Season 2 doubles down on what season 1 of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina put out for better and worse.
|Good If You Like||Socially Aware Shows
Female Empowerment/ Feminist Messaging
Magic With A Sense of Culture Behind It
|Isn’t For You If You||Want Strong, Formidable Villains
Don’t Like Characters Who Are So Impetuous and Lucky That It’s A Surprise They Aren’t Dead
|Father Blackwood||Richard Coyle|
|Enoch (The Anti-Pope)||Ray Wise|
|Roz (Rosalind)||Jaz Sinclair|
|Mr. Putnam||Adrian Hough|
|Methuselah||William B. Davis|
|Lucifer (The Dark Lord)||Luke Cook|
|Dr. Cerberus||Alessandro Juliani|
After the events of season 1, Sabrina finds herself more and more challenging how the Church of Night runs, but with seeing that being a vocal adversary to Father Blackwood isn’t enough, she presents more concrete challenges. The first is by trying to become Top Person, a mentee position which has led to many becoming a High Priest. Though, what really stirs things is her trying to revive her father’s manifesto and push the idea of equality into the Church of Night’s doctrine, as well as intermingling between morals and witches. However, while Sabrina is the type who is like a speeding train, this doesn’t mean some don’t try to make flimsy wooden boards to slow her down.
But, as Sabrina pushes to change her coven, she isn’t alone. Zelda finds herself becoming the new Lady Blackwood with the goal being her influencing Father Blackwood to reform the church. Likely nothing on the level of what Sabrina wishes to do, but definitely make it so aspects rooted in tradition are a tad more progressive. Which, as fans know, is the opposite of what Father Blackwood wants as he pushes – hard – to create a complete patriarchal coven. He even goes so far as to presenting his own manifesto to the Anti-Pope, which would exclude women from top positions and regulate them to subservient roles.
And as all this happens, of course, the mortals have drama too. Harvey is trying to get past his feelings and transition to dating Roz and falling in love with her. Trying to have sex too since it seems the Lil’ moose is a horny bugger.
Meanwhile, Roz is dealing with her sight failing and coming to terms with becoming blind so early in her life and the idea of her father’s church paying for an experimental surgery despite her uncomfortable with the idea. But, perhaps the one with the biggest journey is Theo. The person formerly known as Susie has given themselves the name Theo and has confirmed with themselves, and others, he is a boy. What, for some, takes some time to accept and for others is an instant adaptation.
While Theo’s story tapers off in visbility, just showing an FTM transition is rather important. Representation of FTM, as opposed to MTF, isn’t as circulated, speaking for my viewing habits. So to see Theo deal with trying to look and figure out how he can feel more masculine was necessary. Taking note of how people responded from his friends being able to fairly easy to transition to Billy who harassed him in the locker room, it helped illuminate what men like Theo go through. Heck, for a moment, we even got Mr. Putnam’s take, as a parent, and having to mentally deal with losing what he assumed was a daughter and realizing he had a son.
Thus making what was a small storyline feel larger than the screen time dedicated to it.
Zelda’s Long Game
Zelda probably doesn’t get enough credit for her influence over Sabrina. While not an aggressive feminist and activist as Sabrina, Zelda isn’t necessarily for everything linked to tradition. She has goals and desires power and influence, without exchanging one evil for another. However, the difference between Sabrina and Zelda is like how activism is in the real world. Some which to tear the system down from the outside, brick by brick, like Sabrina, and others from the inside, like Zelda, recognizing change takes time, effort, negotiation, and sometimes sacrifice.
Essentially, Zelda was willing to sacrifice herself, through marriage, to gain the ear of the high priest to change things. Be it in minor ways, like helping Prudence when she could, or maybe help Father Blackwood reconsider his more extreme ideas. Alas, a lot of this didn’t come to be, but that doesn’t mean her approach was the wrong one. More so witch society was so used to, so ingrained in misogyny that even a force like Zelda couldn’t influence it the way she wanted.
Lilith’s Growth As A Character
From seeing her early days out of the garden, her love affair with Adam, and recognizing how Lucifer betrayed her, Lilith gives us an emotional journey. Arguably, outside of Prudence experiencing rejection from Father Blackwood, she is one of the few characters who go beyond entertaining you or pushing a message and gives you an emotional experience. One that could bring you to tears on a regular basis as she, amongst nearly all the women on this show, push how hard they work to be seen, heard, empowered, yet are disregarded. No matter if they give their heart, wits, or even try to support the structures which are of no benefit to them.
A Breakdown of How Sexism & Patriarchy Is A Structure That Wholly Discriminates
Perhaps the exclamation point on how patriarchy and sexism is such an issue is when Father Blackwood, towards the end of the season, calls Sabrina a whore. Mind you, he is a centuries-old warlock who is threatened simply by a 16-year-old questioning him. But, it isn’t just Sabrina who experiences sexism. Whether it is Prudence being denied and ignored since she is a girl (also likely since she is Black, but the show doesn’t touch on race much), Zelda being coerced into becoming a Stepford Wife, or Lilith’s entire story, we’re shown the various levels forms of sexism. Heck, take note of Hilda being inappropriately touched by Methuselah. In doing so, we’re reminded that you don’t have to be Sabrina’s age to be sexually harassed.
