This review contains spoilers.
1.10 The Witching Hour
“Are you a witch?”
Those words and how they are answered are at the heart of this season finale. Having already revealed the truth about her duality to a distraught Harvey in the previous episode, Sabrina now finds herself unburdening herself to Roz and Susie – both of whom already suspect thanks to their interactions with Nana Ruth and Aunt Dorothea respectively.
Sabrina tells her friends everything in a touching moment that illustrates just how strong their bond is. While this is a victory for our heroine, Ms. Wardwell realizes that her plot of ripping Sabrina away from her mortal ties has blown up in her face. She hatches a even deadlier plan, this one involving the ghosts of the Greendale Thirteen, witches who were sacrificed decades ago during the community’s own Salem period. Worse still, their supernatural peers turned a blind eye to the murderous actions of the townsfolk in order to remain hidden and keep the peace. Wardwell’s plan is to use dark magic to have them serve as harbingers for the Red Angel of Death, who will slaughter the town’s first born and generally be a pain in the ass.
This plan is so solid that it even causes the Academy of Unseen Arts’ statue of Baphomet (the very one that the Satanic Temple is currently suing the series over alleged unauthorised use of) to bleed – the most ominous of signs.
But before any confrontations with true evil can occur, Sabrina tries to talk to Harvey in Baxter High’s library. “I could never hate you,” he declares, but can things ever be as they were before? There’s no time to answer this, as an astral projected Aunt Hilda shows up to tell Sabrina she must attend an emergency meeting by the Church of Night to deal with this impending threat. “She wasn’t really here, was she?,” asks Harvey, who is having the weirdest week of his life.
At the meeting, Father Blackwood reveals the truth about the Greendale Thirteen and how the Church of Night sold them out to his unholy practitioners. Their plan? To hold up inside the impenetrable Academy of Unseen Arts during the crisis while the rest of the town burns. Heroic!
Despite her loyalty to the Church, Zelda believes in something much stronger – her family. “We are Spellmans, that means we stand tall and do what’s right,” she declares. How perfect was it to see Zelda have this moment? She has grown so much this season,with her now embracing the inherent good she possesses.
A plan is put into action: The Spellmans will conjure up a tornado that will cause the townspeople to take refuge in the safest place in town, which just so happens to be the bowels of Baxter High.
Harvey is so rightfully over all of this witch whathaveyou, he opts to stay in his home. Sabrina sends Nicholas Scratch to help him just in case the Red Angel of Death decides to pop by for a visit. Nick, ever the nice guy to the point that he has to be full of shit, right?, tells Harvey that Sabrina is completely dedicated to him and him alone.
At Nana Ruth’s with Roz, Susie uses her family connection to remind the witches that her Aunt Dorothea was a friend to them. This does the trick and they leave her alone, although the Red Angel is still on its way.
Meanwhile, at Baxter High, Aunt Hilda is left holding down the fort after Zelda and Ambrose are both transported to the Academy of the Unseen Arts. (Zelda to deal with a now-in-labor Lady Blackwood and Ambrose whisked there by Luke, who picked a really inconvenient time to declare his love).
That leaves Sabrina and Wardwell working together to save the town. And the only way for Sabrina to achieve that goal is to choose “the path of night.” After a brief internal debate about having to exchange her freedom for power, Sabrina finally signs her name in the Book of the Beast. A wave of power washes over her, and she travels to the Hanging Tree where the Greendale Thirteen were initially killed and uses the full strength of her Satanic powers to eradicate them and the Red Angel of Death for good. Plus she gets a new hairdo in the process. Win win!
In the immediate aftermath of the town’s salvation, Nana Ruth passes away as Roz seems to embrace her Cunning abilities. Lady Blackwood dies during delivery. Both twins are healthy, but since the firstborn is a girl, Zelda tells Father Blackwood that only his son survived – taking the other baby to raise as her own. She reveals this plan to a confused Hilda, whose subsequent remark of “did you make a magic baby?” is the best joke of the season. And yeah, this will put one massive crimp in her personal relationship with Faustus as well as the Church of night in future instalments.
But Hilda seems to have no interest in helping Zelda raise the baby, as her newfound independence is moving into her own room and helping further her relationship wth Doctor Cerebus. (Whose glowing eyes indicate that he isn’t what he appears either).
Meanwhile, Ms Wardwell, who has been narrating this entire tale to a captive Prinicpal Hawthorne reveals her true self. She is the mother of demons, Madame Satan, “the future queen of hell.” She murders Hawthorne and consumes him. But when her familiar suggests that the devil is actually grooming Sabrina to serve that role, Madame Satan kills him on the spot.
While her friends at Baxter High wonder what will become of her, we see Sabrina back at the Academy of Unseen Arts, super chummy with the Wyrd Sisters and giving Nick (and the viewers) and mischevious wink. Does this wink indicate that she has gone “full dark, no stars,” or is she merely showing that she is now fully in charge of her own destiny?
We will have to wait until whenever the second season gets underway for answers to these questions. Sadly.
One minor nitpick: The biggest problem with this season has been how the otherwise intelligent Sabrina never seems to acknowledge how Ms Wardwell is secretly controlling her actions. Frustrating to be sure. Now that she has the full power of Satan behind her, she will likely be aware next season. That’s all fine and good, but the manipulation crossed the line into contrivance in this finale. An annoying factor in an otherwise solid conclusion.
This was a hugely satisfying finale that sets up the next ten episodes in exhilarating fashion. What exactly does it mean for Sabrina now that her name is in the Book of the Beast? Expect this question to be explored in depth when the show returns. Bring on more of the strange magic.