Inverse and Personal Epiphanies in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s “The Epiphany”

For Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (CAOS) fans, the wait is over as Part 2 of Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix as of April 5th. We pick up right where we left off from the holiday special with Witch Epiphany in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: The Epiphany”—written by Roberto-Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan.

This episode focuses on Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) facing off against the attentions of the three demon kings of Epiphany and on trying to find out who is conjuring and sending them to destroy her. The other witch world plot focuses on the “Three Challenges of Witchcraft’ (the Inquisition, Boil and Bubble, and the Conjuring) that Sabrina and rival/love interest the Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) must undertake to achieve “Top Boy” or as Sabrina calls it “Top Person” status at the Academy of Unseen Arts. The Top Person is the liaison between teachers and students, and securing the honored position puts that student on the fast track to becoming High Priest—or if Sabrina prevails, High Priestess.

There’s a subplot in the witch world about Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) asking Father Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle), current High Priest of the Church of the Night, to define their relationship, which has been a “midwife with benefits” situation after his wife died in childbirth. He wants to keep things quiet until after the mourning period so Zelda makes their relationship strictly professional until she can be acknowledged.

Another brief subplot involves Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) asking Father Blackwood to acknowledge her as his daughter and to let her compete for Top Person. He answers in the negative to both requests and is happy to relegate this extremely powerful witch to babysitting his son Judas.

In the mortal world, there’s an extremely brief subplot about Sabrina’s friend Susie (Lachlan Watson), now Theo, trying out for the boys’ basketball team. We believe at first that this is because there’s no girls’ team but Theo shares his identity as transgender to Roz and Harvey right after tryouts.

Another mortal subplot has Roz (Jaz Sinclair) comforting Harvey (Ross Lynch), who still misses Sabrina. While talking with Harvey, Roz is startled by a vision of the two of them kissing against the lockers.

I’ll delve into a few of these subplots as they pertain to personal epiphanies later in the article but will start with covering the inverse Epiphany storyline.

Inverse Epiphany

Three Demon Kings in COAS

In the postscript cliffhanger of the holiday special which aired between Parts 1 and 2 of Season 1, Hilda says, “Now, if we can just get through Witch Epiphany without some other terror rising from the bowels of hell” as we saw the three subverted demonic Wiseman bearing gifts. In my holiday special article I questioned whether they would be bringing gifts for a new antichrist and if so whether this is Sabrina—the newly minted dark witch with extreme potential and platinum hair—or one of both of Father Blackwell’s newborn twins, Leticia and Judas? We find out that Sabrina is their intended “gift” recipient in this episode and will surely learn more about why she is such a threat to demons in the ten episodes of Part 2.

Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is celebrated as the day that the magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the Christ child. The day also represents Christ’s manifestation as the son of God to Christians. In this episode, the dark or inverted Epiphany consists of three demonic Plague Kings bearing plagues to destroy the “half witch before she ascends”. She may be a kind of savior to both humans and witches as a half mortal half witch with incredible power. She strives to protect all beings by challenging the Church of the Night’s traditions of killing mortals and of the murder and cannibalization of young witches as part of their rituals. A witch that can unite humans and witches would be extremely helpful to the future of witches as history has shown that humans tend to persecute and kill witches as well as mortals suspected to be or falsely accused of being witches. The demons’ motives for wanting to destroy her may be that they would like to see the end of witches since those witches with the power to conjure can call and bind demons to do their bidding. The demons appear to be in direct rebellion against the Dark Lord, who seems to have grand plans for Sabrina and is all for her embracing her newly heightened powers, realized once she signed the Book of the Beast.

Edward Spellman gives Baby Sabrina to the Dark Lord

The episode begins with Sabrina dreaming of walking through snow flurries in a white shift to what at first appears to be a quaint living nativity scene in the woods. However, we know from the first ten episodes of CAOS, the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the film The Witch that nothing particularly holy happens in the woods. It’s actually a vision of her as a baby being given by her father to the Dark Lord Satan while her aunts look on. Three demon kings approach to apparently worship her just before she wakes up.

Asmodeus visits the Library in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Asmodeus, the First Demon King

Our first demon visitor is Asmodeus, Lord of Vermin. He pays a surprise visit to Sabrina at the Academy of the Unseen Arts library as she bones up on her witch history for the first “Top Person” witch trivia challenge, the Inquisition. He announces “You are the child” and brings her “tidings of filth and disease.” He calls on his “minions of plague rats to feast on flesh of bastard witch.” With her increased power after signing the book of the Dark Lord, she easily finds just the right spell in a book that she magically causes to float to herself and disintegrates him to ash on the spot. The way she easily dispatches him clues in the audience that her powers are growing and it’s more than wearing black, going platinum and being more interested in attending witch school than good old mortal Baxter High.

Sabrina argues with Ambrose in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Safely back at home and intensely angry, Sabrina argues with her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) and accuses his boyfriend Luke (Darren Mann) or one of their other warlock boys of summoning Asmodeus, King of Demons. Ambrose in turn accuses her of barely attending and not being committed to the Academy of the Unseen Arts and going against their church’s every ritual and tradition. She says “only the ones that involve the murder and cannibalization of young witches.” Her anger and newly increased dark power causes winds to blow and furniture to shake until Aunt Hilda nervously interrupts.

Sabrina with a witch whistle in CAOS

Purson, the Second Demon King

Our second demon visitor is Purson, Lord of Shadow. After winning the academy’s knowledge challenge, The Inquisition, with the help of the Weird Sisters telepathically transmitting the answers to her, Sabrina walks home alone in woods for some reason. The demon Purson appears behind her and says, “Bow, girl” while releasing a horde of bats from his trench coat which chase and circle her. Purson pursues her with a knife and she blows the witch whistle that Aunt Zelda has given her for protection, which causes Purson to hold his ears in agony and disappear.

