Tuesday, April 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' - Sabrina Tries to Stop the Apocalypse in 'Chapter Twenty: The Mephisto Waltz'

Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Episode 1.20 "Chapter Twenty: The Mephisto Waltz"

Light and night cross paths once more as Greendale faces the Dark Lord's prophecy and Prudence challenges Father Blackwood's ruthless plan.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

"Chapter Twenty: The Mephisto Waltz" was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Rob Seidenglanz

This finale has an overwhelming amount of plot to it. It absolutely runs the risk of having too much happening in the hopes of keeping the audience entertained and on the edge of their seats for the full 61 minute running time. It's quite repetitive as well. As such, some of the big moments don't land as effectively as they probably should because the audience doesn't feel the connection to them in a way that makes them emotionally significant. This finale also hinges so much on the audience's connection to Sabrina and Nick as a romantic couple. Yes, the second half of the season absolutely committed to the two of them together while Harvey and Roz also became a strong pairing. And yet, Sabrina was also plagued with doubts about this relationship and whether Nick is a good influence for her. There was always the sense that some twist was coming. It was the expected plot beat. The show never made it seem like Nick was a multi-dimensional character. That doesn't make it all that surprising when the Dark Lord reveals that Nick has been spying on Sabrina for him. It plays as a shock to the audience. It functions differently than everything we have seen so far. The audience has known that Wardwell was conspiring against Sabrina. But now, Nick has also invaded her personal space to force this prophecy into happening. Of course, it's a little too vague in the specific details. The show just hopes to add some complications to the pairing in order to make the climatic moment sting even more. Sabrina has to be more conflicted than ever before about her feelings towards Nick. As such, that punctuates the sacrifice he is willing to make in order to save her life and avert the apocalypse. Everyone is almost singularly focused on that as well. There is conflict going on within the Church of Night too. That's where Zelda and Hilda's priorities are at the start of the finale. They quickly drop those concerns after learning the Dark Lord has returned to his physical being and plans on making Sabrina his queen to rule over all witches and mortals. They are horrified by that prospect because they see it as an ancient being marrying a child. A lifetime of devotion doesn't make them at all curious as to the Dark Lord's plans and hoping that all of this could be seen as a great honor. Instead, the family comes together to stand strongly against this threat. They will protect Sabrina no matter what. And then, Sabrina immediately goes off to have a sit down with the Dark Lord. That moment reveals that he is her true father. She has no claim to the Spellman name whatsoever. That is a blunt reveal. But again, the finale really doesn't have time to linger on that moment and how it changes everything Sabrina has always known. Instead, she is conspiring with her family and Wardwell to find a way to either kill or imprison the Dark Lord. That's the component of this hour that really grows repetitive as they hatch plan after plan seeming like they have prevailed only for him to be too powerful.

In the end, the apocalypse is only stopped because Nick is willing to sacrifice himself to be the human vessel that can contain the Dark Lord. He is then placed under a sleeping spell to ensure that his influence can never be felt in the world any more. That is devastating to Sabrina but could leave the audience cold. Again, it's dependent on how people feel about that relationship. Meanwhile, Madam Satan's motivations have always been shifting. Here, she outlines the connection she formed with the Dark Lord early in their relationship and why she has been loyal throughout the years. But she is also honest in saying that she is only helping Sabrina now in the hopes that she can finally get what she has always wanted. She is betrayed by the Dark Lord for the last time. She feels that she deserves the crown for always being loyal to him. Instead, he is giving it to Sabrina even though she had no choice about the decisions she made throughout the past season. He makes that perfectly clear when she challenges the narrative he is trying to spin about her life and the inevitability of this moment. He is still caught off guard in the end. He is imprisoned. Madam Satan returns him to Hell. She will rule over as the new queen. But it's uncertain how long that will last because Sabrina is already plotting a way to save her boyfriend. That may not be a smart move at all. She recognizes that it may get her and her friends killed. She is still willing to do so because he risked everything for her. He didn't want the world to end but his life did through this action. Plus, Sabrina's mortal friends are more than capable of fighting against these supernatural threats now as well. They stop the gates of Hell from opening and letting the demons out to celebrate Sabrina's ascension. They do so because of Roz's visions and Harvey's drawing skills. They are an effective team who will remain loyal no matter what. That bond is strong. Everything else is left in turmoil though. Blackwood would rather destroy the church than follow Sabrina's orders. He tries to kill all of his students and escape with the twins. He doesn't succeed because Prudence hopes to save as many lives as she can. It just leaves her as a scorned daughter willing to take vengeance against him. He survives this season despite every horrible thing he has done. Hunting him down won't be easy. But Prudence and Ambrose are united in that quest which makes for a very exciting character pairing - more so than when they were just having casual sex. And finally, Zelda also achieves the power she has always wanted. Sabrina may have wanted to be the first High Priestess in the coven. But now, Zelda takes on that role. She does so fully aware that everything they have always known about witchcraft is in disarray. The Dark Lord deceived all of them. Their powers may not be as great as they once were. But she is willing to figure it all out and lead the students down the right path. As such, everyone is taking the steps to rebuild and find a new way forward now that the apocalypse has ended.