Relationship Heartbreak in 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Chapter 25 (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Chapter 25, "The Devil Within."]
Get your tissues at the ready Nabrina-shippers, because this is a hard-to-watch episode for fans of Greendale's hottest couple. Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) and Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) are officially over, finished, dunzo! Despite literally going to Hell and back for each other, the damage caused over the past however many weeks is too severe to overcome. The only option is to walk away.
The romantic entanglements of teenagers are not something that particularly appeals to me as a 31-year-old man, but I accept that they come part and parcel with a show like this. However, I do appreciate how this episode plays with teen-drama expectations. While Nick previously blamed Sabrina for what happened, she didn't want to believe it was the real Nick speaking. It was much easier to say it was the trauma talking and that everything was going to be okay. Or if not the trauma, then perhaps part of the Dark Lord (Luke Cook) was still inside him and making him act this way. Sabrina — like I suspect many fans — was in denial.
After almost overdosing on dragon's tears and a whole cabinet's worth of other pain-numbing concoctions, Nick is forced to go cold turkey. Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) uses the time-bending properties of his Loch Ness egg to compress a 30-day cleansing ritual into "one long relenting day." I like to call it the Devil's detox — certainly a unique interpretation of a "kicking-a-drug-habit" storyline. But Ambrose's ritual doesn't work. Nick is still in agony, writhing from the withdrawals and cursing at his girlfriend. That's when Ambrose and Sabrina realize there is something within Nick stopping the healing the process.
It turns out, Nick was right all along, there is part of the Dark Lord still inside him, literally, in the form of a black tar-like substance. Sabrina uses her Morningstar blood to lure the residue out of her boyfriend (there's some nasty imagery here with the goo flowing from Nick's nostrils) and is able to trap it. And so we're led to believe all is fixed; Nick and Sabrina can be happy together again because that is how these kind of shows work, right? "We can go back to how things were," says Sabrina. Then the rug is pulled out from under us. "I don't think I can," replies Nick, shattering the hearts of a million fanboys and girls.
Nick's head is understandably all over the place. Who wouldn't be messed up after becoming a human prison for Lucifer? He doesn't even know who he is at his core anymore. "I don't know if it was the Dark Lord that made me act that way, or if he exploited something that was already there," he tells Sabrina. Nick needs time to think, to be alone, rather than distract Sabrina from her duties as Queen of Hell. He sees himself as a liability. Sabrina vows to do a Simply Red and give it all up for him, but Nick won't allow it — nor does he believe she wants to. "You won't, there's too much at risk," he says. "Also, you don't want to. You're chasing something right now. Power."
It's not the first time someone has called Sabrina out on her desire for power. In the previous episode, her Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) surmised that part of the reason she took the throne is because she enjoys the influence and control. That hunger to retain power is seen across this episode, as part two of the quest for the Unholy Regalia gets underway. This time, Sabrina and her hair-conditioning challenger Caliban (Sam Corlett) race to find and bring back Pontius Pilate's (Daniel Nemes) bowl. And it's here where we see first-hand Sabrina's dogged determination and ruthlessness.
Using some magic egg water and Dorian Gray's (Jedidiah Goodacre) painting portal (hey, I don't make the rules), Sabrina heads to Golgotha, the site just outside of Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified. There, Pontius Pilate and his bowl are stuck in an eternal time-loop, doomed to repeat the same day over and over again. Sabrina is quickly captured and thrown into a cage next to Barabbas (Oliver Rice) — the prisoner who was spared over Jesus, who now wishes for the sweet relief of death rather than continue to relive this tortuous groundhog day. To Sabrina's surprise, Caliban made it to Golgotha before her, though he also was thrown behind bars.
I haven't been entirely sold on Caliban, but this was probably his strongest outing so far. Until now, he's been a little one-note and CW bad boy sexy. Here, he showed another layer to his character, even if it was still covered in a coat of cockiness. Perhaps triggered by Sabrina's talk of having dignity, Caliban stands up to take the 100 lashes instead of the young witch. "I will not see the Queen debased in that way," he says. Of course, he immediately undermines his integrity with a flirtatious follow-up: "Anyway, you're too cute for scars." I mean, if there is any time to flirt, it's right before a crucifixion. But, to Caliban's shock, Sabrina does not return his good deed.
