WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the second season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, streaming now on Netflix.
Beloved Baxter High teacher Mary Wardwell was almost never what she seemed. After meeting with an untimely death in the series premiere of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Greendale's unofficial historian became the human vessel for the Devil's Handmaiden, better known as Madam Satan, and set out to execute the Dark Lord's master plan: maneuvering young Sabrina Spellman toward her destiny.
Portrayed by Michelle Gomez, the manipulative Ms. Wardwell eased into the role of Sabrina's mentor, presenting her with the answers to problems that only witchcraft could solve, again and again. She even created some of those situations herself, when it served Satan's purpose. But what is that, exactly? The second season of the Netflix drama finally lays it all out in its final episodes, with a revelation that, in the words of Nicholas Scratch, "changes everything."
A Daisy-Chain of Miracles
Although the audience has known all along that Madam Satan's every action disguised an ulterior motive, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) believed her teacher (and now principal) had only her best interests in mind. But, of course, each time Ms. Wardwell offered assistance -- advice, a spell book, a direct hand -- it was to ensure the teen witch performed specific acts, or miracles, and in a specific order.
In Season 2, Sabrina is struck down by witch-hunters (well, angels, actually) determined to extinguish the Church of Night, only to be resurrected as someone, or something, that's neither witch nor mortal. Announcing herself in her new form as "the Dark Lord's Sword," she can levitate, bring back the dead, heal the blind and control the weather, without incantation or sacrifice. She simply wills the acts to occur. It's disconcerting to those around her, sure, but it's also prescribed by prophecy.
Venturing into the boarded-up Tunnel 13 in the Greendale Mines, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) and Theo Putnam (Lachlan Watson) discover a mosaic that indicates Sabrina isn't, as she believes, the key to uniting witches and mortals, but instead the key to bringing about the apocalypse. Desperate to learn more, Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) pores over the "Tome of Tomes," the Codex Prognostica, from the library of the Academy of Unseen Arts, and uncovers an obscure reference to a "half-shadow girl" who will precipitate the End of Days by enacting "blasphemous versions of the miracles Jesus performed in the Bible."
In other words, the rough plots of the first two seasons.
Jesse Putnam's Exorcism
Season 1's sixth episode, "An Exorcism in Greendale," initially seemed like little more than an homage to 1973's The Exorcist in a series chock-full of nods to horror classics, from Night of the Living Dead to A Nightmare on Elm Street.
However, in light of the prophecy, we see the exorcism of Theo's uncle, Jesse Putnam, performed by Sabrina, Ms. Wardwell and Hilda Spellman (Lucy Davis), was intended to mimic similar rites said to have been carried out by Jesus, perhaps most famously with the Miracle of the Gadarene Swine and the casting out of the seven devils of Mary of Magdalene.
Tommy Kinkle's Resurrection
Harvey Kinkle's beloved older brother Tommy (Justin Dobies) is killed in a mine collapse in Season 1 caused by the vengeful Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen), two-thirds of the Weird Sisters. Guided down the shadowy path by Ms. Wardwell, Sabrina's solution is to resurrect Tommy by offering a sacrifice in the form of Agatha, who's then revived using the Cain Pit in the Spellman family cemetery. In the Gospels, Jesus resurrected the dead on multiple occasions, the most famous instance being Lazarus.
But, of course, Sabrina quickly discovers cheating death isn't so simple, which leads to the next "miracle."
Crossing Into Limbo
The Tommy Kinkle who miraculously survives from the mine collapse that claimed the lives of four others is incomplete; even Harvey's father recognizes that. He's, essentially, the walking dead, because his soul wasn't returned with his body. With Ms. Wardwell's aid (naturally), Sabrina crosses into Mortal Limbo in hopes of bringing Tommy's soul back with her. However, she fails in her mission, and Tommy is devoured by the monstrous Soul-Eater.
Harvey is then forced to kill his brother's revenant, an act that splits him and Sabrina apart. The teen witch's journey to Mortal Limbo presumably is intended to parallel the Harrowing of Hell.
In the climax of the first season, Sabrina finally relents and, at Ms. Wardwell's urging, signs her name in the Book of the Beast, so that the teen witch can summon the power to defeat the vengeful spirits of the Greendale Thirteen, and save the town. It seemed as if Sabrina pledging herself to the Dark Lord was Madam Satan's ultimate goal. However, it was only one important step toward fulfilling the prophecy that will allow Satan to assume his original form, as the fallen angel Lucifer, and rule the Earth.
After signing her name, Sabrina calls down hellfire -- she's only the fourth witch in history to do so -- and burns the Hanging Tree, which extinguishes the Greendale Thirteen, as well as the Red Angel of Death they summoned. It's unclear which biblical miracle that is supposed to mimic.
Restoring Sight to the Blind
Cursed, like the other women in her family, with a second sight referred to as "the cunning," Ros Walker (Jaz Sinclair) goes blind just as her grandmother did. Seeing her friend angry and increasingly isolated, Sabrina uses her newfound powers to cure her blindness, but only after an seemingly off-hand comment by Ms. Wardwell. The Gospels, of course, tell of numerous times when Jesus heals the blind.
The Ultimate Perversion of a Sacrifice
Ms. Wardwell has little to do with this one; in fact, she seeks to stop this final "miracle" from taking place, but is too late. Hoping to cancel the apocalypse, Sabrina enlists her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) to help with a mandrake ritual that will create a doppelganger to which she can transfer her powers. What's the worst that can happen?
What begins as a riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers soon turns tragic, when Sabrina is forced to kill her double, to prevent it from harming, or killing, anyone else. The problem -- well, one of them -- is that in killing "herself," Sabrina carries out the final step in the prophecy: the perversion of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.
Although there had been indications throughout the series that Madam Satan might not be as central to the Dark Lord's grand scheme as she envisioned, that doesn't click with Ms. Wardwell until Nick reads from the prophecy that the "half-shadow girl" will rule at Satan's side at the beginning of the new dawn. Confirmed as Lilith, who in Jewish mythology was the first woman, before Eve, Madam Satan believed she would be Lucifer's queen, and not merely lead his armies. It's the realization that she would never be anything more than the Devil's handmaiden that makes her abandon all of her hard work, and turn against her master.
Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle, Michelle Gomez as Mary Wardwell/Madam Satan, Jaz Sinclair as Rosalind Walker, Lachlan Watson as Theo Putnam, Chance Perdomo as Ambrose Spellman, Tati Gabrielle as Prudence Night, Adeline Rudolph as Agatha, Abigail Cowen as Dorcas, Gavin Leatherwood as Nick Scratch, Richard Coyle as Father Faustus Blackwood, Lucy Davis as Hilda Spellman and Miranda Otto as Zelda Spellman.