This review contains spoilers for the first part of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, including the special available for streaming on Netflix.
While the second part of the series isn’t due until April 5th of next year, Netflix has already gifted us with more of our favorite, teenage witch in the eleventh chapter of part one, “A Midwinter’s Tale”, just in time for Christmas. This 55 minute special finds us a few days before Christmas and the Winter Solstice, and we see the half witch, half human Sabrina Spellman wishing for the council of her long, dead, human mother, who she saw in Limbo earlier in the season. She decides to perform a séance during the Solstice when the barrier between this world and that of the dead is at it’s thinnest. Meanwhile, we follow Susie as she gets a job as an elf in the Christmas village – something she’s wanted for a long time, but it isn’t all that it seems.
In what will be undoubtedly classic Chilling Adventures of Sabrina form, this special takes things that we would find familiar from the Christmas Village and Yule log and turns them on their ear to fit into the Chilling version of Earth. Likewise in the same way, we watch as Sabrina goes back to the well of bad choices made with good intentions.
While a fun holiday special, the majority of this episode is spent resolving and updating us about the going ons of the characters in the story before the second part releases. We know where Sabrina stands with Harvey after getting the advice from her mother’s spirit about her experience trying to be a mortal in love with a witch, and how he in turns feels about the witch side of her. On the other hand, we also get that she has, to one extent or another, reconciled her relationships with her friends, both mortal and magical. We also get what Aunt Zelda will do with Leticia, the female twin that she stole from Father Blackwood, and a minor insight into to the warlock group Alphonse is a member of, and what they have him doing.
All in all, while the main storyline itself is rather inconsequential to the overall plot, it is still great fun, and that’s what a holiday special is about. It’s fun without having to really bind itself to anything else, but that it did makes it all the better. Generally speaking, holiday specials take place mostly outside of continuity. I can’t remember the number of Doctor Who specials that are aired after some big bombshell season finale that just happened – no mention of it at all.
This episode was better lit than others, making me think that the creators listened to the many complaints from critics about how darkly lit the first Part of the show was. Also, they settled the lawsuit with the Temple of Satan about the controversial statue featured, if for a moment, in the episode.
When it’s all said and done, “A Midwinter’s Tale” is a fun and harmless nearly hour-long romp in the world of the new iteration of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It explores what Christmas means for witches and how regardless of the faith of those involved, the season is for family – even if that family is the invisible and murderous ghosts of orphans bound to a thousand years old, cannibal witch. So light the Yule Log and your warding candles, enjoy some enchanted eggnog, and as the witch said herself, “Satan bless us, everyone.”
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.