Finale spoilers for The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina will be found below.
Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina came to its planned end with “Part Four” over the holiday weekend. Granted, this finale got buried underneath the pushed-up release of Cobra Kai, which is still so infuriatingly good that Sabrina didn’t have much of a chance to grab eyeballs. She should have been pushed back a week, but at least the Riverdale spinoff received a proper conclusion. It’s also worth noting that some people assumed that the show was “canceled.” Yet for many who watched the Sabrina, it’s obvious that this was an expected ending point for a few reasons: (1) Netflix followed up Part One by announcing that they were fast-tracking (and fast-shooting) a total of four mapped-out seasons; (2) Part Four ended with the death of the title character, and you don’t get much more plotted out for finality than that, my Satan-praising friends.
Yup, and to make things even more final, both Sabrinas (Spellman and Morningstar) left this mortal coil. It was a convoluted chain of events with only colored headbands to tell us which Sabrina was onscreen at any given moment (confusing!). Well, Sabrina Spellman sacrificed her life to save those she loved (and Greendale at large). It was sad, yes, but the finale also contained multiple nods to the mid-1990s Sabrina The Teenage Witch series (starring Melissa Joan Hart). And in a satisfying flourish, the heretofore silent Salem The Cat transformed into a very vocal, smartass kitty.
This happened in the best way: out-of-nowhere and much to Sabrina’s surprise, too.
The cat-voice controversy has been a thing, and a point of contention, since the show launched. People expected Salem Saberhagen to talk. Part of the issue here is that Salem served a different function in this Archieverse show than he did in the 1990s sitcom, where he was a sarcastic warlock trapped in a cat’s body as a punishment for attempting to conquer the world. Whereas in this Netflix show, Salem’s a softer presence and mainly Sabrina’s familiar, who can apparently communicate through telepathy.
Not that this change was a well-received one. Showrunner and comic-book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa previously explained his decision to “dispense with the chatty cat” because he didn’t feel that a smartass feline would “project the horror tone,” of this show, which differed from the sitcom vibe. Still, Aguirre-Sacasa dangled the carrot: “That isn’t to say that Salem won’t talk in the future.” Well, it was cool to finally allow Salem to talk by turning the first of Chilling Adventures‘ two finale episodes into a sitcom.
The set-up was a clever one, even if O.G. Salem voice actor Nick Bakay wasn’t onboard for the ride. Instead, Luke Cook, who plays Lucifer, did double duty, but actresses Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick came back from the 1990s sitcom to act as Sabrina’s aunts in the sitcom-cosmos, and fans finally got their carrot when Salem turned out to be the lead sitcom writer and the Eldritch Terror known as The Endless. Fortunately, Salem isn’t nefarious — unlike the rest of the terrors unleashed by Father Blackwood as part of his hissy fit about the coven leaving the Church of Night — and he helped Sabrina defeat The Void, thereby stopping it from becoming the End Of All Things.
All of this is not a massive deal in the grand scheme of the show’s four seasons. Yet it was a nice way to tie up the series and reward fans for embracing the darker feel of the Netflix show while also gifting them with a little treat. It was great fun to watch Salem snark out for an episode while he and Sabrina worked to shut down The Void before crashing back into her usual cosmos. When showrunners can integrate fan requests while staying true to a show’s spirit, that’s pretty rad. Hats off to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, too. Navigating social media while running a Netflix series cannot be easy, and it was probably tempting for him to put the blinders on and, you know, simply create art.
Instead, Talking Salem feels like a collaborative experience between the Internet and a creative team. I’m not even a cat person, and I wanted this to happen, simply because we could use some lightness in the midst of all darkness, especially now, you know? A damn talking cat ended up being a love letter to franchise viewers while staying true to the show’s horror tone before Sabrina made a stand to save humanity from oblivion. And we got to see a reality where all kinds of crazy sh*t happened, including a Caliban who’s relieved to only take his shirt off (and willingly be objectified) when he chooses to do so. Back in Greendale, the show gave Sabrina a fitting farewell with her sacrificial act and a funeral to mourn the deaths of both Ms. Spellman and Mrs. Morningstar.
RIP, Sabrinas, and all hail Salem for helping a teenage girl make a final stand against the horrors summoned up by a patriarchal leader who’s mad with power. Father Blackwood got his punishment, Sabrina ended up happy in the afterlife with Nick. We also saw all manner of aesthetically pleasing chaos that we’re used to from the show. Fans got the one thing that they wished for but felt was lacking, and no one is raving on social media about wanting to raise Hell. That adds up to a winning finale.
‘The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: Part Four’ is now streaming on Netflix.