Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 2
We do not own any of these images. Via IMDB.com
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina : Chapter 2
Released on Netflix April 5th 2019
This review contains minor spoilers!
We recently finished binge-watching CAOS part 2 and I don’t think either of us expected to enjoy it so much. Sure, we really enjoyed part 1, but when you’re a young-adult following a story of teenagers at high-school you can’t help but expect to feel a little disconnected. Especially when a large part of the plot revolves around teenage romance- something I personally can’t relate to.
However, CAOS pulled out all the cards for part 2 and did a really bloody good job on all fronts- we sailed through the episodes. Despite a few minor hiccups in the 1st two episodes, the underlying girl-power message we first encountered in season 1 is woven into the main plot in a more organic way. This second part focused on what you might call ‘after-school’ activities with lots more details on the Coven and the older characters: our favourite aunties and head-teacher. Another main theme of Part 2 is the clashing of modern-day intersectional feminism and witch-law tradition.
Our leading ladies
The leading women of CAOS are the driving force of the show, and 3 of them are over the age of 45. I wish we were at a point in Cinema where we didn’t need to discuss actors’ ages (especially women) but when it’s still rare to have ‘older’ multiple female characters in a show it is something we have to celebrate, especially when they are so well written. These female characters are - for lack of a better word - awesome. I felt so much pride watching them. It’s comforting to know that a younger audience will have such characters to look up to because after all, CAOS has gathered a huge following. As was the case for season 1, this show is unapologetically feminist and inclusive and basically does a great job on all fronts. Once again, the clashing of witch-tradition and modern-feminist values is an ongoing theme: Sabrina and Head-Boy, Lilith and the Dark Lord, Aunt Zelda and Lord Blackwood.
It was refreshing to follow a slower (which is not a negative thing) pace in Part 2, one which sprinkled a healthy amount of plot details and character details into each chapter. In part 2 we learnt a little more about the characters’ values, especially regarding Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda who had bigger roles this season. One scene that really struck me was when Aunt Hilda stood up for herself in front of the council. She took a huge risk, she showed true courage and didn’t let fear silence her. That scene illustrated her personality so well for me and I really feel it deserves a special mention. That and the scene where she poisons the teacher from the Academy. People tend to underestimate Hilda because she is a very kind and empathetic person. I was glad to see that she is more than a one-sided character, a counter-balance to Zelda who could be described as more sharp and forth-coming (though we did see a more emotional side to Zelda this season too- another sign that these characters are being crafted with care).
As for Zelda, she had a pretty cool story-arc this season, when she revealed her true feelings about Lord Blackwood and her plans to gain political ground within in the Coven, I was practically clapping behind the screen. She always puts her family first and is ready to fight her way to the top.
Another surprise this season was the humanisation of Lilith. We experienced things from her perspective this season and you couldn’t help but feel for her. There was a lot of character development and honestly- I’m rooting for her!
These character-driven scenes are so often pushed aside in favour of larger action scenes or plot moments, yet they play such a vital role in character development. These ‘slower’ scenes always deserve to be celebrated in my eyes!
This sharper focus on the aunties and Lilith enabled the show to wander a little from the high-school fishbowl setting and explore the greater, wild world of witches.
From Witch Politics (meeting the Council & The Anti-Pope), biblical themes (the fall of Lucifer) and prophecies, by embracing the elder women in the show CAOS was able to mature and reach a wider audience.
Although this high-school setting wasn’t an issue for part 1, this was a shift I was hoping for. We had more of an insight into the magical world in Part 2, with scenes and subplots which allowed our favourite human trio to get involved. There was definitely a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe through-out: I personally loved Chapter Fifteen and Lilith’s nightmarish endeavors. Those dream-like sequences worked so well within the show and enabled us to learn more about Theo, Ros and Harvey. Those characters could so easily be overshadowed by the magical aspect of CAOS but they weren’t, their stories are just as important (and relevant) as the witches’. I love how they have stuck together, to experience this strange new world as a group. Part 2 did a really good job in illustrating their thoughts and concerns for Sabrina: it brings the show back down to earth and honestly makes the whole story more relatable.
In my opinion, the reason CAOS didn’t fall into the sophomore slump was due to the good-pacing, and non-over-stuffing of episodes. To clarify: something that really bugs me about tv shows is when there are too many minor plots through-out the season that don’t match up, that don’t follow, that don’t actually play in role in the larger picture. It’s poor writing and ultimately contributes to a loss of momentum. Part 2 was character focused, with short bursts of action. Each episode offered an opportunity to learn more about the characters all whilst the plot quietly fell into place.
Highlights of this season include an episode where Sabrina must face her mandrake double, Zelda uses her femininity to get into the inner circle (honestly loved her arc this season), scenes between Prudence and Ambrose, and seeing Lilith’s mask crumble as she watches an interpretation of her life on stage…
Overall, Part 2 was a success and elevated the show to a whole new level. I hope they follow this 10 chapter format and continue to avoid falling into the ‘action over-stuffing’ and ‘too much going on’ slump. The main take-away is that CAOS gives us the different, inspiring, multifaceted characters we have always wanted with beautiful set design, costumes, AND good writing. Here’s to part 3!
Written by Holly