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Monday, December 24, 2018

TV Show Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinters Tale

This is episode 11 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season 1 on Netflix. There will be a review of the TV series as a whole this coming Friday so be sure to check that out!

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chapter Eleven: A Midwinter's Tale time: 
Runtime: 1h
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo
As the winter solstice approaches, Sabrina orchestrates an emotional seance with serious consequences, and Susie's merry plans turn menacing.

Tis the season for burning the Yule log, holding seances, and holiday specials! That's how they do it in Greendale, anyway.

Given the last time we saw a Christmasy Sabrina she was dressed as Santa to rescue Salem from an over-enthusiastic kid (this may have involved a spatula and a Neil Diamond box set), I was curious to see what Chilling Adventures would bring to the holiday table.

Set after the first season, I think this could somewhat function on its own, though if someone is completely new to this version it may not be best to start here since it's more of an extension of season one vs a standalone special. Sabrina is feeling the separation from Harvey (and her self-inflicted separation from her friends), as well as missing her mother. Zelda is occupied with a new baby and the warning to keep the Yule log burning. Miss Wardwell is wondering why she's not been called back to the pit. Suzie is working as an elf, and the others are somewhat on the periphery of those plots.

That's really one of the things I noticed. I'm used to holiday specials where the stakes are low, it's all about the feels, and everyone is pretty much all there together. Not so here, and it makes it more in line with the show. It's almost refreshing.

The Yule log goes out during an ill-timed seance in an attempt to connect Sabrina to her mom to find out why she's in Limbo. Chaos ensues.

The good: Dark Christmas is hard to do well without coming off as cartoony or bitter. For me, the decision to lean into folklore hits all the right buttons. I'll even ease up on nitpicking for how they interpret some of it, because it's so refreshing to see the Yule Lads and Gryla used for once. Seriously, I gasped and cheered. There are a few other fun reveals that are delightfully creepy, but I'll let you find those on your own.

Like everything else, Sabrina tries to help Harvey, tries to help her mother, and it ends up blowing up in her face. Add Suzie's plot to it, and the result is cozy, shadowy madness that never gets too goofy or cynical. I feel for Sabrina, I get her frustration as all the threads of her life feel like they're unravelling. I kinda want to smack Harvey upside the head, but I like that the show has chosen to let their relationship play out, bumps and all, and not use the mind wipe mcguffin the 90s version repeatedly used. This is far more interesting.

We also get to see how Susie and Rosalind deal with Sabrina's powers and lifestyle, which is something that was never really explored in depth before. I dig it.

All of the characters go through a bit of a ride, and I feel like this probably sets things up for season 2. This also increases the universe in that it shows creatures existing in or near Greendale that have nothing to do per say with the local covens.

The bad: My only real gripe is that some things move a little fast, making some (like the Weird Sisters) feel a little out of character. I'm not totally sure if this is a pacing thing or character progression. It works for the episode but does feel a little odd.

The ick: Same as the rest of the series. You need to keep a sense of humor with the satany bits, and if seeing the franchise go darker doesn't appeal, this won't change your mind. There was nothing here that put things over the top for me, and no huge gore in this ep, so it is a decent look at the show without it being too crazy pants, if those are deal breakers for anyone.

Overall, this adds to the series and enhances what we've already seen. It gives a nice Yuletide glow without being overly sweet. It's nice to have a holiday show where things happen and impact the overall season, so hopefully this won't be a one-off thing. There's also a definite holiday season feel - this isn't an attempt to make fun of traditions, but to expand them. There are plenty of fun little moments and the final scene had me snickering. If you're into the show, you definitely need to see this episode. Even if you aren't, it's a fun romp with a great story amd solid performances from the cast. A fun watch for something a little bit different this season.

4.5 sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.


  1. When I saw this pop up on Netflix, I was a little on the fence of how it would work out, but I've loved it so much, and your review is right on point. Merry Christmas! RO

    1. I loved it too :) Merry Christmas to you!

    2. Glad you enjoyed it! Believe me, I've held my breath ever since the first season dropped! Merry Christmas!