The final chapter of Netflix and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is set to premiere in just two days. The series concludes after four seasons and one holiday special, and forces the Spellmans, the Fright Club, and the entire Coven into a battle against the ultimate cosmic evil.
To recap from season three, as that chapter concluded we were left with two Sabrinas thanks to a little time jump. As this season opens, Sabrina Spellman is going about her life with her friends while Sabrina Morningstar has taken up residence as the Queen of Hell. Despite her cousin Ambrose’s warnings that it could lead to all kinds of terrible consequences things, on the surface seem to be going okay, though Sabrina S. is a little bored and misses the connection she and the Fright Club shared while they were out fighting bad guys together.
Lucky or unlucky for her, disgraced Father Blackwood has a trick or two up his sleeve including his own weird church attended by none other than Miss Wardwell and summoning the Eldritch Horrors to Greendale in a bid for ultimate power.
The season wastes no time getting down to business, and what follows is a somewhat disjointed, rocky, emotional roller coaster ride as each new horror shows its face and must be defeated.
It’s the very premise of the season that presents the largest problem throughout. The episodes, while certainly tied together, repeatedly feel like one-off monster-of-the-week stories, instead of an entirely cohesive narrative.
“Oh, now we have to fight the Weird.”
“Damn, the Uninvited is here. What will we do?”
Of course, with a little ingenuity and more luck than is entirely believable, the team manages to conquer the unbeatable foes at every turn until the final battle, of course. Spoiler alert: No one is completely safe as they move into the final act.
For the record, I don’t blame the writers for the clumsy feel of the season. As far as we knew, as they were preparing and writing season four, there were still plans to move into a fifth. As such, while they have a strong beginning, much of what comes later feels like quickly tying up loose ends in order to bring a somewhat proper end to the series as a whole. It’s entirely possible that scramble was what caused some of the issues that made the back half of the season begin to unspool.
Characters who deserved much more time and attention in the final season, i.e. Theo and Roz, found themselves more firmly in the secondary character category than they’ve been since the beginning. Even when they’re in the spotlight, you can almost feel it pivoting away. Nick Scratch, meanwhile, becomes a two-dimensional cross between Prince Valiant and a lovesick teenager who suddenly decides he really does love Sabrina and has to win her back at all costs.
Now, I don’t want you to think I hated this season. There was actually a lot to love here.
For one thing, after four seasons, we finally have a Sabrina who has grown up enough that she understands there are consequences to her actions and sometimes you have to pay for them. For three seasons, we’ve seen a Sabrina who more than bordered on selfishness as she did what she wanted, how she wanted, no matter the consequences for others. That all changes here and the season and series is better for this bit of character development.
Along those same lines, it is interesting to note that re-focusing the Coven on the triple-goddess Hecate made a clearer, more meaningful statement against toxic patriarchy than the heavy-handed treatment of the last three seasons combined.
I have said from the beginning of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina that it is at its best when it remembers that for all the weirdness and magic and Satan and exciting twists and turns, the show is about a family. The Spellmans are the heart of this show, and watching their priorities shift this season–less butting heads with each other and more working together for a unified purpose–was thrilling and magical all on its own.
Also, can we not just give Michelle Gomez all the awards already? In a cast filled with strong performances, the Scottish actress never ceases to shine. She’s back this season pulling double-duty as Miss Wardwell and Lilith and though her moments are few and far between, they are always memorable, especially after she makes one of the most shocking, jaw-dropping decisions we have seen in a series full of them.
Despite the constant feeling that the seasons could go off the rails at any moment, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina manages to come to a nearly successful close. I personally think if they had cut the last three or so minutes out of the final episode, it would have been more satisfying. I felt cheated, but others may not feel the same. Either way, it is sure to have people talking.
Season four of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is set to drop on Netflix on December 31, 2021. Mark your calendars and get ready for one hell of a ride.