Sabrina casts spell in CAOS.

Beelzebub, the Third Demon King

Our third demon visitor is Beelzebub, Lord of Flies. After Sabrina somehow loses the Bubble and Boil potion challenge, Hilda convinces Sabrina to cheer herself up by visiting her mortal friends at Baxter High. Hilda continues her role of trying to help Sabrina hold on to her humanity even though she is complicit in the original bargain that consecrated baby Sabrina to the Dark Lord. Sabrina secretly helps Susie/Theo secure a place on the boys’ basketball team with dark spells in the Baxter High gymnasium but realizes shortly afterwards that she again needs to distance herself from her mortal friends to protect them when the time in the near future when the Dark Lord will call in a favor from her in return for the new powers she never asked for. As she leaves the high school, Beelzebub appears and grabs her in hallway. She soon wakes up in the school boiler room with flies buzzing ominously in the background. After Beelzebub binds Sabrina’s hands from spell making, Principal Wardwell (Michelle Gonzalez) calls his name and binds him. He recognizes Ms. Wardwell as Madame Satan but she vanquishes him just as he’s about to reveal her true name to Sabrina. Wardwell takes this opportunity to plant the seed that Nick Scratch, who is a master at conjuring, may be the one calling these demons to hunt Sabrina.

Demon kings at the Conjuring in CAOS

Sabrina rushes to confront the supportive yet slightly dangerous “in a new crush way” Nick Scratch but they quickly join forces. Nick recognizes the unholy gifts of “rats, bats, and flies” as the calling cards of the Plague Kings who are too highly ranked to be conjured by even the best student conjurer. Both soon suspect Father Blackwell as the culprit. In the third “Top Person” challenge, the Conjuring, Sabrina and Nick work together to conjure the Plague Kings in a combined “Sacred Geometry” binding circle, command that they name themselves and reveal who conjured them. The high king demons reveal that they were not conjured by anyone but came to stop the “half-breed witch from ascending.” Blackwood makes fast work of banishing the demons and names Ambrose as Top Boy to punish Sabrina and Nick for working together.

Personal Epiphanies

Never a series to waste a pun, double meaning or reference, this episode also deals with many of the characters having their own personal epiphanies. An epiphany in this sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking, an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, or a revealing scene or moment.”

Sabrina perceives that she has more power than ever before and that she enjoys it. Yes, she’s wearing black and has platinum hair but it’s more about embracing her dark witch side and coming into her own power. She seems to be in a constant state of epiphany through this episode. She also realizes that she needs to take the power from the patriarchy of the Church of the Night and to achieve this she must commit to her studies and role at the Academy of Unseen Arts. She now knows that she can’t be near her mortal friends in order to keep them safe from her new darkness. She seems to forget this for a moment as she watches Theo’s basketball tryout but remembers quickly when images of her signing the Book of the Beast crowd into her memory. She sadly realizes that her mortal life at Baxter High is over and she has no choice but to embrace her new life and use her new powers to shape it.

Hilda’s epiphany is the full extent of the damage she and Zelda have done to Sabrina by signing her away to the path of Dark. Hilda always believed that she and Sabrina could beat the system. They could sign their souls away on paper but still live their daily lives much as they want to. During a heart to heart with Hilda, Sabrina explains that she needs to stay away from her mortal friends because the Dark Lord may need her to do his bidding at any moment and the mortals would likely be in harm’s way. The Dark Lord has special plans for Sabrina and will require more of her than the average witch who simply signs his book. Hilda’s eyes fill with tears and she embodies shock and regret as finally grasps that Sabrina is right and that she has been in denial with her misguided attempts at steering Sabrina back towards her mortal friends and old life.

Theo talks to Roz in CAOS.

Roz and Harvey realize that the friend they knew as Susie wants more than just to play on the boys’ basketball team because Baxter High inexplicably doesn’t have a girls’ team. Susie has been trying to reveal that he is transgender to them slowly and after securing a place on the basketball team, calmly asks them to call him Theo from now on. This moment of realization isn’t expanded on in this episode but will be explored further in the Part 2 episodes.

Harvey and Roz vision in CAOS.

Roz realizes her nascent feelings for Harvey through a vision sent to her by The Cunning, a curse on her family from a witch which causes blindness but gives them the second sight as they come of age. While Roz places her hand on his to comfort Harvey who still misses Sabrina, she has a vision of the two of them kissing against the lockers. She is made uncomfortable and guilty by this epiphany. Harvey does not have a similar epiphany and misses the cues but this relationship will be explored more this season.

Wardwell and friends at Baxter High in CAOS

Principal Wardwell/Madame Satan realizes that the Dark Lord has more planned for Sabrina than she knew. She thought she was simply grooming Sabrina to replace her as Satan’s foot soldier so that Madame Satan could move up from that role and rule by his side as Queen of Hell. Watching Sabrina come into her new powers and seeing high demon kings seek to destroy her as a threat makes her realize that the Dark Lord has grand plans for Sabrina that may just include Sabrina as the Queen of Hell. The episode ends as Madame Satan conjures up Satan and demands to know his plans for Sabrina. We can’t imagine that he will like being conjured up like your average demon and questioned so the future doesn’t look particularly bright for Madame Satan. Her epiphany may have come too late.

Stay tuned for more coverage of Part 2, the last ten episodes of Season 1 of CAOS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Linda Novak

Night of the living dead

How George A. Romero, King of the Dead, Blew My Mind

Joe Bob Briggs hosts the Shudder series "The Last Drive-In"

Joe Bob Briggs Has Something To Say (And We’re Still Listening)