[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Chapter 22, “Drag Me to Hell.”]
Who knew that being the Queen of Hell would come with so much admin? From underworld political campaigning to above-ground debt collection, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) finds herself with a whole host of new responsibilities in the immensely fun “Drag Me to Hell,” written by Sabrina regular Ross Maxwell.
As someone who still frequently prays to the TV gods to bring back Bryan Fuller’s Dead Like Me, I was always going to be on board with an episode that revolved around a teenage girl collecting souls. Honestly, I could quite happily watch a full season of Sabrina dealing with the doomed and the moral quandaries that come with condemning a person to Hell. The added wrinkle here, compared to the brilliantly acerbic George in Dead Like Me, is that Sabrina isn’t just a young woman going through all the dilemmas of adolescent life, she is also the monarch of Hades itself — that adds an extra layer of complexity to the situation.
At first, Sabrina has no intention of carrying out the Devil’s work. “I’m not condemning anyone,” she tells a growingly frustrated Madame Satan (Michelle Gomez), who is slowly losing her grip on power. Sabrina wants to put Satan behind her and get back to regular high school life, like practicing her cheerleading routine for the upcoming Baxter High pep rally — a routine set to Run DMC’s “Tricky” (as performed by the Sabrina cast). I swear, between the insanely catchy “Straight To Hell” music video, the Fright Club rock band (this week singing “Teenage Dirtbag”), and now the Glee-like cheerleader songs, Sabrina must have a cast-performed soundtrack in the works.
However, as enjoyable as it is to see Sabrina and Roz (Jaz Sinclair) rapping, it can’t be all play and dance numbers all the time, especially when you have important work duties to fulfill. Sabrina might not like the idea of dragging souls to the underworld, but if she doesn’t, the freshly primped Prince of Hell, Caliban (Sam Corlett), is ready to swoop in and take the throne for himself. And given that Caliban’s first act as leader would be to declare war on Earth, Sabrina can’t afford to sit idly by, and so, she puts down her pom-poms and gets to work.
Most high school students’ first foray into the working world is delivering newspapers or mowing the neighbor’s lawn, not sentencing a person to eternal damnation. It’s certainly not an easy task, and Sabrina rightfully struggles with the implications, particularly when her first subject is a sweet old man who sold his soul merely to become the world’s greatest chess master. That doesn’t sound deserving of Hell to Sabrina, and so she ignores protocol and allows the man to go to Heaven — the decision befittingly represented by two hearses, one black, one white. “You really are the worst,” Madame Satan tells Sabrina when she finds out what she did.
With Caliban and the other denizens of Hell in uproar, Lilith persuades them to give Sabrina one more chance to prove herself. Her next subject is one Jimmy Platt (Matty Finochio), aka “the jelly frost ice-cream guy,” and this time, Sabrina has a cunning idea. With her boyfriend, Nick (Gavin Leatherwood), still possessed by Lucifer (Luke Cook) and chained up in a dungeon, the young witch plans to take Jimmy’s soul and then immediately transfer the Dark Lord into Jimmy’s dead body. Let’s call it, killing two birds with one soul — or a “Freaky Friday” as Harvey (Ross Lynch) puts it.
The Fright Club’s afternoon of corpse theft is hindered, however, when they find out that Jimmy is not your average, friendly ice-cream scooper. Jimmy has been extending his time on Earth by sacrificing innocent souls to the Dark Lord (i.e., killing children), and that’s what he intends to continue doing when Sabrina arrives to collect his debt. He’s already kidnapped his next sacrifice, a three-year-old girl called Lucy (Evelyn Burke), which means Sabrina can’t take his soul (or carry out her body transfer) without knowing the girl is safe first.
There’s a nice ratcheting up of tension in this story, as Sabrina is curtailed every time it looks like she’s ahead. After Roz uses her cunning to help locate the missing girl, Sabrina teleports herself into a freezer, where Jimmy has Lucy locked up, but she’s unable get back out. Again, it’s left to Lilith to save the day. There is definitely a maternal quality to Madame Satan, and part of that came from living as Mary Wardwell. Lilith didn’t just decide to retain the Baxter High teacher’s form because she likes the face, it’s because she grew personally attached to Ms. Wardwell, and it’s telling that when she returns Lucy to her mother, she gives her name as Mary Wardwell.
