bitches witches (see what I did there? Nope? Okay fine, boring). For the uninitiated amongst you, Part 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dropped on Friday April 5th, and I – in my constant pursuit of taking things mindfully – am going to properly digest what is happening this time around in the form of a recap for each chapter in theory because I frequently get distracted by shiny things. So, in Part 1, Sabrina finally signed the Book of the Beast after a whole season of pledging her allegiance to her own humanity. This has distanced her from her mortal friends Roz, Susie and Harvey while bringing her closer to the witches who study at The Academy of Unseen Arts.
This episode very clearly has two themes woven throughout, so I shall recap the episode through this lens.
Patriarchy is alive and well – even when you serve Satan
So, Sabrina starts the new year at The Academy by putting herself forward for Top Boy. As it turns out, it is unheard of for a witch to hold this position (hence the sexist name) and Father Blackwood resists her desire, until Nick and Prudence support Sabrina’s nomination. In order to be appointed Top Person in place of Nick, who is also running, they must compete in three challenges: The Inquisition, Boil & Bubble and The Conjuring.
While Sabrina knuckles down to study, Ambrose and Luke head off for a warlocks-only night of debauchery for prospective Top Boys. Despite Sabrina being a prospective Top Boy, she is forbidden to attend. Luke even points out that “it’s called Top Boy for a reason”, proving that even if you’re a gay man you can be a massive cocksnot. At this evening, entertainment in the form of an alluring young woman is provided because even magic men are still dicks. This woman then produces a silver platter upon which is an effigy of Sabrina’s head. Father Blackwood makes it very clear to an outraged Nick that it is the only way that the battle for Top Boy can end: with Sabrina losing.
Meanwhile, Sabrina is being menaced by a demon in the library. He attacks her with a horde of rats but Sabrina uses the spells in front of her to banish him. Upon arriving home, she accuses Ambrose of having something to do with it and threatens him with magical wind and everything (more on this later). The next day, she informs Father Blackwood of the attack, but he is unsympathetic. He says that she can pull out of the challenges if she desires, but she cannot postpone it.
Prudence, tired of her father treating her like a wet nurse and being forbidden to take Blackwood’s name, helps Sabrina cheat in the first challenge. It’s essentially Mastermind but for witches, and of course Sabrina is asked particularly challenging questions while Nick gets easy ones. Prudence and the Weird Sisters telepathically transport the answers into Sabrina’s mind, which helps her to pass the first trial.
Following this trial, Father Blackwood is adamant that Sabrina cheated – a fact that she staunchly denies. Upon threatening her with whipping, Sabrina calls Father Blackwood out on the sexist and outdated ways of the coven and indicates that when she is High Priestess, she will get rid of those rules and traditions. Father Blackwood very firmly tells Sabrina that this is out of the question, and even Zelda does not stand up to him, because even strong women don’t stand up to men. Only petulant children do, apparently.
Upon going home, Sabrina is attacked by another High Demon, this time with bats. She uses a handy witch whistle that Zelda gave her and he disappears, meaning that Sabrina once again has lost out on preparation time for the next trial. Hilda handily coaches her, but it is not enough to prevent Sabrina from losing, meaning that she has to ingest her own badly made potion and ends up being sick.
After watching the basketball tryouts at Baxter High (more on this in a moment), Sabrina gets tied up by a third High Demon, this one who has a multitude of flies buzzing around him. Just as he’s about to reveal the full reason why he is menacing Sabrina, Ms. Wardwell arrives and hastily dispatches him.
Back at The Academy, Nick recognises that the demons who have attacked Sabrina aren’t just ordinary demons but rather High Demons, meaning that somebody powerful must have summoned them. They come to the conclusion that Father Blackwood, or somebody similarly powerful within the Coven, must have summoned these demons to prevent Sabrina from becoming Top Person. The two allies use the final trial, the Conjuring, to join forces and summon the three High Demons in the hopes of exposing Father Blackwood. However, the Demons reveal that they were not summoned, but rather acted of their own accord. They reveal that “the half-witch must not ascend”. Before they can say any more, Father Blackwood banishes the three High Demons, and disqualifies both Sabrina and Nick from Top Person, instead electing Ambrose (despite the fact that he’s not a member of the Academy, but he does have a penis).
Upon seeing Harvey and Roz eating together, Sabrina asks Nick to take her to a witchy club where they drink and ponder what the High Demons meant by her ascending.
