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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina gets stuck in a time loop, but emerges mostly unscathed

Illustration for article titled iChilling Adventures of Sabrina/i gets stuck in a time loop, but emerges mostly unscathed
Image: Diyah Pera/Netflix
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The problem with introducing an entire new faction of people in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina universe is that there are already so many competing motivations among the various characters we’ve gotten to know. Within the coven, people want different things. Within Hell, people (er, beings?) want different things. And Lucifer is celebrating his newfound freedom by romping around and pranking people. Separate from all of that, the pagans now have a series of goals that have nothing to do with internecine warfare among the Satanists.


It’s a lot of differing sides to keep track of, and a lot of dot connecting to make everyone’s actions make sense. Why did the pagans make this agreement with the Satanists to begin with? If their goal all along was to use them as blood sacrifices, why give them three days to martial their strength and come up with a defense? Their maneuvering here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. They have a historic enemy who they loathe, who they can wipe out at any time thanks to their superior strength, and whose sacrifice is useful for their purposes. And instead they offer a three day window to think things over, and midway through they make clear that their entire bargain is worthless. If this show was set from the perspective of the pagans rather than Sabrina and co., would this strategy hold together more? Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to leave the answer of what they’re up to more ambiguous so that there’s a greater chance the witches join them?


And Caliban’s choices are also a little baffling. If he really has been just waiting around for 2,000 years for all of this to come up again…wouldn’t he have changed history and, for instance, not gotten stuck in a time loop? Or taken some kind of action to prevent Sabrina from taking the throne to start with? Letting everything happen the same way again suggests he’s experienced no personal growth whatsoever over two millennia.

Nick and Sabrina’s breakup, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense, and feels pretty earned. Sabrina has demonstrated a steadfast refusal to grapple with the possibility that Nick’s imprisonment has changed him. One of the aspects of Sabrina that has remained consistent throughout the show is her absolute faith that things should be the way she wants them to be. It’s a frustrating character trait! But a believable one, all things considered—she wouldn’t be where she is now without that unshakeable faith in herself, as wrongheaded as it is from time to time. Of course Nick needs to get out for a while, and Sabrina’s willingness to let him blame himself for what’s happening between them is simply another sign of why this relationship isn’t working. Sure, it was cruel of him to say that she wasn’t worth his sacrifice…but as a concept it doesn’t inherently make him weak or wrong. And imprisoning him and forcing him to go through a cleansing ritual is a bizarre action to take in light of him having some substance abuse issues. Sabrina and Ambrose don’t actually know that he’s being poisoned by Lucifer’s residue at the beginning of the process, but neither of them questions whether he should be given the chance to consent to this treatment.


Equally frustrating, but very much in character, is Sabrina and Zelda both ignoring Hilda’s efforts to point out that something is wrong with her. Zelda may be the one we’re used to neglecting Hilda, but Sabrina sees Hilda in clear distress, hears her say that something is wrong with her, and then doesn’t do anything about it. They’re under constant attack! It’s only because the problem is happening to Hilda that they don’t bother to look into it more. And now, of course, her affliction is worsening because no one is taking the time to help her. She’s the show’s most consistently thoughtful character, and in return, of course, people take her for granted.

The biggest question mark by the end, however, is what Lucifer is going to do next. His enemies are growing in strength, and he’s been using his newfound freedom to toy with all the people who were mean to him. But now that everyone’s figured out that he’s free to wreak havoc, it stands to reason that he’ll make his power play. Will he want the throne back from his daughter? He was the one who encouraged her to take it in the first place, but circumstances have changed.


Stray observations

  • Can Melvin please have something to do besides run into rooms and tell people what’s going on? Even Zelda is getting tired of it.
  • Caliban accuses Sabrina of cheating, but I’m not totally sure I follow? It’s possible he’s just trying to drum up opposition to her, but it’s hard to see what she did that was unsavory, other than leaving him behind.
  • I will require an explanation of how Harvey got those pigs in his truck while avoiding the evil pagans.
  • Speaking of, the depiction of the pagans as dark people with unplaceable accents is a little iffy. They’re playing on the stereotype of gypsies, but without adding much commentary to it.
  • Is Hilda’s spider cheek an homage to the same thing happening in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?
  • We’re now back to saving Nick as the reason for Sabrina taking the throne. Would love to see her sit down and try and work out for herself why she did it!
  • This all obscures the main point, which is that everyone should be trying to protect Lilith now.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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