Sabrina season three is tacky, and the best one yet

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

By Kendall Tamer
BU News Service

Warning to the wise: Spoilers ahead

Part two of “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” left viewers on the precipice of a very large cliff, so when the third installment hit Netflix Jan. 24, fans immediately began voraciously consuming the new content.

But post-premiere, many took to social media to criticize the “kitschy” nature of some of the show’s new gimmicks – namely, the addition of musical numbers.

The show is supposed to be a dark retelling of the popular 90’s show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” employing story arcs that featured the four horsemen of the apocalypse, plenty of gore and even Satan himself.

So, some feel this season’s song-and-dance breaks diverted from the gothic tone we’ve all grown to love. I disagree. If anything, these small spurts of what others have called “cringey,” make the show even better.

This season kicked things off with Sabrina and her friends going to literal hell to rescue her warlock boyfriend who had been possessed by Daddy Dearest, aka Satan, in the season two finale. Upon the way, they see people in cages, waiting to be drowned by the incoming tide and people being eaten alive by crows as they’re hung up in fields. Sabrina even gets crowned the Queen of Hell itself.

This is some pretty intense subject matter right at the starting line, and abruptly contrasts with the next episode, where Sabrina tries out for the cheerleading squad, and we get our first taste of the new musical number formula.

While some found this tacky, especially after the employment of “musical episodes” by the creators in their other show “Riverdale,” I feel this moment gave viewers a chance to take a breath. After suffering through “Dante’s Inferno,” we get to just enjoy some silly singing and dancing for 60 seconds before being launched back into the heavy stuff. 

Sabrina is a half-witch, caught between two worlds. She wants to carry on her family’s Spellman legacy, but she has her mortal side, thanks to her mother’s blood. One of the key aspects of her character throughout the series is that she doesn’t want to forfeit her human life or friends. These glimpses into her human, high school life not only serve as a chance for the audience to come up for air, but they are also a plot device. These moments, juxtaposed to the horror and death and demons, represent the clash within Sabrina herself. 

The musical numbers are mostly used for cheerleading routines, as well as a couple of scenes that involve song and music being used to cast spells and complete rituals. During the “Hare Moon,” Sabrina sings “The Song of Purple Summer” from Broadway musical, Spring Awakening as she sets a rabbit free in the woods. While some criticized this scene because the creators used modern songs for their supposedly ancient rituals, I felt they were true to the lore.

In traditional practices of Witchcraft and Wicca, music, song and dance are often incorporated into rituals and spells, and modern witches blur the lines all of the time. I think it was faithful to the tradition to make music more integral in the spellcasting of the series, as well as providing softened moments in all of the despair.

The last musical number of the season is a short, sweet moment where Sabrina and her aunts sing a song from the musical version of “Peter Pan” to put the town to sleep. It is a small, soothing moment that lends the audience one last opportunity to relax before the show then thrusts you into a whirlwind of violent character deaths and tumultuous plot twists. 

We end the season with two Sabrinas: one who wants to stay with her family and one who wants to continue being the Queen of Hell. Two Sabrinas, split between the light and the dark, just as the show is split between upbeat moments of hope and calamitous moments of blood and guts.

So, what will happen next? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. But I can honestly say, bring on the singing.


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