Review: “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Kalleen Rose Ozanic, Editor-in-Chief

One of Netflix’s newer shows, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” has developed a following as of late, and viewers were kept at bay with the latest installation, “A Midwinter’s Tale”. The episode follows the story line of the show’s first season, with Sabrina continuing her studies of witchcraft and magic, though it tries to cram too many plot points into a 55-minute long episode.

While a major struggle of the eponymous Sabrina Spellman in season one was her coming to terms with losing her family and moving on to the next stage in her life as a full-fledged witch, the issue seems to be addressed too quickly in “A Midwinter’s Tale”. Sabrina summons her mother during a séance, and unintentionally invites malevolent poltergeists into her home. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s friend Susie is abducted by a demon who tries to encase her in wax and add her to a collection of “dolls”. Aunt Zelda debates how she should care for her adopted infant daughter (who she offers to another home because the Spellman’s residence is too endangered by evil spirits), and Sabrina juggles her crumbling relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Harvey.

Needless to say, there was a lot going on. The show lacked the cohesiveness of the first season, though this was expected due to the time lapse between the end of season one and “A Midwinter’s Tale”. Likewise, the recent installation attempted to tie up any loose ends before the second season, which airs on April 5, 2019. By definitely ending the relationship between Sabrina and Harvey, the show’s creators opened more opportunities for Sabrina to explore her magical counterparts in the second season, as opposed to the mortal friends she has known her whole life.

While the show offered a much anticipated update for viewers, it isn’t hard to notice that the episode seemed to be a throwaway story line to let the second season take a darker turn as Sabrina learns the dark arts. In the first season’s finale, Sabrina is still amiable and very close with her mortal best friends, although she feels she will have to distance herself from them for their safety as she delves deeper into her mystical training. Yet “A Midwinter’s Tale”, Sabrina’s interactions with her friends just seem awkward and forced, as if the screenwriters were making a thinly-veiled attempt at molding Sabrina into a less likable character. By eliminating Sabrina’s close relationships with mortals, she is more likely to develop closer bonds with her magical counterparts. This shift allows the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” to focus more on the darker side of Sabrina Spellman, the black sheep cousin to the 90’s “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

Above: Sabrina celebrates the holiday season. Photo Courtesy: Cosmopolitan

The season two trailer of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, which aired on December 1, shows a Sabrina much more comfortable and confident with her magic, unlike her behavior in season one. This lends to the belief that Sabrina will engage more in the dark arts, while distancing herself from her mortal roots. In the trailer, Sabrina is seen convening with other students at the Academy of Unseen Arts, and engaging in other questionable behaviors of a sixteen-year-old young woman. This is seen as a dark turn from the innocent and moral Sabrina audiences see in the first season. Yet this is how “A Midwinter’s Tale” serves as a bridging plot point: now that Sabrina has mostly cut any mortal ties, she is freer to engage in more magical activities, and the screenwriters can experiment more with Sabrina’s mysticism.
I am awaiting the premiere of season two, as hopefully we will see more of Sabrina’s character arc. While I am not a fan of “A Midwinter’s Tale”, it is a clear step the show’s creators needed to take in order to cohesively follow a story line into season two. Hopefully, when the next season airs in April, we will see less of a cut-and-dried Sabrina, and one that explores more of the dark arts as well as Sabrina’s relationships with her mortal and magical counterparts.