At the pardoning, Sabrina uses her magic to body switch with Barabbas, allowing her to steal Pilate's bowl and break the cycle. She makes a run for it and escapes the time loop, leaving Caliban behind to be trapped forever. It's a cunning move but a dastardly one. And even though Sabrina tells Madame Satan (Michelle Gomez) that she doesn't want Caliban to be stuck in the loop for eternity, she doesn't exactly spend too much time fretting over it. "Is that the dignity you spoke of?" Caliban says when he eventually makes his way back to Hell — after being locked in the loop for 2000 years. "You cheated and left me for dead."
To be fair, Sabrina does have a lot on her plate right now. The Dark Lord is on the loose, and the pagans are circling, meaning the coven is under tremendous threat. We already had a taste of what the carnies are capable of in the last episode when they turned Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen) to stone! I did laugh, though, at how relaxed Harvey (Ross Lynch) and Theo (Lachlan Watson) were over the whole situation, despite their best friend being literally turned into a living statue. Theo even sneaks off for milkshakes and smooching time with Robin (Jonathan Whitesell). I know Sabrina told them that Roz isn't dead and that Ambrose is working on a spell to reverse it, but still, show a little respect, guys!
The pagans have done a number on the Academy too. Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) has completely lost her mind and has been restrained in a straitjacket for both her and the other students' safety. Dorcas, as mentioned, is also stone. And poor Hilda (Lucy Davis) is transforming into a spider — a symptom of the spell the fortune teller lady put on her in the last episode. This Hilda spider-woman story also features perhaps the most disgusting visuals this show has done yet — when Hilda squeezes the puss-filled boil on her cheek and spiders crawl out (even typing that out made me wince). I'm usually fine with most horror and gore, but I draw the line at spider-oozing boils.
The Dark Lord is no help either. Free from his shackles, Lucifer is deadset on revenge for how the coven abandoned him. He skulks in the shadows, manipulating and encouraging the weak and vulnerable, like Elspeth (Emily Haine) and Melvin (Tyler Cotton), who he convinces to leave the Church of Night and join the pagans. The susceptible students follow the Devil's advice, only for Elspeth to end up murdered by the carnies as a blood sacrifice. As Zelda realizes, surrender was never an option — the pagans want war. The Dark Lord also taps into Harvey's desire for violent revenge, encouraging him and the high school jocks to attack the carnival. This leads to the jocks being turned into pigs, which I think is perfectly appropriate.
Through all this, Ambrose does his best to figure out a way to save the coven. I mean, honestly, Ambrose deserves a knighthood for his efforts. A plan is made to summon help from the hedge witches, the lost and disenfranchised. The problem is, the coven needs powers to summon, and they are weak. Inspired by Stone Henge, Ambrose uses a circle of rocks to absorb magic energy and put out a call to the witches. But the ceremony is interrupted by a sledgehammer-wielding Agatha, who is set free by the Dark Lord and determined to smash everything to pieces.
Despite Agatha's attack, part of the call made it out into the world, but whether that is a good thing or not is up for debate. Because when the witches arrive at the Academy at the end of the episode, including Season 1's child-stealing Gryla (Heather Doerksen) and Haitian High Priestess Mambo Marie (Skye Marshall), they don't exactly seem happy to be there. "All in this house will die," says Gryla. Honestly, can things get any worse?
- It's confirmed that Carcosa (Will Swenson) is indeed the great god Pan, described by Ambrose as "madness personified." I'm totally down for some ancient mythological gods going to war with the witches.
- I'm glad that Robin isn't going to betray Theo (at least, it doesn't seem that way) and looks like he's about to reveal his ties to the pagans.
- Speaking of betrayal, Lilith finds out that Lucifer is free and surely hellbent on revenge for her part in his capture.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Part 3, Streaming, Netflix