Does Ichabod Crane work for the Sleepy Hollow Sheriff’s Department? Did I miss a scene last week where that happened? Because Crane seems to walk into crime scenes without much care anymore, and no one else seems to mind.
Crane seems to be inserting himself into all manner of places, first among them being Mills’ prophetic dream. It kills me that Crane has to explain point-blank to Mills that her dream meant something more, even after she admits to dreaming of Doctor Vega before witnessing the psychotherapist’s suicide. Not only does Crane verbalize the show’s premise like a broken record, but he feels the need to explain everything to everyone around him, including a clunky explanation for why “fear equals pain.”
Thankfully, this episode might herald the end of Mills’ stubborn refusal to answer the prophecy of Washington’s secret bible (how can anyone say that phrase with a straight face?). An encounter with a killer Sandman forces Mills to confront the dark side of Sleepy Hollow that’s haunted her since childhood and destroyed her relationship with her sister. As victims connected to her fateful first encounter with a demon begin committing dream-related suicide, Mills delves back into her own past, bringing along her Rip Van Winklean partner for emotional and psychic support.
As ridiculous as I find Crane’s backstory—his being Washington’s secret occult warrior against ancient demons dressed as Redcoats becomes more scoff-worthy each episode—Mills’ story has the gravitas to ground Sleepy Hollow in some real human emotion. Jenny feels abandoned by her sister, and she isn’t wrong; and now that her sister has finally come around, it’s too little, too late. “It’s all over but the crying,” Jenny tells Crane. It’s too late to prevent the demons’ rise. Now all that’s left to do is survive it.
I had a hard time buying into the Sandman as the monster of the week. His design is fantastic: silent, white, and gaunt, recalling The Gentlemen from the fantastic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush.” But so much traditional Western mythology paints the Sandman as a benevolent shepherd of dreams. I kept flashing back to Dreamworks’ silent Sandman from Rise of the Guardians, a cherubic figure whose memory spoils some of the horror of a vengeful Sandman.
Once Sheriff Clancy Brown’s notes give them all the answers they need, Crane and Mills seek out Seamus Duncan, the closest thing to a Mohawk. Unlike last week’s episode, where a cache of nigh-mystically preserved Revolutionary War black powder sat waiting for them to use, this week’s challenge forces Crane and Mills to seek out a solution. It’s still very pat that the used car salesman knows the exact ritual our two Capital-W Witnesses need to face Ro’kenhrontyes on his home turf, but at least the show isn’t handing them solutions anymore, or killing an unstoppable demon with something as common as sunlight.
The truth will set you free: it’s a trite saying, but it’s central to the climax of the episode. Ro’kenhrontyes might be an evil spirit, but he plays by a specific set of rules. Vega and Gillespie both denied the demon’s existence, just as Mills did, and they paid for their denial with their lives. Mills is only spared once she admits the truth to herself. Whether her admission destroys the vengeful Sandman or not is unclear, but it has a much more profound effect on the show at large: Mills is done denying the supernatural nature of her new calling. She and Crane are both Witnesses, both staring into an impending seven years of tribulations.
One of my least favorite fantasy tropes is the notion that one or two Chosen Ones are responsible for defeating an army of evil. It strains credulity when, every single time, evil has all of the power, has the numbers, and has the plan to win, but is stopped simply because a Chosen One is “destined” to stop them. I far prefer the stories where the Chosen One realizes how outmatched they are and begins amassing their own forces. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s titular character saw fit to surround herself with allies, which is what made her one of the longest-lived Slayers of the show’s mythos. We’re already seeing inklings of the same notion in Sleepy Hollow with part-time shaman Seamus Duncan, the self-liberated Jenny Mills, and Captain Irving’s tacit support of Crane and Mills.
Seriously, does Crane work for the department or not? Irving lets him wander into crime scenes, consult with one of his detectives, and watches him run into an armed conflict unarmed and unprotected. I can’t imagine anyone, employed or otherwise, getting away with knocking a hole in the wall.
- Is Crane still wearing the clothes he wore when he crawled out of his time capsule cave? I can’t imagine how that coat would smell at this point.
- Turning his victim’s eyes into pressurized sand balloons is a beautifully creepy touch for the Sandman.
- Token fish-out-of-water joke: Crane can’t operate a remote control.
- Mills’ ex-boyfriend subplot arises again, this time bringing him in to butt heads with Orlando Jones. He still doesn’t matter and I still don’t care. Do something with him quick, Sleepy Hollow, or lose him.
- Need to defeat a dream demon? Sounds like a great opportunity for a gratuitous shirtless scene!
- Ichabod Crane: British defector, revolutionary, wholesome married man, abolitionist, and friend to the Mohawks. Sleepy Hollow is trying way too hard to make Crane palatable to modern audiences. I think the show is terrified of giving the character some kind of real ideological issue with twenty-first century America because that kind of character development might get in the way of the mystery/monster of the week.