Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman.
Image: Netflix

The third season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is now available for streaming, and if you devoured it in one big magical gulp you might be a bit perplexed by some of what happened. It’s a twisty mystical world of teen witches and hell legions, and this show’s storytelling has never been straightforward.

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In particular, the third season ended with an episode that turned the story on its head with a wild bout of time travel, leading to a broken timeline, an obvious temporal paradox, and more than one Sabrina. What? Really?

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa discussed the big time travel twist and what the introduction of time magic will do to the show going forward. But it turns out, this twist was never in the cards before they got to writing it.

“So when we introduced the idea of time travel in episode 5, I was like, ‘Guys we gotta keep it really simple. We cannot create a temporal paradox,’” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “I don’t know what happened on our way to the eighth episode but we found ourselves literally creating a paradox. It’s really fun. It probably started about halfway when we started talking about Father Blackwood [Richard Coyle] exploring the idea of time magic, but [laughs] I did not know it was going to be such a big part of the season.”

As for what’s going to happen next? Well, in typical Sabrina fashion, it’s going to be a huge mess that our heroine is going to have to figure out how to navigate. Or, I guess I should say, heroines.

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“Whenever Sabrina does something and messes up, we always try to play the consequences. Sometimes they’re easy to contain and sometimes the consequences are huge. Sabrina has never done anything quite like this. I think part of season 4 is Sabrina realizing that even the smallest of actions could have huge, universe-destroying consequences. It’s something that will affect every character and it’s a little bit like that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors. You can see the two different paths before her,” Aguirre-Sacasa said.

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For the writers, this problem is also a way to play up themes that have been with the series from the start.

“When we were talking about this season and pitching this season, you always go back to the core of a character and for Sabrina, the core of her character will always be her duality,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “It felt like we played that in parts 1 and 2 — in part 1 she was trying to hold onto her mortal self and in part 2 she explored her witch side. In part 3, it was the tension between cheerleader by day, queen of Hell by night. We started thinking about how we can play the duality in part 4 and this amazing gift of the last episode came to us. So it’s really fun to keep investigating that.”

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Whether you dug the twist or hated it, Sabrina’s time-twisting adventures aren’t over yet—though it seems doubtful the show will keep a broken timeline around for too long. We’ll see what reality-altering shenanigans Sabrina gets up to when and if Part 4 comes to Netflix.


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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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