the pagans from doing their carnival ritual to raise the Green Man. (Seems like a placeholder name they forgot to fill in later, no?) A spell gets all the Greendale residents to fall asleep instead of attending the carnival, so they’re out of the way. Robin brings Wardwell to Pan, offering her up as a virgin sacrifice and insisting his betrayal was all for show — a way to effectively infiltrate the high school. A lot of people keep talking about “seed” in a way that makes me very uncomfortable. The ritual kicks off and — twist! Wardwell was actually Pesta, in a glamour, who poisons the Green Man so he rots and can’t pollinate the masses. Robin was really Sabrina, also in a glamour and now in that nifty cape. Their team — a mix of mortals, formerly disenfranchised witches, and the Church of Night — storms the carnival grounds to kill every pagan enemy. I see Prudence with her swords and wonder why anyone isn’t trying to tap her to be the queen of something. She just up and GUTS Pan! Stabbing him from behind before he even knows what hits him! And her lipstick NEVER SMUDGES. Prudence is the queen of my recaps.

Battle complete, the Spellmans celebrate back at home. Sabrina says she won the unholy regalia and the throne of hell even though I feel like, in this timeline, that’s not what happened. (Or maybe it’s not what happened … yet?) The Aunties didn’t want Sabrina to be queen of hell but Brina says she knows it’s her destiny.

So she jets off to catch past Sabrina and tell her (1) Judas is really Caliban in the glamour, and also (2) hey, why preserve the time loop when they could just … not? Why not let there be TWO Sabrinas: One to rule over hell, and one to do coven things and attend Baxter High? To this I say: Hmm, I see Sabrina is back to having half-baked ideas that she fails to run by Ambrose, I can’t imagine how that will go awry. But the two Brinas consult only each other and agree to go ahead with it. Hell Queen Sabrina traps Caliban in stone — considering he did betray her, this feels appropriate — and returns to Pandemonium to be coronated. Lilith’s last act as regent is to prepare Sabrina for this ritual. Huh, rude that we’re already demoting Lilith but okay.

Sabrina’s regal outfit is phenomenal. I actually like the velvet base layer even more than the full Marie Antionette look, but I guess there’s no such thing as being overdressed for your coronation as the Queen of Hell. “Every girl must prepare for war,” Lilith says as she slides Sabrina’s feet into these fantastic, if not exactly war-appropriate, shoes.

Back in Greendale, Harvey and Roz declare their love and have sex. Good for you, Harvey. Robin decides to stay in Greendale and keep dating Theo. Again, so happy for you kids, live your dreams. Dr. Cee comes out of his cocoon because no one who dies on this show really stays dead. Prudence finds out that Dorcas was killed by Agatha, and tells Ambrose that she can’t forgive him for not letting her just kill Blackwood when she had the chance in Scotland. The death of this relationship upsets me more than the death of any character on this show! She heads back to the Academy where Nick, looking very Outsiders, is loitering on the steps. They both feel so alone. So probably they will attempt to battle said loneliness by hooking up? Zelda proclaims that the Church of Night is now the Order of Hecate. Mambo Marie is going to stick around, to help prepare for “an even darker force on the horizon” (typical) AND to make out with Zelda (!) and become half of my new favorite couple.

While Sabrina was able to save a lot of people from Father Blackwood, she was not able to protect the Time Egg, or the twins. Blackwood has all of these things, plus Agatha, and takes them into the woods to do some screaming strobe light ritual. The egg hatches … nothing? Something? It’s really not clear but Blackwood decrees that this is “the beginning of the end of the Spellmans.”

Sabrina tells her aunts she’s decided not to be the Queen of Hell after all. (Again, interesting choice NOT to tell them what she actually did, seeing as the mess it will surely create will fall to the Aunties to clean up.) Because he is the smartest person here, Ambrose immediately susses out that Sabrina isn’t telling the truth. She confesses, breezily, as if there is no big problem because “all our business with hell is done, right?” What? No! Ambrose reports that Sabrina has created a time paradox. “The ramifications of this are horrifying at best,” he says, not to mention Lilith will definitely notice that something is up. Sabrina’s total lack of concern is very characteristic of the girl she was several episodes ago, and I’m sorry to say that none of the experiences she had in the interim have made her a more mature or thoughtful individual.

Also, was there ever a part of Sabrina that wanted to live in hell, full-time? I thought her divide was more “do I go to Baxter High or do I go to the Academy,” not “do I abandon every single person I’ve ever known and loved to live in an underground Hot Topic with my dad?” Of course as Ambrose alludes to some ominous “loose ends” in the Spellman lives, their cuckoo clock just cuckoos itself right off the wall and smashes against the floor.

Ongoing mysteries: So what really came out of the Time Egg? What chaos will befall the timelines now that Sabrina just casually created a time paradox? What’s going to happen when Lilith has her baby? How long before Queen of Hell Sabrina goes fully bad, under the influence of Lucifer, and ends up at war with her earthly counterpart?

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Recap: Bow Down, Witches