If you thought Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was campy before, you won’t believe how over-the-top it gets in Part 3. When the series returns to Netflix on January 24 with eight brand new episodes, it brings with it an ancient and powerful threat, more music, more sex, and more consequences, not just for Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka), but for Lilith (Michelle Gomez), the Spellman family, and their entire coven, not to mention Sabrina’s mortal friends and the entire town of Greendale — which always seems to be at the brink of disaster.
Sabrina has come a long way from when she was manipulated into signing her name in the Book of the Beast in CAOS Part 1. She’s learned a lot and come into her power as a witch, without necessarily sacrificing her life as a mortal.
However, her arc (obviously) hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies. Following a massive coup d’état in Part 2 that landed Lilith on Lucifer Morningstar’s (Luke Cook) throne and Lucifer trapped in the body of one Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood), Sabrina is faced with a decision that — regardless of her choice — will change the world forever.
Sounds familiar, right? Each season, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gives our eponymous hero a seemingly impossible choice, and she selfishly tries to claim all the best parts of both outcomes without facing any real consequences. Sometimes, this works in her favor; in Part 3, however, it becomes painstakingly clear just how much is about to fall down on Sabrina’s head because of her refusal to choose a path and follow it with conviction.
Here’s the dilemma, as explained in the Part 3 trailer (below): Hell is out of balance, thereby knocking Heaven and Earth akimbo, too. To put everything to rights, all Sabrina has to do is claim her blood right and become Queen of Hell. But queens don’t really get to just be teenagers, right? Sabrina’s seemingly eternal struggle between magic and mortality gets a bigger, badder set of stakes this season, and watching it all play out is a genuine thrill.
Simultaneously, Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) and Prudence (Tati Gabrielle) continue their search for the missing Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle); Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis) attempt to grapple with the usurpation of Satan’s throne and what it means for the Church of Night; Lilith soaks up her newly-claimed power; and Theo (Lachlan Watson), Harvey (Ross Lynch), and Rosalind (Jaz Sinclair) face new foes, both with and without the magical protection of their best witch friend.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 continues important character arcs and delivers some truly excellent storytelling without forgetting the series’ roots in dark, magical camp. As Aguirre-Sacasa steps up the absurdity, he also steps up the intensity and the emotions, with the cast absolutely rising to the occasion.
In particular, Shipka and Leatherwood step up their performances this season and deliver some intense, evocative, and utterly captivating scenes, both together and apart. Perdomo and Gabrielle build on their chemistry, as well, and cement themselves as the emotional cores of this entire show.
Perhaps the most unexpectedly stunning performance this season is that of Lucy Davis, whose Hilda has struggled for two seasons now to establish herself as an independent person and separate from Zelda’s influence. In CAOS Part 3, she seems to finally come into her own, which eventually allows the two Spellman sisters to actually deepen their bond. Hilda’s arc this season is absolutely lovely, and Davis deserves far more screentime than she gets.
In addition to excellent performances and a plot that twists, turns, and otherwise keeps viewers on the edges of their seats, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 also explores the world beyond the borders of Greendale (and beyond the borders of neighboring town Riverdale). A terrifying new foe threatens the stability of the world at large and Sabrina and Ambrose, in particular, are asked to tackle powerful magic the likes of which they have not used before.
The realms are out of balance, but whether or not Sabrina becomes Queen of Hell, there’s so much more at stake, and every single character in this expansive cast has a role to play — even Salem, whose brief appearance in the Part 3 trailer shines a light on why he’s the Best Familiar Ever.
All told, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 is worth watching, especially for viewers interested in Aguirre-Sacasa’s impeccable worldbuilding and absurdist tendencies. This story is only weirder as time goes on, which is truly a delight.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 hits Netflix on Friday, January 24, 2020. Parts 1 and 2 are currently available for streaming.