The characters on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might worship in the Church of Night, which means their winter tradition centers around the Solstice. But in the show’s holiday special, “A Midwinter’s Tale,” a few members of the Spellman family are much more excited about a different Yuletide tradition.
“Sabrina and Ambrose and Hilda [are] all warm and fuzzy about mortal Christmas,” star Lucy Davis, who plays the titular teenage witch’s Aunt Hilda, told Rotten Tomatoes when we visited the set of the Netflix series last month. “[It’s] the three of us versus Zelda.”
The special holiday episode sees Greendale ready for Christmas and the Church of Night observing its not-so-merry Solstice. It will also feature a flashback to Solstice Past, in which viewers will see a younger Sabrina (McKenna Grace) ask Santa for something special. Although, as star Kiernan Shipka put it, “Obviously, the show wouldn’t be our show without some excitement and some demons — literally.
“It’s action-packed and it’s fun,” Shipka added, “but at the same time, there’s a lot of heart and there’s a lot of soul to it. A lot of the relationships develop in it really beautifully. I think it really fuses the witch world and the mortal world in a really lovely way.”
The episode will also hit pause on the series’ ongoing storylines. The series’ first half ended with Sabrina (Shipka) embracing her witch side, turning her hair platinum blonde as she devoted herself to the Dark Lord and gave up her relationship with mortal boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch). Despite Sabrina’s pleased expression in the final moment of episode 10, Shipka believes her character still has a duality to confront in the second half of the first season, which premieres April 5.
“I think there’s a strong part of her that’s mortal. But I do think there’s that dark side in her,” she said. As an example, she characterized Sabrina’s choice to sign the Book of the Beast in episode 10 as a “strategic” choice, adding that “it definitely wasn’t surrendering by any means. If anything, I think it was taking a step forward in her agenda.”
Of course, that agenda will wait for April as “A Midwinter’s Tale” is a standalone story that “focuses in on the characters and it takes its time,” the actress added.
Lachlan Watson, who plays Sabrina’s human bestie Susie Putnam, told Rotten Tomatoes the special “has more of that nostalgic kind of feel to it.” Watson is a fan of Doctor Who and its Christmas-episode tradition (replaced this year with a New Year’s Day special) and said Sabrina‘s Christmas special “just brings me back to sitting around the fire and watching the [those] holiday specials with my family.” While the actor didn’t want to give too much of the role away, Watson is “very happy about” the fact that Susie spends much of the episode in an elf costume.
Chance Perdomo, who plays Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose, characterized his role in the special as a “conscientious objector.” Throughout the first part of the series, his character found himself caught up in the upheaval at the Church of Night, culminating in a slight reprieve from his century-long house arrest at the Spellman abode. But come the Solstice, Ambrose will be “objecting to the shenanigans” of a typical Sabrina episode. “[Ambrose is] just trying to have a nice relaxed holiday season,” he said. And when things inevitably go sideways, Ambrose’s response will be, “if you need me, you know where I’ll be,” Perdomo said.
Jaz Sinclair’s Rosalind Walker will make her first visit to the Spellman home.
“That was really fun for me because I got to play with Hilda and Zelda for the first time,” she said — but the festivities may be cut short as Ros’ psychic powers kick in with an important message.
Ros won’t be the only newcomer to the house as Zelda (Miranda Otto) faces the reality of her choice at the end of Part 1 by caring for Leticia, the newborn Blackwood she spirited away in the finale.
“Zelda finds herself very attached to Baby Leticia,” Otto said, added that the Solstice is something of a “perilous time” for witches. “They have to keep the Yule Log burning to protect themselves from spirits that could come into the house.”
This particular year, the Yule Log is more important than ever with a baby in the house — and Zelda’s fear of someone snatching the child out from under her may prove to be correct.
What about Sabrina? According to Adeline Rudolph, who plays Weird Sister Agatha, the trio and Sabrina will use the occasion to hold a seance. For the Weird Sisters, orphans left at the Academy of Unseen Arts over the holiday break, it turns out be an exciting change of pace.
“We get really excited about it,” Rudolph said. “It’s our version of trying to have a family experience.”
Of course, any time the Weird Sisters and Sabrina combine forces, scary things happen. But what would a Christmas special be without a few frights? It seems Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is dedicated to proving the holidays have room for a few good scares.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale premieres Friday, December 14. The second half of season 1 will debut Friday, April 5, 2019 on Netflix.