Sabrina has always been a show with girl power (and power hair, courtesy of Miss Wardell) but when Sabrina told Roz and Susie she was a witch in the girl’s bathroom and, instead of being horrified, they surrounded her for a group hug — it may have been the worst case scenario for Miss Wardell, but it was a wonderful statement on the part of the show.
Breaking up Harvey and Sabrina was supposed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back (note: in this metaphor, Sabrina’s the camel) and many TV shows (even the Chilling Adventures comics) would concur with that. The comics and the show are different animals at this point, but Harvey was the mortal in Sabrina’s life in the comics. On the show, Sabrina’s friendships are equally valued. Their stories have never been forgotten, no matter what else is going on, and the show won’t fall apart if Harvey and Sabrina don’t end up back together because they’ve always maintained their other relationships at the same time.
If Sabrina cuts ties with her friends, though, where does that leave the show? “The Witching Hour” sees Miss Wardell raise the Greendale 13 from the dead so they can carry out their revenge-y take on the Passover story, where every witch and mortal firstborn living in Greendale is to be killed. Where finales often start from a place where characters are apart but come together, “The Witching Hour” does the opposite. Harvey and Sabrina are broken up (the immediate change, where Hilda can astral project in front of him, after so many years of keeping Sabrina’s witch life a secret, is an adjustment), but the Spellmans are going to rally and protect the mortals. While the other witches gather in their “magical doomsday bunker,” the Spellmans send the mortals running to Baxter High, so they’re gathered in one spot.
The threat against them is fierce, but they’re facing it together until, suddenly, they’re not. Everyone shows up at Baxter High except Sabina’s friends. Zelda gets called away to help Lady Blackwood with her twins (and then steals Lady Blackwood’s daughter when she dies, and Faustus can’t be trusted — high priest or no high priest, I’m not sure why the show thinks we care about Lord Blackwood’s heir and Zelda snatching a baby feels like a dead end).
Ambrose’s boyfriend makes Ambrose show up at the Academy, proving Nick’s theory that witch love is selfish love. He doesn’t consider Ambrose’s wishes or the fact that he’s treating Ambrose like a prisoner, which is literally his worst nightmare. Instead, Luke says “I love you” for the first time but can we be entirely certain Aunt Hilda’s love potion isn’t still in effect?
Hilda is the one character who, beginning to end, absolutely flawless. This beautiful, ray of sunshine also happens to be one of the show’s biggest heroes, as she remains to protect Baxter High by herself. The reveal that her boyfriend isn’t human is the perfect tease, for when the show returns in season two.
Susie has a cool hero moment, when she stands up to the witch that appears to threaten her, Roz, and Nana Rose.
Harvey is so determined not to be seen as a coward that he doesn’t use his brain.
While no one can say they would’ve survived to 1 AM, if Sabrina hadn’t signed the Book of the Beast, they were holding their own and might have made it if Sabrina hadn’t despaired.
Sabrina signing the Book of the Beast was always going to be disappointing. By not mentioning the thirteen until this episode, I feel like the show got away with preventing viewers from thinking of the malum malice, though in retrospect it seems obvious (and maybe some people did put it together). More than Sabrina signing the book, though, I think my hang-up with the finale is the final image: Sabrina, walking with the Weird sisters, winking at the camera.
Instead of a Sabrina who’s remorseful about signing the book (the one we saw breaking up with Harvey for his protection), we see a Sabrina who’s fully embraced being a witch and who has no regrets about calling up hellfire to burn them. Is this an act for her witch peers or an all-new Sabrina?
Other thoughts on the season finale:
- While protecting Harvey for Sabrina feels like hyperbole, Nick deserves a lot more credit than I’ve been giving him. I certainly never saw him encouraging Sabrina to not lose hope of a reconciliation with Harvey.
- As a one off, Miss. Wardell sitting by the fire, acting like a horror host, works, but the reveal that Principal Hawthorne is her captive audience could’ve been better (the shots of the back of the chair, to create anticipation for the reveal, are very Psycho).
- I guess future Queens of Hell don’t need familiars. RIP Stolas
- While Hilda would usually be the one to encourage Sabrina to go back to school, it was cool to see Zelda navigate comforting Sabrina. There are few things sweeter than her promise to sit by Sabrina’s side at night, until she falls asleep, and if she’s honest about the situation, she’s also supportive about being there to help.
- Before Sabrina signs the book there’s a montage of scenes from earlier in the season, including Sabrina running into her mother in limbo. This time, though, there’s an added line about Diana being told Sabrina was dead after her baptism. Is Lady Blackwood’s daughter not the first baby Zelda’s snatched in her life?
- I guess it was cool to see Sabrina with lighter locks, but since Kiernan Shipka’s hair color is already light, it wouldn’t have been necessary.
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming on Netflix.