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Turns out running hell with Sabrina is just as challenging as you might expect

Illustration for article titled Turns out running hell with iSabrina/i is just as challenging as you might expect
Image: Diyah Perah, Netflix
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If there’s one thing this season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has proved, Lilith gets to have a lot more fun when she’s on the same side as Sabrina than when she’s trying to undermine her.

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The duo is hard at work ruling hell together…ish. Sabrina continues to be a bit of a dilettante about the whole thing, so it’s gratifying to see Lilith put her foot down about referring to the place as “our” kingdom. One of them has to entertain a group of gross, rude kings indefinitely, and the other one is taking part in Run DMC cheerleading routines. At some point, Lilith is going to start wondering if it’s worth it to work with Sabrina if she has to keep rescuing her out of ice cream freezers.

Sabrina’s impulsivity comes into play again this episode, with her abrupt decision to send Robert Robertson to heaven instead of hell having immediate repercussions for Lilith. It was hard not to wonder if there would be some turnaround with him—Sabrina so easily accepts his brief description of what he sold his soul for that it seemed plausible that we’d find out he’d used his chess winnings for ill-gotten gains or something. But instead her two soul dragging options fall into easy categories, with one being a gentle old man who thought Hell was worth some glory years in the chess world, and the other being a serial killer. At some point, Sabrina is presumably going to have to make harder choices than this. If The Good Place has taught us anything, it’s that most people contain multitudes of good choices and bad ones.

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But in the meantime, Sabrina not only arbitrarily changes Lucifer’s soul contracts, but decides it’s time for a reformation in hell. The show’s choice of that word seems awfully intentional. We all remember how that went, right? The Catholic Church peacefully allowed a reformation to happen and then there were no additional issues. She hasn’t started nailing up any theses yet, but it seems more than likely that 1) she’s going to find a lot she wants to change and 2) she’s going to have to spend a lot more time in hell to figure it out. Now that the show has dispatched with the bad leadership in hell, it’s going to be interesting if Sabrina finds a lot more to like about it. The positive aspects of her witch nature have tended to be tied to the spells she can do in the mortal world and her relationship with her aunts, but if all three of them can create a church and a hell that suits them better, the two sides of her nature are going to be a lot closer together.

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Speaking of her aunts, keeping them out of the loop about Nick proves to be a bad choice, as Satan immediately wreaks havoc on their efforts to run the Academy once he realizes they’re praying to Lilith instead of him. Given how quickly they solve Sabrina’s little soul capsule issue for her, it’s hard to see why she would ever hide things from them. They’re pretty capable people!

So are Ambrose and Prudence, as it turns out, since they actually manage to find and capture Faustus, who has apparently been hiding in a Scottish time bubble for 15 years without a pair of scissors or a change of clothes. He’s been busy either resurrecting some kind of ancient evil, or trying very hard to prevent the resurrection of an ancient evil. The good news is, he’s now trapped with Lucifer to do some plotting together.

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Illustration for article titled Turns out running hell with iSabrina/i is just as challenging as you might expect
Image: Diyah Perah, Netflix

If there’s an issue in all of this so far, it’s that the show has been resolving its conflict too speedily. The last finale suggested there was a serious sacrifice involved in Nick getting trapped in hell, but two episodes in, he’s fine and free (if allergic to shirts) after only a month. And the danger of the freezer trap is so brief that there’s almost no tension to it. Lilith shows up to retrieve Sabrina so quickly she’s barely in danger due to a just-revealed psychic trail. Will this happen any time she gets into a scrape? Even the disappearance of Faustus feels a little too quickly resolved. There’s barely any time spent with Ambrose and Prudence on the road before they’re back in the fold.

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It does get the gang back together to face off a new villain, but it would be nice to see the show let its challenges breathe for a while. Sabrina’s tendency to get her own way can reflect her tenacity, but sometimes it seems like it’s also reflecting the show pulling obstacles out of her way.

Stray observations

  • Okay, will Sabrina interrupt band practice every episode? Will her friends ever complain?
  • Why does Harvey announce to everyone that he’s driving if he’s the only one with a license? Who else is going to drive?
  • “Would any of them have ever called Faustus a bitch? No.” “No.” “And he was a little bitch.” “He was a bit of a bitch, wasn’t he?”
  • Slightly concerned that the gang’s big body snatching plan was supposed to take place in the middle of the day around people before it gets derailed.
  • Did everyone else appreciate that Prudence and Ambrose took the time to get tartan outfits for their visit to Scotland?
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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