In the end, Sabrina gets the job done by disguising herself as a young boy and siccing her S&M-wearing zombie bodyguard on Jimmy (I forgot to say, Sabrina has a silent work colleague), and this time, she feels no remorse about her actions. “Burn this trash,” she tells her minions in Hell. “Feel free to get creative with his suffering.” And with her first soul successfully captured, Sabrina declares that Hell is under new management and requires a serious makeover. “The reformation of Hell starts now,” she announces to Caliban and the incredulous three kings — just wait until she gets them performing choreographed dance routines!
However, there is still the problem of Nick and his possession. Lucifer is strengthening within the handsome warlock and starts to spread his influence throughout the Academy, which is awful timing for the Spellman aunts, who have just reopened the school. Zelda (Miranda Otto) struggles to gain respect from the children, who snicker and call her names behind her back. The insolence drives Zelda to breaking point, and she uncharacteristically lashes out, slapping Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) across the face. Obviously, it turns out that Zelda and the unruly kids were under the influence of the Dark Lord, who releases an intrusion of mind-controlling cockroaches from his mouth.
When Zelda and Hilda (Lucy Davis) find out what’s going on, they realize that once again, Sabrina has been keeping secrets. “I thought the Dark Lord was bad, I thought he was dangerous,” says Zelda, “but Lilith preserve us from his demented lovesick daughter.” Of course, Sabrina defends herself, telling her Aunties that she couldn’t just leave Nick in Hell to suffer in torment. She owed it to him to try and help get Lucifer out of his body and into someone else’s. “Where do you expect to find another vessel strong enough to withstand being turned into a flesh Acheron for the Devil himself?” asks Zelda, just as Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) and Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) teleport home with an ideal body in tow.
Ambrose and Prudence have been in the Scottish Highlands searching for Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle). They manage to track him down at Loch Ness, which Ambrose reveals lies atop a powerful rift in the universe, one that can mess with time and space. It isn’t entirely clear what this means until we see a disheveled looking Father Blackwood, his once slicked-back hair now a shaggy afro, his usually clean-shaven face sporting an untamed beard. He also sounds more Welsh than ever. Faustus has obviously been through some stuff.
He recites an enchantment in front of the lake, and a swamp beast rises from the water holding some sort of egg. It’s not how the Loch Ness monster is usually depicted — it looks more like an 80s Doctor Who villain. Blackwood collects the egg and calls over his “sacrifices,” which are two teenage children — this was an episode of sacrificial kids. Prudence ambushes her father before he can hurt the children, and this is when things get even more Doctor Who. Blackwood says he’s been gone for 15 years, even though only a month has passed since he escaped the Academy. “The old ones are returning to reclaim the Earth,” he says, just as Lucifer did in the last episode. “And then, the eldritch terrors.”
Faustus’ words are not just the nonsensical ramblings of a mad man, as the two teenage children reveal themselves to be Judith and Judas, the twins who were just babies when we last saw them. Something is seriously amiss here. In shock and in need of a cuppa, Ambrose & Prudence take Blackwood (and the twins) with them back to Greendale, just as Sabrina is looking for a vessel to contain the Dark Lord. There’s a neat converging of stories in this episode, and putting Blackwood and Lucifer together brings up lots of exciting possibilities for the rest of the season.
As I said in my previous recap, I appreciate how fast-moving Sabrina is, and already we’ve seen Nick rescued from the underworld, Sabrina take over as Hell’s sovereign, and Lucifer removed from Nick’s body. Not to mention Ambrose and Prudence swiftly finding and returning Blackwood in just two episodes — I was worried that story would drag on all season. If the show can keep up this pace all season, then we’re in for a hell of a ride.
- Theo (Lachlan Watson) is often the most short-changed when it comes to side-characters, but it seems he may be getting a romance storyline this season, as we see him bonding with new kid Robin (Jonathan Whitesell).
- So what are the “eldritch terrors” that Blackwood mentioned? Well, the word “eldritch” means something strange or otherworldly and is often associated with Lovecraftian literature. The “Eldritch Abomination” is a popular feature of horror and fantasy works, and usually takes the form of an alien-type creature that defies all sense of logic and reality. Given that Sabrina has now introduced time travel, I suspect we may see an Eldritch Abomination at some point this season.
- “Would they have called Faustus a bitch?” Zelda complains to her sister after the students mock her. “And he was a little bitch,” she continues. “Yeah, he was a bit of a bitch wasn’t he?” Hilda agrees. I love to see the Spellmans on the same page.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Part 3, Streaming, Netflix