Regular readers of this blog will remember that I absolutely loved the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and then felt a bit let down by the second season. I wasn’t sure if the third season was going to be a return to form or a downward slide. The honest answer is that it’s a bit of both.
This season sees the former Church of Night drained of power now that they can no longer rely on Lucifer’s (Luke Cook) celestial reserves. This opens them up threat from a Pagan coven who want to restore the earth to pre-human majesty. If that wasn’t enough for Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) to deal with, things have gone a bit tits up in Hell. The princes of hell aren’t too keen on Lilith (Michelle Gomez) or Sabrina ruling and have raised their own pretender to the throne in Caliban (Sam Corlett).
With Nick (Gavin Leatherwood) reeling from his possession by the Dark Lord and Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) back on the loose and messing with time and the Eldritch Terrors there’s a lot going on. And let’s not forget the endless drama created by Sabrina’s human friends and their intertwining love lives.
So basically I wasn’t particularly interested in anything going on in Hell. Caliban was a lot of fun and I love everything about Michelle Gomez’s portrayal of Lilith, particularly her almost motherly exasperation at Sabrina’s teenage behaviour. It felt like the mythology had jumped the shark though and any consistency and and logic had gone astray. Hell also didn’t feel that hellacious. Inconsistent mythology is one of my pet peeves so I found it quite frustrating and a bit eyerolly.
On the other hand, the Church of Night trying to find its new identity and fight off the Pagan threat is much more compelling. The Pagan Gods are a whole new kettle of fish and they are super powerful. Sabrina no longer has her mega power and the threat of annihilation feels very real. The Church is vulnerable and has to draw on every possible technique and resource available to them in order to survive. It becomes a real battle for identity and female empowerment and I was living for it.
I also enjoyed Sabrina’s return to a more teenage sassiness than her annoying arrogant season two edition. Seeing the strife in her relationship with Nick was really affecting and a bit nostalgic… although to be fair none of my exes was ever possessed by my dad. The Aunts are always a treat and the consequences of Zelda (Miranda Otto) failing to listen to Hilda (Lucy Davis) were more devastating then ever before. It did give us a great opportunity to see Hilda show how much power lies under her softly spoken exterior and there was a moment in the finale that actually made me want to fist punch the air.
The series ends with a lovely frisson of the horror that is yet to come and how Sabrina’s sort-sighted decision making could have terrible, terrible consequences.
While this season is nowhere near the heights of the first one and big chunks of it irritated me, there is so much fun stuff going on that I could forgive the transgressions and I will keep watching. I do think that the creators of CAOS need to learn that less is indeed more. We probably don’t need musical interludes, cheerleaders, sex demons or Dorian Grey’s acne on top of everything else.