A Chilling Review of an Okay Third Part
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 3
Part three of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina opens with Sabrina trying to save boyfriend number two, Nick, who was sent to hell at the end of Part Two of the show after he used his own body to capture the soul of Lucifer (so that Lucy wouldn't start a war and bring Hell to Earth). Freeing Nick would, presumably, restore him to his former glory so he could, you know, be the same old (rather slimy) Nick. While this plot would seem to be the motivation for the season, the story quickly hits the skids.
The issue from the start is failure to use any kind of original plot to get Sabrina into Hell; instead of an original story they used a very trope-y Wizard of Oz-esque set-up, with Lilith (Queen of Hell) as the wicked witch? Really? Gratefully, that only encapsulates the first episode or so, soon after another plot offers a brief intro to the promise of Something Wicked This Way Comes (again instead of making the story cleverly evil and less... not what we got) The season fell short, again, because it wasn't what was promised. Further writers try to up the evil, or scare quotient, with a slow drip of classic horror which had a brief opportunity... before again falling on its own sword. I expected so much better.
To be fair, the season has a strong setup, with Sabrina's coven currently staying at the Spellman Mortuary. Zelda owns her position as the Priestess of Night, working to get the remaining students back to the school. Her goal is to no longer worship to Lucifer but, instead, to switch over to Lilith (the once-lady friend of the Devil, now current Queen of Hell). Seeing as how Lucifer tried to kill everyone at the end of the last season (or part, or whatever you want to call it) and has been using this and other covens as not only a cannibal grocery store but as a way to build his power base, either through sex or devotion, he couldn't exactly be trusted anymore (let alone worshipped). In the end the coven finally becomes more like the known modern witch, not followers of Lucifer but the invokers of the true power of the hedge witch deity Hecate. It only took eight episodes (and two previous seasons) to get there.
Let's talk about Nick briefly. Sabrina saving Nick was totally expected, as was him coming moody and depressive, only to fall back into his previous predilections and kinks (generally involving sex demons). The true magic of this show is that Sabrina's boyfriends disappear about as quickly as her love for them. Nick was a placeholder here just as much as Harvey was in season one. And now, with the (is he supposed to be hunky?) Prince of Hell, Sabrina has yet another guy to seem vaguely interested in before some other eye-candy rolls up.
There were some Riverdale moments in the new season (since these shows are run by the same producers) but no characters from Riverdale were actually found to cross paths with Sabrina or Greendale, the setting of Sabrina. It was disappointing to go that extra mile, to setup potential crossover, just to waste it. I would have preferred if any of the characters from Sabrina were going to go all the way to Riverdale, at the very least they could have gone to Pops and have Riverdale characters in the background or have a brief intro, proving that yes Riverdale is the same Riverdale from Riverdale. Why not make the introduction or at the very least elude to it. Only to briefly mention a Blossom from the 1940s. Whatever!
There were a lot of missed opportunities this season. The premise of the Something Wicked carnival storyline was intriguing enough, but it ended up going nowhere. It was better than the Wizard of OZ plot in episodes one and two but still fell far short of actyually being entertaining. The writers used it to try to TV-splain what transgender love might look like. Maybe? Unfortunately, it wasn't something wicked at all.
Placing a Puck (a nature demon) as the lead for pagan witches was an interesting idea, and having pagan witches untie against the Lucifer and start worshipping Lilith instead could have had a lot of promise. "We can choose who we honor and how we get our power." But, at the same time, if witches traditionally received their powers from Lucifer but, in reality, can get their powers from, say, other nameless green gods, wouldn't that mean all you need to do is say, "want to be a witch? Pick a deity... any deity?" This is where things became really sloppy.
Then we get a witch with the ability to bring in monsters, things like the large snake "Nagini" with the powers of Medusa or the Basilisk (as if this show was simply a Harry Potter clone). And then, conveniently, that there is a witch who has the power to change flesh right when that power is needed. The producers of the show proved they could be original with the content, but time and again they choose to leave their creativity behind, focusing instead on short sighted in storytelling and easy tropes.
Speaking of stupid tropes: Hilda gets afflicted by a Pagan which leads her to causing others harm (a modern witch, no-no, as we learn). Of course it happens right after Hilda finally finds happiness with her on-again/off-again love interest Dr. C. so naturally that's immediately taken away (classic will they-won't they rug-pull). Don't worry dear readers, there is light at the end of that poorly conceived and constructed tunnel.
Then there's the fact that the show misuses Michelle Gomez (of Doctor Who "Missy" fame). Her portrayal of Lilith is what kept me with the show as she was amazing in the first two seasons. Sadly she's completely wasted in part three; Lilith can't seem to catch a break and get what she is actually due. Instead of using the talent of the show they offer two weak plots, confusing characterizations, and an overall arc that goes nowhere. Plus, Missy is hobbled by confusing costuming that fails to offer a decent, modern looks for Hell, instead relying on 1500s royal fashion or, worse, Party Time-style second rate Halloween costuming.
One thing I did like (because I'm in a band): Fright Club, Harvey's cover band (with other friends of Sabrina), performs a few rounds of 1970s and 1980s rock, and that was honestly quite fun. That said, I was irritated because they seemingly had no practice before getting together (literally never once saying they had any musical interest on the show before they) and suddenly they're seriously good. So even when I liked the show I still had issues with what it was presenting.
If you liked the first two parts of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, there are likely moments during this third section you'll like as well. There are some small beats -- a cheerleader sub-plot, a set of hedge witch crones, other smaller Easter eggs -- that were fun at times. Compared to the first two parts, though, this third season falls very short of the promised entertainment. In fact I felt this entire series, with its weird music choices and the inclusion of Fright Club, was part of a concept to market a vinyl version of the music in the show. In all other regards, Part 3 was an utter failure.