Also, through the Anti-Pope, Luke, Ambrose, and Methuselah, never mind the obvious Father Blackwood, we see how it continues to exist. Ambrose is an uneasy ally who, when Sabrina wanted to be Top Person, refused to commit to supporting her. Heck, even comes at her neck when it comes to her trying to undo traditions which benefit him. Leading to Luke who clearly doesn’t want change since the privilege of being born a boy has been good to him. The High Priest favors him, he is part of a secret society which drinks and parties, and to let a girl potentially join or end that means he is less special.
Then when you move onto the Anti-Pope and Methuselah, you see how the structure, even when there are known perverts, and those toxic to an organization, they are allowed to continue and thrive. Mum’s the word and complaints are either unheard, squashed or ignored. Making it so the list of victims add up, the oppression slowly gets worse, and people treat the way things are as less of a travesty and more as a core part of their culture. Making the idea of changing something treated as a personal attack.
The Ending of Episode 6
Perhaps one of the reasons the end of episode 6, a bit of a turning point in the series, has to be noted is it has the potential to make you cry from the sheer intensity of it. The moment, in which Sabrina becomes, as Harvey says in episode 7, like the X-Men’s Dark Phoenix, is a moment which brings about emotions not from joy or sadness, but a realization of power. Which seems so strange to be affected by, especially if you watch superhero movies, but there was something different about Sabrina rising in the air and combating the two angels. It was the kind of experience which makes you wonder if they don’t push Shipka as an actress enough on this show. Beyond just having the most lines.
To Be A Villain or Adversary Against Sabrina Is To Be Said You’re Powerful & Then Lose To A 16-Year-Old
There isn’t a villain from Father Blackwood, who sometimes is just an adversary who talks a lot, to Lucifer who isn’t made to be less than when they go against Sabrina. Mind you, she often doesn’t combat them alone, but she is the leader and the one inspiring the troops. But the kicker is that, more often than not, her enemies are verbally built up over time yet usually defeated by her within an episode. The Order of Innocence, for example, witch hunting angels, are brought on one episode and killed in the same. Friggin angels – our first introduction to what should be formidable adversaries.
Then with Lucifer, the Dark Lord, while one could say Sabrina lost a few battles but won a war, there is a need to remind you she is 16. Her allies, even if you account Hilda and Zelda, are maybe 200 years old at most? Yet, they are defeating beings who should be far more powerful than them, including the Dark Lord himself. Which, for a show about good and evil, while you know evil will lose, the fact you don’t even have reason to believe they have a fighting chance undermines any and all build they receive. For, at best, they’ll be like Father Blackwood and just become whining b****es about it and retreat after some time. Versus the rest who are killed, entrapped, or just aren’t spoken of.
On The Fence
We Barely Got To See Hilda & Dr. Cee Together
This is minor, but considering how everyone is getting some, well except Theo, it made Hilda and Dr. Cee not being shown in a more intimate way a bit eyebrow raising. For while you have to give it to the show for not making women of a certain age secondary characters, purely there to support Sabrina’s goals, Hilda does feel like she often gets the short end of the stick. So not seeing her and Dr. Cee get as intimate as we’ve seen Lilith get with people, or Zelda with Father Blackwood seemed a bit off.
Yet, who knows, maybe Hilda’s actress wasn’t comfortable with the idea?
Roz & Harvey Together
Arguably, in YA shows, when two characters don’t have a lot going on, it seems the option often taken is to put said characters together. That seems to be what was done with Roz and Harvey. Roz’s storyline may touch on her questions of faith, her cunning leading to blindness, but nothing which makes the character seem worth a huge amount of screentime. As for Harvey? With Tommy gone, his house in order, and nothing going on in his life if Sabrina isn’t in trouble, he too doesn’t have a whole lot going on. So, together they were and I was left feeling uncomfortable since sometimes it seemed Roz was with Harvey simply because no one else was asking her out and she was lonely.
A Question of Faith
Faith is a complicated thing for Prudence and Roz because their fathers, two fallible men, are their medium to understanding their religion. Now, for neither is this dove into. However, it is the kind of storyline which, even if handled like the angels, in a one and done episode, is something you have to want explored. For with complicated relationships with their dad, faith, and its influence on them, to hear them honestly speak on it fully could be something. Especially the emotional conflict behind it.
A Reminder These Kids Are 16
Sometimes the best way to deal with the decisions of the kids on this show is reminding you they are 16. After defeating witch hunters, Sabrina decides she wants a party in which more than the three killed could show up and discreetly kill her. Write that off as an immature 16-year-old thought. How about going to hell, despite the massive amounts of demons? Yeah, Sabrina could maybe do it, but Theo, Harvey, and Roz agreeing to go? Must be a dumb 16-year-old high on adrenaline!
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
All shows end up in a pattern. For many, it is because they are part of a brand or adhere to certain structures of their genre. When it comes to others, it is because their show is a known property and between the source material or, in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s case, their first season, they want and need to meet expectations. Which is perhaps the problem of season 2 and maybe explains why the show is marketed as being in parts and not seasons – it doesn’t necessarily feel like it evolves.
Which isn’t a terrible thing but the main reason for the mixed label. From the social justice aspect, to how villains are handled, whether we are talking about the good or bad things, the best and worse parts of season 1 stay on course. Making the few exceptions, like Lilith’s growth and Theo, seem small in comparison to the runaway train which is everything else.
Making season 2 definitely an entertaining watch yet also making it seem the show is largely set in stone and what you see is what you get. So as much as there is room for improvement, and you may see some things done here and there, like most shows, things are going to go steadily downhill. It is just the question of, will it be just a series of minor things which add up, or a major cliff dive as time goes on?
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is confirmed all the way up to a fourth season.