When Netflix unveiled the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it took the time to confront issues affecting women today by addressing pertinent topics like slut-shaming and consent. The arrival of Season 2 brings a host of new issues effecting women, both witches and mortals. By avoiding the typical narrative pitfalls, most specifically the love triangle, CAOS' takes on romance this season is nuanced, authentic, and even more relatable.
After the fallout of Season 1, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) finds herself attending the Academy of Unseen Arts full-time and developing a close romantic relationship with Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood). The two have a lot in common, and based on the first five episodes of Season 2, we see the young witch questioning Nicholas' loyalty, particularly since his playboy nature is still in limbo.
Sabrina and Nicholas enter into a relationship that, on the surface, is based on common interests. They both practice witchcraft and thus don't need to hide their powers from each other. There are, presumably, no secrets between them as far as personal identity is concerned. Nicholas is intrigued by Sabrina’s mortal life and seems highly interested in becoming a part of Sabrina's world, no matter how different it is. If anything, their relationship is one built on adult discussions and sacrifice.
Yet Sabrina can't shake the feeling of mistrust with her new paramour. One particular episode, an anthology-esque story where everyone in town gets their tarot cards read, depicts Sabrina's worst nightmare is that she can't trust Nicholas. Unlike other teenage shows where a love triangle would develop between Nick, Sabrina, and her mortal ex-boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch), this season eschews that. Instead, Sabrina discovers she's being targeted by Nick's obsessive werewolf familiar, Amalia. When Nick has to choose between the two it forces him to make the biggest sacrifice of all, not just in proving his love for Sabrina but in allowing himself to be vulnerable in her presence.
The removal of the love triangle allows Harvey to navigate a burgeoning relationship with mutual friend, Roz (Jaz Sinclair) but, more importantly, it's unpredictable. Too often shows about teens aim for the soapy and melodramatic, yet that's not the case with CAOS. When Sabrina reunites with her friends at Baxter High, there is requisite awkwardness between the exes, but it's minor. In fact, when the two do engage in a steamy hookup, it opens up to an argument and discussion that the two probably shouldn't get back together. The rest of the season illustrates the former couple in a rather amicable light. They aren’t petty teens waiting to stab the other in the back, but a couple that didn't work out and are trying to make the best of their circumstances.
What's remarkable about Season 2 of CAOS is how all the relationships, extending out to Sabrina's aunts and her friends, are all about the limits of trust. Sabrina has issues trusting Nicholas and his relationship with the Weird Sisters, but her Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) has just as many trust issues with Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle). Much of their relationship this season looks at Blackwood's continued misogyny and adherence to the old-fashioned ways of witch-dom. Based on how the season ends, Zelda gets a harsh taste of Faustus's views on where a woman's place in a man's life is, and she doesn't like it.
Similarly, the duplicitous Mary Wardwell/Lilith (Michelle Gomez), who is now the principal of Baxter High, sees everything change for her when her fiancé, Adam (Alexis Denisoff), returns to resume their relationship. Ironically the love triangle that's absent from the teenage relationship with Sabrina ends up being placed here, albeit with Lilith, Adam, and Lucifer himself. What's great about Lilith's story, in particular, is what it says about domesticity. Where Zelda's relationship manifests in the societal way with a dominant male and a subservient female, Lilith's relationship with Lucifer is built on love and admiration, although her connection with Adam confuses and secretly intrigues her. If anything it's the most teenage relationship in Season 2.
This iteration of CAOS doesn’t fall into the sophomore slump where its relationships are concerned. Sabrina is just as fierce as she was in Season 1, but she's incredibly level-headed where her relationships are concerned. It's rare seeing a teenager presented with such authenticity and logic ⏤ one who is compelled by her heart and emotions yet isn't stifled or ruled by them.