Season two of Sabrina was rough, to put it kindly.
After a charming and wild first season, the series settled into dour teen drama with all the clunky writing that came with it. Returning somewhat to past glory towards the end, Sabrina’s second outing still left a bitter taste in the mouth.
Picking up directly where the season finale concluded; Father Blackwood remains on the run after destroying the Church of Night, with Ambrose and Prudence hot on his tail. The Spellman’s continue harboring refugees that survived the uprising against Satan. Nick remains trapped in hell acting as vessel for the devil. Leaving Sabrina and her gang to work their way down into the bowels of the inferno on a rescue mission.
Combine this with a host of new characters and villains and season three is more packed than ever. Not all of it sticks and once again the mid-season action is terribly dull by comparison. The show continues to borrow liberally from multiple sources, yet still struggles to maintain a coherent style of its own. A brief visit to Hell mixes in everything from Neil Gaiman’s tremendous SANDMAN to WIZARD OF OZ. But the end result to feel like a hot topic daydream rather than the nightmarish realm it should be. There’s also a promising tease introducing Lovecraftian mythos left disappointingly shallow.
There’s a lazy repetition running through the season much in the same way as the previous year. Characters refuse to move on from old grudges, and plot threads dealt with ages ago are reused with abandon. Early episodes center entirely on the right for the throne in hell, and it’s almost as cringeworthy as trade disputes. For a show dealing with duality, Sabrina continues to have a split personality on what it wants to be. Everything dealing with the demonic is as fun as ever, showcasing the witty and novel writing season one promised. On the flipside is the teen comedy-drama, which took over much of season two in scope, feels childish in comparison. They’re both silly, but even the series doesn’t seem to care about the latter to make it feel worthwhile.
The things that have always worked are still a treat. The supporting cast is as great as ever. Each bringing their A-game to their deliciously demented roles, leaving the show poorer every time they’re not on screen. Michelle Gomez in particular continues to be a scene stealing MVP, who the show can’t live without at this point. Otto and Davis get more to do this season, too. Their banter is as fun as ever and the duo bring much needed gravitas to the proceedings.
Sadly it’s Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) who remains as dull as ever. Which is not exactly great for the namesake of the series. Flailing between anti-hero and savior; sexpot and virgin, the series lacks conviction to go for any interesting answers with the material.
Same goes for Satan himself, played now by a hammy Luke Cook. Not once given the chance to go nuts with the role, Cook is left posturing for Harlequin novels. It doesn’t help that by Bible standards he’s as OP as they come, forcing the show to invent increasingly ridiculous excuses to keep him out of the loop.
Never dull like its previous season, season three improves in a number of places while still tripping over itself elsewhere. For the most part it remains a mostly passable series that only just doesn’t overstay its welcome. But a potential season four is going to pull off some real dark magic to make a compelling case for itself at this point.