This post contains spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Check out our season one review here.
It feels like just yesterday we were watching young Sabrina Spellman sign her life away to Satan. That may be because it all just happened in October, a much quicker turnaround on additional installments than we’re used to from Netflix. While that’s mostly because Part One, Part Two, and their Christmas Special were all filmed at once, it was an odd break to see in the show. But don’t worry, Netflix. It’s not you, it’s me.
Netflix series’ have changed the way we watch serialized storytelling. It gives you the ability to binge watch older shows, sure, but its original programs all act as their own book in a series, rather than a chapter in a story. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina falls somewhere between the serialized storytelling we’re used to in network television, and the unabbreviated arcs that we typically see from Netflix. Serialized stories have plenty of filler episodes and odd gaps to complete their episode quota. Oftentimes we roll with them because it’s a chance to get to know a character better, or take a break from a heavy plot. The eight-to-thirteen episode format that we see from Netflix has mostly done away with that, which is what made the interjection of the Christmas Special so odd. That said, given what we’re willing to put up with from regular television shows, it really shouldn’t have been.
When we left Sabrina in October she’d just done the one thing that she spent the whole first season trying to avoid: signing her name in Satan’s book. Sounds innocent enough, but there are some unfortunate implications that mostly revolve around her free will (or lack thereof). In addition to signing away her name, Sabrina decides to distance herself from her mortal friends. While the Christmas Special acknowledges these events, it does little to acknowledge the fallout from them. That’s mostly due to the nature of Christmas specials as a whole, and not necessarily a bad thing for the show. With that said, there’s not a lot to write home about in “A Midwinter’s Tale”.
Things kick off with Sabrina deciding that she’s going to have a séance to speak to her mother. While she made the decision to distance herself from her mortal loved ones, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s all smiles about it. Because she’s afraid to go to her aunts, Brina enlists the help of Prudence, Dorcas and Agatha. The four successfully summon Diana Spellman, but are cut short by Madam Satan’s tricks.
Madam Satan isn’t involved much in the special, but the Yule Lads she brought to the Spellman household help tie the episode together. Hilda and Zelda summon Gryla, the mother spirit to all of the lost devil-children that are terrorizing their home. With the help of Diana’s ghost, they trick Gryla into leaving and taking her children with her. But they’ll need her help again immediately after.
While Sabrina and her family dealt with the impish spirits, Susie finds herself kidnapped by a demon who likes to dip children in wax. Since demons are at their most powerful over the solstice, the women must enlist Gryla to help save young Susie from becoming another one of the Bartell’s dolls. You’d think she’d be salty after the Spellmans tricked her out of a new child, but the call of motherhood is stronger than her wrath, and there’s a child to be saved.
By the end of things, Susie is saved and Sabrina’s pals seem to have a better outlook on her witchery. Reasonably, Harvey’s a bit of a different story. Sabrina’s magic made a terrible situation much, much worse for the Kinkle family. Though she did manage to get his father to stop drinking, Harvey doesn’t want Sabrina to do magic around him ever again. Meanwhile, the series would be much better off if it just removed Harvey from the picture altogether.
Though there’s not much that’s “special” about it, the Christmas Special was a nice visit back to Greendale. Ambrose is still the best Spellman, and it was nice to spend some time on Rosalind and Susie rather than revolving the episode around Sabrina’s breakup woes. Moreover, the episode managed to build a little bit more intrigue around the mystery surrounding Diana and her husband’s questionable murder, giving us something to chew on until season two premieres in April of 2019.
Shout out in the comments if you had thoughts on this special Christmas edition of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and may Satan bless us, everyone.