Two Sabrinas Go to War in 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Chapter 19 (RECAP)
In the penultimate episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 2, Sabrina realizes once again she is a pawn in the Dark Lord’s perverse game and must make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good.
Before breaking down what happened in this episode, I want to heap some praise on Kiernan Shipka. Now that the series is established and continuing to build in confidence, it’s easy to take Shipka for granted. Her performance as Sabrina has become so effortless that you sometimes don’t realize just how impressive she is. It took an episode where Shipka plays dual roles to remind me just how far the young actress has come since her Sally Draper days.
Shipka plays doppelgänger Sabrina with the pep and cadence of an old-timey actor; like she’s been transported from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s an infantilized version of the real Sabrina; all Santa Baby-style “baby voice” and wide-eyed wonder. And Shipka hits the perfect balance between sympathetic and frightening. The contrast to the regular Sabrina also highlights the strength of her central performance, where she expresses heart and earnestness without ever being cloying. It's an impressive pair of performances.
Why are there two Sabrinas in this episode you may be wondering? It’s all part of a desperate, last resort plan to stop the impending apocalypse. The mural of Sabrina that Harvey (Ross Lynch) and Theo (Lachlan Watson) found in the mines is a prophecy, one that asserts the half-mortal will help open the gates of Hell and bring about the End of Days. This ominous revelation is the reason why she was recently gifted miraculous powers - Sabrina is the Herald of Hell.
Looking for a way to stop the prophecy from happening, Sabrina seeks the guidance of Ms. Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), who suggests the Mandrake spell, an ancient ritual which uses the plant root to create a clone body. Sabrina would have to transfer her powers to the doppelgänger and then kill it. It would mean losing all of her abilities, essentially stripping her of her witch identity and making her full mortal. But it would also mean the Dark Lord couldn’t use her to enact his dark desires.
Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) is adamantly against the idea. He obviously cares about Sabrina and her wellbeing, but his worries also stem from his own insecurities. He's scared that if Sabrina loses all of her powers that he will also lose her to the mortal world, a world he knows he will never be part of, at least not entirely, not like Harvey, who Nick clearly resents. The charming warlock believes there must be another way and goes researching through old tomes in the library in the hope of answers.
Sabrina doesn’t have time to wait though, and so she begs a reluctant Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) to perform the Mandrake spell. “It’s witch suicide,” says Ambrose, warning his cousin that she will grow old and die like a mortal, losing her family in the process. For Sabrina, dying of old-age is a better fate than the alternative, as at least it would be on her own terms. The other way, she would be a puppet of destruction, under control of evil forces. “My life is not my own,” she tells Ambrose. “I’m a pawn in the Dark Lord’s perverse, sick game... again.”
Ambrose agrees to perform the spell on Sabrina, and it works, they just don’t realize it straight away. Clone Sabrina sneaks out of the room while Ambrose is sleeping and sets about tormenting the real Sabrina’s friends. As I said earlier, Sabrina 2.0 has a childlike glee, sort of similar to Agent Dale Cooper’s Dougie Jones doppelgänger in Twin Peaks The Return, especially when she’s wolfing down Aunt Hilda’s (Lucy Davis) pancakes and demanding more syrup.
However, duplicate Sabrina is also tactless... and oddly sinister. Before kidnapping Sabrina’s friends and attempting to clone them too, she harasses Harvey and Roz (Jaz Sinclair), saying that she knows Harvey still loves her and that Roz will always be second best. She offers to help Theo transition in the most callous way possible, saying she can make Theo into a “real” boy. When Theo tells her that he doesn’t need a male body to be a “real” boy, the fake Sabrina cruelly claims that Theo “confuses” people. “If I was gonna change my body I’d do it for myself, not anybody else,” a defiant Theo yells.
While faux Sabrina is on a sugar-coated rampage, things begin to come into focus for the real Sabrina due to a brush with death and an encyclopedia of prophecies. Nick finds a footnote in an old tome which talks of a shadow girl who will open Hell’s gates after fulfilling blasphemous versions of Jesus’s miracles. These miracles include an exorcism, raising the dead, crossing into limbo, restoring eyesight - basically everything Sabrina‘s done throughout the season, all on the advice of one person. Ms. Wardwell. The same person who just sent a demented scarecrow-skeleton to try and drown Sabrina in the bathtub.
Meanwhile, Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) sets about reforming the Church of Night, rechristening the Academy under the Church of Judas and introducing his five new tenets. Witches will no longer be allowed to study the darker arts or practice incantations unchaperoned; they must focus on more “feminine magics” like herbalism and fertility. A hesitant Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) is promised exemption from these restrictions if she can help the other girls understand and accept the new doctrine.
Zelda (Miranda Otto), still pretending to be under the High Priest’s sleepwalker spell, reaches out to her sister to get her to send word of Blackwood’s dictatorship to the Witches Council. But Zelda’s cover is blown when she‘s caught by Prudence sneaking food to a witch who was locked up for attempting to flee the school. Zelda tries to reason with Prudence, reminding her of how she helped hide baby Leticia from the High Priest, a sign that the Weird Sister recognizes her father’s brutality, even if she doesn't want to admit it.
Prudence tries to win her father's affection by bringing his baby daughter back home and revealing Zelda's deception. However, this act of goodwill has the opposite effect for Prudence. It only pushes her further away, as Blackwood gushes over his "legitimate" daughter, and even shows himself willing to let Prudence die rather than give up Leticia. When she realizes this, she helps Zelda escape the Academy. In a way, Prudence shares similarities with Sabrina, both young women looking to make a difference only to be used and manipulated by malevolent men.
Sabrina falls for the manipulation once again when she kills her doppelgänger in a pistol duel. She hoped that essentially killing her witch-self would stop the prophecy from coming true. Instead, it was all part of the Dark Lord's plan. As Wardwell tells Nick, this is the final perversion, an act of ultimate sacrifice, just like Jesus, who allowed himself to be killed for the greater good of humanity. Now the Dark Lord will return to earth in his true form and Sabrina will rule by his side.
All the ingredients are in place for what should be an apocalyptical season finale. The Dark Lord is coming. The Church of Night is under tyrannical transformation. And Sabrina and Madame Satan may just have to work together to stop the end of the world.
-Hilda has another badass moment in this episode when she stands up to the Witch's Council and calls them out for their privilege and cowardice (she also calls them "arses"). Then when one of the councilmen gets "handsy" with her, she suffocates him to death in a cocoon of spider webs. Basically, don't F with Hilda Spellman!
-The mandrake has been closely tied with magic and witchcraft for centuries. The plant is even referenced in the Bible as having powers of fertility. And, of course, they feature in Harry Potter as shrieking anthropomorphic stalks.
-Harvey and Roz both say they love each other, though Harvey said his "I love you" with about as much passion as a wooden door. Not convincing Mr. Kinkle!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Streaming, Netflix