Netflix’s Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina holiday special, “A Midwinter’s Tale,” is spinning a lot of plates. There are Yule Lads and Christmas witches and two women who nearly tear a baby in half. But, somehow, “Tale” comes to a fairly level-headed end: Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) decides to give baby Leticia, whom she kidnapped in part 1 finale “The Witching Hour,” to another witch named Dezmelda (Brenda McDonald). This way, Leticia doesn’t have to worry about any dangers from her misogynist dad Father Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) or her younger twin brother Judas (the Spellmans are sure Faustus will punish his daughter for being the firstborn twin over her brother, a boy).
All of this makes perfect sense… except for the Dezmelda part. It’s likely a lot of viewers have no idea who Dezmelda is, whether her name is Dezmelda or Desmelda, or why Zelda would give her a baby. The answer to all of those questions lies in the seventh episode of CAOS part 1, “Feast Of Feasts.”
“Chapter Seven” centers around the titular macabre Church Of Night feast, which begins when a member of the coven is chosen to become queen. The witch is treated like royalty until the end of her days-long reign, when the rest of the coven slaughters her and eats her corpse.
Dezmelda was once named queen, but eventually rejected her crown. She then fled deep into the Greendale woods and lives in a place called Moon Valley. When Sabrina Spellman’s (Kiernan Shipka) frenemy Prudence Night (Tati Gabrielle) is tapped as the latest queen, Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) recommends everyone goes to meet Dezmelda to hear her perspective on the coven’s annual cannibalism ritual.
This is how we find out Dezmelda is an old-school woodland crone with one strangely large eye and a cane made of animal jaws, teeth included.
After one of the best visual introductions in all of Sabrina, Dezmelda explains why she left her coven. The story is horrifying. All of the prospective queens the year Dezmelda “won” the lottery were children, much younger than Sabrina and Prudence. When young Dezmelda was named queen, the High Priest claimed the Dark Lord told him he must “initiate” the girl before the night of the ritual sacrifice-feast. “Initiate” is a euphemism for “sexually assault.”
“Rather than allow herself to be violated, Dezmelda fled,” Madam Satan explains.
We don’t see Dezmelda again after “Feast of Feasts,” but clearly the witches of Greendale know who she is. It’s not a stretch to assume Zelda, who has seemingly lived in the spooky town for her entire life, would also know Dezmelda and her story, even if we never see them together.
So, baby Leticia will be growing up in Dezmelda’s woodsy Moon Valley encampment. It’s a tragically fitting partnership since Leticia and Dezmelda are both witches forced to leave their natural homes out of fear of their respective high priests. It seems even the witch world is dominated by powerful, dangerous men.
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