It’s almost time to return to Greendale.
On Dec. 14, Netflix will release Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale, otherwise known as the special holiday episode of the series (which will debut its second season April 5). And considering that Sabrina (played by Kiernan Shipka) ended season 1 with a major life change — she signed the Book of the Beast! — EW hopped on the phone with showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to talk about what to expect when viewers catch up with the teenage witch around the holidays.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is the holiday special a standalone episode, or does it connect the two seasons?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: It’s a little bit of both, to be honest. When we decided that we were going to try to do a special episode to drop around Christmas, we wanted it to be a standalone insofar that everything you need to enjoy the episode is in the episode. But there are elements that we serialized through the first part of the season that we did have to carry through and help us set up the second part of the season. We see a little bit more of the aftermath of Harvey and Sabrina, their breakup at the end of part one. We see how Sabrina’s relating to her mortal friends. We pick up a couple of threads about Sabrina and her mom, who’s trapped in limbo, so there’s definitely tendrils of narrative that we continued, but if you’re coming in cold, you should be able to understand everything pretty clearly.
So what is Christmastime like in Greendale?
To most of Greendale, it’s Christmas. But for the Spellmans, because they’re witches, they celebrate Winter Solstice, which is a pagan holiday, which is similar to Christmas in some ways. For instance, they put up a tree, but rather than call it a Christmas tree, they call it a yule tree. You learn about one of the most important witch traditions, which is the burning of the yule log. However, for witches, the burning of the yule log is a precaution to keep nasty things from crawling down the chimney. The other thing is, Christmastime is traditionally a big time for ghost stories and ghost visitations, A Christmas Carol being the best example of that. So Sabrina gets it into her head that she’s going to have a seance to contact her mother. So, that’s another way that witches celebrate the holidays on our show.
It hasn’t been that long since the end of the first season if it’s Christmastime, right? What is the time jump there?
It’s not long at all. I think it’s probably been a couple of weeks, I would say.
When we catch up with Sabrina, how has signing the Book of the Beast affected her?
She’s definitely on a different course in the second half of season 1. She’s exploring her witch side and her witch school much more fully. The Christmas special is a transitional episode that carries us over that hump. The Sabrina in the holiday special is much more like the Sabrina from season 1 than the Sabrina we’re going to meet in the second half of season 1.
Madam Satan’s familiar spoke in the season 1 finale. Does that mean there’s a world where Salem could speak?
There is a universe where Salem may one day speak. I absolutely think that that’s possible.
Now that Sabrina has signed the Book of the Beast, does she still want to take down the Dark Lord? Has she put that on the back burner?
That is explored in the second half of season 1. That’s a very big question. What’s driving her? What’s shifted? And will she get back to that quest? Those are the big questions for Sabrina.
Are we building to a real love triangle with Harvey, Sabrina, and Nick?
I think that with these kinds of TV shows or shows for young people, it never hurts to have a love triangle. It never hurts. That’s what I’ll say about that.
Touching on Sabrina’s friends, will we get to see them really deal with her being a witch?
That’s a big theme in the second half as well. Do some of her friends support her or embrace that? Do other friends pull back? What their dynamic is and how it gets redefined is a big part of the stories for the second half of the season. What happens amongst the friends with Sabrina gone is also part of the story as well.
What’s next for our favorite aunts, Hilda and Zelda?
You definitely get a big story about the baby in the Christmas episode. Then, you do learn what secrets that Dr. Cerberus is keeping from Hilda in the second half of the season.
Can we expect more Riverdale characters or fun winks moving forward?
I think it’s fun to see little Easter eggs, so we try to sneak them here and there. That’s something that we continue to do on the show. I think the fans of both shows love it.
More generally, how do you feel like season 2 differs from season 1?
It’s a little more fun. It’s a little sexier. Now that we know everyone and we’ve really established the world, we can play in it a little more rather than build it. It feels a little more ambitious and rollicking than part one.