It’s here! It’s here! The end of the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hit Netflix on Friday! I have a lot of thoughts about it! Most importantly, I love Salem and want to pet him and give him lots of very tasty cat treats. If you’re worried about spoilers, let me put your fears to rest. This review will be SPOILER-FREE.
Anyway, who am I? I’m Mac Jones, the guy who wrote a freakin‘ million articles about even the barest shreds of information leading up to the first season of the show. Also this one, but that was after the first season so I didn’t want to lump it in with the rest of those links. Suffice to say, I’m a huge mark for Sabrina news. Two of those are just straight up pictures of a cat that I couldn’t stop screaming about. I’m a big fan of the various Sabrina comics through the years, the 90s sitcom, I freaked out every time they said “Greendale” on the CW’s Riverdale, all that jazz. So when the first part of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I caught the premier at 2 AM (Central Time) and ate it up like the greedy little content piggy I am. Oink, oink.
So with that, let’s talk witches. I enjoyed part one, but I think part two takes what works best in the show and amplifies it. To illustrate my point, there is basically more Salem in the first episode of Part 2 than the entire Part 1. I’m not saying that part 3 should just be twenty hours of a cat walking around and purring, hanging out in a creepy old mansion, pushing potions off the table. I am saying that I’d watch that, and it’d probably be really easy on the budget, so the ball’s in Netflix’s court now.
In addition to putting the very cool and probably pretty soft Salem onscreen more often, the tone of part two seems more consistent. In part one, there was an often-jarring transition between Sabrina‘s lives in the mortal and witching worlds. She’d be hanging out with Harvey and getting dang ol’ strawberry milkshakes one minute, and talking to Aunt Hilda about how she’s not sure she wants to give her virginity to the very goatish Satan the next.
I get what the show was going for with these juxtapositions, but the part two’s more even tone makes for easier watching. Whether in Greendale or at The Academy, Sabrina doesn’t really spend any significant time away from witchcraft these days. Also, ‘Brina‘s full-on slaying the platinum blond lewks in this season, and it kicks ass.
This review is SPOILER-FREE of course, so I won’t go into any details, but I’d like to take this time to say Lucy Davis steals the show as Aunt Hilda in the new episodes. Her comic timing is flawless, which is unsurprising considering her performances in Shaun of the Dead and the original The Office. She has a lot more to say this time around, and her character has a more satisfying arc in Part Two.
Sabrina‘s other aunt, Zelda, is no slouch either. Miranda Otto’s ambitious, cunning, chain-smoking performance is formidable. Other props go to the very cool Ambrose, played by Chance Perdomo, and Gavin Leatherwood as Nicholas Scratch. Nick is basically Logan if Harvey is Dean, and if that analogy doesn’t make any sense to you then I envy you and the 154 hours of your life you still have. Suffice to say, Sabrina needs a Jess in her life. Maybe in the second season!
In addition to the stellar acting performances from most of the cast, the creature designs and storylines in these episodes are spooky. I have to give extra props to a fun twist in the third episode that I’m clearly not going to spoil here, and the fourth episode, which is an anthology episode. I loved that this season had some hints to less-infernal, more cosmic horrors of the unthinkable-and-tentacled natures. Will there be a crossover with the Riverdale anthology episode where Archie and Jughead were doing some clandestine activities with crates marked MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY? I mean, probably not, but that’d be cool!
With all of these positives, though, come a few negatives. Most notably, the special effects are… uneven. Sometimes they pop off the screen with realism, and sometimes they look like they fit in better with a 2007 CW drama where a character finds out there significant other is secretly a manticore in the shape of a person or something, which isn’t a slam to that genre of television but is a slam against Chilling Adventures. The biggest negative, however, is one that I screamed into the night when I finished part one: why isn’t Salem talking? He says something in the very first episode, though not in cat form, but then nothing else. To me, that’s a huge loss. Salem‘s wisecracks are the most memorable part of the Melissa Joan Hart series, which admittedly had a very different tone, but it seems like most of that role was transferred to Ambrose for this one. In the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, Salem gets a great backstory. It seems like a waste to take all of this and ignore it, but there’s no telling what’s to come. Maybe Salem just isn’t chiming in because he hasn’t had anything to say yet.
All told, I loved the new episodes of Chilling Adventures. I can’t wait to see what comes next! If the show wants to stay true to Sabrina comics of yore (and really, all Archie Comics) they should surprise-drop a summer special where everybody goes to the beach. Every third Archie comic takes place at the beach. Those Cool Teens know how to party!!!
What did you think of part two of Chilling Adventures? Did you like it? Do you really wanna pet Salem? For more horror news and reviews, keep up to date on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit. And remember, it’s always the witching hour on Nightmare on Film Street.