When I think of a ‘holiday special’ I think of exaggerated festive fun, perhaps a big plot twist, maybe even a couple of musical numbers? Doctor Who did it right, Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it right – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has room for improvement.
‘A Midwinter’s Tale’ is an overstuffed stocking that doesn’t impress.
At the start of ‘A Midwinters Tale’ the audience learns that, for witches, the yule log is protection, not decoration. The log must be kept lit to ward off any evil spirits that may tumble down the chimney and into the Spellman residence. As you can imagine, it doesn’t stay lit for long. The episode foreshadows exactly how it’s going to play out when Ambrose remarks, “After all, Christmas is the perfect time for ghost stories.” It’s clear what the writers were attempting, an anthology of sorts that gives us some fun short stories in the 50-minute run-time. However, each subplot was simply too weak, too inconsequential, and too brief. In its first season Chilling Adventures of Sabrina found its identity between campy and downright terrifying, but in this stand-alone, villains with real promise are cast aside for more melancholy Harvey moments and Zelda’s baby struggles.
When Susie is kidnapped by a malevolent demon posing as Santa, Roz notices something strange afoot with her ‘cunning’ visions. The yuletide demon dips children in wax to add to his ever-growing grotto display – dark stuff. This villain had potential, and had the team banded together to stop him the episode may have had more sense of direction. But alas, Susie and her wax demon are side-lined from the get-go for poltergeists, changeling spells, mountain demons, kidnapped babies, and a whole lot more. Even poor Ambrose, one of the most endearing of the ensemble, is neglected once again. He arrives at a fancy Solstice party to meet Luke and then that sub-plot all but disappears.
This holiday special does nothing to propel the narrative. The way we left Sabrina in season one was dramatic and signalled a change – but this Sabrina has learnt nothing. She spends half the episode trying to win Harvey over with more magic, enchanted pencils, enchanted eggnog; a bit redundant considering how we reacted all the other times she tried to force her spells into his life. ‘A Midwinter’s Tale’ is an overstuffed stocking that doesn’t impress. Hopefully, the forthcoming season will pack more of a punch.
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Since the first season itself was a breath of fresh air, the Christmas special is incredibly underwhelming.
- Character development