Riverdale Season 6 Episode 4 Review: Chapter Ninety-Nine: The Witching Hour(s)

Reviews, Riverdale, Television

It finally happened! After years of begging and fan theories, Riverdale Season 6 Episode 4 marked the most significant crossover with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Our favorite witch, Sabrina Spellman, fabulously came to town to dish out some spells. If only we had more time with her. (I’m still not over CAOS ending.)

Three generations of witchy tales made up the latest Rivervale story. But did the chapter live up to the hype of Sabrina’s first appearance on Riverdale?

“Chapter Ninety-Nine: The Witching Hour(s)” followed a three-segment structure to tell its stories. This isn’t the first time Riverdale has done this; Riverdale Season 2 Episode 7 and Riverdale Season 5 Episode 14 are great examples.

Each segment can come across as creepy and stand out as its own mystery when done right.

This instance felt more like Cruel Summer Season 1, where the plots kept jumping back and forth between the different time periods. There were a lot of similarities to that style, like with the jump cuts to other years and having one person anchor the story.

It’s an intricate web balancing the three narratives and how they play together. The chapter did a good job creating a cohesive plot for the most part.

The problem, however, was that the shifts came across as confusing at times. Unless you noticed the outfits/hair or remembered which actor was in which year, you couldn’t tell the difference of what year the story was discussing.

Cruel Summer Season 1 got away with this by using different lighting and filters between the years. This chapter would’ve benefited by having different sets or an editing trick to tell the time periods apart.

Happy sad endings are the best.

Sabrina

Setting all three stories within Thornhill blended the pacing too much.

The times where we got Poppy out of the house helped to break up the flow. Constantly jumping back and forth within the same location became a game of spotting the difference.

Fewer transitions were needed, or all three stories needed to split into whole segments.

When it came to the first story, Abigail Blossom’s tale ended on a high note. She had the most significant rise in her pacing compared to Poppy and Cheryl; there was more build-up to the climax of her fighting Fen.

The woeful tale of star-crossed lovers and a murderous demonic serial killer threatening to tear them apart made the plot more exciting.

You had a feeling something sinister was going on when Fen Fogarty randomly appeared with his letter. And when the police came searching for Tomissina Topaz.

My prediction of Fen and Tomissina being in on the scam together to fool Abigail was terribly wrong. That twist would’ve been a better surprise, but Abigail going full-Lizzie Borden was a great substitute. It’s the only bit of horror we got in this chapter.

The 1892 storyline also felt the closest to the current timeline.

Abigail was basically Cheryl, and Tomissina had a similar personality to Toni. It would’ve been great if the characters had separated themselves from their present selves. The characters being too similar added to the blending mess and didn’t give us anything new from the Riverdale/Rivervale history.

Fen: She was the perfect addition to my collection.
Abigail: You monster! You will burn in hell for what you’ve done.
Fen: How right you are, Abigail.

At least with Fangs, he and Fen had completely different personalities and murderous tendencies.

Though, this wasn’t the best work of Drew Ray Tanner (who played both Fen and Fangs). He either didn’t connect with the role of Fen or didn’t channel the feelings behind the dialogue.

There wasn’t any menace or malice when he became the evil killer. His evil speech during the curse fell flat; we needed more terror to match his serial killer role.

Poppy’s plot in 1957 was more like a love story than a horror story.

The light-hearted tone reminded me of The Haunting of Bly Manor Season 1. The story here wanted us to care more about the connections than any scares. And let’s be honest: there were no horror elements in this segment.

The story leaned on the drama side to make it the most grounded of the three.

Poppy’s story came across as the plot that could’ve been pulled right from Riverdale. Any magical elements involved herbs, so there wasn’t anything supernatural to make it outlandish. And if you took out the 50s style, it was essentially a Riverdale scene.

It’s a shame that Poppy and Bitsy couldn’t make it work. We have to remember that the ’50s weren’t an accepting or inclusive time, so they had no chance of living without the fear of what the town would do.

And Bitsy had a lot of baggage to work through. Her words at the jail cell were so cold and vicious.

I’m glad they ended on good terms. Regardless of their flirtation, they were still friends who cared about each other, and they knew Bitsy was in a bad situation with Jack.

Bitsy: I might have given you the wrong idea about us, Poppy. I’ve never been happier in my marriage and I would be very lucky to have another child with Jack. So, just butt out, okay.
Jack: You hear that? Keep out of my marriage, woman, and so help me, if you get anywhere near Bitsy again, I will kill you.
[Bitsy mouths she’s sorry]

The men of 1957 were complete trash! It was infuriating whenever they condescended or framed Poppy to get her out of the way. The women were right; the men needed to step up to keep them around.

Bitsy getting her revenge on Jack was so satisfying. She served a steaming cup of karma. So delicious!

The present timeline of Cheryl’s story was where I wished we had more. Like, more intrigue, action, horror, and mystery.

She and Nana Blossom were the framing device for how all three stories came together. But, this turned out to be two stories and the hidden answer we didn’t know about.

Abigail Blossom’s curse wasn’t even revealed until the end of the chapter when it came time to stop it.

Cheryl lightly teased it to Brita, but the third storyline didn’t have much depth beyond the twist. It hinged too much on the curse and Sabrina Spellman’s arrival to fill in the gaps.

Regarding the immortality curse, there were a few plotholes that popped up.

“Cheryl” claimed that Abigail and Poppy stayed hidden within Thornhill as they were banished for their lifetimes. The trick worked for the Cullens in Twilight, but they moved around a lot and restarted their lives. The Blossoms stayed in Rivervale for over a century.

Wouldn’t the people of Rivervale wonder why Abigail and Poppy never grew older? Did they stay at Thornhill until they could fake it at Rivervale High?

And were the other Blossom family members just part of the lie?

I’m probably overthinking this, but Sabrina and Rose explained it too quickly like it didn’t matter. A centuries’ old curse would have some layers to it beyond a simple body swap answer.

Speaking of Sabrina, there should’ve been more fanfare for her arrival.

This is Sabrina-freaking-Spellman! No plots about a witch war? Nothing scandalous or demonic happening in town?

It’s touching to have a “happy-sad ending” in the grand scheme, but those work better after many episodes of payoff. This arrival was her first time on this side of Sweetwater River. Simply saying she had a long friendship with Cheryl that we didn’t see doesn’t make up for the gaps.

Brita: Cheryl. Poppy. Abigail. She’s really dead?
Sabrina: No. No, there is no death for witches. Only transformation. I mean, I died and came back.

Just imagine if Sabrina had popped up one to two more times during the five-part event, or even a tease at the end of Riverdale Season 5 Episode 19. The cameos would’ve piqued our curiosity before delivering her grand arrival.

Don’t get me wrong; her surprise was still one of the best parts. Though, for such an iconic character, we needed more of her.

Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:

  • Nana Blossom didn’t fully die, but we’re counting her as the character’s death for this chapter.
     
  • Can’t Jason’s soul ever catch a break in the Riverdale/Rivervale timeline?
     
  • Everyone staring at Poppy in the diner was so uncomfortable. What she did with her friends wasn’t that bad.

Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!

What did you think of “Chapter Ninety-Nine: The Witching Hour(s)”?

Did you want more from the Sabrina Spellman/Chilling Adventures of Sabrina crossover? Which of the three generations was your favorite? Who will be the next character to die?

If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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