Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
I know this isn’t supposed to be hilarious but I find it very funny that we are getting an episode that is all about people who are dead coming back to life, when on this show absolutely no one who dies or disappears ever stays dead or gone long enough and/or irrevocably enough for their loss to have any meaningful impact on the characters who survive them. For instance: Robin Goodfellow has been in the fairy (faere?) realm since … the last six minutes of the last episode we all just watched because this is Netflix and all the episodes drop at once? And now he is back to help Theo save the day, as if he were never gone! And his decision to stay in Greendale is supposed to pack some kind of major emotional wallop and yet: why would it, if he basically never left?
Speaking of those who’ve left but I figure will be back before the season is out: Brina has left Nick in her bed so she can whisper to her lost doppelgänger through the mirror. Nick, in his underwear (thank you CAOS wardrobe department, again and forever, for your commitment to male near-nudity … the coven will remember your service), tells Brina to trust and give it time, great advice I’m confident she will not take.
Meanwhile, Ambrose checks in with the fourth-grade-caliber model of the magical solar system and says it’s not clear if the cosmos have righted themselves or if everything is still monumentally screwed. Brina says it’s 100 percent her fault that this is happening, which is mostly true, but Prudence points out that Blackwood is the one who unleashed the Eldritch Terrors. It takes a village, you know?
Here I must admit I was wrong: Baby Adam is dead for real! I mean, not for long is still my hunch, but Lillith did actually cook him up for Lucifer to eat. Does that track for any of you, with her character and this world? Wouldn’t she try to pull a fast one on Lucifer with some other baby before sacrificing the son she very nearly died and risked everything to bring into the world? I know I’m just screaming into the void begging for the characters in this show to make sense. Anyway, Lillith hasn’t told anyone about her infanticide and is cradling a creepy doll in Adam’s place.
Over at Baxter High, this dorky band called the Stone Philosphers shows up to Fright Club’s practice in Buddy Holly glasses and hairstyles straight out of the 1960s because this show is set in the present day. A light tiff over needing the same rehearsal space leads to Battle of the Bands, as your scheduling conflicts are wont to do; a librarian who I don’t think we’ve ever seen before just pops up with an old poster from, you guessed it, the 1960s, about the last time Baxter High saw a Battle of the Bands, which will serve as inspiration and (for everyone paying attention) a harbinger of doom.
At the mortuary, there’s a gust of ooOOooOOooh wind at the door and it brings with it: Vinegar Tom! Zelda’s familiar, the little beagle look at those floppy ears perfect nose cute little paws oh my GOD. The best part of all of this is when Brina is like, “He’s dead, isn’t he?” And Zelda goes, “tush, tush, who cares?” Zelda: reduced to absolute mush by the return of her puppy, and who among us wouldn’t be? Mama Mambo confirms the obvious: the fabric between life and death is disintegrating; an Eldritch Terror is upon us, bringing the resurrected dead back to Greendale. ALL of the returned are Terrors — no exceptions — but they might not even know they’re dead, and telling them could be catastrophic! Very Lincoln in the Bardo. So like with all the other Terrors, the mortals and witches are supposed to make them feel welcome or else “bad things will happen.” (This whole thing of having to be hospitable to the Terrors is a fascinating theme that I wish the show would explore more instead of just repeating it a lot in a way that makes me wonder if they even realize they have introduced a theme or if they’re just out of ideas.) Mama Mambo will meet this low-voiced blindfolded death demon, Lazarus (some background here if you’re interested in the folklore inspo), on her own to play magic chess with it, and no pressure but if she loses the dead will NEVER return to their graves and presumably this is not an ideal outcome for all the people who are still alive. So like a VERY high-stakes episode of Queen’s Gambit.
Through magic, Harvey somehow obtains a way nicer guitar than before. (Was the guitar dead??) Harvey, like Sabrina, has learned exactly nothing from all of his experiences confronting horror and magic in Greendale and is not at all suspicious of this obviously suspicious gift. He plays guitar and opens the gates of hell, yikes. Out of those gates arises the band from the original battle: Satanic Panic. First on the agenda is to murder the Buddy Holly band. I will hand it to the show that this little slaughter sequence is done very well and is appropriately tense and just-so scary. When you think that one guy is gonna maybe make it out but he gets yanked back into the bloodbath at the last second … nice.
Also back from the dead: Sabrina’s “dad” (since technically her biological dad is Lucifer, yes?): Edward Spellman. But because his memories all stop at the time of his death he doesn’t realize the girl in front of him is his Sabrina; his Sabrina is only a baby. In other baby news: Lilith can hear Adam’s cries because he, too, is baaaack. As is Dorcas, covered in blood and sort of making nice with Agatha until she puts it together that Agatha killed her, at which point things briefly go sideways: Dr. C’s mom, who is one of those moms who is way too invested in her son’s romantic and sexual life and feels threatened by all of his girlfriends, makes a very unsettling side comment about how she killed all his other girlfriends and Dr. C just… rolls with it?! The things people in Greendale just let slide, I will never understand. Eventually everything works out for both of these side plots, but the fact that Dr. C seemed to hesitate a little bit when his (dead, Eldritch Terror) mom was trying to kill his (alive, not a Terror) wife is, in my opinion, a break-uppable offense.
