(Spoilers from the first season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina and the holiday episode, “A Midwinter’s Tale,” will be found below.)
Netflix’s strenuous 2018 holiday vibe is partially due to Kurt Russell playing a hot Santa in The Christmas Chronicles, but the streaming service is also celebrating with series-based content, including the Chilling Adventure Of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale. The deliciously childhood-ruining series’ popularity shall be rewarded with season two in only a few months, and the teaser trailer, set to “Cherry Bomb,” could lead some to believe that the teenage witch has truly gone bad after joining the Dark Side. Now, a holiday episode that could have easily been written off as a fluffy standalone shows that Sabrina’s still the same headstrong young lady. That is to say, we not only see a Happy Solstice but Sabrina further fueling her quest to challenge the patriarchy.
This is a relief to see, for despite relenting and signing her name to the Book of the Beast in the Season 1 finale, I wasn’t at all convinced that Sabrina had given up on her feminist drive. I mean, look at this winking Kiernan Shipka.
That’s the look of a witch with a plan. While evoking The Craft and flanked by the Weird Sisters, the newly minted Church of Night disciple could be a Trojan horse inside the coven. Satan may have met his match, and not in the way that he’s intended, given that one of Lilith/The Mother Of Demons’ raven familiars suggested that Satan wants Sabrina as his queen.
Obviously, Sabrina didn’t want to pledge her soul to the Dark Lord. She spent the entirety of the first season justifying reasons for not doing so, but Lilith, as Satan’s footsoldier, whipped up enough of a threat to Greendale’s citizens that Sabrina relented in order to save lives. Yet showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa recently told Vanity Fair that she’s still the same Sabrina, and her “hair really is the biggest thing” that underwent a transformation. So in addition to treating the Netflix audience to Christmas ghosts and demons, the series acts as a bridge for Sabrina’s continuing quest. And even if you’re not into holiday episodes, this one brings plenty of hijinks and is enjoyable as Hell. Christmas demon Krampus gets rewritten as a sinister Santa named Bartel, and poltergeists known as the Yule Lads (the adopted children an Icelandic witch) raise a ruckus.
Most importantly in terms of character development, Sabrina performs a few séances that arrive with touches of Beetlejuice. She eventually bonds with her dead mother, Diana, who reminds her daughter that her half-human side remains and positions her uniquely within the church (possibly to do real damage one day?). Likewise, the Weird Sisters are finally on Sabrina’s side for the séances because they know what it’s like to have no mother. And Aunties Zelda and Hilda spend this episode shielding the High Priest from learning that his wife birthed a daughter because he’d sacrifice a girl. In the end, the holiday episode serves to unite the coven’s women and remind Sabrina that even witches can embrace their humanity and come together against true evil.