[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina through the Season 4 finale, “Chapter Thirty-Six: At the Mountains of Madness.”]
More than two years after its premiere, the Netflix original series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has finally wrapped up. The series, created by Riverdale‘s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, was a macabre twist on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch story that transported us to Greendale, the town neighboring Riverdale where more supernatural hijinks occurred than anything on The CW series Supernatural. The series starred Kiernan Shipka as the titular Sabrina Spellman, a young witch whose encounters with other witches, warlocks, angels, demons, pagans, spooky creatures, and a familiar named Salem kept fans fascinated for four seasons.
Sadly, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (a.k.a. CAOS) was canceled in July, months ahead of its December 31 premiere. This meant fans would have to ready themselves for Season 4, as it would be the last-ever installment of CAOS, and the final episode of Season 4 — which now doubles as the series finale — ended on a variety of messy, unfulfilling notes that will likely leave fans of the show with more questions than answers. In an effort to make sense of it all, let’s review the major events of the series finale, “Chapter Thirty-Six: At the Mountains of Madness,” and examine where CAOS leaves our beloved characters.
What Happens in the CAOS Series Finale?
The primary conflict in CAOS Season 4 revolved around Sabrina’s two identities — Sabrina Spellman and Sabrina Morningstar (they’ll be referred to as “Spellman” and “Morningstar” from here on out) — and their loved ones defeating the eight Eldritch Terrors invited into their realms by Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) and subsequently threatening to wreak havoc on those realms. By the time we reach “At the Mountains of Madness,” seven of the eight Eldritch Terrors have been destroyed. The final Terror, The Void, appears in Episode 7, “The Endless,” when Morningstar is in the secondary cosmos, which is revealed to be a meta version of Greendale where everything exists as a TV show.
The episode begins with a bang. A framing device for the episode sees Miss Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) reading the events of the episode we’re about to see as a story to members of The Pilgrims of the Night, the church begun by Blackwood. From here, it’s revealed that Morningstar makes it out of the other cosmos but is near death. Before she dies in Spellman’s arms, Morningstar warns of the coming of The Void. Morningstar’s death leaves Spellman resolute in the belief that only she can destroy The Void. She does this by acquiring Pandora’s box from the purveyor of occult objects (James Urbaniak) who also gave Blackwood the Imp of the Perverse. The purveyor tells Spellman she must open Pandora’s box once inside The Void in order to trap it there — but it means risking death by entrapment, too.
Spellman is okay with this risk, writing a good-bye letter to her loved ones and venturing forth into The Void. She nearly accomplishes trapping the entire Void when Hilda (Lucy Davis), Zelda (Miranda Otto), Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), and Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) pull Spellman’s soul out of the void and transfer it into Morningstar’s body to save her. Despite this royally pissing Spellman off, the group believes The Void is destroyed when, after being called to the observatory at the Academy of Unseen Arts by Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), it is revealed The Void is no longer observable, thus lulling the group into a false sense of security.
This is where it gets weird and bad. The happy occasion of Spellman’s 17th birthday reveals that a piece of The Void has attached onto her soul. This causes things like her alarm clock, a stack of pancakes, and, horrifyingly, actual people to disappear into The Void when Spellman gets too emotional. Ambrose does an X-ray of Spellman’s body and, when the scan shows literally nothing inside her, he deduces that “when we sucked your soul into Sabrina Morningstar’s body, we must have sucked some of The Void into you as well.” (Props to Perdomo for delivering this line as believably as possible.)
It is here that we should briefly go over what happens in Hell. So, Lillith (Gomez) goes to Earth to hear Spellman and Nick discussing recent events including Morningstar’s death — a fact she reports to Lucifer Morningstar (Luke Cook) in hopes that the information will put her back in his good graces. Lucifer is enraged and attempts to wage a war against the Spellmans, getting Morningstar’s husband, Caliban (Sam Corlett), to recruit the miners of Greendale as a mini-army. Lucifer’s brief confrontation with the Spellmans results in his eventual retreat and Spellman’s Void causing Caliban and Harvey Kinkle’s (Ross Lynch) dad, one of the miners, to disappear. Back in Hell, Lillith gets her ultimate revenge on Lucifer by stabbing him with the same blade that helped kill Jesus, drinking his blood to gain his power, and banishing him from Hell forever as she took the throne. Good for her.
Back on earth, Spellman has magicked herself away from Greendale to the Mountains of Madness (one of many Lovecraftian references this season) where she agrees to let Blackwood teach her how to control the piece of The Void attached to her. Two weeks later, Ambrose, Prudence, Roz (Jaz Sinclair), and Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) are guided to the Mountains of Madness by Salem and find Blackwood, who leads them to Spellman. Prudence, Roz, and Agatha — the new Weird Sisters — deduce Blackwood intends to sacrifice Spellman and bring The Void into this cosmos and destroy the world rather than help Spellman live. The foursome tries to convince Spellman to leave but she accidentally sends Roz and Prudence into The Void. Before Ambrose and Agatha escape, Spellman telepathically tells Ambrose to return to save her when Blackwood plans to kill her on the winter solstice.
