Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Recap: The Vanishing Half

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Recap: The Vanishing Half

Photo: Diyah Pera/Netflix/Diyah Pera/Netflix

Well, the plot device we knew would eventually wreck havoc on all our realms — on Earth and in heaven, in hell and in these recaps — has finally blown up in Sabrinas’ faces. Two Brinas are not better than one when it comes to keeping all the realms in balance, especially when you’ve got an Eldritch Terror in the mix. But I have to say, though I found this little detour into doppelgänger-land a bit tedious, I do think the series found a way to resolve it that was basically satisfying, not too time-consuming and annoying (imagine if the entire last season had been about this disaster-in-the-making … no thank you), and managed to get in a cute little wink at the Sabrina of the ’90s.

But first: to the Celestial Realm, which looks like a third-grader’s science project, as if someone made one of those models of the solar system with styrofoam balls and glitter glue. An angel presides over this janky little setup while, on Earth, Brina and Roz take predictably pedestrian requests from Baxter High students — “why can’t we have waffle fries AND tater tots at lunch?” — only to discover that their charges now include one Nicholas Scratch, recent transfer. How does he already have a letter jacket? I recall getting a letter jacket to be kind of an involved process! On account of, first you had to earn your letter and then order the jacket and get it made with your name and your sport and stuff? But his magic expedited that process, as it helped him vault over the typical obstacles facing some random student with no report cards any ordinary American institution would recognize before being admitted to a public high school.

Nick says it isn’t fair that Sabrina was getting to know his world while he wasn’t making an effort to get to know hers. (“Also you were a sex addict,” she deadpans.) Fun fact: In my other freelance life, I write for “Date Lab,” this Washington Post Magazine column where we matchmake D.C. singles and send them on blind dates, and the number of women who tell me that men ask them zero questions and follow-up questions … it’s high! So I’m just saying, Nick is onto something here: Making an effort to get to know your significant other, very important, people like it, great job, Nick. That said, I did laugh when he said he wanted to be “part of your world” and Brina told him “calm down, Ariel.” Anyway: If there is even the TEENIEST chance she could EVER forgive him, well, Nick is willing to smolder against a locker at Baxter High for as long as it takes.

Meanwhile, Blackwood’s head is on a plate, and Prudence is trying to pry secrets from his brain to find out what the next Eldritch Terror is. To which I say: Wait, don’t we have a full list of terrors thanks to Ambrose? And didn’t four of them already come? AND we have Harvey’s dumb little doodles to assist here? So they already know it’s going to be one of four things … can’t they just … prepare for those four? It’s not that many things! But no, our extremely subtle show needs to have this scene where Blackwood’s secrets are literally stored in a locked safe inside his brain I mean come ON. Later she ropes Roz into doing some light torture using Blackwood’s maggot-ridden corpse. These are the scenes that I would cut immediately if someone asked me “how long should these episodes be? Is 59 minutes too long?” to which I would say “OBVIOUSLY YES THESE EPISODES ARE INTERMINABLE FOR NO REASON.”

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Back at Brina’s house, Lilith is exhausted by childcare but continues to look fabulous, and somehow has the time and energy to light 8,000 candles. Her plan is to just stay in this room until Adam turns 16, becomes a man, and can challenge his dad for the throne, at which point Lilith will become queen mother. Hilda is understandably rattled but Lilith, who has already waited millennia to reign over hell, has perspective.

And in the infernal realm, Ms. Morningstar says hell isn’t working because it’s overcrowded and “too many souls are suffering for no reason.” Okay, but isn’t that the POINT of hell? Apparently not! Morningstar wants criminal justice reform — commuting the sentences of non-violent offenders, like shellfish-eaters and polyester-wearers, by instituting a “one soul in, one soul out” rule. This would be funny if it weren’t such a random distraction from the core of our show and if this series had any coherent logic behind how these realms operated. Anyway, this conversation is cut short when two Baxter High teens plummet into hell from above, whoops!

A few more instances of hell things bursting into Baxter High and vice versa reveal what Ambrose feared would happen: The realms are colliding. Sabrina is like, cool, but can you fix this telescope for the telescope club pleeeease?? Ambrose: Maybe after we are done … fighting the Eldritch Terrors … which threaten to destroy humanity and the world as we know it …???! She does not deserve him, I swear to Hecate.

Ambrose tells Sabrina the obvious, again: They cannot keep this from the aunties, who need to know there are two Sabrinas. Sabrina decides it’s time to be a grown-up and “actually take responsibility” for her actions, and Ambrose is as stunned as I am. But by the time she gets to Aunt Z’s office, Morningstar and her entourage are already there, depriving Spellman of the chance to do the right thing (way too late, hardly seems worth giving her credit for it).

Everything Aunt Z says and does in this scene is just perfection, from, “I’ve already heard the truth from Lucifer who, unbelievably, lies less than you do,” to the revelation that she is familiar with MUCH of the Disney canon which INCLUDES the Parent Trap, thank you very much, to her dragging Ambrose, who is 134 years old, for allowing this teen dumb-dumb to “bully” him. I don’t know about worshipping Hecate but I will pray to Miranda Otto for wisdom, truth, and impeccable delivery.

