Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s Riverdale-adjacent, new series, premiered this Friday just in time for the Halloweekend. While the macabre comic adaptation took a slow-burn approach in the early episodes, the stakes ramped up halfway through the season, pulling not only Sabrina and her witch family into danger, but also her mortal friends and boyfriend. At the end, Sabrina is forced to make the decision she’s pushed off the entire time: instead of wallowing between two worlds, she must commit fully to the Path of the Light or the Path of the Night. But there’s a bigger, theory-ready mystery brewing, and it makes the conclusion both fulfilling and primed for a second season.
[Ed. note: This post contains heavy spoilers for the end half of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina]
By the end of the penultimate episode, Sabrina has royally screwed up: a botched resurrection is slowly choking her fellow classmate to death and has returned Harvey’s brother to a shell of his former self. Even though the plot by Ms. Wardwell (aka Madame Satan) to drive her from her mortal friends has backfired — yes, Harvey broke things off, since he had to pull an Old Yeller and mercy-kill his zombie brother thanks to Sabrina’s botched resurrection, but both Susie and Roz offer their love and support for Sabrina and her absolutely terrible decisions — Sabrina’s still just one vulnerable step away from totally signing her name over to the Dark Lord.
Madame Satan takes advantage of this, summoning an evil so strong that it threatens both the witches and the mortals. What the mortals perceive as a dangerous storm is actually the scorned souls of the Greendale Thirteen, the witches betrayed by the rest of the coven back in ye old day. Now they’re out for a Biblical revenge intending to kill the first child of every family, witch and mortal alike.
Led by Father Blackwood, the Church of the Night plan to huddle up in a secure bunker, but their refusal to help the mortals drives Sabrina to follow Ms. Wardwell into the woods and finally sign her name into the Dark Lord’s book, committing herself fully to the Path of the Night. This imbues her with enough power to destroy the Greendale Thirteen in a blaze of hellfire, but she must totally and completely leave her mortal life behind.
In the finale’s last moments, Madame Satan reveals that she’s not just the mistress of the Dark Lord, but Lilith, the first wife of Adam and mother of demons. The Dark Lord is set on Sabrina taking up Madame Satan’s current position as his foot soldier, so that Madame Satan may take up a crown and throne at his side.
While this initially seems terrifying, we should recall another equally chilling scene at the end of the season, where Father Blackwood holds up his newly born son in a room of warlocks and declaring the baby his rightful heir, convinced that the baby boy is a sign from the Dark Lord that men should take over the Church of the Night. This comes right after it’s revealed that Zelda lied, saying that Father Blackwood’s other twin had died in the womb (consumed by the “stronger” male), because she feared what would happen to the girl if Father Blackwood found out that a daughter was born first. Looks like those fears weren’t unfounded.
So is having Madame Satan — who’s rolled her eyes at Father Blackwood’s sniveling male ego and openly spoken about the issues of male leadership — take her place as the Queen of Hell really a bad thing? Is she gearing up to be the Big Bad of season two or will that fall to Father Blackwood and his quest for male domination? Or will it be someone else entirely?
We’ve got a few theories on the latter.
In the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, Sabrina’s father, Edward Spellman, was the Big Bad who originally messed with Sabrina’s mother’s mind, driving her into a sanitorium. Seeing Sabrina’s mother wandering Limbo in the penultimate episode, not quite sure of what’s real and what’s not, and claiming that baby Sabrina was taken from her, feels like a nod towards the comic, more so than anything else this season.
The show so far has only been using the comic as a loose basis (Betty and Veronica were the ones who summoned Madame Satan in the comic, for instance, and that seems unlikely to happen, despite what Riverdale fans might want), but having Edward Spellman secretly be the master in the shadows pulling all the strings would be an interesting twist.
Why else would Sabrina’s mother not have found peace and start babbling about her baby being taken away from her? One other hint that there’s more ties to the comic than we originally thought? The comics also feature a botched Kinkle resurrection. However, it’s Harvey who dies and gets resurrected — and Edward takes over his body instead.
The series has not shied away from gratuitous references to other horror pop culture, particularly those with ties to Satan. We recall episode three of this season, where Sabrina challenges the Devil in court with a lawyer named Daniel Webster, a nod to the movie-tv-radio adaptation The Devil and Daniel Webster, originally one of the many retellings of the Faust tale. We don’t see Sabrina’s Daniel Webster again in the first season, but if we look to his source material, something stands out: the Devil addresses himself — as he does in many retellings and folk tales, but this is the one that’s directly referenced so don’t get heated in the comments — as “Mr. Scratch.”
Sound familiar? Hunky witch-boy Nicholas Scratch shares the surname, and “Old Nick” is another epithet for the Devil. It could very well be possible that Nick has more to him than meets the eye. Right now, he’s just enamored with Sabrina, but it could very well be that he’s tied more closely to the Devil than we realize. This doesn’t refute the theories about Sabrina’s father: Nick mentions looking up to Edward Spellman and smuggles one of Edward’s supposedly under-lock-and-key journals to Sabrina quite easily. Maybe too easily.
By the end of season one, Sabrina is now fully entrenched into witch life (which bestows platinum blonde hair upon her, another little nod towards the comic book). She gives Harvey a tearful goodbye before she embarks the the Academy of Unseen Arts, linking pinkies with her former foes the Weird Sisters. Sabrina’s ready for everything the next season has to throw at her — and so are we.