I cannot stop laughing at Satanic Panic, a.k.a. Hot Topic Walking, prowling through the halls of Baxter High. Do you think that lead guitarist has enough studs on his jacket? They bump into Harvey and recognize him, sort of, because they knew Harvey’s dad. And here we get some chilling Greendale lore: Harvey used to be IN Satanic Panic, and for this flashback scene we get Harvey dressed as his dad with messy hair and smudgy eyeliner, lol. Lucifer breezes in and says he’s a talent scout (WHY would a talent scout be happening by the Kinkles’ garage??? No one asks) and says that if Satanic Panic kills a classmate — “a girl preferably, a virgin definitely” — then fame is THEIRS. Hello, Jennifer’s Body! “I can remember thinking it was like the devil, the actual devil,” says Mr. Kinkle. Of course the other bandmates are DOWN for this experience, but Harvey’s dad was not; so his bandmates stabbed Peggy Lou to death in the woods, and Harvey’s dad snitched to Peggy Lou’s dad, who burned the other members of Satanic Panic alive in the woodshed while they were practicing. Lots of grudges to go around here.
Against the extremely grave (get it? Ha! I’m sorry) counsel of all the adults in her life, Sabrina tries to tell her dad who she is and who he is and that he’s dead. Predictably this goes quite badly and he shouts at her that he never wanted her, that her mother was a whore who made a deal with the devil, and that he’s not her real dad. And then he tries to kill her! Zelda intervenes to save the day because she is the only person who knows what’s what in this nightmare world. Sabrina tells Zelda that she realizes Edward is right: She was only a baby when he died, and he never really knew her. I love seeing Zelda in these tender moments. Usually she’s so tough and together but when she lets that maternal warmth slip through, it really gets to me.
Lilith has decided the only way out of her suffering is death, and the only way for an immortal being to die is with a special spear that is somewhere in hell, I don’t know exactly where, but you get the idea — in theory it’s hard to get but in the episode it appears to take Caliban all of 15 minutes to retrieve it, so. Caliban, the Pac Sun to Satanic Panic’s Hot Topic, happily agrees to fetch it for Lillith since he wants her dead anyway. It’s a real win-win for him. Just as Lillith is about to skewer herself, Zelda shows up to tell her about the Resurrected haunting Greendale and that Lazarus is in town. So Lillith changes her plans.
You may have thought that the violent murders of three Baxter High students would call for calling off the Battle of the Bands — their bodies were found in a dumpster! — but Satanic Panic kidnapped Mr. Kinkle and they will NOT let him go until they win the Battle of the Bands, which is going to be held at the gates of hell. Apparently the winner of this music contest will win … Harvey’s dad? I’m sorry this is so absurd! Who is going to be the arbiter of this competition? Anyway, Theo says they CAN win with the right song but they’ll need a second singer, so Sabrina summons Robin, who again has been gone for 30 seconds and can’t be far away by now so she does this with ease.
Sabrina decides to compound her daddy issues by swinging by hell to have a chat with Lucifer about dragging Satanic Panic back to hell. He was their manager, but it turns out he can’t do anything about this whole conundrum. First of all, Harvey’s dad was a snitch, “which I despise,” he says. And though Sabrina makes the emotional appeal — “I’m your daughter, and I’m asking you to” — Lucifer says he is NOT her dad. Ooof.
Sabrina rounds up her witch friends to get Peggy Lou, who is also bent on revenge as you might imagine, to make a big showing at the Battle of the Bands. Cut to the gates of hell: Harvey’s dad is bound and gagged in a weird little old-timey elevator cage. Lucifer, who lords over hell, also has time to emcee this event in a gold lame jacket with no shirt underneath (CAOS’s devotion to shirtless men knows no bounds).
As Satanic Panic begins I write in my notes wait are we seriously going to have to watch all the bands perform … is this Netflix series actually going to make us sit through this mediocre talent show where a plot could go??? And the answer is: yes. Satanic Panic’s song is objectively bad but people seem to like shouting PARTY TIME at them so we are to believe the prize is theirs to lose. Then we have to watch Fright Club cover “The Time Warp,” which, while a cute and appropriate song choice, is so boring to watch. I AM SO BORED. Must ten minutes of every episode be devoted to bad teen karaoke?? Every episode of The Flight Attendant is 40 minutes, also features Michelle Gomez, includes zero musical numbers, and is perfect. Just saying.
After that, just when I was thinking okay well at least that’s over, Sabrina shows up in a rhinestone choker and a furry-collared sequin jacket and a LOT of eyeliner to front a band she just formed, the Dark Mothers. Now I must listen to Kiernan Shipka’s underwhelming efforts at covering “Sweet Child of Mine.” Like … I get it … she is the child … who has no fathers … wow. The climax of this song is when Peggy Lou, slick with blood, shoots fire out of her hands and torches her murderers — who have already been burned alive once! — and then disappears. Sparks fly. The crowd goes wild. I too cheer, for this means the song is over. Brina just announces that her band won, which seems like not how that’s supposed to be decided, but okay! Harvey’s dad is free and actually says something nice to his son but alas, for his own sanity he will be made to think this was all a dream that he barely remembers. No one is getting the paternal affection they crave in this town.
Lilith arrives at the chess-with-death match and asks for a boon. Lazarus says no body, no dice. And just as he wins the game against Mama Mambo, Lilith stabs him with the special spear from hell. Mama Mambo is so grateful she promises Lillith will receive her boon after all. The only bad news here is that Mama Mambo is going to have to stay with all the dead in the afterlife; she’s been using a fake name (Mama Mambo, now that she mentions it, does sound very made-up) and doesn’t really belong in the mortal realm. She gives Zelda a magic box that she can shake if she needs her, and seeing as this show doesn’t let anyone leave for long, I figure she’ll be back before the series is through.
Agatha gets a kiss from Dorcas and somehow this restores her sanity, so that’s exciting for her. Lilith hears a baby sound coming out of her weird little doll. All the dead return to the ground. Sabrina disowns her fathers. Honestly, all of this seems worth it to me because Vinegar Tom is back.
Ongoing mysteries: Okay, so … where is Adam? Will he come back as a baby or a hot teen who can be shirtless before the series ends? What will Agatha remember now that she has her sanity back? What are the final Terrors going to be?