A plan forms to save Spellman: Nick uses the locket-turned-honing-device he wears that is identical to one he gave Sabrina and one of the eldritch terrors as a breathing apparatus to go into space to retrieve Spellman’s physical body that is holding Pandora’s box. Once the box is in hand, the group (Hilda, Zelda, Ambrose, Harvey, Theo, Robin Goodfellow, and Nick) goes to Blackwood and, through some trickery, ends up incapacitating him before he can hurt Spellman. Spellman reveals she knows how to get those lost to The Void back but it will require cutting her open and letting The Void (and her blood) drain out as the final Eldritch Terror is then trapped in a containment field. One The Void is contained and everyone is saved, Nick is meant to go in and finish trapping The Void in Pandora’s box. However, this plan horrifies everyone except Sabrina because it means she has to almost die in order for the plan to work.
Despite reservations from Spellman’s family and friends, the plan proceeds. Soon, it becomes clear Spellman is actually going to die when a figure (whether it is the goddess Hecate or a manifestation of Death is unclear) appears, signaling to Zelda and Hilda that their niece is about to die. As Spellman nears death, her life flashes before her eyes and shows us birthdays with Zelda, Hilda, and Ambrose through the years. She says her goodbyes to her loved ones and dies before Nick returns to say good-bye. The Void is also destroyed, meaning everyone is safe in the end. Afterward, Sabrinas Spellman and Morningstar are giving a proper funeral in the Spellman family plot while Sabrina and Nick go on to spend their lives together in the afterlife.
Where Does the CAOS Finale Leave Every Character?
A majority of the characters in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina get relatively satisfactory endings, even if most of them are implied rather than explicitly shown. In Greendale, Rosalind, Theo, Harvey, Ambrose, the remaining Weird Sisters, the Hecate-worshipping coven, Hilda, and Zelda are all alive. Unfortunately, the show deprives viewers of any official ending for a majority of these characters, instead just giving us our last look at all of them attending Spellman and Morningstar’s funerals. It is also revealed that Blackwood is murdered by Prudence, with the eldest Blackwood daughter scattering her father’s remains to the four corners of the earth so he can never resurrect.
Hilda and Zelda, however, are giving a somewhat definitive ending. In their final scene together, we see the sisters standing in front of a statue of Sabrina that has been erected at the Academy of the Unseen Arts. The sisters are still in mourning over the death of their beloved niece. Hilda informs Zelda that she and her husband, Dr. Cerberus, will move back into the Spellman family home because it seems only right that the family should stick together. Zelda agrees that it’s a good idea.
The final scene reveals Sabrina is now in the afterlife, her Spellman and Morningstar halves now reconnected into one whole soul. Sabrina seems to be at peace as she reads on a bench inside a room with pastoral artwork on the walls. Nick suddenly appears, implying he is also dead. Nick clumsily explains he went swimming in the Sea of Sorrows and got caught in the undertow but doesn’t seem too affected by it since it means he can spend eternity with Sabrina.
So while we know everyone we care about is still alive, CAOS eschews any final resolution for a majority of the characters. leaving audiences to imagine their own endings for the characters they’ve spent four seasons following.
Why Sabrina’s CAOS Season 4 Ending Is a Problem
At the risk of letting my personal feelings get in the way of an otherwise impersonal explainer, I loathed the ending that CAOS chose to give Sabrina Spellman. To put it another way: It sucks! In a series full of magic that made occasionally logic-defying decisions (see: the Season 3 narrative cure-all of two Sabrinas), Spellman (in Morningstar’s body) died to save her friends and family. Like, really, fully, completely died. Sure, Nick can somehow survive the depths of space with an eldritch breathing mask slapped on his face and mere mortal Mr. Kinkle can survive being sucked into The Void and getting pulled out of it, but Spellman cannot survive a cut to her chest meant to drain The Void out of her.
Spellman’s death feels cruel and needless, a cheap shot made by CAOS in an effort to pipe in some hollow emotional masquerading as resolution rather than providing a satisfactory ending. CAOS mistakes giving Spellman peace in death as giving her the peace she needs from a frequently literal year (remember: she dies shortly after her 17th birthday and CAOS begins a few days before her 16th birthday) from hell. Rather than allowing Sabrina the chance to grow old with her friends and family, she is simply offed.
To make matters even more problematic, CAOS decides that Nick should join Sabrina in death — a decision with horrifying implications. Although Nick never specifically names it, CAOS communicates through subtext that he died by suicide out of grief over Spellman’s death. Nick tries to spin this as a good thing, telling an initially distressed Spellman that they can be together forever in the afterlife. It’s a completely fucked up ending in the style of Romeo and Juliet that carries the very dangerous, toxic message that personal issues (like heartache) can be solved by suicide. To be clear: Suicide is never the answer and the way CAOS casually throws that into the show in the final moments of the series is reckless and irresponsible. That decision, on top of the confounding choice to kill of Sabrina, contribute to a thoroughly unsatisfactory ending for a show that, for the majority of the time, was an exciting, macabre thrill-ride.
All seasons of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are now available to stream on Netflix. For more, see what new Netflix shows we’ve pegged as must-see TV.
Here were some memorable turns in a miserable year.
About The Author