As the Brinas take some time to strategize, Nick shows up, and of course he does not yet know there are two of them but he DOES know something is awry when Sabrina is wearing a red headband. He proclaims both his love and his willingness to leave Sabrina alone because he respects her agency (hot!) if she tells him it’s definitely over. Morningstar tells him that she’s not who he thinks she is, all will be made clear in time, etc. Then the Sabrinas have a summit about how they’ve caused a paradox, which is bad. Lucifer offers up a cheery solution: “What if we kill a Sabrina?” Nick bursts in with a crazy idea: using magnetic fields to reverse the polarities and have the realms repel each other. Honestly, great idea, Nick! Someone was paying attention in science class today. Spellman calls this “parent trapping the realms” and I gotta say, I don’t totally see how that makes sense here, but sure.

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They summon opposing energies — as usual this mostly involves shouting in Latin and raising their arms and making the room look all shaky — but just as it’s working they realize this is more like separating conjoined twins a.k.a. this speedy division could destroy both realms in the process. So it’s back to square one. And then pearls start to fall from the sky — get it, like the pearly gates? LOL anyway, it’s time for that angel to get involved.

Her angelic solution is actually the same as Lucifer’s: For the cosmos to live, a Sabrina must die. Doesn’t matter which! OR the Sabrinas can merge into some super-Sabrina, but no one really knows how that would shake out, like which memories she’d keep and (most importantly) if she’s be the one who loves Caliban or Nick. Somehow they are granted six final hours in their separate lives to just do whatever they have to do, and it’s quite telling that Morningstar spends this time not with her husband, who she supposedly loves and would die for etc., but instead with her mortal friends, doing one last jam session with her bandmates. And, praise whatever deity is responsible for this, Spellman uses this last call to have sex with Nick.

HOWEVER. This scene that I have been rooting for, that we all have been waiting for, that should be the best best best, is made cringe-y and almost unwatchable by the fact that it is scored by the sounds of Morningstar and her band covering — I canNOT with this shit — “Total Eclipse of the Heart”?!?!? WHAT. WHAT. NO. I know that Spellman can’t hear it but like, who has sex to the sound of their own voice and their ex-boyfriend’s voice?? Also the cover is bad!! Why do they keep thinking this band is good enough that we would rather hear their Kidz Bop karaoke covers of classic songs than just … hear good music? Why do these CW and CW-adjacent shows keep trying to make musicals happen? This is like that sad Party City Halloween music video they released last year that I hoped was a joke but I think was serious? Like, was I supposed to think it was a good song? HELP ME. Well, at least Sabrina had such a good time her headband came out. Good for you, Brina.

Lilith, who also was given six hours to live or give up her son or whatever, coos to Adam that Lucifer will never have him. Later she says to Lucifer that she’s basically cooked her kid into dinner, much like Lucifer cooked her lover Adam into dinner for her. I’m pretty sure we are supposed to believe this is a bluff, yes? But it goes quite far because Lucifer curses Lillith with mortality, which means she will age and wither and have no magical powers and have to just be a regular person … a fate worse than death, no offense to us.

Back at the Academy, it’s time to do the merge. However, as it is getting underway Ambrose shows up; he fixed that telescope and he saw through it that there are three new realms approaching on a collision course with this one and THOSE realms are the next Eldritch Terror. Everyone is like, woooow okay, interesting that this celestial “friend” didn’t say anything about this?? And the angel is like (paraphrasing here) you’re all idiots and keeping two Sabrinas would cause chaos at some point so let’s just deal with this now! Then there’s a lot of fuss over success rates of merging (medium) or homicide (hmm). The angel keeps pushing for the merge so the Aunties and Lucifer use magic to snap her neck. I feel like there will be consequences for that?

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Time for yet another plan! (You know, in a tight 40-minute episode we wouldn’t have time for there to be approximately 8 million exhausting plans … just saying.) They can send a Sabrina to the other Earth, which is similar but not identical to this one. Which Brina goes? They do rock-paper-scissors to determine the inevitable: Morningstar Brina, who has existed for maybe two months and to whom none of us has any real emotional attachment, is off to another world. She steps through a wormhole, lands in her bedroom, where Beth Broderick and Caroline Rhea, Aunt Zelda and Hilda from the ’90s Sabrina, welcome her home to the sound of a little laugh track. Cute!

When all this is over, Prudence goes back to Blackwood to ask him how to stop the next Eldritch Terror. She has some very Zero Dark Thirty ideas about how to get information out of him. Again I say: Now that it’s down to three terrors plus Roz’s cunning plus Harvey’s crayon pictures … why do you need Blackwood for any of this? It’s not like you’re doing any work to prepare with the information you already have!

That night, Brina is moodily staring out the window while Nick is there, in his underwear because of this show’s admirable commitment to male near-nudity and because of the sex-positive energy of the Spellman household, 10/10 on both counts. She wishes on a falling star for everyone’s safety, which is pretty corny but maybe because she’s a witch it’s also a thing that really works?

There is also a whole side plot in this episode which I am curious if you all care about, because I have to say given the stakes of the season and how we barely even know Robin/Puck, it doesn’t really feel all that meaningful to me. Should they break up? Should Robin abandon his entire way of life and community for a guy he’s been dating for … six weeks? Am I supposed to be invested in this relationship? Please argue away in the comments!

Ongoing mysteries: Baby Adam is still alive, right? He’s gotta be alive somewhere. I don’t think this show, which can barely stomach killing adults for real, would murder a baby. Is this really and truly the last we’ll see from Morningstar? What’s Caliban going to get up to in hell now that the moderating influence of his anti-torture bride his gone?

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