Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale isn't just better than fans are saying, but not your average Christmas Special. Though there is a healthy supply of signature holiday touches - like yule logs, photos with Santa, and spiked eggnog - there are just as many holiday-inspired elements that are objectively darker (see: Christmas ghosts, an evil Santa, and a mythical baby-stealing witch inspired by Icelandic lore).
Based on the Archie Comics comic book series of the same name, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina details the formative years of Sabrina Spellman's (Kiernan Shipka) training as a teenage witch. Stuck choosing between her mortal friends and the Satanic Church of Night, Sabrina's education and pastimes are riddled with equal parts magic and mayhem. And, as it so happens, said magic and mayhem is just as prevalent during the holiday season. In the show's holiday special, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale, the winter solstice is ripe with magic good and bad, and Sabrina - as usual - is as much the cause of the problems as she is the one who has to set everything right.
In the Christmas episode, Sabrina has one Christmas wish that hasn't come true: asking her mom for some innocent motherly advice. However, seeing as her mother's been dead since she was a baby, the only way to pull this off is by way of a séance. When other spirits manage to slip through on the one night of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest, Sabrina can't help but have herself a very scary Christmas. And, even though holiday specials are sometimes hit-or-miss, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale rings in the season as a delightful unearthly treat.
- This Page: Sabrina's Christmas Special Is A Good Episode
- Page 2: Sabrina's Christmas Special Is Important For The Series' Future
A Midwinter's Tale is Everything Christmas Specials Should Be
Special holiday episodes for TV shows are like Christmas presents. They're bonus treats adding some holiday cheer to a time of the year otherwise dragged down by dead trees, early sunsets, and the common cold. Over the years, there have been some lackluster holiday specials that audiences would rather regift than revisit (see: He-Man and She-Ra Christmas: A Christmas Special, A Very Brady Christmas, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: We Wish You a Turtle Christmas), but the good has usually outweighed the bad - which can thankfully be said for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
So, seeing as Christmas specials are first and foremost supplementary, it's worth checking off all the boxes that make it what it is. Right away, the episode introduces audiences to a very on-brand spin on holiday episodes: not celebrating Christmas, but the winter solstice. Even something as traditional as a yule log doesn't just serve the purpose of keeping the Spellman's warm, but warding off evil spirits. The episode also includes a fairly wide variety of classic Christmas songs, lines of children waiting to sit on Santa's lap, Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) working as a store elf, meticulously detailed gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, eggnog, and even a live reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. What's more is that the episode cleverly gives all of these Christmas additions a magical twist.
One Christmas song, in particular, ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen") ironically contrasts the Satanic worship in the Spellman home, the Santa Claus that children are waiting to see is actually a demon who turns children into lifelike wax figures, the gingerbread house belongs to Miss Wardwell/Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) who uses it as a form of attack against the Spellmans, and the eggnog is enchanted. So, overall, the episode has solid rewatch value around the holidays - even if said holiday cheer is macabre and slightly tongue-in-cheek.
Bigger Sabrina Plot Turns Are Surprisingly Significant
One of the most surprising takeaways from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale is how significant certain elements of the plot are to the show's overarching narrative. Christmas episodes are traditionally - though not always - standalone stories, but this episode is an exception. In fact, some loose ends from the first season's finale are either tied up or satisfied far more quickly than audiences might have expected.
In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season 1, Zelda Spellman (Miranda Otto) is midwife to Father Blackwood's (Richard Coyle) wife Constance (Alvina August), and ends up delivering her twin babies during the finale. When she discovers that the firstborn twin is a female, she essentially kidnaps her and convinces Blackwood that the other twin consumed her in the womb. She does this to protect the girl, considering Blackwood would have never accepted a female heir and would have, as a result, had her killed. Zelda hides the baby away in the Spellman home, names her Leticia, and plans to raise her as her own. However, by the Christmas episode, a (mostly) neat bow is wrapped around this subplot; coming to terms with the fact that raising Leticia underneath Blackwood's nose would be near-impossible, she gives the baby away to the witch, Dezmelda (Brenda McDonald). So, even though it's possible this storyline won't be completely abandoned, Zelda mostly wiped her hands clean of what started out as a seriously complicated plot line.
The episode also gives Sabrina's late mother Diana (Annette Reilly) much more to do than her brief cameo in the first season. A Midwinters Tale revolves around Sabrina wanting to contact her mother through a séance, and it turns out to be a success. The relationship between Sabrina and her parents will no doubt thread itself through the entire series, so satisfying such a significant one-on-one relationship between the two so early on is a surprise - especially in a Christmas episode. That said, a deeper look into the episode might suggest that not everything was as it seems...