Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Thirty-Two: “The Imp of the Perverse”
Directed by Antonio Negret
Written by Christianne Hedtke
* For a recap & review of Chapter Thirty-One: “The Weird,” click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter Thirty-Three: “Deus Ex Machina,” click here.
The title of this episode is based on an 1845 short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Sabrina’s giving a dry run for her speech to Baxter High. She and Roz are running together for the student council co-presidents. Pretty minor stuff in comparison to her witchy life, yet nonetheless important. Hilda is very supportive while Zelda has plenty of things to say about the “juvenile election.” Meanwhile there are more eldritch terrors on their way that could literally end the world, and Roz is also a Sentinel now, one of three. Speaking of, Roz is telling Harvey the news that she, too, is a witch. She never knew when she told him she wasn’t a witch ages ago. Can’t be easy for Harv, dating another witch. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about Roz, though. Clearly he does.
And has another eldritch terror turned up at the Pilgrims of the Night Church?
At the door comes knocking a salesman (James Urbaniak) of “rare trinkets.” The Trinket Man has many wares, many interesting ones. Faustus picks one up wondering if it’s the Imp of the Perverse, an object that will grant its owner any wish it desires. At the same time, Prudence is tracking her father and she can see what he’s holding, she knows the next eldritch terror has come to Greendale. So she calls out to Mambo and Roz, the other two Sentinels. She can see where her father is now, but won’t allow the other two to see, so she might get to her father and kill him. Before Prudence can do so Faustus tells the imp to “pervert the world” and make him Emperor. Time and space itself has changed.
Emperor Blackwood rules over all. Judith and Judas are growing up in a powerful family, and Prudence serves as a soldier for her father. Baxter High’s certainly changed—it’s now Blackwood High. Sabrina is now Public Enemy No. 1, too. Not exactly safe for her there or anywhere. Thankfully she has magic on her side to change quickly so none of Blackwood’s young Gestapo-like studet soldiers pick her out of the crowd. Even Harvey is one of them. He and Roz are still together, he’s just different. In class, Ms. Wardwell teaches history and why witches are so “bad for the world.” A much more hostile world than before. Also happens to be Emperor Blackwood’s birthday, the day he traditionally comes to visit the school. When he shows up he accuses Robin of being a witch, only for Theo to pick up for Robin and then getting nabbed as the witch. Good lord. Witches are treated like terrorists under Blackwood’s regime. He goes so far as to bring in a terrifying “pet witch” to scare the students. Sabrina and Roz think they’re unaffected like everyone else in this perverted world because they’ve come in contact with an eldritch terror previously, like an occult vaccine.
Up at the Spellman house, Ambrose is packing up the hearse to flee town. The house is full of graffiti. Ambrose denies being a witch and Sabrina tries to snap him out of it, telling him they’re trapped in the Imp’s perverse world. He’s determined to get out of Greendale and nothing seems capable of stopping him. Sabrina and Roz watch him leave, then figure all they can do is head for the Academy of the Dark Arts. Roz thinks she might be able to get to Harvey, bring him back to himself, so this leaves Sabrina going to the academy, where she sees more of the anti-witch graffiti. Sabrina runs into Nick, who doesn’t recognise her at all. When she goes to Zelda’s office she can’t get her aunt to remember her initially. She changes her appearance back to normal and finally Zelda comes to her senses, though worried Public Enemy No. 1 is in the room. She tries one last spell to return her aunt’s memories. And it works.
Grand time for the Emperor to drop by, putting Zelda into crisis mode. He’s asking about art of literature that would violate “state decency laws” and babies. Zelda quickly has her choir sing a song—perfectly chosen, it’s “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from Cabaret. Faustus sees that Nick’s not singing and calls him out. Before things get too tense, Sabrina uses magic to make Scratch sing for the Emperor. At home, Harvey’s being worked on by Roz. She asks why he’s in Blackwood’s army, interrogating him about how he could arrest Theo. She admits being a witch and tells Harvey that Faustus is a warlock. The situation turns ugly when Harvey grabs Roz and threatens to arrest her himself if she says those things again. Oh, man. This is worse than expected. Will she be able to get through to him somehow?
