Sorry for the hiatus. Boilerplate review for last week: this show isn’t getting less ridiculous anytime soon. Nice to see Captain Irving fully on-board with the supernatural battle. Glad to see John Cho back.
So, this week…
Are portable generators hard to come by in Sleepy Hollow?
As a failed writer, I understand the need for plot convenience better than most slack-jawed television viewers (hello, fans!), but when a show goes out of its way to demonstrate its characters’ utter fucking stupidity, I get frustrated. Then it goes and layers on completely unnecessary pathos, which just makes it feel trite.
Let me cool off for a few minutes by talking about what worked. First, the return of the Hessians is a good move. For as ridiculous as this German demon-worshipping cult is, Sleepy Hollow makes them a credible, insidious threat. They’re everywhere, they’ve had hundreds of years to prepare, and they seem much more combat-ready than the Freemasons (who paid for their gentlemanly ways with their heads). As much as I like John Cho, these Hessians are clearly the go-to henchmen, and their numbers in Sleepy Hollow will likely be endless…or plot-appropriate, I guess.
Next, Irving and Jenny’s team-up. These characters have been relegated to plot devices in past episodes, providing support to Crane and Mills as needed before neatly stepping aside. Seeing both of these characters fully enter the fray felt like an itch I never knew I had finally being scratched. Irving, after his close encounter last week, proves a remarkably genre savvy captain, actually calling for tactical backup when the situation demands it; I nearly kicked a hole in my television when I thought he and Jenny were trying to stop the Hessians’ assault on the power grid by themselves. Likewise Jenny provides an insider’s look at the supernatural side of Sleepy Hollow, knowing who to talk to, and proving herself ready for the field as she and Abby hunt down some legitimately scary monsters in the tunnels.
And the interrogation scenes? Brilliant. Bringing John Cho back as a “necromancer” (a term forever colored by my history with Dungeons and Dragons) to speak for the Horseman was executed in a genuinely creepy, ominous way. Having Crane speak directly to the empty neck of the Horseman while dubbed John Cho spoke kept the scene tense and unsettling, and demonstrates how good the show can be when it’s at its best.
Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is a train wreck. The pacing is completely wrong: we don’t get the main title sequence until fifteen minutes of ponderous, meandering setup that had me checking my watch with every cut. Moreover, the flashback scenes continue to be well-produced and well-staged, but ultimately empty. I couldn’t care less how Crane and Katrina came together. He has a psychic witch wife; let’s leave it at that and move forward.
Which brings me to my first of two huge points against this episode: they made Death suck by tying his past to Crane’s on a personal level. Death was terrifying because he WASN’T a man; he was an unstoppable demonic force that couldn’t be reasoned with, couldn’t be bought or intimidated or deterred. Now he’s a jealous ex-lover with a vendetta against Crane, which is so pat and rote it hurts. With this twist, the Horseman goes from being a horrific alien threat to being Crane’s butt-hurt bro. What a letdown.
The second point: our main characters are idiots. Irving and Jenny realize almost immediately that the Hessians will target the sunlamps keeping the Horseman imprisoned. And then they do absolutely nothing to warn Crane or Abby. There is no real reason for Captain Irving to lead the tactical team other than it gives his character something to do so Crane and Abby can have alone time with the Horseman. Why in the hell wouldn’t he pick up as many gas generators from a hardware store as he could carry and bring them to Thomas Jefferson’s anti-demon prison (which, by the way, is still less ridiculous a phrase than ‘George Washington’s secret bible’)? Why wouldn’t he warn the pair?
And on the subject of stupidity, why would Abby and Crane just LEAVE JOHN CHO SITTING UNATTENDED IN THE ROOM WITH DEATH? Our undead helmsman deliberately spelled out the dangers of putting him in the same room as the Horseman. They’ve got him strapped to a chair; why not just drag the chair out of the room when you’re done talking for the moment? Because lazy writing, that’s why.
I love the atmosphere of Sleepy Hollow. As a show, it’s doing things we haven’t seen on network television in a while. The only show close enough to compare is Supernatural, and that’s in its final season (again). I want to like it. I do. But the difference is, Supernatural in its first season was a good show. It had clever writing and likeable leads and a good villain. Sleepy Hollow only has one of those: its writing is uneven and scattershot, and its villain just became a lovesick whiner. Next time you write a plot for your Hessians, Sleepy Hollow, run it by a five-year-old and make sure he couldn’t immediately foil it with a single suggestion. Either that, or establish portable generators as the most elusive commodity in your stupid universe.
- Fish out of water joke: Crane learns the fist bump. “Makes no sense.”
- “Last I heard, he was dead.” “Rules for that have gotten a little bendy.”
- The Hessians are back! You should always be choosy with your hunting buddies.
- “Confronting Death leads to nothing but misery.” So far, a pretty good description of the episode.
- Egyptian hieroglyphs, Druidic runes…you are all over the map, Sleepy Hollow.
- Stealing Katrina from his best friend? Crane, you dawg! Fist bump!
- “I’m breaking off the engagement.” I don’t think that’s how arranged marriages work, Katrina. And if you’re fighting this revolution for women’s rights, you’re gonna be disappointed for another century or so.
- “Wait here.” Irving, why would you walk away from Jenny like that?
- Crane was delivering the Declaration of Independence?
- “This is a secret war. We must be cautious whom we invite to it.” Just remember to get the settings right when you create the Facebook event. Otherwise you’ll wind up with 10,000 maybes.
- “Truth be told, I prefer candlelight.” “It sets a certain mood.” Ooh, shipping.