‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Season 4 Review: Mixed Bag

Netflix Sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season Four, developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, ends on a bitter-sweet note. I am a big fan of the series, but this is not a fantastic final season. 

Aguirre-Sacasa keeps the same unique timeless horror 1950’s, Victorian-era mixed in with the present-day aesthetics. The characters like Sabrina Spellman and her aunts are entirely in character, but there are many problems with the plot and some new characters. Having two “Sabrinas” doesn’t work, which is an enormous problem since most stories are about the two teenagers.

Sabrina Morningstar and Sabrina Spellman are too similar to one another. These two Sabrina’s are supposed to be the opposite sides of the same coin. For most of the season, the story is focused on Spellman, but Morningstar still plays an important part. However, all the character differences are superficial. For example, Morningstar wears a red headband while Spellman wears a black one. Morningstar is the Queen of Hell and Spellman is a Greendale teen witch. 

In “The Endless” (episode 7), when Sabrina Morningstar tries to end the Eldritch Terrors in the alternative Sitcom world, it doesn’t feel like I’m watching a unique character. She acts the same as Sabrina Spellman would in every scene. The only difference is that Morningstar doesn’t know anything about the Eldritch Terrors. When Morningstar re-enters the “normal universe” dead, it’s hard to feel sad when Spellman is still around. If Aguirre-Sacasa wants the audience to be invested in both characters, the two Sabrinas need distinctive personalities and looks.

One of the other major problems is how Nick Scratch’s suicide is treated in Season Four. Sabrina Spellman sacrifices her life to close the void that would erase everybody’s existence. The last episode ends with Sabrina in the afterlife looking up at a painting. Nick comes up to her, saying he killed himself by swimming in the ocean of despair. 

At first, Sabrina is upset, but he comforts his girlfriend by saying they have eternity to be together. First, I have the minor problem of how Sabrina and Nick spend most of the season apart, and neither seems sad about the breakup. Nick is dating Prudence. Sabrina seems more upset about feeling isolated from her friends than not being with Nick. 

However, the largest issue is with the moral implications of showing such a rosy view of suicide. Now, based on the rise of teen suicide after Thirteen Reasons Why Season One showed Hannah killing herself, it’s good that it didn’t show Nick’s death. However, there should be some representation of the horrors of suicide. There are no scenes of Nick’s depression following Sabrina’s death or the after-effects of his death on his friends or family. We never imagine the life Nick could have lived. Sabrina bends to the idea of his suicide being positive rather quickly. 

The ending shows a rosy view of teens committing suicide for true love. Two teenagers being together in death is Romeo and Julietesque. Nick’s death is in bad taste, especially since part of the show’s significant demographic is teenagers prone to seeing the world in dramatic black and white ways.

One of my favorite parts of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season Four is the romance between Aunt Zelda Spellman and Mambo Marie LeFleur. LeFleur spends a lot of her time at the Spellman house or the Academy of the Unseen Arts, where Aunt Zelda is the High Priestess of Hecate. The two women support one another and sometimes are seen kissing. Their romance is in Season Four’s background, but it’s shown as being at the same level as Aunt Hilda’s marriage with Dr. Cerebus. LeFleur sits at the family dinner table after Hilda’s wedding ceremony. 

Sadly, LeFleur turns out to be Baron Samedi, the loa of the dead. He leads the “returned” back to the afterlife. Samedi can’t come back. Aunt Zelda feels betrayed by Samedi, who lied about everything. He demonstrates his love for Zelda by leaving her familiar Vinegar Tom behind and promising to wait for her in the afterlife. I’m a little frustrated that the only same-sex female couple in the show turned out to be heterosexual, but it’s still a sweet love story.

The Spellman family dynamics carry the show. The relationships between Sabrina, Aunt Zelda, Aunt Hilda, and Ambrose are consistent throughout the series. The scene demonstrating their dynamics the most effective is when Aunt Zelda and Aunt Hilda learn that Sabrina split herself in two during season three. Zelda yells at Sabrina for lying to them. She asks Sabrina if anybody else in this realm knows the truth. Sabrina reluctantly admits that Ambrose knew about the Queen of Hell. Zelda calls for Ambrose. Suddenly she is questioning Ambrose about why he didn’t tell her about the two “Sabrinas.” 

Sabrina tries to stand up for her cousin by saying she made him keep the secret. Zelda teases Ambrose about how he, as a grown witch in his hundreds, let a teenage girl bully him. The aunt doesn’t take this argument seriously. Sabrina shrugs, implying she did force him. It’s a funny but dramatic scene that shows everybody’s personalities. I will miss seeing more of the Spellman family.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season Four is a disappointing ending to the Spellman saga. Still, it’s well worth watching if you are already a fan of the show, if only for the scenes featuring Sabrina and her family. 

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