'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Chapters 35 & 36: Time to Say Goodbye (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Chapters 35 & 36, "The Endless" and "At the Mountains of Madness"]
Chapter 35 - The Endless
Despite the brief cameo from Beth Broderick and Caroline Rhea (the OG Aunts) a couple of episodes back, I never expected we'd get a full-on Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crossover episode, and especially not one done in the style of a Charlie Kaufman movie. This is Sabrina at its most meta and self-aware, poking fun at itself while honoring its past. It's quite possibly the best Sabrina episode of all time.
The episode follows Hell Sabrina's (Kiernan Shipka) arrival in the parallel realm where she finds herself in a Truman Show-esque universe. Her life is essentially a 24/7 TV show complete with laugh track. When she's not filming an episode of the hit show "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," she lives on set, along with her "on-screen" aunts Hilda and Zelda, played by Rhea and Broderick. Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) is the show's director, demanding perfection from cast and crew; mistakes or insubordination are met with a trip to the dreaded "green room." According to the OG Aunts, that's where the last Sabrina was sent (and here was me thinking she went on to make holiday movies for the Lifetime channel).
Sabrina's witchcraft no longer works. All of Ambrose's (Chance Perdomo) research books are merely blank-paged props, and all of her friends and family are just "castmates" or "crew members." Miss Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) is a producer, Harvey (Ross Lynch) is her on-screen boyfriend, and Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) is simply Harvey's stand-in waiting in the wings. The real Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) are now also stand-ins, having been replaced in their roles.
The episode has tremendous fun with all this meta-ness. There's even an amusing moment when Harvey shows Sabrina the pilot episode — which is just grainy footage from the actual CAOS pilot. But the highlight is the return of Salem, the talking puppet cat.
"Salem's the star of the show," Wardwell tells Sabrina as her furry friend delivers his trademark sarcastic back-chat. This entire world revolves around Salem. He is the head writer; the cast and crew perform at his mercy; even catering only serves cans of tuna. And that gruesome green room? It's basically a slaughterhouse where unruly actors are murdered and ground into cat food. It's here where Sabrina finds Ambrose and learns that Salem himself is the next Eldritch terror: The Endless.
Sabrina is seemingly trapped forever, that is until she sees mention of another Eldritch terror in the script for the next episode. The Void — the last and most dangerous of all the terrors — is on its way and has the ability to end everything, even The Endless, meaning Salem will cease to exist. Sabrina uses this threat to get Salem on her side, with the two of them going off script and running to the prop room to travel back through the mirror portal. There's a brilliant chase scene as the servants of The Void go after Sabrina and Salem, across the sound stages, past the mutilated bodies of their family and friends, with Salem writing new stage directions on the fly to trip up their assailants.
They make it to the prop room and smash through the mirror as we're told: "To Be Continued..."
Chapter 36 - At the Mountains of Madness
If the penultimate episode is fan-pleasing, meta, fun and games, then the finale is a dark, emotional, and solemn farewell. This is the end and, to the show's credit, it doesn't pull any half-measures.
In a season that has seen Sabrina dealing with feelings of abandonment, it makes sense that she would be consumed by The Void. That's what happens here as Hell Sabrina hops back through the portal into the Mortal realm to warn her twin. But it's too late for Hell Sabrina, all the realm traveling has taken its toll, and she dies in Mortal Sabrina's arms; surely a strange and upsetting thing to essentially watch herself die. While Sabrina's friends and family head to The Academy to plot how to tackle The Void, she stays behind at the Spellman home to be alone with her other-self.
Of course, Sabrina has ulterior motives. Blaming herself for what's happened, she decides to face The Void head-on on her own. Armed with Pandora's Box, provided by the returning Trinket Man (James Urbaniak), Sabrina steps through the portal into The Void — a white space populated only by floating planet-like orbs and a couple of framed paintings. Her plan is to trap The Void and all its terrors inside the box, well aware of the risk that she, too, could be sucked in with it. When Ambrose realizes what his cousin is doing, he and the other witches cast a spell to teleport Sabrina's soul from The Void and into the body of Hell Sabrina.
While Sabrina is frustrated that her family stopped her before she was finished, it seems like her plan worked, The Void has disappeared. And so, everyone just goes about their business, preparing for Halloween and Sabrina's upcoming 17th birthday. Obviously, things aren't that simple. When objects and people begin vanishing around Sabrina, it becomes clear that Sabrina herself has become The Void and is sucking people into her orbit. Eventually, Sabrina has no choice but to travel far, far away, to the desolate Mountains of Madness so that she can't cause any more pain and damage to those she loves.
Oh, before that, there is also a brief battle with Lucifer (Luke Cook), who is furious to learn his daughter was killed and her body now houses Mortal Sabrina. The Dark Lord and Caliban (Sam Corlett) possess a group of miners, including Mr. Kinkle (Chris Rosamond), and charge the Spellman property to apprehend Sabrina. However, they, too, end up sucked into Sabrina's Void, all except Lucifer, who escapes back to Hell, where Lilith awaits. Lilith finally gets her revenge by stabbing Lucifer in the back with the Nazarene blade, reclaiming her power by drinking his blood and banishing him from the Underworld. Not a great day for the Devil.
Lucifer has never been the real big bad of this show, though. The real threat has always been Blackwood. After stitching his decapitated head back onto his body, Blackwood heads to the Mountains to meet with Sabrina and teach her how to control The Void. Meanwhile, Nick sets off into outer space to retrieve Pandora's Box and Mortal Sabrina's body. This all leads to a showdown at the Mountains, where Blackwood is tricked into opening the box and burning his eyes. Sabrina tells the group that she has learned from Blackwood all about The Void and what needs to be done to defeat it. And it will require sacrifice.
Sabrina must sacrifice herself in order to open The Void long enough for Nick, Harvey, and Ambrose to go inside and bring back the disappeared, including Roz (Jaz Sinclair) and Prudence (Tati Gabrielle). The risk is that if it takes too long, Sabrina could die. And that's what happens! The Fright Club saves the day by retrieving those who were zapped into The Void, but it's too late for Sabrina. She begins to fade as she whispers her goodbyes. This doubles as a goodbye to the series itself as we flashback to all the characters and moments from the four seasons. It's emotionally effective because there is no last-second twist to stop the inevitable. Both Sabrinas are dead and buried.
There's a scene tacked on at the end of Sabrina in the "sweet hereafter" where she's somehow joined by Nick. I could have done without this, but I suppose the show wanted some semblance of a happy ending. But, overall, Sabrina's sacrifice makes for the perfect ending. She's spent all season believing that she wasn't loved or wanted, but as all of her friends and family surround her in her final moments, she realizes that that couldn't be further from the truth.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Part 4, Streaming, Netflix