A middling final season with exceptional performances from under-utelized characters.
- 🔮Tati Gabrielle's Prudence Night remains a series all-star.
- 🔮The coven coming together to defend Lilith might be the most exceptional scene in the series.
- 🔮Caliban's, shall we say, "eagerness" to impress his queen.
- 🔮The narrative peters out before it's all said and done.
- 🔮Some characters remain underused while we still spend time on Sabrina's moping and Harvey's mediocrity.
- 🔮The series finale is the worst episode of the season.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has come a long way since Season 1. While the first season ended up being largely about a girl beholden to her white-bread boyfriend in a church led by a misogynist, we close things out with a self-aware young woman who answers to no man. The series finale doesn’t quite stick the landing, but there’s still a lot to love in the Teenage Witch’s final season.
As you may recall from last year, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) split herself into two people in an attempt to make both worlds happy. Sabrina Spellman continues her life in the mortal realm as both high schooler and witch while Sabrina Morningstar rules hell with her father and clay beaux, Caliban (Sam Corlett). Though both Sabrinas find themselves well warned about the dangers of their meeting, the two continue to meet up for girl talk and the occasional world saving. It’s probably not much of a spoiler to tell you, dear reader, that Ambrose’s (Chance Perdomo) warnings of a world-collapse were not unfounded.
As if the Sabrinas weren’t enough of a threat to reality, the witches of Hecate must also contend with the Eldritch Terrors. The Terrors, summoned to Earth by the disgraced Foustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) come in eight forms: the darkness, the uninvited, the weird, the perverse, the cosmic, the returned, the endless, and the void. Each one will play out in its own episode, giving the final season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina a villain of the week kind of format, but not in any way that’s detrimental to the season narrative.
Though Season 4 has fewer episodes than its predecessors, it feels as if it takes more time allowing Sabrina to wallow. Melodramatics are expected in a series focusing on a sixteen-year-old protagonist, but it’s a wasted narrative when we could have been focusing more on the incredible Tati Gabrielle’s Prudence Night or on the relationship of Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Mambo Marie (Skye P. Marshall). The youngest of the Spellman clan does come around and will eventually start owning her own mistakes. But spending the amount of time focusing on her self-created misery seems a waste of a shorter season’s real estate when we’ve seen this behavior from her in every chapter prior.
The series has always been at its best when it leans into what the coven stands for now that it’s no longer under Lucifer’s (Luke Cook) thumb and Blackwood’s control. When Lilith (Michelle Gomez) finds herself in mortal peril, the coven welcomes her in with open arms. There are no questions of allegiance or past wars fought. Instead, the witches of Hecate take on her pain as their own. They offer her safe haven and fight off those who mean to harm her. It’s worth mentioning that the way they take her would-be assailants down is a series best moment in its own right, but no spoilers here!
Most of the secondary characters get their due before the series closes out, but I’m thrilled to report that Roz (Jaz Sinclair) finally gets an arc worthy of her greatness. Prudence is given a hair more to do – though still not enough – while Agatha (Adeline Rudolph) is allowed to be a real character before it’s all said and done. Regrettably, Ross Lynch remains chained to Harvey Kinkle’s unrelenting mediocrity. It’s never fun to see a good actor get shackled to an unfathomably pedestrian character. It’s even less fun to continue to spend time on that character while a huge ensemble of more interesting players exists. We could be spending time with Theo (Lachlan Watson). But sure, let’s have the same conversation we’ve had with Harvey four years running instead.
Speaking of Sabrina Spellman’s exes, Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) is reduced back to boy-toy after an incredible Season 3 arc. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina should always be ‘Brina’s story. However, that doesn’t justify the series shrugging off valid frustrations with the character. As a quick refresher, Scratch left Sabrina after she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that he couldn’t move on from his trauma yet. His story was expertly told as a rape survivor metaphor in Season 3, but in 4 we see him regressed to a love-sick pup while Sabrina is given a moral high ground that she has no right to.
Things sort of wind down by the time the series finale hits. There’s a lot of excitement through the earlier episodes, but the penultimate is too removed from their own reality to be anything awe-inspiring. Meanwhile, the finale itself ends not with a bang but instead a deeply frustrating whisper. We’ll do a deeper dive into the series finale when we can discuss spoilers, but for the purpose of this review: autonomy matters whether it’s the protagonists or not, and letting your story peter out in favor of flimsy finality is never going to be a clean finish.
The final season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is middling, but it’s middling with several exceptional moments and some truly great performances. Lilith, Prudence, Ambrose and Hilda Spellman (Lucy Davis) do no wrong this year, while Zelda, Roz, and Lucifer deliver incredible scenes in their own right. The Terrors bring more horror along with them to the series, punching up the end of the ride with more gore and spooks. And, if all of that does nothing for you, you can at least expect a scene with Caliban that will make your jaw drop and then leave you cackling.
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