Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
It has all come down to this: our series finale. At times, I felt like this episode was doing a great job of pulling together some of the threads of this season (if not the entire series). Key characters got big moments to shine and wear cool outfits and cast spells and all that shiny stuff. But just as often, I felt like our show was doing that thing of getting all hyped up on a new plot only to abandon much of the plot that preceded it, leaving lots of critical questions unanswered, important character arcs unattended to, and other such storytelling negligence.
Our framing device here is Wardwell preaching the Eldritch Gospel — a narrative choice that tells us that, if no one else, Wardwell and by extension some faction of the mortal world survived the Terrors and lived to tell about it. I feel like this undercuts the suspense from the jump, though maybe it was the only way to give a major player an important role in the finale? Please discuss this and all other key decisions among yourselves in the comments!
As Halloween approaches, the Baxter teens are having a classic make-out party, which is so cute even though none of them ever has to deal with parental supervision, so they can all just go home and have sex whenever they want. In my day, a make-out party was just everybody settling for that PG-13 fun because you had no other options. But it’s cute enough! And apparently no longer awkward for Harvey even though his ex is right there. Good for everyone. Sabrina’s 17th birthday is coming up; she swears she doesn’t want a big to-do, which in my TV-watching experience means someone is going to throw her a massive surprise party.
We get a lovely full-circle moment as Nick walks Brina home and gives her a birthday gift on her front steps, just like Harvey did in the pilot. Nick’s gift is his half of a matching (and presumably magic) set: lockets with their pictures inside. Just as I’m writing, “Wait, why can’t he spend the night,” they go inside together. Just as things are getting heated, Sabrina Morningstar and animatronic Salem burst through the magic mirror. Morningstar chokes out a portentous but useful warning — “It’s coming … the Void” — before succumbing to death. I guess she died by vaulting herself through the wormhole mirror? The cause of death is never explained, but okay!
So Sabrina Spellman is cradling her own dead body (weird, also a buzzkill) and goes back to her favorite refrain: “It’s all my fault.” Can I just say here I think it’s minus points re: the development of Sabrina’s relationships with any other characters that in order to give us a sacrifice that would vault her into series-finale-level action, the show had to create a second Sabrina and then kill her? Like, why couldn’t Prudence and Brina’s evolving, complicated, actually interesting friendship have gotten deeper and more powerful instead? For all the #girlboss-y feminist-lite moments the show wants to own, we get very little of Sabrina’s real, meaningful relationships with her female friends; it’s really all about her boyfriends, and herself. Not saying that’s not realistic, especially for a teenage girl, but it is a bummer!
Everyone is off to the Academy to prepare to deal with the Void, but Brina stays behind. She toys with the Imp of the Perverse and just as she goes to use it, the Trinket Man pops by to tell her he wants it back (ugh, thank God) and they trade for something more useful: Pandora’s box. So Brina has to go inside the Void, open the box, and then get out once the Void is inside because the box could also trap her. Because she has never ever learned anything ever in this entire show, she does NOT consult Ambrose, talk to her aunties, gather a team, pass Go, collect $200, etc.; she just writes a “just in case I don’t come back” note, and plunges through the mirror into the Void. (In other “Has no one learned anything at all?” news: Blackwood has been left unattended with his own body, and he is able to put himself back together. He takes his Tim Burton stitched-up-doll self over to Wardwell’s, where she is instructed to keep preaching, hence the scene that opened this episode.)
The Void has real “low-budget Good Place” energy. It is helpfully labeled “The Void.” It is a room full of tiny orbs representing the planets. The Void has a voice like Siri, telling Brina there is no death here. Like a dopey Bond villain, Sabrina tells the Void her plan before enacting it. Weirdly the Void puts up absolutely no fight here? I thought this thing was going to be scarier! But no, the only thing stopping Sabrina from suctioning all the planets and the Void itself into Pandora’s box are her allies. Because back at the Academy, Salem snitches on Sabrina to her family and friends, who are staring at a wall that is also helpfully labeled “The Void.” They manage to bring back her soul, which they can conveniently store in Morningstar’s body, leaving her body behind. Ambrose says it’s all over, but this episode is over an hour long, so he can’t be right.
