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Sabrina shows off some new battle skills and a bit of immortality

Illustration for article titled Sabrina shows off some new battle skills and a bit of immortality
Photo: Diyah Perah, Netflix
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Seventeen episodes in, we’re finally getting a glimpse of why Sabrina seems to be such a valuable person to Satan. And no, it’s not her noble heart.

After a long period of time where it seemed like she was fairly vulnerable, a witch of no extraordinary talents (if rather unusual willpower), the show finally went with a big reveal: She’s the Dark Lord’s sword. Do we know what that means? No, we do not. But having seen her struggle somewhere in between the mortal world and the hellish one, uncertain where she belongs and what reflects her true nature, this is a pretty big confirmation that she has a role to play in Satan’s plans. 


It comes after she expresses a great deal of uncertainty about whether or not the Church is the right place for her. This episode was a bit of a journey—it seemed like it was going to be about saving Ambrose’s life, and it was, but as it turns out, Father Blackwood is not the biggest threat facing him. Instead, a trio of witch hunters appear to wreak havoc. They’re surprisingly effective for a group of teens, until it’s revealed that they’re angels, and that’s why ordinary spellwork doesn’t do anything to them. It’s the first time the show has suggested that Lucifer Morningstar’s followers face an opposing magical force. And while the Dark Lord doesn’t exactly seem to be the good guy in any of this, the opposition doesn’t seem very nice either. The angels torture, maim, and kill, always with the promise, never fulfilled, that the witches and warlocks can earn their salvation. Sabrina doesn’t get too far down that path before Roz warns her off, but when Melvin tries, it doesn’t work.

Given the battle breaking out among these various factions, the show is increasingly suggesting a world in which power is what matters, not purity of cause. The Weird Sisters are the most powerful creatures, until they’re not, and then the angels are the most powerful creatures, and then Sabrina is. And when her powers are finally revealed, she’s a pretty startling figure. As Jerathmiel points out, she looks something like Saint Sebastian, seeing as she’s full of arrows. But the opaque white eyes seems to be more of a Sabrina special. It all looks pretty terrifying to Harvey, who has finally started to come around to trusting Sabrina again.

She otherwise has a pretty bumpy ride with the mortals. Roz, depressed and angry after her sudden blinding, lashes out at Sabrina, who hasn’t been there for her. It’s bad enough that she wonders if Sabrina has cursed her. We know she hasn’t, but for an unhappy person who experienced an unusually coincidental malady around magical creatures, it’s not that much of a stretch, and it’s not like there isn’t precedent for Sabrina’s powers going awry, as Harvey points out. That the comfort charm helps Roz save Sabrina suggests these two have a more benevolent bond than either of them might have predicted, given their respective family histories.

Two mysteries are also resolved in relatively straightforward ways. Luke was indeed killed, and Adam was just an ordinary nice man who loved Mary. That got Adam about as far in this life as being nice got the real Mary. And now there’s a very angry, vengeful Wardwell left. There doesn’t seem to be much question of her supporting Satan anymore, and since we already know how much she resents Sabrina, figuring out who she thinks Satan loves doesn’t seem to be that much of a mystery. But she also doesn’t know yet about Sabrina’s whole glowy-eyed levitating act, so it may be that that particular face-off is going to get a lot more competitive. 


And somehow all of this happened while Father Blackwood was out of town. He’s going to come back to a very changed world. Can he even trust that his followers will listen to him anymore? Sabrina has given them very vivid reason to think she’s now the most powerful figure in their church, and it’s distinctly possible that his efforts to control the Spellman family just got a lot more difficult.

This episode had almost a finale-ish feel to it, between all the big reveals and near-deaths. Some parts of it worked better than others—the battle with the angels is very sudden, which makes it a little harder to invest fully in them as a foe. And the buildup to the reveal of Sabrina’s powers involves her, yet again, barging into a conflict with little to no plan. Still, it’s an ambitious, risk-taking episode, and it’s exciting to see the show kick in a little extra momentum. 


Stray observations

  • I didn’t spend that much time on Wardwell’s misadventures this episode, because Sabrina’s powers seemed like a higher priority, but wow, that had a bleaker outcome than I expected.
  • Did Hilda summon that powerful group of beings in her nightgown? I’m no expert, but maybe it would have gone better if she’d been more prepared to host.
  • I see this show takes pace in that mysterious era when people had cellphones but also used tape decks to listen to audio. I feel like all the young actors on this show were like, what is that?
  • Hilda says she’s the only mum Ambrose has ever known. At some point it would be really nice if they could explain more about his background?
  • “Sorry, Sabrina. I was a dick before.” Nick is a real wordsmith.
  • Speaking of Hilda, she’s really learning to roll with the whole incubus thing.
  • Really enjoyed the shot of Salem escaping with Sabrina.

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

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