Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Episode 11: The Vessel

Sleepy Hollow (Photo: Fox.com)

This episode has everything! Except for coherence, or much of Abbie. And they killed my favorite side character. Sooooo… yeah.

At the cabin, Ichabod is trying to figure out Moloch’s message and Abbie is trying to get Ichabod to try some new sartorial choices. Neither goes so well.1 At SHPDHQ, the hot chocolate vendor is still denying saying anything to Irving and Det.’s Studly and Handsome are backing up their captain with some uncertainty. The nice lady demon shows up and hands off to friendly round deputy. Friendly round deputy demon calls Irving and demands Washington’s bible, or they’ll take Irving’s daughter. Irving gets to look badass (and a little unhinged) pulling his gun and rushing through the squad room to Demand Answers. Studly gets handed the demon and looks so studly walking out of the room. The priest apparently trusts Irving completely, agreeing to meet him somewhere safe to deal with possible demonic possession. Turns out Sheriff Clancy helped undemonize Jenny years ago and Jenny scampers out the clubhouse door rather than talk about anything resembling a feeling.

At another cabin, Studly hands the demon to Handsome and looks real confused as to why he’s standing outside a cabin. Morales gets Studly to clear away the salt the priest put at the doorway, then thanks him and snaps his neck. Ichabod figures out how to work the pause button. The crew figures out that salt is helpful, because they’ve never before watched a horror movie or read a book. Modern technology and ancient Aramaeic help them learn the demon’s name is Ancitif. Magic French lanterns are needed. Ichabod knew of them from Washington (the French were very helpful in the war…) and Jenny from a survivalist doomsday group (the Weavers).

Ichabod, Abbie, and Jenny go to steal the lantern. The priest gets his butt kicked (i.e. head snapped around) by a little girl. Irving is forced to call the trio to find out where they put the bible in an effort to trade. Much reasoning and debate with the doomsdayers achieves nothing, so it’s a good thing Jenny has access to the automatic weapons in the back of Abbie’s car. The bible was moved (for safekeeping) and now Irving’s in quite a bind. Macydemon almost makes Irving’s ex into an ex-Irving until the Mills sisters shows up to distract Ancitif. A clever plan leads to a dedemonizing. Of course, now they’ve got a lantern full of demon… Everyone except Ichabod gets some quality hug time. Back at the regular cabin, Abbie pulls the bible from a hidden compartment. Ichabod paints on an invisible ink reveal and a really stupid episode ending then occurs.

Let’s go with the good, first:

1) Oo, look! Consistent and quality production design! The CGI demon capture at episode’s end is light years better than the pool of fire mishap at the end of the Hessians episode. The ‘sped up’ combat bits – showing demonic speed and strength, presumably – is also a good look for this show, particularly when used judiciously as in this episode. And overall the horror moments are hanging together a lot better than in some episodes past. Sure having the demon take control of a 13 year old girl ups the creep factor on its own, but the makeup, the writing, the above-mentioned effects are giving us mainstream network TV horror, and it’s working. There was nothing new about the cut-to-commercial moment of Macey floating two feet in the air and looking up with twisted visage to growl ‘Time’s up… dad.’ but it was a great button on that scene nonetheless.

2) The Mills’ sisters get a coherent bit of backstory. Ichabod has a nice heart to heart with Jenny after she sees Corbin’s video of her possessed and then gets all Gotta-go-I-think-I-left-the-gas-on. In it, she reveals that even after the demon was expelled she still felt a draw to do harm to Abbie. Since she didn’t trust herself, Jenny got herself arrested repeatedly to keep her away from her sister. Look, with all the ridiculous go-nowhere sibling fights throughout this season, be glad this a) makes sense and b) only involved one of the Mills’ sisters.

3) Studly!!!! The character’s name is reportedly Devon Jones, but Michael Roark’s always on-point, always fitting the scene, always doing great with the few lines provided portrayal of a ‘small town’ cop with big city dreams will always be Det. Studly to us. Fingers crossed that the fact he is not in any way referenced or seen again after Handsome/Morales tosses him over the porch railing means he can come back as Deputy Andy’s reanimated sidekick in the future.

And the bad:

4) What… the hell… does the ending… oh I no longer care……. Ichabod reveals a hidden message in Washington’s bible – ‘December 18 1799’. That’s it (for now). This is written in Washington’s hand. Got it. This date is four days after our history books tell us Washington died. With you so far. Abbie and Ichabod are mesmerized by the ‘fact’ that Washington wrote something four days after he died. No. Nonononono. HE COULD HAVE WRITTEN THAT DATE YEARS BEFORE WTF I mean this show really sometimes just GAH. Bonus gripe about the ‘stick it in somewhere’ method of writing plot points and motivation into episodes: Ichabod, apparently is quite “convinced Washington embedded messages in [the Bible] critical to the war against Moloch.”

5) The director fell asleep, right? Or just took a class on ancient Greek tragedy and wanted to try out a few things? How else do we explain the awful dramatic line readings from Irving, ex-wife, and Abbie? And there were the usual minor leaps of logic (how did Ichabod get in that locker so he could sneak out behind the demon?), new characters are tossed in everywhere… you know what? I’m sure all this will be explained soon.

Line of the week:

Abbie: “Have you ever heard of a boondoggle?” Ichabod: “If it’s another type of constrictive trouser I’d rather not.”

  1. Some people eye rolled the skinny jeans stuff. I thought it was cute and short (much like the jeans! Eh?) and therefore fine.  

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He does things. That’s all we can say at this time. E-mail: mooch@whatelseison.tv