Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Christmas Special Review: A Midwinter’s Tale

by Rachel Bellwoar

May Satan bless us, everyone.

How Sabrina managed to get through the season one buzz without letting it slip that a Christmas special was coming is anyone’s guess but between that and the recent announcement that season two is dropping in April, Netflix isn’t making us wait very long to reunite with Greendale’s teenage witch. But how do witches celebrate the holidays? By marking the winter solstice, of course, except when Zelda lights the yule tide log you better hope no one lets it burn out before solstice is over.

Dean Buscher/Netflix

When “Midwinter’s Tale” was announced I thought it would be a standalone episode that viewers could watch whether they were caught up on the show or not. The reality is much more concerned with continuing storylines than I was expecting. Reeling from her recent break-up with Harvey, Sabrina needs to find out why her mother was in limbo, and to do that she needs to host a seance, but the Spellmans have other demons to deal with, plus Susie getting hired to play Jingles the elf, a job she’s been wanting for years.
Unfortunately the casting of a young Sabrina and Susie doesn’t go anywhere and while It’s refreshing to encounter a Christmas special that’s interested in traditions outside of Christianity (so you actually encounter some demons you’ve never seen before), the result is a bit stuffed, with one problem stemming from another and antagonists being defeated so quickly you never get a chance to sweat their presence. Of all things, Zelda’s kidnapped Blackwood baby, Leticia, is the greatest addition to the formula. You get to see Zelda’s demented version of peek-a-boo and another incident that’s the scariest moment of the series, but then Zelda’s final decision to take Leticia to Dezmelda’s (a reference you really have to have been paying attention during Season One to remember) is disappointingly typical. Babies aren’t known for being easy to film with, plus (as already comes up this episode) they constantly require some discussion over who’s going to babysit, but Leticia would’ve been worth the effort if it meant keeping her, and her black draped cradle, around.
Other thoughts on “A Midwinter’s Tale:”
Diyah Pera/Netflix

  • Besides Tommy, who’s dead, we’ve never seen Harvey have friends outside of Sabrina’s circle so it doesn’t seem fair that, in the fallout over his relationship with Sabrina ending (and I don’t think they’re getting back together again), he should be left out of the group. Maybe that’s reading too much into the scene where he doesn’t come over, but Sabrina walks over to him, but Harvey wasn’t just Sabrina’s boyfriend. They were all pals and, because of that, they can’t just cut each other out of their lives completely.
  • Hilda’s recipes are an example of the show using something they’ve already established and then getting to go full throttle with it because baking is huge during the holidays. It works like gangbusters, and Miss Wardwell’s gingerbread house is a neat device, too (if she might not think so, since Diana inexplicably talks to Sabrina better outside of the seance).

Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming on NetflixSeason 2 premieres April 5th.

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