While the subtle and understated magic of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was, well, part of the magic and charm of the show, season 2 definitely has to step up and expand the magic and supernatural elements.
The writers of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina made the absolute right move limiting the use of magic in season 1. It allowed for a chance to explore who these characters are without the use of magic, though they definitely alluded to the darker side of each (magical) character.
Beware: spoilers will follow.
It would have been easy to completely overshadow the characters by introducing a large, magical universe (and special effects) that was focused on more than actually developing the characters in the universe. However, taking the path of a regular high school drama greatly benefited the series.
I felt as though I understood at least most of the characters by the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season finale, and it makes me much more excited for season 2 (and I definitely want much more magic in Greendale in the future).
Sabrina and her family
Sabrina, especially, benefited from rarely using her powers because we needed to grow to know and understand this character as she was clenched between two worlds.
The few instances highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of Sabrina, like bringing Harvey’s brother back even though everyone criticized her decision because of her love for Harvey.
The scene at the end of one of the early episodes where Sabrina and the Weird Sisters use their magic to prank a bunch of rude boys that were picking on Susie showed Sabrina is definitely willing to do anything to help her friends.
(At least for Harvey and Susie because she’s useless with Roz’s fading eyesight.)
It’s interesting, too, that some of the magic of the series is much more complicated than what we have on usual supernatural dramas. The resurrection spell, for instance, was a painful, brutal, and exhausting spell, yet Sabrina conquered it.
Imagine what she could do in the future if there’s actually time to explore and expand her powers and the capabilities of witches in this universe.
As for Zelda, Ambrose, and Hilda, there were many moments where their characters could have been reduced, basically, to just being witches, but they’re each much deeper.
Zelda strives for acceptance and her entire family continues to distance her from her chosen life because of their “poor” choices, in her opinion. Her use of magic emphasizes how desperate she is to fit in with the coven and be a “proper” witch.
Not using her magic to influence the choices of those around her (at least not to the extreme) gives us insight to Zelda’s feelings toward her family, as well.
Hopefully, going forward, Zelda and Hilda can form a real relationship with mutual respect because it’s impossible to believe Zelda loves Hilda with the way she treats her.
Zelda could have easily been the evil aunt who disapproved of Sabrina’s human life and wasn’t willing to understand her at all. If there had been more magic, the development she had would have been useless because of the things we know Zelda is capable of.
Ambrose, likewise, is so desperate to fit in with the coven, but not as desperate as he is to have a place in the world again.
Being stuck at the Spellman mortuary is breaking him, and Ambrose’s major use of his magic was just to find an escape from the pitiful life he’s leading. It was wonderful to see Ambrose put his friends and family first even with the threat of spending the rest of his existence at the mortuary.
Finally, Hilda is just the cool aunt. Her love for her family prevails, and she’s just the sweetest and most adorable witch to ever exist. I can’t believe Zelda would ever be mean to Hilda when all she does is care for everyone around her.
Hilda’s little use of magic proved she can be misguided about how she cares for people, like putting the love potion in Luke’s drink. Her love is dangerous (for others) because what won’t Hilda do for those she loves?
(Anyway, someone better always protect Hilda and not let Zelda kill her again because she’s too good for this world and we all need a Hilda.)
Sabrina and her family barely used magic in their daily lives, which is wonderful. We get to see the type of people they are, not who they need to be or who they’re trying to be.
There’s not the threat of personal gain, like on the original Charmed, so there are no Wiccan rules causing the characters to deliberate over every spell they cast. Their choices are final and each must face the consequences.
The supporting squad (minus the mortals)
I mean, did we really even need magic to know that the Weird Sisters are the worst? There honestly aren’t worse characters on Riverdale, which is really saying something.
However, the magical mean girls could have been just that. The curse they put on Sabrina in the first episode could have just been the least wicked spell in their Spellman repertoire, yet it wasn’t.
The Weird Sisters surprisingly became Sabrina’s frenemies and helped her with various spells, which never would have happened if their evil acts of witchcraft were only aimed at destroying Sabrina’s life.
As with any good villain, the heartbreaking past of one Weird Sister was explored without the magic being needed to drag it out of her. It didn’t excuse her actions, but certainly provided some insight.
Father Blackwood, on the other hand, hardly used magic because he’s just that evil. At least, in Sabrina’s (and our) eyes.
Standing up for all of Satan’s practices, some that Sabrina’s father even discontinued, and trying to force the dark baptism upon her, Father Blackwood didn’t need magic to show how terrible he is.
Madam Satan was, by far, one of my favorite characters. I’ve never been so captivated by a villain before.
