Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Two: “The Dark Baptism”
Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
* For a recap & review of Chapter One: “October Country” – click here
* For recap & review of Chapter Three: “The Trial of Sabrina Spellman” – click here
Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) is fielding questions from Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) about her upcoming baptism. He tells her about the “Book of the Beast,” claiming it’s a symbolic gesture. She worries the Dark Lord would have control over her— again, she’s concerned about bodily autonomy, and Satan represents the ultimate patriarchy. She has problems with the “embodiment of evil,” though Blackwood says their Dark Lord embodies “free will.” She doesn’t want to leave Harvey (Ross Lynch) behind. The explanation is it’s an incompatible relationship between witches and humans, given the latter will age far more rapidly and wither away. Sabrina talks about biting into the “mallum malus.” Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) are shocked, though Blackwood insists it’s only a recipe for false predictions.
So, will the young Ms. Spellman take her place in the Church of Night?
In the meantime, Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) brings the witches’ mark on the body downstairs to Blackwood’s attention. Seems the young dead man was unbaptised. Later we see Aunt Hilda’s not as persistent as her sister. She talks about lesser options for women in her day. It’s why she signed her name in the Dark Lord’s book. Today, things aren’t the same for women. While Hilda and her niece talk, she’s spied on by Zelda.
Dudebros at school tear up the WICCA posters. Susie (Lachlan Watson) takes it as her mission to fight them off, only to get slammed to the floor. Of course she’s suspended. Sabrina wants to go to the police, and Susie refuses. She gets the names – “four of Greendale‘s favourite sons” – and goes directly to Mary a..a Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez). She gets advice on “hellfire” and rounding up a few bad bitches to take care of the problem herself if the system won’t work for her.
This sends Sabrina to the forest, where she takes a page from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, looking for the Weird Sisters. Soon, Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), Agatha (Adeline Rudolph), and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen) turn up, believing the witch has called them to get rid of the curse. Of course that’s not the case, and Ms. Spellman tries enlisting them to teach those dickheads a lesson. She lies, saying if they help she won’t go to the academy— except she’s got her fingers crossed, tsk, tsk!
At home in the garden, Zelda cracks Hilda in the head with a hammer, then buries her in the family plot outside. Ambrose is busy taking care of the young stabbing victim, whose parents come to see the body. The young man’s good at magic and his job. He’s trying to get info out of the parents, hoping to determine more about their son’s death. Ambrose finds out for sure the son was a witch when the parents mention a likely familiar in his iguana. We later see Zelda kills Hilda often, and Hilda keeps on coming back in an eternal, brutal fight between sisters.
The four douche football players hang out and drink together, talking about having sex. Cliff Richard sings “Devil Woman” and the lads are surprised by the appearance of the Weird Sisters and Sabrina, suggesting a party down at the mines. They just need “beer and boys” first. It’s the perfect lure for a group of horny dummies. At the mine, also known as the “Devil‘s Doorway,” the dudes get a little freaked out. They follow the girls and things get a bit steamy. Only a hallucination. The guys are actually making out with each other in their underwear. Sabrina gets photos as blackmail to get these jocks to stop abusing women. Prudence and her two sisters frighten the boys further: “A few weeks of impotence might teach them better manners.” The Weird Sisters are surprised Father Blackwood came to visit Sabrina, and they laugh at her ambitions to find freedom in servitude to the Dark Lord. Such is the struggle of being a witch and having to keep on bowing to the patriarchy.
“But I want both— I want freedom and power.”
Halloween’s arrived. It’s Sabrina’s birthday, on the verge of the eclipsing Blood Moon, only around every 66 years. Big event! Aunt Hilda tries reassuring her niece things will go fine. Meanwhile, Zelda’s called her niece into school sick so she can read up on her “Satanic Verses” to be prepared for the evening. It only upsets Sabrina more not to be able to see her friends one last time before going to the Academy of the Unseen Arts. Over at Baxter High, Madam Satan’s curious as to why the young lady isn’t in class.
Question: Is the goat named after the amazing erotic drama Black Narcissus?
Before her baptism, Sabrina goes to party with Harvey at Rosalind’s (Jaz Sinclair) place. Susie is there dressed like Eddie Munster and enjoying herself. Everybody, of course, does the “Monster Mash” and they all have a little cake with the birthday girl, too. Sabrina has to rush off before midnight, as the Blood Moon breaks out above in the sky. She says a final goodbye to her man, then leaves.
On her way, things get spooky. Her dress transforms into solid black and the trees part. A blue flame burns at the entrance of the grove where she was born sixteen years earlier. A coven of witches await her. Her aunts and Blackwood are there. While the ceremony begins, Madam Satan lurks nearby watching. Blackwood quotes a bit of Aleister Crowley: “There is no law beyond do what thou wilt.” Sabrina recites all the necessary lines in response to the High Priest. When that’s finished, she has her hand cut open over Satan’s book, and she signs with her own blood. But what Blackwood says now is not what he said before, denying her the free will he promised. She sees the image of the beast from the tree again. It’s then Sabrina refuses to sign.
She flees into the woods as the others chase her. We get an Evil Dead homage, without the sexual assault, as trees wrap Sabrina up trying to prevent her escape. She does, yet the Church of Night aren’t far behind. Like a feminist twist on the words of John Proctor, we hear Sabrina refuse to sign her name away. She’s aided by her cousin, who casts a circle of protection around their home.
“Welcome, Daughter of Night.”
Madam Satan is calling upon her namesake. But what’s the difference between what she’s doing and what the Church of Night are doing? Is she merely another arm of Satan, like Father Blackwood? Are they on the same side ultimately?
Either way, Sabrina’s struggling at home with a family who doesn’t approve of her choices. She goes back to school like normal, where her and Rosalind are getting WICCA up and running— where Madam Satan’s lurking, spying for the Dark Lord. Not to mention Principal Hawthorne (Bronson Pinchot) is back and being a prick again. He calls Sabrina to his office. He goes into a strange fit, foaming at the mouth, and his eyes bleed. Satan speaks through him, warning of what could happen should she refuse him. The Dark Lord wants what he wants, and given she’s partly human he reminds her: “All mortal flesh must burn.”
Goddamn, this series is better than Father Gore ever expected.
Chapter Three: “The Trial of Sabrina Spellman” is next.