Greendale is about to go to war. Ahead of the April 5 premiere of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, part two, The Beat watched the first five episodes of the new season for review. We’ve seen Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) embracing her witch side in trailers and posters for part two, but nothing can quite prepare viewers for just how rapidly this season descends into darkness — nor how wildly out-of-control everything is. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa goes full-out in these episodes, with even more blood, sex and moral dilemmas making their way to the forefront of the show.
In the first five episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part two, threads left dangling in part one are woven into a more cohesive plot. As Sabrina adapts to being a full-time student at the Academy of Unseen Arts, her mortal friends, including her ex-boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), get more developed plots of their own. Sabrina is still very much part of their lives, but in a different capacity — allowing characters like Rosalind Walker (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) to shine.
The emotional weight of these episodes is heavy, but Watson, in particular, portrays their character’s journey in an authentic and evocative way that is largely informed by their own life. Their performance is stunning; Watson blazes into every scene and steals the show, regardless of tonality. As their character grows, so too does Watson’s ability to demonstrate the necessity of marginalized individuals being allowed to portray their own stories on-screen. Plus, their story is grounded in a way that many of their supernaturally-aligned friends’ plots are not, which provides a sense of realism to this otherwise fantastical universe.
In addition to bigger, better storylines for Sabrina’s mortal friends, we also see much more of Sabrina’s Academy peers, including Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) and the Weird Sisters: Prudence Night (Tati Gabrielle), Dorcas (Abigail Cowen) and Agatha (Adeline Rudolph). In CAOS part one, Sabrina was separated from them both by her dubious position in the Church of Night and her insistence upon maintaining her status as a half-mortal, half-witch. In part two, we see her using magic more frequently, immersing herself in the culture of the Academy and fighting not just to be heard, but to create major reformation and change in the face of overwhelming adversity from Satan himself and his believers, namely Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle).
It will surprise no one who has seen the first 11 episodes of CAOS that Sabrina seemingly has no qualms about using magic for her own gain in this new season. However, she also faces more consequences for her actions — as do her loved ones.
Signing the Book of the Beast doesn’t just give Sabrina a brighter hairstyle and a darker wardrobe; it also opens her up to power beyond anything she managed prior to starting down the path of night. She struggles with her new life, especially when her relationships shift to accommodate her growing magical ambitions. For all that CAOS is a show about supernatural power and Satanic worship, it is also a show about teenagers. Teenagers are complicated. They’re messy. It’s safe to say that, going into the back half of part two, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will get even messier.
Since its debut last October, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has laid groundwork for existing characters to explore new conflicts and discover new things about themselves as the series moves forward. Netflix renewed the show for parts three and four, which means we have at least 20 more episodes to look forward to after the events of part two. While it may seem presumptuous for the streaming giant to sign on for more of Aguirre-Sacasa’s dark take on a classic character before part two has even debuted, it’s ultimately a good thing. The writers on this show excel at foreshadowing and it’s clear that there are so many major epiphanies to come.
CAOS part two also fixes some of the pacing issues of part one. There’s less exposition and more plot covered, in addition to some stellar character work and relationship development. There are some episodes that feel almost too fast, but the tension keeps as the stakes get higher. There’s also a bottle episode, much like in part one, that explores the characters’ worst fears about their futures — and the possible paths explored may never come to fruition, but the fanworks they’ll inspire are sure to be gorgeous.
All told, this show just keeps getting better. To see for yourself, check out nine brand-new episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina when part two hits Netflix on Friday, April 5.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Montana with her partner and cats.