Sabrina Spellman’s soul in Sabrina Morningstar’s body tells Nick she can’t believe that Morningstar has to keep making all these sacrifices for her. I mean … she literally doesn’t exist? She’s just a Xerox of you, Brina! And she’s only been around for eight episodes! Truly who cares? The idea that I am going to be emotionally invested in this nonperson is absurd. Meanwhile, Lilith, who eavesdropped on this little conversation, reports back to Lucifer that Morningstar is dead. She is willing to trade more intel to get her powers back; Lucifer agrees, so she explains the whole old-soul-new-body situation, which appalls Lucifer and makes Caliban announce his plans to kill all the mortals, including Spellman. The boys go off with an army, and Lilith gazes at a throne that she better be sitting on by the end of this episode or I will riot!
Sabrina wakes up on her birthday only to find that she keeps accidentally making things disappear, because whoops there’s a little bit of the Void inside her! (They confirm this using the magic CAT scan, a wonderful device.) That night at her party, Caliban and Lucifer’s army — which is made up of all the coal miners, including Harvey’s dad, who have been possessed by a legion of demons for this purpose — shows up, but Sabrina/Void accidentally disappears them. Also I want to note that Zelda’s harmonizing on “Happy birthday” is the only good musical moment from this entire season.
Back in hell, Lucifer is shirtless (duh) and angry (also duh). Lilith is like, okay that sounds like a ‘you’ problem, time to restore my powers because I did what you asked! He is TOO BUSY being an ANGRY MAN to deal with her PATHETIC girl problems, so Lilith just STABS HIM in the wing-scars and drinks up his celestial blood, restoring her to her full glory. She banishes Lucifer from the court of hell and from her sight, which is dope. I love that she knows exactly what she wants and the second she has the chance to act on it, she executes with perfection. Like what was Brina even going to wish for on the Imp? She had no idea. Zero foresight from that child. All hail Lilith.
Now that Brina realizes she is the Void and no one is safe around her, she teleports (or whatever magical term they use for that in this show, did they ever come up with one?) herself far, far away. So now all her friends and family members have to track down both Sabrinas: the one with the box with the Void in it and the one who went AWOL. Fortunately Nick’s locket is a magical Find My Friend, and for reasons he has to dip into the icy atmosphere to do this, but it works: They track Brina down at the Mountains of Madness. But before they do, Blackwood shows up. He begs her to Void him, but she can’t because he’s immune, too. (Those who have been Terror-ed can’t get Terror-ed again.) He tells her that he can teach her how to wield the Void, but conveniently she can only learn to do this with his help. WHY would he help her when his whole thing is bringing the Terrors to Greendale to destroy all of mankind? No one knows and Brina doesn’t ask.
Two weeks later, Ambrose, Prudence, Roz, and Agatha roll up to the Temple of the Void, which Blackwood has built for a very interesting combination of souls (“the worthy and the depraved”) and where Brina, “the bride of the Void, the priestess of nothingness,” is inside, looking … real weathered. She’s walking on two canes. Looks about 1,000 years old but still has her headband, but also is wearing a sad nightgown. Blackwood explains that Sabrina is the only thing standing between the Void and reality.
The girls use their powers to see into Blackwood’s mind where — obviously! — he has a plot to find the rest of the Void and kill Sabrina. Finally Sabrina speaks: She knows what’s happening, but she won’t go anywhere. The girls try to magic Sabrina out of there and she responds (accidentally, I assume) by sucking Prudence and Roz into the Void.
Ambrose reports back to the crew in Greendale: At the winter solstice, Blackwood intends to sacrifice Sabrina, but that’s also the exact moment when the Void is controllable. Meanwhile, Nick has returned from the Void with Spellman’s body and Pandora’s box. The plan: Go back to the Madness Mountains, get the rest of the Void in the box, and defeat Blackwood.
The day arrives and Brina is tied to the stone table, ready for the sacrificing. Zelda taunts Blackwood into accepting the box they offer him, and all the other Terrors (the Dollhouse, etc.) that they have on hand. They agree to trade Sabrina for the box, and as soon as that happens, Zelda laughs that the box was a decoy rigged with gunpowder. Blackwood is raging, but Nick punches him in the face to shut him up.
So Brina explains the deal (a LOT of explaining in this episode … not the most entertaining thing in the world). Blackwood told her the disappeared people are still alive, inside the Void. So they have to slice Brina open so the Void can bleed out, so Ambrose and Harvey can go inside the Void and rescue everyone in there — basically take out everything they want to save and chuck in everything and everyone they want to be rid of — oh, and Nick has to go in, too, with the box, to finish what Spellman started. Will Sabrina survive this long and drawn-out bloodletting process? Let’s find out!
With a dramatic slice of the clavicle, the ritual begins. The Void opens up and it looks like an old-timey screen saver. Really, all the graphics here are very Buffy season two. Sabrina’s life of birthdays flashes before her eyes. Always with the headband. Gotta respect her commitment to a signature aesthetic. Everyone does their jobs and it all goes swell except … Sabrina dies.
Obviously my reaction to this was that Sabrina won’t stay dead because no one stays dead on this show. And don’t they have that magic dirt in their cemetery that brings people back to life? But it turns out the show is finally sticking with a death, and Sabrina just … actually dies. For real! Roz wears a very deep V to her funeral. Ambrose has a fabulous blue velvet jacket. Lilith is also in attendance. And I wonder: Oh, wait, are we going to get a callback to that little box Mama Mambo gave Zelda — you know, because Mama Mambo is supposed to be in the afterlife world now, but she can be summoned with a little box shake? But, no, that also doesn’t happen.
Instead we just see that the Academy has a Sabrina statue, very Fearless Girl style, where Hecate used to be. Hilda says she and Dr. C. should move back in with Zelda, which is sweet. Prudence brings a chain saw to Blackwood so she can cut him into pieces and scatter him to the four corners of the Earth. And that’s … it. That’s it! What?!
In “the sweet hereafter,” also labeled in, like, gold Pinterest basic-bitch wedding font, Sabrina wears a white headband, those kicky white boots Sally Draper wasn’t allowed to wear to the Codfish Ball, and a white sweater. She is contemplating a painting when who arrives but Nick. He reports that he drowned in the Sea of Sorrows. Wait, WHAT? Nick also died? In, like, a completely irrelevant casual swim?! Are we supposed to be happy that these two are “endgame” just because they both … died tragically as teenagers?!
The thing is, the whole crux of this show was not “Can Sabrina survive high school, or will she have to sacrifice herself to a cause?” (again, a very Buffy question, but not one we were ever asked here), but rather was “What is Sabrina’s identity, really? Can she find a way to belong in both worlds, or will she never really fit in in either one?” I’m just not seeing how this ending comes close to addressing or even touching on any of that. We never even get a satisfying answer to why Sabrina even matters so much — if the creation of two Sabrinas meant that Spellman wasn’t really the one who was Lucifer’s kid, what’s so special about her? And really, there’s no good reason for her character to die. It doesn’t spur on any meaningful action or change in the world she left behind or any of the characters close to her. If anything, it just forces the show to awkwardly make Nick also die a totally preventable (and offscreen) death, so they can be together forever.
Ongoing mysteries: Wow, SO many. In no particular order: Will Roz end up attending the Academy now because she’s also a witch? WHERE IS ADAM? Why make such a big deal out of his birth if the character won’t matter at all? What even is the deal with Judith and Judas? Again I say: Why introduce these characters only to give them literally zero lines and no relevance to the plot? Are we just supposed to assume that Harvey and Ambrose left Caliban in the Void? Is Lilith queen of hell, or what? If she is, why do we not get a satisfying and loop-closing shot of her sitting on the throne?