I didn’t know whether I was rooting for her or cursing her for manipulating Sabrina, which she did so easily without magic. She’s so charismatic, that if she had more magic we wouldn’t have been able to come to feel any positive feelings for her.
The human folk
Harvey, Roz, and Susie definitely shined more in the latter half of season 1, but this was perfect for developing the universe and the tug-of-war between the light and dark for Sabrina.
Obviously these three didn’t have magic, but witchy things were happening all around them.
Any crazier things happening in Greendale, realistically, would have sent the citizens spinning if they were unaware of the magic.
The ease into, however, allowed for the characters to slowly come to the realization that Sabrina is a witch, and thankfully there’s no secret identity plot moving forward because it’s exhausting keeping track of who knows.
Season 2 needs much more magic
As the title says, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina needs to really bring it with the magic in season 2.
Having the limited amount of magic coursing through the stories of season 1 allowed for spectacular character development and plot growth that did the impossible: Introduced the characters and world to viewers in 10 episodes that felt truly satisfying.
While I found myself craving more of Sabrina, there was enough exploration of the world that I feel like I can truly envision a second season and how the show can go forward. This doesn’t always happen with such short seasons. (Yes, I am looking at you, Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger.)
Despite this, one thing I found myself desperately wanting was a larger depiction of the magic of Greendale’s witches.
Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina felt like attending Hogwarts, but all of my classes felt like Umbridge’s Defense Against the Dark Arts because I wasn’t allowed to actually practice magic.
Season 1 provided the background and personalities to the main characters that we’re supposed to grow attached to and come to understand, which the writing managed better than I’ve experienced on many new shows.
Season 2 needs to introduce higher stakes and a greater amount of witchcraft. Now that the Greendale witch scene is more familiar and we have come to understand the universe a bit better, it’s time to go for it.
The characters could actually benefit from growing their powers, too. The adults, of course, are already familiar with their own powers, but that doesn’t mean we know what they’re capable of.
Sabrina needs to better learn the consequences of her powers, but also what the positives are too. After Tommy’s failed resurrection, she needs to understand that her powers can realistically be used to help people, even if they’re supposedly given by Satan.
Attending the academy could offer more potential spells and reasons for spells and special effects, and while Sabrina appeared to be BFFs with the Weird Sisters, that could easily change.
Maybe she’s plotting some great riot and burning down the academy in season 2 with her newfound power?
With the other characters, greater use of their powers could all lead to growing, educational opportunities, but would create various plots that can survive a bit longer than others because of the magic hiding the truth.
For example, one story I’m looking forward to in season 2 is the love potion Hilda gave to Luke that made him cuddle up with Ambrose again. When will it wear off? What will Hilda learn? More magic, more consequences, a higher level of development for each character.
Whatever the case may be, season 2 isn’t going to be as good as just another high school show.
We needed to come to understand why Sabrina loved the humans and the human world so much, which is probably why the magic was limited, but it’s learned and now it’s time to wow us with the magical aspect of her life.
As of watching episode 10, I have a hard time understanding why Sabrina would leave her human life and friends, who she clearly adores so much, for the darker life of being a witch.
What is she able to do as a witch that she isn’t as a mortal? How powerful is Sabrina? Showcasing her powers would help viewers understand what makes Sabrina so desirable to Satan and what kind of power she possesses that could be worth every evil character trying to turn her down the path of night.
Additionally, Madam Satan is already so compelling without complete use of her abilities, so what could she be capable of when she’s using her full powers? It’s scary to think about, especially for Sabrina, who will need to take her on at some point.
It might also be reasonable to assume that the magic was reduced in season 1 to help showcase the human characters, but now they’re all so intertwined with Sabrina and the magical element in Greendale, it’s not necessary.
Roz is going blind because a witch cursed every woman in her family, but has a sort of premonition power. Harvey is a descendant of witch hunters, lost his brother (twice), and his girlfriend is one of the most powerful witches in existence. Meanwhile, Susie is being visited by the ghost of her ancestor.
There’s no escaping the magic anymore, and they’re crucial to the storytelling now. Who is Sabrina without Harvey, Roz, and Susie?
Whenever season 2 airs, I expect a triple dose of magic. I’m ready for spectacular spells and dangerous potions, but there’s a balance needed in order to not alienate the human element of the show.
I expect the characters will have a chance to further come into their own in the second season if viewers can truly see the full picture of who they are and where they’re headed.
What we saw in season 1 was who these characters are at this point in their lives; however, we have yet to see who they want to be or wish they were. Magic is a perfect way to showcase this.
After all, these witches and warlocks can get whatever they want with a spell, but are they prepared for what comes after? That’s what I’d like to see from everyone in season 2.