Netflix's 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' Casts a Fun Final Spell
The true eldritch terror is facing a world with no more new episodes of 'Sabrina.'
For anyone who is bummed out that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4 is the last installment of Netflix's witchy comic adaptation, we have good news for you: The final season packs about three or four seasons' worth of magic, mayhem, and eldritch horror into the show's last go-round, ensuring that we get our fill before its shocking conclusion. Once again, it's up to Sabrina Spellman (and, if you've been paying attention, her secret double who was born out of a time loop at the end of the third season) to protect her friends, family, and the most important place in the universe, which just happens to be the small town of Greendale.
In the last moments of the third season, the nefarious Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), furious at his former witch coven for turning their backs both on him and on all male deities (the Greendale coven worships Hecate, the Three-In-One, now), unleashes the Eldritch Terrors upon Greendale, Lovecraftian horrors including "The Uninvited," "The Returned," and (my personal favorite) "The Weird" that come from deep within the cosmos to wreak violence upon the mortal world. Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) is now two Sabrinas—Sabrina Spellman, the Sabrina who lives on Earth with her aunties and their coven, and Sabrina Morningstar, the Sabrina who has accepted her destiny as Queen of Hell and lives in the underworld with her father Lucifer (Luke Cook) and her lover Caliban (Sam Corlett), the strong-jawed villain from last season. As a fun little detail, the two wear a black headband and a red headband, respectively, in order to tell them apart.
That's enough for two seasons right there, but, as this show always tends to do, the fun doesn't stop there. There are some truly inspired ideas this season, many of which are steamrolled by other ideas, some inspired, some not. This season begins with a genuinely good premiere episode wherein Sabrina tries to conjure up ways for her and her old friends to hang out again after feeling like they've moved on. Single and lonely, for the first few episodes Sabrina attempts to date a little bit, which is plenty of fun on its own, and then the show starts toying with a love triangle (quadrangle?) which is less fun. They also attempt to examine Sabrina's relationships with her respective families, but even that gets swept under the rug in favor of more effects-heavy excitement.
Later on, there is one absolutely delightful meta episode in which one of the Sabrinas is transported to a universe where her life is a TV show—complete with Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick, the two aunties from the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and a sardonic talking puppet Salem. I would have loved for the show to explore its double Sabrinas more—it definitely seems as if that was set up in hopes for a whole season to work with it (and, honestly, if they'd gotten rid of the monster-of-the-week format of the eldritch terrors, they could have!). The main problem with this final season, which is a problem that this show tends to have, is its inability to commit to one thing. In a final season, staring down the barrel of a definitive end to the show forever, I understand the compulsion to go all out and cram in all the stuff the previous seasons never got around to doing, but it comes at the expense of the story. This season's emotional beats are hollowed by the sheer number of them, leading up to a finale that leaves the viewer wanting way more, and not in a good way.
That said, if you've stuck with the show until the end, there's plenty here to enjoy. The otherworldly villains are terrifying, aunties Hilda and Zelda are bewitching, the sweater-and-miniskirt combos are enviable, and Shipka continues to give a compelling, darker edge to her heroine that fits right in with the show's daring willingness to go a little edgy (a daring that got it into trouble with the Satanic Temple itself). The fourth season is a fitting final bow for a show that will leave you wishing they had a few more installments to do it justice.
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