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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina fights a monster from the watery deeps in a Lovecraftian homage

Illustration for article titled iChilling Adventures Of Sabrina/i fights a monster from the watery deeps in a Lovecraftian homage
Image: Diyah Pera/Netflix
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Pour one out for the wax guy: We’re never going to get to learn what a candle boyfriend looks like now.

Yes, after yet another effort to expand her dating prospects, Sabrina announces she’s ready to get to know herself instead, an incredibly important thing to tell people when you want them to stop asking you things like “when are you going to get back out there again” or encouraging you to date your lab partner, Roz. It’s an understandable choice after her latest date gets entangled in the gang’s efforts to defeat the eldritch terrors. This episode’s beastie? A squid thingy. This one’s big plan is to use Sabrina’s body and therefore powers to bend everyone to its will. The show even pulls off a bit of a bait and switch about this particular menace. For one thing, Lucas seems like he’s going to be the method by which the Weird gets transmitted to Sabrina, but then he’s actually just a regular if extremely unlucky boy who wisely gets the heck out of town by the end of the episode. But also, it seems at first like Sabrina and Ambrose have successfully sucked the Weird out of her, which would make it an unusually easy to defeat eldritch terror. It’s almost a relief when it pops up again in biology class, firmly attached to Sabrina’s brain. As it turns out, a somewhat similar method can be used to detach it from there—it just involves asking another of the coven’s weirder members to step in and help out to suck it out of her brain, which Sabrina does with the aid of the worst song from the Sound of Music. There is no song more condescending than “16 going on 17.” Rolf should have been dumped on the spot.

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But the Weird is ultimately dispatched relatively easily, and without even involving most of the coven. Three episodes into this, and it’s getting complicated to take this group of monsters more seriously than previous ones, as they’re all defeated with relative ease, at least as compared to prior nemeses. When Ambrose never even has to send up the auntie SOS, it hardly seems like this is an apocalyptic terror.

It’s also not totally clear what Father Blackwood hopes to accomplish here. Granted, it’s early in the season to understand his full motivations, but if the Weird was going to mind control everyone in town, what does that get him? Why is he making a very half-assed effort to start a church, right next to where Hilda hangs out all the time? If he’s trying to fly under the radar, he’s not doing a very good job of it. The show certainly can’t spend all its time with him, but it’s starting to feel like we check in with him for two minutes every episode just for him to smile menacingly. It’s not moving a narrative forward about what he’s trying to do, or why his limited followers stick with him.

But at least his former allies are moving up in the world. After Caliban abruptly proves that in fact he’s still evil, Lilith escapes to the mortal realm and joins up with Zelda and the gang, which frankly seems like a better place to be. And it ensures that we’ll get plenty of Lilith side eye about things, although it’s getting harder to figure out what Mary is doing. If she was freaked out by demonic presences in her life, why is she joining a terrifying church? Why does Blackwood need her?


Stay observations

  • Didn’t Caliban already learn all about the witches’ interest in Hecate in the prior episode when Sabrina Spellman explained her family religion to him? Why does it seem to be news to him that the coven was protected by Hecate?
  • Also, does Hell really not have a single midwife? All those Hell critters were born somehow, no? One of Sabrina Morningstar’s reforms should be better healthcare for everyone.
  • Could the show give us a bit more context for what “weird” means in their universe? This episode has both a hideous tentacled monster called that and a group of witches.
  • I do not watch Riverdale but I hope that actor does pop up on it now.
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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