While the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina conjured up a spooky reimagining of the once colorfully cartoonish sitcom, Part 2 promised to take the popular Archie Comics character to even darker depths. We’ve seen hints of that so far, as Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) travels further down the Path of Night, but other than stealing gum and slaughtering a ridiculously goofy CGI werewolf, we haven’t fully switched on night-mode.
“The Missionaries,” written by Donna Thorland, is full-on, hell-raising, Satan-praising, Gothic horror nightmare fuel. Not only is it the darkest episode the show has ever done, but it’s also the best episode of the entire series so far. The action is disturbingly graphic and its message relentlessly evil. There isn’t the usual light-heartedness or soap-opera plotting to soften the more gruesome material. It’s like Thorland wrote this episode under a full moon while in the middle of a blood sacrifice - and I mean that in the best possible way.
Right from the episode’s opening moments, we know we’re in for a particularly violent hour of entertainment. It’s two weeks ago, a bloodied and beaten Luke (Darren Mann) is strung up from his feet, being tortured and eventually murdered by a Christian missionary called Jerathmeil (Spencer Treat Clark). The sweater-sporting converter explains he’s part of a group called The Order of the Innocents and is on a mission to evangelize the witches of Greendale. In other words, he’s a maniacal Witch Hunter.
The torture doesn’t stop there. This episode is filled with suffering and torment. Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) is still locked in the Witch’s Cell where he is abused and antagonized by the Weird Sisters. Left in charge of the Academy by a honeymooning Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) and her cohorts, Dorcas (Abigail F. Cowen) and Agatha (Adeline Rudolph), take immense pleasure in harrowing Ambrose with both physical and mental torture tactics.
Having been expelled from the Academy, Sabrina is helpless to save her cousin, and so she returns to Baxter High to seek solace from Ms. Wardwell (Michelle Gomes) and her mortal friends. But things are rough back home too. Sabrina has missed a lot, including the fact her best friend Roz (Jaz Sinclair) is blind and torturing herself by holing up in the library alone. Roz doesn’t want to be around others, and Sabrina’s promise of a curing spell does little to change her mood.
“Witches don’t cure people, they curse them,” says Roz, who posits that Sabrina was the one responsible for her losing her eyesight. “Right after I kiss your ex, I suddenly go blind?” she ponders. Roz’s anger is understandable, but it’s a dagger to the heart of Sabrina, especially when Harvey (Ross Lynch) backs his new girlfriend up. Sabrina has done a lot of dark and disturbing things, but she’s never intentionally hurt her friends, something which Theo (Lachlan Watson) tries to point out to Roz and Harvey.
As for Ms. Wardwell, who continues to grow fond of her fiancé Adam (Alexis Denisof), she is also put through the wringer. She is learning to love and seems ready to put her days of tormenting behind her, even agreeing to join Adam on his next charity expedition in Tibet. But it all comes to a head, literally, when the Dark Lord cruelly tricks Madame Satan and serves up her fiancé's decapitated head on a silver platter. Wardwell was sold out by her tattling familiar Stolas, allowing the Dark Lord to trick her.
The violence really ramps up in the homestretch; Jerathmeil is joined by his fellow Witch Hunters and ascends on Greendale with the intent to kill. Roz sees a vision of Sabrina sprawled out on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood and calls her to warn of the murderous missionaries. Hilda unleashes Dr. Cerberus’s (Alessandro Juliani) incubus to deal with her own witch killer, while Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood), who is drinking himself to death after his expulsion, is also ambushed by one of the hunters. Nick is saved by a seemingly invincible Dorian Gray (Jedidiah Goodacre), who survives an arrow to the neck.
The climax of the episode is a bloody rush of ultra-violence. The hunters break into the Academy and stalk through the halls armed with crossbows. It’s an eerie scene, and intentional or not, one can’t help to think of recent school-related tragedies. The missionaries overpower the spells of the Weird Sisters with some magic of their own — these mofos are angels!! Bloodthirsty angels from the heaven’s above. They take their victims into the desecrated church, cleansing the souls of evil and slicing throats like it's their day job. The Sisters, tied up to be burnt at the stake, watch on helplessly.
Meanwhile, Sabrina, Hilda, Nick, and Harvey “I Just Want To Help” Kinkle, arrive at the Academy where they find Ambrose with a knife in his shoulder. While the others stay to help Ambrose, Sabrina storms over to the church to put a stop to the angels of death. “I kneel before no one!” yells a defiant Sabrina as she runs into a flurry of arrows, each one piercing through her flesh. A thorny crown is placed upon her head to contain her powers. Our hero drops to the floor. Blood spills. This is it. Sabrina is... dead?
Then s**t really gets wild! As the hunters prepare to set the Sisters alight, Sabrina rises, her eyes demonically white, her voice deep and bellowing, her hands aflame. She floats above the pulpit like the scariest Macy’s Day Parade float you’ve ever seen. The spirit of the Dark Lord runs through her as she declares "I am the Dark Lord's sword" before burning the angels to dust and raising the dead back to life. The Sisters look on in awe, while Harvey arrives just in time to pull his best WTF face yet.
The whole sequence is brutal and badass and the most Satanic thing this show has ever done. We've talked about game-changing moments before, like the last episode when Sabrina got expelled from the Academy, but this is on a whole other level. It's hard to see how Sabrina could return to any semblance of normality after becoming a fire-starting hell demon. This show just got flipped upside down. Praise Satan indeed!
-It turns out Theo did know about Sabrina magically helping him with his basketball skills, and he is seemingly okay with that. I guess Theo has always been the one friend that realizes the good Sabrina can do with her supernatural powers. Though maybe he'd think differently if he saw demon Sabrina at the end of this episode.
-I need to know why Hilda hates Fawlty Towers.
-Witches can't teleport while drunk. Good to travel safety is a priority in the Church of Night.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Streaming, Netflix