Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 3

And so we’ve already reached that point in a teen-drama’s lifespan where musical numbers are the go-to time-filler. Should we be worried?

Short answer: no.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is still a lot of fun, albeit a bit too focused on style over substance at times. Sabrina and Roz’s new cheerleader status is the biggest bridge between the show’s magical stories and the silly dance routines that feature more than once over the course of these eight angst-ridden episodes. I get the impression they’re thrown in for no reason other than the fact that the cast is really talented. That being said, I don’t really mind it all that much. There’s a scene later on in Part 3’s run where the Baxter High cheerleaders perform at the Academy in order for the coven to use their energies to perform a spell, and the writers manage to make it seem like a perfectly logical route to take.

A cheerleader-fueled spell is actually one of Part 3’s less weird moments. Throughout the course of this half-season we watch a coven of Pagans who worship a Tree God turn Greendale into grass-zombies; Sabrina’s battle for the throne in Hell against a beautiful young-man made of clay; and a semi-erotic wrestling match between Lucifer and Nick. And it’s still not as batshit as Riverdale. Whew.

In general, I found this batch of episodes the most consistent of the three we’ve seen so far. Part 1 was a little bogged down in real-world banality, and Part 2 grappled with fun ideas but never justified the end result. Part 3 manages to bridge the gap between the Parts that came before it, balancing the fun and outlandish moments with genuinely engaging character interactions and well-deserved payoff.

At this point, Sabrina’s real-world friends are as integral to the series’ supernatural world as the remaining members of the Church of Night are. Theo’s new love interest Robin is a hob-goblin, and also a member of the evil group of Pagans who are attempting to takeover Greendale, so he’s immediately part of the mayhem. Roz is part of Baxter’s cheerleading troupe and the only member of Sabrina’s mortal family with a magical ability. Harvey is still a wet blanket, but he’s at least written with a little more gusto this time around so I don’t want to immediately turn off the show the second he, or any of the other mortals, pop up on screen.

The witches are still the strongest part of the show, though their own strength has been diminished in the wake of Lucifer’s banishment at the close of Part 2. Zelda’s quest to locate a new source of power is cleverly tied into her own struggle to maintain order amongst what’s left of the coven. She doesn’t have it easy, and even winds up shot at the hands of Ms. Wardwell who is a mess after being returned to Greendale now that Lilith is done at Baxter High. But in the end, she finds a new God to worship, in the form of Hecate (I hope they don’t get interrupted during any spellcasting, I hear Hecate hates that). It’s a triumphant moment when the coven regain their strength and scare the Pagans out of Greendale during Part 3’s final chapter. It’s even more triumphant to see Zelda accept the obvious chemistry she has with Mambo Marie, a voodoo priestess who joins the new Church of Hecate at Prudence’s request. I can’t wait to see these ladies rule the screen during Part 4.

The rest of the Spellman family face altogether different challenges amidst the coven’s struggle for power. Hilda turns into a spider (!) and almost kills her now fiancee, Dr Cee; Ambrose starts off these chapters closer than ever with Prudence as they track down and successfully capture Father Blackwood, but is pushed away by the eighth episode as Prudence blames Ambrose’s mercy for the death of Prudence’s sister Dorcas; and Sabrina winds up literally living a double life.

The introduction of time-travel in ‘Chapter Twenty-Eight: Sabrina is Legend’ is one that was hinted at throughout Part 3, following the discovery of a new source of power enriched with time-altering abilities. It’s not until we watch nearly every major character bite the bullet that Sabrina finally utilizes that power, and turns back the clock to stop the Pagans from enacting their plan. Though she’s successful, she takes the opportunity to keep herself split in two (her time-travelling self, and past self) in order to live the two lives she wants; one at home in Greendale with her friends and family, and one as Queen of Hell. The possibilities for a lot of fun time-paradox hijinks in Part 4 are endless, though I would like to see it dealt with as neatly as possible. Time-travel is a messy story beat at the best of times, and CAOS is crazy enough as it is.

Potions and Notions

I’m sad for Prudence who has lost both of her sisters; Agatha to madness, and Dorcas at Agatha’s hand. She at least has Nick’s shoulder to lean on now that his time in hell has broken him enough to push Sabrina away.

I loved seeing a few of the series’ fun guest stars pop back up, like Gryla, who helped the coven to stop the Pagans.

Father Blackwood unleashed some unknown terror on Greendale in the final episode. What that is, we don’t know just yet, but I imagine it will take the spotlight in Part 4.

Spells and Chants

Marie: But we are women, n'est-ce pas? Witch women. We can do more than fight, can we not?”

Sabrina: “I let everything in Hell pull me away from what really matters: my family, my friends, everything I love. But not anymore.”

Prudence: “Without my sisters, I've just never felt so alone.”
Nick: “Same.”

It’s unclear how much longer Sabrina can sustain such an outlandish hyper-reality, and continue to deliver worthwhile character drama. For now it’s working, and working well. Part 4 has been set wonderfully, and the series has never been in a better place. Hopefully that will lend itself to a clear path forward for Sabrina past the upcoming fourth run of episodes.

8 out of 10 Holy Regalias.

No comments: