In late 2018 Netflix released the first ten episodes of a new live-action show called Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the young witch character who inhabits the Archie comics universe. The show was originally conceived as a companion piece to The CW’s Riverdale, a previously-established series based on the core roster of Archie characters. Sabrina was bounced to Netflix before production began, and a 20-episode first season was shot in and around Vancouver, BC, with the same crew as Riverdale.
Despite the shared crew and adjoining production schedules, the move dissolved any initial plans there might have been to set up crossovers between the two series, which was just as well. Riverdale is a teen drama that, despite its surprisingly noir style, is grounded in the real world. Sabrina is named after a teenage witch who contends with demons, casts spells that can cure alcoholism and turn people into basketball pros, and she lives with her Satan-worshipping aunts. No longer obligated to maintain bridges with the more square world of Riverdale, the first season of Sabrina – split into two 10-episode chunks because why not – was free to populate its episodes with supernatural creatures that would send Archie into the fetal position.
The first 10 episodes included a variety of creatures, including grotesque demons, avian psychopomps, zombies, ghosts, and an impressive goat-beast rendition of Satan. The trailer for part two arrived in Spring 2019 and featured glimpses of more horrific creatures, including a tantalizingly lupine muzzle that had me wondering which character from the previous episodes might possibly have some lycanthropy in their future.
So when my wife and I sat down to watch Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part two, shortly after its April 5th debut, I had only two questions on my mind: will I ever get used to the weird way all the characters pronounce the phrase “The Dark Lord”? And, more importantly, have they managed to work a werewolf into the smirking, baroque mythology of this show?
Yes, there’s a werewolf. Her name is Amalia. Her creature design is very much in line with what I think most readers of this site would consider “a great werewolf”. She shows up for a single episode (number 3, Lupercalia), over the course of which her tragic backstory is explained (she’s Nicholas Scratch’s familiar and his sole surviving parental figure, driven mad by misplaced jealousy at Nicholas’s relationship with Sabrina), she gets pretend-killed by Nicholas, who can’t bear to harm his longtime friend, and then for-real killed by Sabrina at the end of the episode. Amalia is mentioned briefly in the next episode and then never again in the rest of the show, despite her supposed import to Nicholas and the fact that she was still enough of a person to be wearing clothes in her transformed state. Meanwhile, Sabrina, who’s so moral she won’t steal a pack of gum, doesn’t lose a wink of sleep over having straight-up fucking murdered a woman with a knife in the woods.
I try to be a relaxed and open-minded person, but friends, I’m a petty asshole when it comes to things like this. I snoozed through the rest of the episodes, although I admit the second half of the season finale was pretty great. You squander a werewolf and you’re on my shit-list. Time for me to go back to speculating about Riverdale Jughead’s potential lycanthropy, I guess.