Snooty reviews Sleepy Hollow: “The Lesser Key of Solomon”

Clancy Brown had the coolest stuff!

Clancy Brown had the coolest stuff!

Sleepy Hollow’s faithlessness in its own audience reaches new lows with this latest episode. Not only are we treated to a “Previously On” segment that explains the show’s premise, we have an ever-lengthening pre-cold open segment wherein Crane’s narration explains the show’s premise in excruciating detail. We live in an era where shows not only have their episodes lovingly catalogued in Wikipedia, they often have their own wikis, as well as countless review blogs (Hi, everybody!), synopses, and legal means of re-watching episodes you may have missed. Why, oh why, do the show’s producers feel the need to explain what this show is about both before and during the show through awkward exposition? It’s maddening.

Thankfully, Hulu cuts both of these, launching straight into the episode’s flashback, wherein Crane recalls his first encounter with the show’s new running enemy, the Hessians. This German mercenary cult seemingly worships Death, and serves the demon who raised him to bring about the end of days. I’m not a history buff, so I can only imagine the kind of ambivalence this show spawns in someone more familiar with history than I am; the show loves inserting little details, like locations and Revolutionary commanders, but overall it grossly overestimates the intelligence and capability of the American Revolutionary Army. Even I know that, and I went to public school. Worse, the German soldiers hired by the British are reimagined as demon-worshiping fanatics, which I guess makes them Nazis ala Raiders of the Ark long before Nazis were ever a thing.

Luckily, Sheriff Clancy Brown has been fighting the good fight much longer than Crane or Mills. He’s been grooming Jenny to fight the real war he’s seen coming, and dutifully collecting macguffins to aid our protagonists. This latest bit of information gift-wrapped for them is a secret map made for cartography enthusiast George Washington. The map reveals the location of the titular Key, so naturally the modern Hessians recover it immediately in a brutal frontal assault. Throughout the action sequence I wondered if these demon cultists have orders to keep our protagonists alive; there’s no way that two pistols could hold off a team of trained soldiers wielding military assault weapons.

I had my suspicions last episode, but now it’s become obvious that Crane is not one of the Witnesses from the prophecies of George Washington’s Secret Bible. It’s always been Jenny and Abby, who witnessed the omen of the Four Horsemen a decade ago. But Crane still makes up for it with his eidetic super powers by redrawing the map from memory and leading the Mills sisters into another firefight, wherein they stop those dastardly Germans from completing their ritual. They destroy the Key, locking away one more Tribulation in their seven-year trial.

But the heart of the episode cuts back to the ten years’ worth of tension between Abby and Jenny. One sister lied, and grew up to lead a relatively normal life (current events notwithstanding), while the other sister told the truth and wound up becoming an obsessed, quasi-criminal soldier of fortune. There’s a lesson for the kids, I guess: always lie when something horrible happens to you. Nevertheless, Jenny is pissed, and she has every right to be. As the episodes go on, Abby realizes more and more that she didn’t deny the demonic encounter in the woods out of disbelief, but because that denial would save her skin. She abandoned her sister in a very real way, and her initial olive branch is a sweet, if somewhat insufficient, start to bridging the gap between them.

I’m still not fully on-board with Sleepy Hollow. I doubt I’ll ever see it as the urban fantasy darling the way other reviewers seem to, at least not without some major growth. However, this episode shows some promise in returning to the show’s meta-plot and in introducing a recurring villain that isn’t John Cho (whom we all still miss, and hope is doing well). However historically ridiculous this show’s understanding is of Hessians, they show promise as antagonists. Let’s hope Crane can brush up on his rudimentary german before their next appearance.


  • Creepy, mustachioed Redcoat speaking German is creepy.
  • Fish out of water joke: Ichabod strikes up a meaningful conversation with Yolanda, the NorthStar Assistance rep who let him into the car and taught him how to use the entertainment center.
  • Ichabod knocks a hole in the wall and Captain Irving doesn’t care. Crane talks to a mental patient who escapes, and Irving blames Crane, and then practically calls for a manhunt. You are a wildly inconsistent authority figure, Irving.
  • That crooked foster mom is unbelievably cool while a police officer threatens to sic Child Services on her.
  • “How fortuitous. An officer of the law with a criminal past.” Now even Crane is pointing out the writers’ lazy shortcuts.
  • Crane and Samuel Adams create the Boston Tea Party as a diversion to steal a magic key from the British. Is Sleepy Hollow going to reimagine the entire war for independence as a secret war against hell? And why are the British so keen on bringing about the apocalypse?
  • “Moloch will rise.” And now our camera-shy demon has a name. Good for him!
  • Could there be a romance brewing between Jenny and Crane? They have so much in common!
  • “You’re just gonna keep punishing me forever?” “I plan on it, yeah.”
  • I had to rewatch the end of the episode because I was laughing too hard to hear it after Crane referenced Paradise Lost as a legitimate source on Moloch. I may not be a history buff, but I am a lit nerd. That’s like quoting Harry Potter at your local Coven to demonstrate your knowledge of magic.

About snootyfilms

A tormented genius in a world that doesn't deserve him.

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