Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale

“So much for a peaceful Solstice.”

This Holiday special finds the people of Greendale preparing for their respective festive traditions. In the case of the vast majority of the town’s residents, this involves visiting Santa, putting up Christmas trees and carolling. In the case of the Spellmans, it’s lighting a magical Yule log to keep out evil spirits and holding séances to contact long departed loved ones; normal witch stuff. For the most part this is a fun little mile marker for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; a way to whet viewers appetites until Part 2, and take time out to play around with the wonderful mythology of this magical world. But as a stop-gap, essentially filler episode, there isn’t much room for forward momentum in the case of certain plot threads, and in some case, things even regress backward. Thankfully the absurdity of the witchy side of things saves it.

After the events of Part 1’s final chapter ‘The Witching Hour’, Sabrina finds herself with a huge wall between her and her mortal friends, with Harvey essentially removing himself from the teenage witch’s life altogether. This all makes sense in the context of past events, as the last few moments we saw prior to this episode indicated a mostly changed Sabrina who not only had a bewitching platinum new hair colour, but had accepted a side of herself that would indicate she was ready to move on from the mortal world. Her attempts here to try and help Harvey are sweet, but feel at odds with where she was heading in Chapter Ten. In any case, things end up pretty much where they started, as Harvey doubles down on his decision to keep magic, and Sabrina, out of his life. It’s a harsh choice, but one that is arguably understandable given what happened with his brother Tommy.

Though the romantic elements of ‘A Midwinter’s Tale’ were a little reductive, the insanity taking place elsewhere was anything but. The Spellmans' attempts to ward off evil spirits that had invaded their home thanks to Wardwell’s interference during Sabrina’s séance with her mother were an absolute delight to watch, as was the disturbing quest to save Susie from an insane mall Santa from turning her into a life-size doll. The series always soars when it focuses on the dark magical world, and that isn’t any different in the case of this Christmas special.

There was some surprisingly poignant development on Zelda’s part that felt rather important to the overall narrative, something I was concerned wouldn’t be a big part of an episode like this. After saving the female daughter of Father Blackwood in fear of what he might do to the child, Zelda spends most of this hour doting over the newly adoptive Letita. After the baby gets caught in the crosshairs of the spirits that invaded the Spellman’s home and their vengeful mother Gryla, she makes the decision to send her away to an orphanage, an odd decision after it seemed like this whole story was being set up as an important arc for Part 2. Perhaps the significance of her decision will make more sense in the context of the coming episodes.

Motherhood was a strong theme throughout this episode, as Sabrina faces coming face to face with her own dearly departed mother, Diana. One thing I was surprised by when I watched this episode was how quickly it glossed over the importance of Diana’s role, here. Her initial appearance was stilted thanks to Wardwell’s interference, but she manages to break through and even saves Letita from being abducted by Gryla. Sabrina works with her mother to trick the evil witch into taking a fake token in place of Letita, but other than that there isn’t a whole lot to her part in this hour, bar a little sage advice on loving a mortal. Hopefully we’ll see Diana pop up in a more significant way later on.

Potions and Notions

Ambrose is still seeing Luke.

Sabrina gave Harvey magical drawing pencils for Christmas that never wear down. He returned them, which seems like a bad idea to me. Imagine how much he’d save on drawing supplies!

I wonder if Sabrina will continue to keep Roz and Susie involved in her magical exploits. Roz’s 'cunning' visions were very useful in saving Susie, maybe they’ll be useful to the witches when they inevitably run into more trouble.

Michelle Gomez is still a queen.

Spells and Chants

Sabrina: “What is it with witches and cannibalism?”

Diana: “When your father told me he was a witch, I followed Edward along the Path of Night as much as I could, but I wouldn't lead anyone else down it.”

In general this was a cute little episode, but nothing special. I get the impression that not a whole lot of what transpired here will have major repercussions going forward, but I wouldn’t mind being surprised. Bright Solstice, everyone!

6 out of 10 Yule logs

No comments: