Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Nine: “The Returned Man”
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Axelle Carolyn & Christina Ham
* For a recap & review of Chapter Eight, “The Burial” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Ten, “The Witching Hour” – click here
At the Kinkle door comes a knock. Harvey (Ross Lynch) finds Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) there, letting her know Tommy’s (Justin Dobies) back. Great reference to Greendale’s doctor, “Doc Phibes,” a fantastic nod to the Vincent Price flick The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Despite the brother being alive, he isn’t doing so well. There’s… trauma.
Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) is preparing for his first day at the Academy of the Unseen Arts, after Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) decided to help him. Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Father Blackwood are enjoying “agony and ecstasy” during their Satanic confessions. He laments not having a “liberated” wife into polygamy, y’know, like back in the day! He also asks if Zelda will be an “unholy godmother” to his coming twins, doubting Lady Constance’s (Alvina August) abilities as a mother. Constance is shitty, but Faustus is one nasty misogynist.
The dead returning to life isn’t good. Not only is Ambrose worried about what Sabrina has done there’s also Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) “vomiting up dirt.” Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) astral projects to Sabrina, discussing their shared troubles. He sows seeds of doubt in his witch friend about her relationship with a mortal. Sabrina worries for Harvey, sending a reluctant Salem to watch over him.
Harvey shows Tommy pictures from their past, to help with whatever’s going on with him. The older brother scratches at his reflection in a mirror, then scratches at one of his high school football pictures. The mortuary receives word of the miners’ bodies coming, making Sabrina and Ambrose curious about what’s next.
Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) already knows the “curtain between worlds” has been pulled back to allow a resurrection, having spied on the ceremony. She catches Ms. Spellman in her office, searching for the “Book of the Dead.” After that, Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and others hear about Tommy still being alive. She then tells her friend about a dream she had— in a snowy forest, where dogs were tearing Tommy apart. Because of her previous vision, Roz’s Cunning might mean more than a nightmare.
At the academy, Father Blackwood presents Ambrose with a familiar— Leviathan, a mouse. Later, Ambrose gets a visit from Nick and Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) about Agatha. They want him to help. Ambrose goes to Aunt Hilda (Lucy Davis), seeing as how she’s been brought back in the “Cain pit” a bunch.
In Cerberus Brooks, Susie (Lachlan Watson) is accosted by jocks before Hilda stops things. The witchy aunt uses her powers to drive them off. At home, Susie talks to ancestor Dorothea. This is when the friend discovers the truth about the Spellmans. That same day, Hilda’s put in contact with the Weird Sisters, advising them how to bring their other sister back to good health. She advises Ambrose the earth’s “owed a soul.”
Sabrina and Roz go see Harvey’s brother, and the latter holds hands with Tommy, trying to use her powers. She sees a scary figure— like a dead witch with a noose around her neck. She also heard a child crying somewhere in the distance. When Sabrina gets home she’s confronted by Hilda about what she’s done. She says Tommy’s in Limbo. Yet there’s “mortal Limbo” and a witch Limbo. Hilda advises her niece crossing over there could be dangerous. After Agatha turns up looking horrific, Faustus and Zelda also find out the truth. Not. Good. Although there’s nastier things afoot, such as the miners’ bodies having human teeth marks on them, and Ambrose thinks they belong to Tommy— explaining the brother’s lack of hunger.
The Kinkles are fittingly watching I Walked With a Zombie. Sabrina also arrives with a jar of liquid, probably another Spellman family cure-all. She sees what she’s done has only caused worse hurt, more questions without answers. Magic doesn’t necessarily fix everything.
Zelda rages at her niece for stepping outside her abilities. She gets a mouthful back, as Sabrina refuses to give up on her quest to help Harvey and his brother. Ultimately, both her aunts realise their niece won’t stop, and resign themselves to letting her learn the hard way on her own. This prompts the young witch to go to fake Ms. Wardwell for help, when no one else will stand by her side. Madam Satan warns of all the risks inherent in crossing over to Limbo, then agrees to help Ms. Spellman to pass the threshold.
Great stuff in the past few episodes about the Church of Night as a parallel to actual religion(s). Zelda’s busy falling into extremism, flagellating herself alone in her room, while Hilda, despite hanging onto some beliefs, has returned somewhat to a secular world.
“Everything has a price”
Sabrina goes into Limbo, where she stumbles onto her own mother, Diana (Annette Reilly), who says her baby was taken after baptism. No time for reunions once the “Soul Eater” comes. Sabrina finds Tommy in the fog. She manages to find the portal, escaping back to the world. Except the Soul Eater grabs Tommy, and the brother’s gone forever. Madam Satan says there’s one last way to fix things: tell Harvey the truth. This is the Dark Lord’s attempt to break the young witch away from her mortal world.
Alone together, Sabrina admits to Harvey she’s a witch. He remembers being told this previously, so she tells him she wiped his memory. She tells him of his family’s history as “witch hunters.” She further explains what happened with Tommy. Harvey finds it tough to swallow, though he only wants what’s best now for his brother. He wants to be the one to put an end to Tommy. He also feels differently about his girlfriend after her revelations. At the mortuary, Zelda is there to comfort her niece in her time of tragedy.
Excellent episode! Emotions are running high. So many amazing characters in one series, which is a spectacular feat of writing. In general, the writing on this show has been stellar from top to bottom. The finale’s poised to be fantastic, so buckle up. Chapter Ten: “The Witching Hour” is next and last.