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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina goes out in a wild blaze of overplotting

Illustration for article titled Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina goes out in a wild blaze of overplotting
Image: Netflix

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina has always been a show that struggled to be about something while still churning through vast acres of plot. And while this season occasionally spent time with Sabrina struggling to figure out who she was after a bad breakup, the finale goes out in a wild blaze of plot, as her various loved ones battle to save her and stop the Void.

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They’re ultimately successful at stopping the Void, but Sabrina herself isn’t saved, thus ending the show on a surprisingly down note for a series that was often explicitly about darkness but rarely completely despairing. It’s a blur of events, considering the episode begins with Sabrina making out with her boyfriend among friends while watching a scary movie. In short order, Sabrina Morningstar reappears through a mirror with just enough life left in her to warn Sabrina Spellman about the Void before she perishes. This event then kicks off a series of speeding train events that keep dropping characters by the wayside with little in the way of a farewell. The trinket man returns to get the Imp of the Perverse, trading it for Pandora’s Box, at which point Sabrina comes up with a reckless plan on her own to stop the Void. Her family, unsurprisingly, tries to yank her back into reality, whereupon they store her spirit in Morningstar’s body, even though it would seem that whatever killed her would have damaged that body. Lilith overhears that Morningstar is dead and rushes off to tell Lucifer, who tries to storm the Spellman house with Caliban and some possessed miners, all of whom end up getting sucked into the Void. And then Lilith stabs Lucifer, drinks his celestial blood, and kicks him out of Hell. That’s it for Lucifer, once the show’s greatest villain, and it’s also more or less the last of Lilith, who pops up to attend Sabrina’s funeral but otherwise isn’t an actor in anything that happens. What happened to her baby? Was she actually upset about it? Was this all just a long game to take over Hell, or is the idea that she’s just enough of an opportunist to forget everything else and seize her moment now that it’s here?

Doesn’t matter! Now we’re onto the Void problem, namely that it is now stuck in Sabrina and she keeps accidentally voiding people. Father Blackwood tells her he can help, and two weeks later, when Prudence, Roz, Agatha, and Ambrose show up to rescue her, the main result is that Roz and Prudence get sucked into the void. But Sabrina manages to communicate to Ambrose how to actually defeat the Void, which involves Nick going into the void with Pandora’s Box (which in a separate, off-camera development, he has picked up along with Spellman’s body in space while wearing a tentacle on his face, naturally) while Harvey and Ambrose yank out all the trapped people. Hecate is summoned to watch over her during this process, but it’s not enough to save her, and after everyone is successfully de-Voided, she dies. Both Sabrinas are buried outside the Spellman mansion, then some amount of time later, Nick also dies, thus joining Sabrina in a place that looks an awful lot like heaven.

It is so very much plot. And with so very few meaningful character moments along the way. Even if this were just a season finale instead of a series finale, it would be a wild way to end the season, with little emotional payoff for a lot of what was set up over the course of the season. Sabrina doesn’t even get any kind of resolution to her earlier soul searching about who she wanted to be, whether in this world or a different one. Father Blackwood’s big plan for the eldritch terrors was to have power over the Void himself, even though it seems very hard to control, with little in the way of active powers. And now there’s a new religion going in his name started by Mary Wardwell. If you had a favorite character on this show, they probably did not get much of a sendoff. And despite the fact that this episode was more than an hour long, we still didn’t get to see a lot of things. Why send characters as major as Prudence and Roz into the Void and then not follow them there? Why then send Ambrose, Harvey, and Nick into the Void to be heroic and not show what they did? Why leave Robin, a magically fast being, holding onto a rope instead of rounding up all those missing people?

It’s all a rough way for the show to end. Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina has always had a lot of ups and downs, but it usually at least wanted to spend more time with the various humans and immortal creatures occupying its universe. At its best, it was a fun, gothic romp with a disconcertingly angelic main character who was both a Satanic worshipper and a normal high school student, with all the accompanying humor and pathos that conflict promised. But it also had an annoying tendency to throw out character development in favor of whatever exciting new conflict it came across, with maddeningly little interest in crafting a coherent path there. Too often, it had all the ingredients of a good show—a fun and game cast, a unique and gorgeous aesthetic, and a sustained commitment to being truly weird—without the narrative follow-through to hold it all together. The TV landscape will be a little less colorful without it, though.


Stray observations

  • There were so many dropped threads in this season! I wanted to know more about Weird Sister Roz, or see Lilith find her way, or learn more about the coven under Hecate’s guidance. Or have the trinket man explained. Not sure I cared about what Caliban actually wanted, though, so I don’t mind that we never figured that out.
  • Why is Lilith all, I can tell you where the Spellmans will be? They’re at home. This was not much of a mystery.
  • I appreciated that even when Sabrina was in the depths of Void-dom, she still wore a headband.
  • Lil Salem peeking out of a knapsack was a highlight for me personally, as I have always enjoyed the very skillful black cat acting on this program.
  • Thanks for reading along! May your headbands be sharp and stylish and your doppelgangers be as friendly as Sabrina’s.
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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.