‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Chapter 32: Greendale Gets a Reality Check (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Chapter 32, “The Imp of the Perverse.”]
In my last recap, I wished for the Eldritch terrors to become more consequential or, at the very least, pose more of a threat to the residents of Greendale. Thankfully, those wishes are granted in the reality-warping fourth episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. For the first time this season, it feels like Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and friends are in genuine peril as they struggle to defeat the latest terror…The Perverse.
It’s the involvement of Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) that makes this particular terror so effective. Until now, Blackwood has been on the sidelines. Here, he’s front and center, using his cunning and egomaniacal desire for power to unleash horror upon Greendale. After stealing the Imp of the Perverse from a visiting Trinket Man (played by the always delightful James Urbaniak), Blackwood wishes upon the ancient artifact to become Emperor. Suddenly, reality is twisted to fulfill Blackwood’s wish, turning Greendale into a fascist nightmare.
Sabrina and Roz (Jaz Sinclair) go from campaigning to become student council co-presidents to being the only lucid people in a town under Blackwood’s regime. This is a Greendale where citizens live in fear and servitude to their almighty leader. Posters around town declare Sabrina Spellman as “public enemy number one.” (Sabrina gets around this by disguising herself as a glasses-wearing brunette called Samantha, which somehow seems to fool everybody.) Soldiers march the streets in uniform, rounding up anyone that dare resist Blackwood’s control. Those that do show resistance or speak out against the system are publicly executed.
What makes this so effective is that Sabrina and Roz are essentially on their own. Harvey (Ross Lynch) — who in the real world is struggling to come to terms with Roz being a witch — is now a witch-hating soldier in Blackwood’s army. Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) is a loyal lieutenant by her father’s side. A petrified Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) stands accused of being a witch and is determined to escape Greendale for his own safety. Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) runs The Academy under the watchful eye of the Emperor, afraid to step out of line.
The best friends split up. Roz visits Harvey and tries to snap him back to reality. She tells him she’s a witch and how he’s a good person who loves her and would protect his friends. With his mind still warped, Harvey threatens to arrest Roz if she doesn’t leave. Meanwhile, Sabrina heads to the Academy to plead with her Aunt Zee. After some flirting with Nick (Gavin Leatherwood), who has no idea who she is, Sabrina barges into Zelda’s office and exposes herself as Sabrina Spellman. Zelda is frightened and frustrated by Sabrina’s assertions, though she doesn’t hand her over; instead, she tells her to hide as Blackwood arrives to be serenaded by the Academy choir.
Blackwood is offended when he notices Nick not singing and threatens to arrest him. It seems like Nick is ready to hand himself over; however, a peeping Sabrina uses a spell to make her ex-boyfriend break out in song. It doesn’t matter though; after sweeping the school for banned materials, Blackwood arrests Nick anyway. This is enough for Zelda to at least listen to Sabrina, who gets through to her Aunt by reminding her of her old familiar, a dog named Vinegar Tom. Zelda tells Sabrina to go to Dr. Cerberus’s (Alessandro Juliani) book store and ask for a specific title; there, she might find people with a common cause.
At the back of the book store, Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Dr. C are leading a mini resistance against the Blackwood regime. This is where Sabrina finds the only other person who remembers who she is, Agatha (Adeline Rudolph). But despite having a double agent in Agatha and other like-minded individuals fighting the cause, that alone is not enough to reverse the spell and return Greendale to normality. It’s going to take some powerful magic, and time is running out, as Roz is arrested (by her boyfriend nonetheless) and taken to be executed alongside Nick.
But having crossed over the Greendale border, Ambrose’s memories come flooding back; he remembers precisely who and what he is. The Trinket Man informs Ambrose of what happened, how Blackwood stole the Imp and made a wish. And he offers Ambrose a magical stone that can help in destroying Blackwood’s hold over Greendale. The only issue is, once Ambrose returns to Greendale, he’ll only have about 30 seconds before his brain melts to mush again. He needs a way to get to Sabrina fast. Luckily, hobgoblin Robin (Jonathan Whitesell), who was earlier accused of being a witch, ends up outside the border too and uses his super-speed to bring Ambrose to Sabrina.
The magical stone brings clarity, so Hilda cooks it into a soup, which Sabrina feeds to her fellow witches to remind them of who they really are. This gives them the power to fight against Blackwood and destroy the Imp. Sabrina stands up at the execution, revealing her true self (which is her but blonde) and declaring Blackwood a warlock. Meanwhile, the other witches direct their powers towards the Imp statue. But this isn’t the real Imp. The real one is locked in a safe at Dorian’s, according to Prudence, who comes to her senses after Sabrina and Agatha remind her of who she really is. Roz does the same with Harvey, who fights back and rescues her from being executed.
Robin once again zooms in to save the day, rushing over to Dorian’s and speeding through thousands of lock combinations to open the safe. But again, this Imp is a fake. Blackwood laughs, thinking he’s got the upper hand, and, for the first time this season, it genuinely feels like Sabrina and the gang are in trouble. That is until Sabrina realizes that Blackwood is keeping the Imp close to him, disguised as his trusty guard dog, Anubis (named after the Egyptian god often depicted as an anthropomorphized dog). Sabrina smashes the curse, returning Greendale back to normal, where Prudence is able to shove a sword through Blackwood’s chest before he can make his wish.
It’s a great episode that manages to be fun while providing some real stakes, and also touching on real-world topics, such as the alarming rise of fascism, without being too heavy-handed. It also ties in nicely with the running arc of Sabrina finding herself. She starts the episode unsure of what principles she wants to run on for her school president campaign. But by the end of the episode, she knows exactly who she is and what she stands for, announcing to the school that she and Roz are running “as witches.”
“We are powerful, disruptive women,” Sabrina says. “Champions of the oppressed. Supporters of the othered. Unapologetic feminists. Allies to all those who live in the shadow of the patriarchy. Reminders that the shadow has its own power. We will speak the truth and fight injustice. In other words, we are Sabrina Spellman and Rosalind Walker. We are teenage witches.”
- Blackwood has the Mark of Cain so can’t be killed, but Prudence decapitates him and locks his head in the Academy dungeon.
- Agatha is also taken in by the Academy but seems to have returned to her old crazy self.
- Nick declares his love for Sabrina and tells her “we are endgame.” This comes a little out of nowhere and makes me wonder if Sabrina wished on the Imp herself, though that would undo her character development, so I hope that’s not the case.
- Harvey apologizes to Roz about being an ass regarding her being a witch and says he accepts all of her.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Part 4, Streaming Now, Netflix