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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sabrina gives its Satanic protagonist a very human dilemma

Illustration for article titled Sabrina gives its Satanic protagonist a very human dilemma
Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix

For a story about Satan, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has in many ways stayed away from the lustfulness so often associated with hell-bound behavior, at least in the case of its titular character. Instead, Sabrina is repeatedly described in terms of her virginity, and has a notably chaste relationship with her boyfriend for most of the first part of the season.


But in this episode, she and many of the other characters are forced to contend with a lot of the complexities that come with being sexually active. The ones who are a bit more comfortable with the notion fare better. Zelda is going into the next phase of her relationship with Father Blackwood with open eyes, Ambrose and Prudence are having a grand old time together, and Roz, minus the oddness of dating her friend’s ex, just gets a mild case of sex blindness. Or whatever, it might be something else.

Sabrina, on the other hand, gets to deal with a slightly heavy-handed version of what happens when you date someone with a lot more experience than you have. They might just have an ex they’re not quite as over as they claim to be, and she might show up at the most awkward moment possible, wearing a weird dress, and then you have to kill her, and…OK, only parts of it are things other people have experienced. But it’s all very complicated for Sabrina, who’s struggling with the decision of whether or not she’s ready to have sex, and whether or not the person she should have sex with is Nick. She does seem to be mostly moving on from Harvey, but getting over an ex doesn’t necessarily mean that the next person you meet is one you should actually date. And Nick remains a frustratingly opaque character. This was an awfully big lie he told her, but he does seem legitimately upset about what happened with Amalia. Do we believe he ran off from Dorcas without anything happening?

Hilda, generally the more chaste of the two aunts, finds herself facing off with a sexy demon. It’s an unexpected turn to her thwarted romance, but she seems ready for the challenge. But it’s Wardwell who has the most unexpected romantic turn of the episode. The show finally acknowledges what’s been lurking in the background for a while now—that she’s a powerful demon trapped running a public high school for unclear reasons—and now she’s particularly annoyed at living the life of what she assumes is a boring spinster. At least until Adam, as played by Whedon-verse favorite Alexis Denisof, shows up. His uncanny ability to avoid getting murdered by her and also prevent her from murdering other people suggests there might be something else going on here, but it’s hard to imagine that turning into anything good for Ms. Wardwell. 

Lilith has many mythical stories, but the one with particular staying power is the one the show seems to be running with, which is that she was Adam’s first wife, who demanded equality with him and was then cast out of Eden in response. The Lilith/Wardwell of the show has always been fully committed to her life in service to Satan, and this is the first time she’s really been remotely affected by someone unconnected to him. What would that relationship look like, with Lilith having millennia living as a demon behind her, and possibly still bearing the hurt of that first heartbreak? There’s a version of this show that refocuses completely on Wardwell that I would 100 percent watch.

The downside to touching base on (almost) everyone’s sex life means that this episode felt like it had about 15 different plotlines going in it, which gives it a strange sense of being both very long and too short. Theo has a life-changing conversation with his father, in a scene that manages to be both very tense and very heartening, but because the episode has so many other loose ends to tie up, we’re left to wonder if Theo even told his friends it happened. But it is very good to see Theo have multiple positive interactions about the life he’s living now, even if it’s a little hard to believe Billy is in earnest. There’s realism, in terms of how hard it is to come out as trans, but after a while you’re starting to tell a story in which only bad things happen to trans people.


So we move on with Sabrina looking as lost as ever about what to do about Nick, but with the added facet that she just killed his only family. Relationships are complicated.

Stray observations

  • It was a really nice touch that Sabrina went to confide in Roz about having sex. Even if she is a supernatural demon teen, it’s always good to talk to a friend about potentially losing your virginity. And it’s a good character moment to remind us that these two have an emotional connection to each other, since so much of what we’ve seen so far has been about them struggling with surprising discoveries and various nemeses.
  • Lucy Davis’ delivery of “I can spell it” in response to Zelda taunting her about her inability to say “sex” was definitely an episode highlight. Because Hilda is so often called on to be the reasonable, heart-warming aunt, it really feels like we’re missing out on what a great comedian Davis is.
  • “As if I haven’t tangled with my fair share of sex demons.” Who among us hasn’t, etc etc.
  • Sabrina has to take “berries of phylaxis” before the big sex party, which doesn’t seem to be a real thing, but is presumably a play on prophylactic, so I’m glad to see the Academy practices safe sex. The mortal kids also had a very in-depth list of contraceptive options at their school.
  • Why in the world does Sabrina stare at her own cousin making out with someone for so long?

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Lisa is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.