Christmas came a little early this year thanks to the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina holiday special. Even though the stand-alone episode takes place a few weeks after the events of Season 1, it felt like Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) had actually gone backward, losing some of the progress she made in the first season.
To catch you up: The first season ended with Sabrina breaking up with Harvey (Ross Lynch), dying her hair the iconic white color from the comic books and seemingly making a commitment to studying more of the dark arts rather than medaling in mortal affairs. The final shot was of Sabrina throwing a flirty little wink to Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) as she walked through the lobby of the Academy of the Unseen Arts with the Strange Sisters. It seemed that Sabrina had finally decided to embrace her witchier half.
But that was not the case in the Christmas special, which found Sabrina in a puddle of regret over dumping Harvey and trying yet another mea culpa to get back in Harvey’s good graces after her necromancy spell failed to bring his brother back to life. It turns out that Harvey isn’t that interested in having magic in his life, especially after everything that’s happened between him and Sabrina. So while our young witch is respecting her first love’s wishes, the Christmas episode seemed to undo a lot of what she’d done at the end of Season 1, and that’s no bueno.
While Sabrina’s friends are great and interesting in their own ways, the hook of this series is the witchcraft, devil worship and dark arts that lay on the witch side of Sabrina’s family. Sabrina spent a lot of time running from or fighting all things Satan in the first season, and it wasn’t until she actually started investigating her powers that the show really began to take off.
The truth is, there are a lot of television shows about teenagers heartsick over their significant others. One of them is called Riverdale. There are not a lot of shows about a teenage girl being seduced by the Dark Lord to become his queen and her subsequent fight to destroy him. While it’s understandable that Sabrina would be reluctant to completely forsake her mortal half, her dismissal of the source of her allegedly large witch prowess was more difficult to process. Girl, you found out you can bring things back from the dead and you don’t want to know more about that? You would seriously rather take precalculus than potions? That makes no sense. The end of Season 1 made us think that we’d be diving more into that side of Sabrina and we were eager to take that journey. The Christmas special made us wonder if Sabrina was ready to embrace it after all.
If Sabrina Spellman’s true wish is to destroy the Dark Lord, then she needs to understand the depth of his power, where it comes from and how it works. She also needs to realize the extent of her own power. That can’t happen if she’s constantly sticking her nose up at the dark arts and worrying about homecoming at Baxter High instead of her Academy of the Unseen Arts homework. Sabrina has spent 16 years being a mortal and knows all too well what it means. She hasn’t spent nearly the same amount of time figuring out what it means to be a witch.
The darkness is where Sabrina the showalso finds its power. It’s what makes it intriguing, and the Satan mythology makes it different from other witches and supernatural creatures we’ve seen on TV before. It’s time to lean in to that and ease off of Sabrina’s existential crisis about going to the coolest school ever instead of hanging out with her friends in WICCA. No one said that defeating Satan wouldn’t take sacrifice, but we need to see Sabrina actually train for the fight or her inevitable success won’t feel credible, let alone earned.
Heartbreaks are tough, Brina. We’ve been there, but you’ve got darker work to do. It’s time to get to it.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina holiday special is currently on Netflix. Season 2 premieres April 5.