Welcome one and all to Multiversity’s very own ‘Witching Hour,’ in which we take a look at Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Join me every Wednesday for a recap of the first season. “Chapter One” ended with the Spellman’s entertaining a mysterious gentleman who will have a major impact on Sabrina’s life moving forward. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
1. Enter Father Blackwood.
As it turns out, the mysterious guy we’re introduced to at the end of “Chapter One” is the High Priest of the Spellman’s dark religion’s Church of Night and Dean at
The School of Witchcraft and Wizardry The Academy of Unseen Arts. Oh, and he’s also “The Dark Lord’s” emissary in the mortal world. Portrayed by Richard Coyle (Born to Kill), Faustus Blackwood comes off as somewhat charming, though it’s clear that there’s something shady going on. The way he grips his cane is a little unnerving, his hand looks like it’s ready to choke a pigeon. Due to some of Sabrina’s doubts, Blackwood has personally come to reassure Sabrina that she’s doing the right thing by devoting herself to the Church of Night and The Dark Lord, but it’s clear he’s the one who needs reassurance. He talks highly of his school, and assures Sabrina that their religion is beyond mortal concepts of “good and evil,” after she asks him if the Devil is the literal embodiment of evil. Once Blackwood convinces himself that Sabrina will join the Church of Night, he takes his leave, resting assured she will make the right choice.
I mentioned last week that the show focuses on the dichotomy between Sabrina’s life in the mortal world and her life as a Witch. Spoken like a true politician, Blackwood basically tells Sabrina that she can have her cake and eat it too. We’ll come to see that this really isn’t the case.
2. Bullies Suck.
One of the central themes The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina delves into is bullying. We’ve seen many instances of bullying in the show, thus far, including Zelda bullying Hilda, (She kills her and buries her in the yard in this episode!) as well as the bullying Susie endures from the high school jocks. One of Sabrina’s reasons for wanting to put off her Dark Baptism is that she wants to keep her friends safe from the bullies at their school. Sabrina will not tolerate bullies and she makes that clear in this episode. Sabrina first attempted her anti-bullying campaign with W.I.C.C.A. in the first episode, but four football players, clearly don’t give a shit and tear one of their posters down. When Susie calls them out for it, standing up for herself in a real vulnerable way, she ends up with a black eye AND a suspension. While Susie wouldn’t tattle in episode one, Sabrina begs her to give her the boys’ names.
Sabrina’s not afraid of her own bullies, including the trio of witches who cursed her, her Aunt Zelda, Father Blackwood, the entire Church of Night, though by the end of the episode, The Dark Lord himself manages to put some fear into her. Sabrina confronts the three “Weird Sisters” and forms a pact with them, to ensure Susie’s bullies won’t bother her again. When asked if she summoned them to remove the curse, Sabrina brushes it off. She pretty much tells the trio that their curse was no more than some parlor trick that her Aunt Hilda easily remedied. She wants their help for something devious, and to pull it off, Ms. Wardwell suggests that she finds “the baddest bitches” she knows, and iterates that sometimes you have to fight fire with “hellfire.”
3. She’s Just A Devil Woman
In “Chapter One” Ambrose calls Sabrina out for enjoying the little curse they put on Principal Hawthorne. Despite her sweet and friendly disposition, Sabrina enjoys the power that comes with her magical blood. She revels in it, and it’s fully on display in this episode as she and the trio of weird witches join her to reap some retribution for Susie’s harassment. What follows is one of the darker parts of the show so far as Sabrina and the “Weird Sisters” seductively lead the group of football players to the Greendale mines, which according to local lore, are a gateway to Hell itself. The teenage boys act as stereotypical teenage boys do, as the four witches create the illusion of getting intimate with them. Once the illusion is lifted Sabrina takes some Polaroids of these half naked jocks in their compromising position to use as blackmail, to ensure Susie and other girls aren’t subjected to their harassment again.Continued below
Then shit gets wild. Unaware that the sisters had more devilish plans for the would be bullies, the mine goes pitch black and we see the true nature of the Weird Sisters. They’re terrifying ghouls that fly around the boys performing dark magic that Sabrina would have liked to been in on. As a result of their magic, the boys are now impotent, with their “boyhood” trapped in cages as chickens. The tongue in cheek line “They wont be rising to the occasion anytime soon” is a little on the nose, but overall the scene is effective in showing how devious some of these dark arts really are.
This scene really sticks out to me, again because of the aesthetic of it all. While the Weird Sisters are clad all in black, Sabrina shines in scarlet, standing out from the crowd. It’s a wonderful way of letting the audience know that Sabrina, despite making a pact with these witches, isn’t one of them.
4. Monster Mash
Before her Dark Baptism, Ambrose tells her that her attachment to the mortal world will fade once she’s signed her name in the devil’s book. Regardless of what Blackwood told her, Ambrose explains that the pain of watching those she cares so deeply about grow old and die while she lives forever will slowly take its toll. So Sabrina ignores Zelda’s instructions and goes to spend one more night with her friends and they live it up at a Halloween party that turns into a birthday celebration for Sabrina. As the students of Greendale High School celebrate, Sabrina dances with Harvey one last time. This scene is fun, reminding us why Sabrina is so reluctant. She fondly kisses Harvey and tells him she’ll always love him before running off into the blood-moonlit forest.
5. The Dark Baptism
Sabrina’s anything but conventional, so it only makes sense that she’s late for the most important moment of her life. As she enters the woods where her her congregation has gathered, her white gown magically turns black, despite what Hilda told her about the “old days.”
Sabrina, hesitant, walks to the altar, disrobes and is blessed with human blood starts to make her vow, as Zelda looks on proudly and Hilda looks on cautiously. As Lord Blackwood starts performing the ritual he asks Sabrina for her devotion to the Dark Lord, for her complete obedeience. This isn’t exactly what she signed up for, as Blackwood made it seem like she would have her free will, that their religion is all about free will. Nope. She sees visions of her parents, of a ram like creature who can only be the Dark Lord. Her parents tell her to run, and so she does.
A literal witch Hunt begins and if not for Ambrose’s bold faced lie about magical wards on the Spellman household, Sabrina may ajve been forced to sign the book. This is a big moment as she exclaims “My name is Sabrina Spellman and I will not sign it away!”
Sabrina wants the power that comes with being a witch, but she also wants her freedom, to which Prudence, the meanest Weird Sister, replies that the Dark Lord would never allow that. And we see this when the Dark Lord himself reveals himself to Sabrina as a possessed Principal Hawthorne. We’re left with Sabrina, looking terrified, telling the Dark Lord that she’ll fight his influence, but it really doesn’t sound too convincing. The last shot shows Sabrina with tears in her eyes. Oh. did I mention that Ms. Wardwell was kissing that Devil-Ram’s feet… So yeah, that’s definitely our main baddie.
Thanks for tuning in folks. Be sure to check in next week as Sabrina learns some lessons in Witch Law.