More “degenerate art” and other items have been confiscated from the academy. Not just that, Scratch is being taken away as a witch. Once Faustus and his soldiers have hauled Nick away, Sabrina tells the others she won’t let anything happen to Nick. This enrages Zelda further and she tries to throw her niece out. The teenage witch brings up “Vinegar Tom,” her aunt’s old familiar, a beagle. She tries to use this as a way to break past the trance under which Zelda, and everyone else, has been placed by the Imp’s power. Zelda then tells Sabrina to go to a bookstore on Main Street to request a specific book; there, people may help. Simultaneously, Ambrose is attempting to leave town. As soon as he gets past the town limits he remembers himself. There, he also runs across the Trinket Man and hears about the Imp being stolen. The man offers another interesting trinket: the “sacred Stone of Omphalos.” Might help restore reality. But Ambrose will only have seconds after walking past the border before his mind perverts again. Helpful to have a very fast hobgoblin around, y’know, like Robin. Convenient, no?
At the book store, Sabrina and Roz find Aunt Hilda. She asks her aunt for a book, Häxan (in reference to this film). This actually gets Sabrina and Roz into the backroom where there are a bunch of people called the resistance, including Ms. Wardwell, and even Agatha, who recognises Sabrina. Apparently the perverse spell unwarped Agatha’s mind and she remembers everything. Agatha says it isn’t safe for Sabrina, anywhere. She also says Faustus is wearing the “Mark of Cain” making him immortal. Out of nowhere, Robin whisks Ambrose in so the latter can tell Sabrina how to use the stone. Ambrose tries to tell her everything but gets lost and loses his thoughts, perverted once more. So what to do? Eat the stone, like Kronos. Hilda makes stone soup out of it and it helps the others gain back their memory.
Now’s time for a fight. “Stone soup for everybody!”
A couple of Blackwood’s soldiers come to Dr. Cee’s shop, asking about suspicious activities. They’re going to search the whole place. Harvey finds Roz and the others in the back. He needs someone to take back to Blackwood, so Roz volunteers herself and the others are allowed to stay free. Yikes. At home, Agatha gets caught by Faustus and Prudence who now know she’s conspiring with the resistance; they’ve been watching her for a while. Back at the bookstore, Zelda’s rallying the troops against Faustus and his devious, perverted impulses. She wants Blackwood to die, once and for all.
Birthday celebrations begin with witch executions for Faustus to enjoy. He gives a xenophobic speech about witchcraft, like an occult fuhrer. Prior to the executions there are going to be confessions from a witch, starting by having Nick pressed with stones, just like during the early witch trials in Salem. Scratch is being crushed under stone after stone, refusing to confess a thing. That’s when Sabrina reveals herself to Faustus, and it gives Ambrose a chance to try destroying the Imp. Doesn’t work, though. Faustus has full control of reality itself. This prompts Sabrina to stone him and call him a witch. Now, the coven come together and freeze Faustus in his place, getting help from Harvey and Prudence alike. The real Imp is at Dorian’s in a safe, and it must be wished upon, not destroyed. Robin zips over to get the Imp, and Sabrina tries to use it. The Weird Sisters say it is a “false idol.” Again, doesn’t work. Where’s the real Imp? It’s been hidden within the dog, Anubis. Sabrina’s able to reverse all the perversion Faustus created, bringing him back to the moment where Prudence lunges at him. And she runs him through with a sword.
All’s returned to normal. Or, as normal as things get in Greendale.
Not my favourite episode of the season but it was really good. Just a few messy bits that got a bit much during this warped chapter. Nonetheless, helped drive the story forward in awesome ways, and Faustus finally got what he deserved, preserved in a proper manner. That doesn’t mean the eldritch terrors have stopped. Also doesn’t mean Sabrina’s teenage life stops, and Nick may just be back in her life.