‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Chapter 15 Looks Into the Future (RECAP)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is at its strongest when it’s having fun with the episodic format. The show’s horror elements and supernatural setting allow it to depart from conventional TV drama set-ups and get a little creative with the storytelling. Sadly, Sabrina doesn’t do this enough, often relying on familiar soap-y story-beats which sometimes undersells the show’s potential. However, when it does lean into its bag of tricks, it really does create magic.
“Dr. Cerberus’s House of Horrors,” written by Ross Maxwell, is a hell of a lot of fun. It’s similar to Part 1 stand-out “Dreams in a Witch House,” in that it’s another episode consisting of separate, self-contained segments, each focusing on a specific character. It’s a Twilight Zone-style medley of monkey’s paw situations; a series of lessons in “be careful what you wish for” culminating in brilliantly gruesome conclusions.
A fortune teller (Veronica Cartwright) seeking shelter from the rain provides the narrative bridge between segments, as one-by-one characters enter Dr. Cerberus’s bookstore and are persuaded into a tarot card reading. Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Dr. Cee (Alessandro Juliani), who appear to be dealing with their sex-demon problems reasonably well, also act as a connective thread throughout the episode. It’s a shame Hilda doesn’t get her own story but watching her trying to solve everyone’s troubles with psychic inspiration is a constant source of amusement.
First to face the oracle is Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka), who has been having creeping doubts about her relationship with Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) ever since his Lupercalia lie. The story takes place at the Academy talent show and revolves around feelings of distrust and jealousy. Nick flirts with the Weird Sisters and uses them as part of his magic show to torment and tease Sabrina. The tale ends with the disturbing image of Sabrina’s frozen corpse floating in outer space after a weightlessness trick gone wrong.
The vision, distressing as it might be, does provide some clarity for the young enchantress. It’s not Nick she has to worry about; it’s the Weird Sisters. It was the three cackling witches that tampered with the trick and sent her to her deep space death. Nick was the one trying to protect her. Sabrina acts on this advice later in the episode when she asks Nick to stay away from the Sisters – not because she doesn’t have faith in him, but because she doesn’t trust them.
Theo’s (Lachlan Watson) encounter with the soothsayer turns into startling plant-based body-horror. Theo wants a boys’ body, but he doesn’t know a surgeon in Greendale who would perform such an operation, and even if he did, he couldn’t afford it. And so after being visited by the spirit of his Aunt Dorothea (Anastasia Bandey), who encourages him to “take what he needs,” Theo sneaks into the Spellman house and mixes up a metamorphosis potion. All seems to go according to plan at first; Theo wakes up with a deeper voice, a muscular male body, and finally earns the respect of his basketball teammates.
Unfortunately, Theo’s wish comes at a price when his limbs begin petrifying into wood. “Pinnochio in reverse,” as Hilda describes it. He has a choice to make: give up the body or cut off his branch-like arm. It’s depressingly bleak watching Theo’s dad sawing off his son’s arm, and yet, in a weird way, it’s sort of a sweet father-son bonding moment. A limb short, but male body intact, Theo thinks his problems are behind him, only to realize his legs have turned into tree stumps too.
There is an obvious lesson of “don’t steal” here, but the more potent message is what the psychic tells Theo after the reading. “Seek help early from others,” she advises. So many people go through what Theo’s going through alone, and that can be a hell of a frightening thing. While not everyone has the luxury of a support network of friends and family, there is always someone to talk to, whether it’s someone you know personally or a health professional. For all the goofy supernatural shenanigans, what Sabrina is doing with Theo’s story is massively important.
Roz’s (Jaz Sinclair) glimpse into her potential future covers similar territory to Theo’s in so far as the theft portion. Having lost her eyesight in the previous episode, Roz is offered highly-expensive corrective surgery to help her see again. Her God-fearing father accepts donations from the church to pay for the operation, and while Roz is delighted to have her vision back, she feels a great sense of guilt about how her dad constantly takes, takes, takes from the congregation.
Harvey (Ross Lynch) suggests Roz “pay it forward,” to give back as a way of saying thanks, and so she volunteers at a home for the blind. The fable takes its tragic twist when the girl Roz is sent to look after reveals her eyes were gouged out of her skull and given to Roz. “You stole my eyes!” the disfigured girl screeches as she peels back her bandages to unveil two black holes in her face. Much like Theo, Roz has a choice to make, and so, back in the real world, she tells her dad she doesn’t want the church to pay for her surgery. She will wait.
If tree-limbs and eyeless zombie girls aren’t horrific enough for you, then Zelda’s (Miranda Ott) story of incestuous witch-infidelity and baby-eating might tick the box. With her Black Wedding to Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) approaching, Zelda worries about the High Priest finding out about what she did with his baby daughter Laticia. Remember Zelda kidnapped Laticia to protect her from Faustus, and in the Christmas special, she took the babe into the woods to live with the ancient witch Dezmelda.
Zelda returns to the forest to take Laticia back, only to be greeted by a much younger and prettier Dezmelda. It’s revealed that the outcast witch ate baby Laticia and consumed her youth. Dezmelda demands Zelda invite her to the wedding, or otherwise, she’ll tell the High Priest what happened. The wedding day turns into a nightmare for Zelda as she walks in on her new husband and swapping saliva with his sort-of daughter Dezmelda. She begs for him to stop while the wedding guests point and laugh. The lesson from the fortune teller is blunt: “Some secrets should remain secret.”
Harvey’s story is perhaps the weakest of the episode. The aspiring artist accepts a placement at a summer arts colony in Rhode Island where he moves in with a creepy roommate named Howard. At night, Howard hears the whispers of demons and gods, which inspire his macabre paintings, one of which Harvey recognizes as the Dark Lord. Howard is eventually driven to madness and hangs himself while Harvey opens a door and peers through into the netherworld.
As a stand-alone segment, Harvey’s story is lacking, but its implications for the series as a whole is potentially enormous. We might as well talk about the episode’s final reveal here because I think it’s crucial to Harvey’s section. The fortune teller turns out to be the meddling Ms. Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), determined to wreak havoc with Sabrina and her closest loved ones. That frames the advice she gives Harvey in a different light. She tells him that he will suffer for his art, but that he doesn’t need to move away from home to do so. His true calling is in Greendale. I don’t think she’s hinting at Harvey becoming a locally renowned caricature artist; I suspect Harvey is going to play a large part in her or the Dark Lord’s plans.
Speaking of broader implications, Ambrose’s (Chance Perdomo) reading also suggests a dark fate for the Spellmans and the town of Greendale. Father Blackwood invites Ambrose into the Judas Society – a secret subdivision of the Church of Night aimed at upholding old traditions. The High Priest blasts the late Edward Spellman (“he was made soft by women”) for causing incalculable damage to the Church and orders Ambrose to “correct” his family. And so a possessed Ambrose stalks through the Spellman house and brutally murders his aunts Hilda and Zelda and his cousin Sabrina.
Madame Satan does not reveal the lesson of this vision; instead, she tells the panicked Ambrose that not knowing the truth is better. Rattled by the reading, the Academy top boy confronts Father Blackwood, seeking assurance that he’d never ask him to hurt the Spellmans. The High Priest quells his concerns briefly before revealing that his boyfriend Luke (Darren Mann) died in service to the Church of Night. Before Ambrose can even process that bombshell, Blackwood asks him to take Luke’s place in the Judas Society, perhaps a sign that there is truth to his reading and that death is on the horizon.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Streaming, Netflix