Sabrina’s trajectory in this episode is broadly about her trying to step away from the roles that the men within her life assign her. At The Academy, she is told that she cannot be Top Boy, as this is a mantle usually held by a man. She is clearly done with the rules and outdated traditions in the Coven and seeks to change them. Even three High Demons seek to interfere in her life – not because she is a woman, but rather because she is half-human. It seems that everybody has a problem with Sabrina, despite the fact that they were the ones who wanted her involved in the Coven in the first place. Typical.
The other way that the patriarchy is explored in this episode is through the storyline of Susie/Theo. At the beginning of the episode, Harvey is keen to try out for the basketball team, and Susie is eager to join too, despite the fact that only a boys team exists. The other basketball guys and even the coach call her names and insist that no girl can be part of the team, leading to Ms. Wardwell (who is literally Madam Satan and still gets talked down to by men) indicating that gender discrimination has no place at Baxter High. As a result, Susie tries out for the team and does really well, due to a magical assist from Sabrina. Following this, he tells his friends Roz and Harvey that “it’s Theo now”. So that’s that.
Even Zelda isn’t immune to the toxic effects of masculinity. Remember the woman whose baby she stole who subsequently died? Well, she’s now taken that lady’s job, and the people at the Academy are not too happy about it. In fact, one of them calls her a slut at one of the trials and indicates that people think that Zelda had a role in killing Lady Blackwood, seeing as she is now so cosy with Father Blackwood. This prompts Zelda to talk to Father Blackwood about what they are to stop the rumours, but Father Blackwood makes it clear that whatever they are, it is not public.
I feel at this point, most of these subheadings could have been summarised by: Father Blackwood. He reduces Prudence, a highly talented witch, to a wet nurse for his new baby Judas, yet refuses to actually give her the dignity and right of his last name. At the same time, however, he also refuses to let her run for Top Person because that would embarrass him. In short, he very much wants her invisible.
Sabrina’s renewed enthusiasm in witchcraft (and her subsequent withdrawal from her mortal friends)
In amongst the trials and challenges and demons, the other theme that weaves through this episode is that of the changes in Sabrina’s character. The Academy, which she originally attended only begrudgingly, is now her sole focus. She isn’t even planning on attending Baxter High for classes and is not in contact with her mortal friends, something which causes Hilda worry throughout the episode.
You can see Sabrina’s conflict in the dreams that she has of her father signing her over to The Dark Lord. She is clearly revelling in her magic, as we can see through the distinctly Sabrina, the Teenage Witch way in which she gets ready for school and, as Hilda points out, Sabrina running for Top Person indicates a certain level of commitment to the Coven. Indeed, Sabrina even indicates that she wants to change the ways of the coven by becoming High Priestess.
But Sabrina has changed, and Hilda can sense this. She begs Ms. Wardwell to make Sabrina come back to Baxter High to do lessons so that she can keep hold of her humanity, and even speaks to Sabrina about the same thing. Sabrina is clearly conflicted. She loves her human friends, but she sold her soul to the Devil – quite literally – and she does not want her friends to know her when she has to do what she is destined to do. Which makes sense. Nothing says identity change quite like signing yourself over to Satan. Even when Sabrina finally relents and does return to Baxter High, she watches her friends at a distance and realises that with her new life, she cannot be part of their existence for the time being.
- Roz has an entirely precedented “making out with Harvey” fantasy. I’m sure many people will have their minds blown by this, but to be honest, I ship Sabrina and Nick far harder than Sabrina and Harvey.
- At the end of the episode, Ms. Wardwell calls The Dark Lord to find out what his plans are for Sabrina.
So there we have it, there’s the first episode of Sabrina, Part 2 recapped! All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable start to the season, and throws up a whole host of questions about the trajectory for the rest of the season. It really threw up a whole load of problems with the world that Sabrina has involved herself in, that really need reforming! Stay tuned for the rest of the season, folks.
Ponderings for future episodes:
- What is Sabrina destined to ascend to?
- What is Madam Satan’s endgame?
- Will Theo’s newfound gender identity be further explored through the rest of the season?
- Also, what’s going to happen once Theo actually has to play basketball and doesn’t have Sabrina to cast magic on him?
- How will Ambrose’s position as Top Boy affect his relationship with the rest of the Spellman family?
- Will the fact that Zelda kidnapped Father Blackwood’s daughter be revealed at some point?
Chapter Twelve: The Epiphany
Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman
Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle
Lucy Davis as Hilda Spellman
Chance Perdomo as Ambrose Spellman
Michelle Gomez as Ms. Wardwell / Madam Satan
Jaz Sinclair as Roz
Tati Gabrielle as Prudence
Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood
Miranda Otto as Zelda Spellman
Lachlan Watson as Theo
Gavin Leatherwood as Nick
Darren Mann as Luke
The Passion of Sabrina Spellman