Merry Early Christmas, witches!
The “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale” will arrive next Friday. The special standalone installment was crafted specifically to bring you some cheer while you await the Kiernan Shipka-led series’ Part 2 launch in April. Actually, it was originally just created because “Sabrina” creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa realized he hadn’t checked his Part 1 list twice in the holiday episode department.
“That was not always the plan,” Aguirre-Sacasa told TheWrap in a recent interview when we asked if he had this idea in mind from the start. “In fact, we were working on the first episode for Part 2 — which was not a Christmas episode — and I was having dinner with one of the writers and we sort of realized, ‘We’ve done a Halloween episode and a Thanksgiving episode [in Part 1] and we skipped over Christmas.’ And as soon as I realized that, I was like, ‘We’re doing a Christmas episode!'”
“And I frantically reached out to our unit producer and said, ‘Can we switch gears and do a Christmas episode?’ And he said, ‘Nope, we’re too far down the line on the one that was specifically written as the premiere for the second part,'” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “So what we did is we shot them out of order. So we shot what would be Episode 12 first and then we shot Episode 11, which was the Christmas episode.”
Then it all came down to Netflix — which launched “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Season 1 on Oct. 26 — wanting to bring fans even more of the teen witch’s tale as soon as possible, even though Part 2 is still in production.
“And then no sooner had we decided to do a Christmas episode, very early on Netflix was saying, ‘Is there something we can drop as a standalone in between Seasons 1 and 2?'” he added. “And we said, yeah. Because we made an episode that was by and large self-contained, but that there are still elements that carry it through and the realizations and relationships and mythology — it sort of threads the needle. And so we figured out a story that could do both.”
In the holiday-themed one-off, the Church of Night, like all covens, celebrates the Winter Solstice — the longest night of the year — when families gather around the Yule Fire to sing Pagan carols and tell ghost stories. But the holidays are also a time for guests and visitors — both welcome and unwelcome — so you never know what might come down the chimney.
The streamer released a trailer for the holiday episode Tuesday and a teaser for “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Part 2 a few days before that, revealing that installment will launch in April. Even though “Sabrina” got a two-season order from Netflix right off the bat, that spring premiere date is much earlier than most fans were expecting the next batch of episodes to be released. But it doesn’t seem like a crazy idea, given how popular the show is — and because the showrunner says they’ve almost finished shooting those upcoming stories.
“We’re pretty deep into the second half of the season,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “I think we’re shooting the penultimate episode!”
Aguirre-Sacasa — who also created and showruns The CW’s “Riverdale” (another dark Archie Comics adaptation) — says he’s not concerned with the episode switch messing with the flow when “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” returns next spring.
“Yeah, the episode that will kick off Part 2, we had written that as a premiere episode for the second part, so that’s what it very much feels like,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “And that’ll really launch us out in a really full-blooded, muscular way and is filled with revelations. Really big, big stories start in that episode.”
Check back with TheWrap after the holiday episode drops for more spoiler-heavy content from our interview with Roberto.
“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale” launches Dec. 14 on Netflix.