Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Season 1 - Review: "Wanting The Best of Both Worlds" By Marko Pekic (December 5, 2018, 10:09 pm)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Hello to all my dear fellow witches! Sorry for this review delay but technical issues prevented me from finishing the show and posting the review earlier. I do hope the wait paid off and that you are ready to dive into some chilling discussions all about what happened in season one of CAOS, based on the Archie comics. During its 10 episode season 1 run we got a fairly good introduction into the magical world of Greenwood, the Spellman family household and the School of Unseen arts.
As a huge Sabrina, The Teenage Witch fan I had high expectations of this show and considering how uneven Riverdale is (both shows created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) I was quite uncertain of what we would get from Netflix`s newest outing. Season 1 of CAOS was very well paced and succeeded in telling a compelling story, introducing interesting complex characters and relationships. Sabrina`s evolution this season was poignant, the writers played a good long-term game playing with her human and witch side, testing her boundaries as and pushing her to accept responsibilities and repercussions from her uncanny actions. Sabrina`s development and growth over the course of this season was well rounded yet flawed as the show wasn`t continuously able to give both sides proper focus so that I almost forgot she was taking classes at the Academy in the second half of the season. Another excellent choice from the writers was how they used Aunt Hilda. Hilda portrayed everything Sabrina would`ve lost if she chooses to sign the book of the damned. Hilda`s life was full of regrets and she sacrificed everything to feel accepted by the witch world and her family. Lucy Davies was magnificent and her deeply layered portrayal of Hilda with all her quirks and mumbling was a pleasure to watch and I do look forward to seeing more of her story as she decided to leave Zelda behind.
Mrs. Satan and the plot she was working through the whole season was a true revelation. It was very obvious from start to end that the writers had a plan and where they wanted Sabrina`s story to end and how they wanted to get there. Michelle Gomez portrayal of Mrs. Satan was seductive and appealing, she is the type of villain who you cheer for as you can`t predict her next move but desperately want to see what it is going to be. The show providing an introspective about her action at end felt a bit unnecessary but I still did appreciate it as it set up the future storylines.
Sabrina`s evolution as a witch was paced well but something I missed was that the show wasn`t able to set up some rules, everything is possible and we can pull out a spell in the right time just to save the day. I enjoyed the bit more complicated set up as provided in the standalone episode, Chapter Five: Dreams in a Witch House. The fight vs Batibat was entertaining, well layered and funny. It expanded the magical world while simultaneously provided growth for Sabrina as a Witch and gave more nods on the struggle of the other Spellmann characters.
Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina was definitely a win. Her positive cheerful attitude with the proper dose of self-reflection about where she stands in the world despite defying the rules pushed up on her. Sabrina is defined by her love for those around her and her sight for Harvey was inspiring. The plot surrounding Tommy`s resurrection was a deep dig and while extremely shaky at moments with how it unfolded the actual resurrection was impressively handled. Generally, the visuals this season and the fact we aren`t really sure in which year the show takes place was another positive about this show. Netflix really put out some good money and the CAOS team exploited it properly.
My favorite character out of those 4 amazing witches is definitely Ambrose. The complexity the writers brought to the character with Chance Perdomo`s impeccable performance was a true delight. You know a character got you when you anticipate every new scene of the character and appreciate every new tidbit you got from him. The writers created a strong vail of power and mystery around him and it transferred so well to the screen.
Miranda Otto`s Zelda as the pillar of the Spellmann household was another delight of this show. I watched Miranda in so many shows and the charisma she has and how convincingly she plays every character always surprises me. Actually, she doesn`t play these characters she lives through them. She accepted her character and her cult-like obsessions to the core. Zelda and Hilda`s very messy relationship proved as one of the better things the show provided. I mean this 40+ old women still sharing a room was quite wacky and from the start gave insight into how complicated their relationship is. Hilda`s breakthrough out of Zelda`s clutches was very well executed and provided a great character story. It was also great to see how the writers handled Zelda`s complexity and showed a more human side of her, through her interactions with Sabrina and decision to protect the people of Greendale and not to mention saving the female twin of Father Blackwood.
The least appealing part of the season for sure. From the get-go, the Harvey-Sabrina dynamic was on point. I truly believed they were in love and the infatuation and idealization both of them brought to the table. And while I appreciated the depth they were trying to deliver to Harvey through the Tommy storyline, but it mostly fell flat. Yet the story provided enough momentum for good Harvey-Sabrina scenes including her motivation throughout.
Ross and Susie grew a lot on me during the season and it was all good while their scenes involved Sabrina. Their individual storylines felt bit slow and too convenient in the general sense of storytelling.
The introduction to the witchy world was anything but smooth, still, the characters introduced served up some good stories and interactions with our protagonist. Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood was a true revelation, the actor is mostly known for his comedic success portrayed a conniving and terrifying High Priest who came out to play. It was fun to see him play his games and make his moves as the Head of the Coven. While still giving him some likable treats. The other male witch introduced via the academy was Nick Scratch. The contagiously charming Nick was a perfect temptation for Sabrina. He was the easy choice, the witch everyone would approve Sabrina to hook up with if there wasn`t the puppy-eyed Harvey though. Nick was a good character, with goods and bads but wasn`t too pushed onto Sabrina. He was there and eligible to pine over.
The Wicked Sisters were great frenemy characters, their lack of inhibitions and pursuit against Sabrina created some nice plot points and opened the Witch world wide open to us. From punishing the boys to punishing the Kinkles for their past actions they were terrifying and hot at the same time. Tati Gabrielle was certainly the standout as Prudence got most of the screen time and best lines. Her condescending ways and blind faith in the darkness were all very entertaining. The joy Tait expressed while Prudence was about to be crowned Queed of the Feast was a pleasure to watch. The devotion and blind faith Prudence expressed was truly captivating. The reveal that Prudence is Blackwood`s daughter added another layer to her character and set up for some intriguing stories going further down the line.
The 3 Best Scenes
3rd Place: Ambrose Saving Sabrina from the Mob
This is where Ambrose`s earlier mention power comes in. So confident and intimidating that he wasn`t afraid of all those witches going ahead and take them all on.
2nd Place: Sabrina and the Ghosts take on the Wicked Sisters
So much fun and so much drama. Prudence and her sisters were taught a proper lesson and it couldn`t feel any better. Once again Sabrina`s smart came up to surface and she kicked butt. The forest setting, the haunting spirits and that wicked smile Kiernan perfected for this role all created a moment to be remembered.
1st Place: Sabrina tells Hilda and Zelda they aren`t her parents
In its very core, CAOS is a story about a family and how they are surviving the actions of one powerful upspring. The masterful performance of Miranda and Kiernan created sparks all over my small screen. While Kiernan`s passion was hitting against Zelda`s cold exterior, she destroyed her image with just one sentence. Just there you could see all that more of Zelda, you could see her motherly heart being broken but despite all the pain, she wouldn`t back down. She knew despite Sabrina`s words she had to stay compoused and Miranda Otta brought it.
I tried to keep it short and not overanalyze, hope you`ve enjoyed the ride. What are your thoughts on the first season of CAOS? What were the bad and what was the good stuff of season 1? Also, don`t forget to stop by in 7-ish days for an Advance preview of the Winter Special airing 14th December. Till then. . .