Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Twenty-One: “The Hellbound Heart”
Directed by Rob Seidenglanz
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
* For a recap & review of Chapter Twenty: “The Mephisto Waltz” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Twenty-Two: “Drag Me to Hell” – click here
Sabrina Spellman has entered Hell, hoping to track down her man, Nick Scratch. She finds him encased in stone, like a devilish Han Solo. She uses magic to pull him free. Horrible sounds nearby and getting closer. The beast follows them closely. The couple make it through Hell’s Gates just in time. Or, do they? It’s a nightmare Sabrina’s having, one that ends with her true father, Lucifer Morningstar.
Following the Church of Night’s collapse, and Father Faustus Blackwood’s escape, things have changed. The Academy of Unseen Arts will reopen soon, under directrix Zelda Spellman, mostly because she’s tired of having all the witches under their roof. Once breakfast is over, Zelda, Hilda, and Sabrina speak about things. The niece feels awful for what’s happened to Nick. So she spends her time down at the Gates of Hell, trying to reopen them.
Is it actually “a little early in the season” for ice cream?
Will that sweets truck prove to be sinister? Looks like it.
At school, Sabrina’s friends try to keep her connected to their world. Then there’s the return of Ms. Mary Wardwell, no longer a puppet for Lilith. She’s back to teach Dante Alighieri‘s Divine Comedy, most specifically the book Inferno. Quite an interesting return. Sabrina goes to see Ms. Wardwell after class, prodding lightly about why she’s so interested in Dante suddenly. The teacher’s been having strange dreams. She talks about Dante, as well as Hieronymus Bosch, mentioning the latter’s paintings being described as “windows overlooking the hills of Hell.” This sparks the young witch’s mind. She rushes off to see Dorian Gray, inquiring whether he has any paintings of Hell that might work as “a portal.” He has one, but requires a favour of her. He tells her of the single flower which grows in Hell: la fleur du mal (a far-too-expository reference to Charles Baudelaire‘s work Les Fleurs du mal a.k.a The Flowers of Evil). He wants it.
Awesome to see Harvey, Roz, and Theo rocking out as a band. They’re interrupted when Sabrina lets them know Operation Hand Basket is ready to go. Looks like the gang’s going to Hell. Just as a note, the title of the episode— “The Hellbound Heart”— is a reference to Clive Barker’s novella of the same name which was the basis for the film Hellraiser.
Things are different for Zelda since shit with the Dark Lord hit the fan. She’s unsure whether they ought to be praying to him, after everything that’s gone on. She doesn’t especially want to start praying to Lilith, either. A bit of a conundrum. Things in the Church of Night will change, because they simply must.
Sabrina uses a few paraphrased lines from Dante’s Inferno to open a portal. She and the gang come to at the Shores of Sorrow. All around them are the sounds of the damned, drowning while the tide comes in for eternity. They’re searching for Pandaemonium, the capital of Hell— an homage to John Milton‘s Paradise Lost. A man at the shore tells Sabrina to follow the “blood red road” to the Throne of Hell.
Down in New Orleans, Faustus has finally been found by Prudence and Ambrose. Once Prudence stabs him in the gut it’s revealed to be just one of his henchmen wearing “a glamour” to throw his would-be assassins off the trail. Better luck next time. The young witches consider they might need a different style of magic to out-trick Faustus, something he never taught them. Like hoodoo. Mambo Marie helps them with blood magic, to reveal Blackwood’s off to the British Isles. Back home, Hilda’s putting on her own glamour to make herself appear like Faustus, too. Sneaky sneak.
Along the road in Hell, Theo sees their Uncle Jesse crucified on a tree. They go against the advice of the man at the beach, straying off the trail. Sabrina puts a spell of protection over Jesse. Before they can save him they’ve got to make to Pandaemonium. On from there is the Forest of Torment, where the trees crack and wail. The gang split in two seeking the sacred Flower of Evil. Sabrina and Roz find it. They have to be careful, or else be pricked by the thorns and fall asleep forever, like perpetual Sleeping Beauty. In another part of the forest, Harvey and Theo stumble onto a terrifying Tinman, fitting perfectly with an already dark Wizard of Oz-like feel to this opening episode of Part 3. The Tinman appears as Harvey’s brother, attacking until the gang puts him down.
“All blood flows to Pandaemonium”
The gang come to a supremely creepy place through a door marked Baxter High. It’s a dark, disturbing version of their school, including a monstrous Principal Hawthorne looking like a bloated corpse. Hawthorne’s planned an appropriately nasty lesson, dredging up Roz’s grandmother to help with his “anatomy lesson.” Although the gang are let go due to the Queen of Hell having different, more sinister plans for them.
Fake Faustus and Zelda sit down with members of the Council. Hilda’s not a great improviser, bless her heart. She manages to manipulate Faustus well and keep the old Council members unaware. The sisters get an idea of what to do next, in spite of not totally being on the same page. Zelda feels it’s time to the tell the truth about the Dark Lord. So, she and the Church of Night pray to Madame Satan this time instead.
Speaking of the Queen, she comes face to face with Sabrina again once the gang are taken to Pandaemonium. She taunts the witch with her “flesh acheron,” Mr. Scratch. Poor Nick’s stuck wrestling himself inside his head. At a table of rotting food, Madame Satan and Sabrina chat about a deal. The Queen mentions the Infernal Kings not recognising her rule, on account of her not being a Morningstar. She plans on using Sabrina to crown her for the kings as a public display.
When the Infernal Kings arrive they quickly denounce Lilith as “Satan‘s whore” and pronounce their wish for Caliban (Sam Corlett), Prince of Hell, to reign. Caliban wishes to “enslave the tribes of mortal and witch” and make Earth the 10th Circle of Hell— again, Dante references. When Sabrina gets a talking to from dad, Lucifer drops a line from Hellraiser II (“Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell!“) and works on pushing his daughter to take the throne. Yet Scratch begs her not to do it.
So, what does Sabrina do? She decides to be Queen of Hell, but she opts to make Lilith her regent. This is challenged by Caliban. He thinks that, since Sabrina’s half mortal, then the divine right of kings doesn’t apply to her. For him to do this officially he needs the right amount of signatures. At the moment, he can’t do shit. Long live the Queen of Hell! You can be sure there’ll be fallout. Sabrina and the gang can enjoy the good times while they last. At least they were able to bring Nick back with them, even if he does have Lucifer trapped inside him.
What about Lucifer’s mention of “the Old Ones” coming to town?
A Lovecraftian universe has already been hinted at previously when ole Harve was seeking a better life at art school in Providence. Is Cthulhu going to show up?
A fantastic opener to Part 3 of the series!
Father Gore’s been in love since day one, but it gets better and better all the time. So many wonderful horror and poetry references in this episode, from big homage to Barker to Dante, Milton, and Baudelaire. Great, clever writing, plus lots of camp.
Chapter Twenty-Two: “Drag Me to Hell” is next.