Let’s get something straight from the start – this show is stupid. It’s also a lot of fun. It never really achieves ‘stupid fun’ but once can’t always have their completely-lacking-in-consistent-through-lines-over-just-13-episodes season and eat it too, right? Sleepy Hollow has achieved at least one thing, though – it is probably the most watchable waste of potential to hit our screens this past fall.
The tl;dw recap of the ‘two part’ ‘season finale’ (air quotes explained towards the bottom): Washington’s bible leads to a map to the bridge between worlds, where Abbie stays in purgatory so Ichabod can take Katrina to stop the second horseman, who turns out to be the Sin Eater who turns out to be their son. Meanwhile, Irving takes the rap for the murders at the cabin to protect his daughter.
Damn! If you didn’t watch the episode your mind would be halfway blown by that first sentence, no? No. This is Sleepy Hollow, folks – the path to the above was windy, poorly lit, and skipped around a bit. Rather than nitpick everything1 let’s see how this double-long stacked up in terms of the various tropes, themes, tricks, and troubles that have been:
Sleepy Hollow: Season 1
…key pieces of lore inserted out of nowhere? Oh my were there ever! Hey, guess what’s happening today – there’s a solar eclipse, which is the sign of the second horseman (War) arriving in Sleepy Hollow. Oh, there’s also a seal associated with… each of the horsemen? Or the apocalypse? Whatever, I’m sure this will all be explained next season. Meanwhile, guess what else is happening today? It just happens to be 10 years to the day that Abbie and Jenny saw Moloch in the woods. Yeah. Let’s move on.
…long-held personal issues? Both Abbie and Ichabod are tempted in the dreamscape by much more idyllic versions of their lives. Ichabod’s involves having helped the British quash the rebellion and then getting all the love and affection from his father (and a professorship at Oxford) that was clearly just waiting beneath the surface of their icy interactions. Victor Garber is a delight as always as Ichabod’s first smiling, then growling and glass-chewing father.
…allusions to Irving being connected to something bigger? Yes! Sorta! Very, very vaguely! Remember when I hoped against hope that Irving was Illuminati or something else uber-big-reveal?2 Well the… state police detective? New York City detective? who… sent Irving to Sleepy Hollow and is now investigating the various deaths because… jurisdiction? – well there’s definitely something bigger going on here between him and Irving and whoever else is in their secret little club, but we don’t get anything spelled out. Or even poorly drawn Pictionary-style. I’m still waiting for an explanation of who interceded to halt Morales’ digging into Ichabod’s credentials. That was a cool moment. That didn’t happen in the finale.
…unexpected Revolutionary era connections? Zombie. George. Washington. Also, Ichabod makes passing reference to having once dated a seamstress and is stunned to hear Abbie call her by name: Betsy Ross. That one got a smile.
…snarky comments made about the state of modern life? Ichabod wanders into a Revolutionary War reenactment and soon takes it to task for various inaccuracies. But the real boon to our ears is a scene later where he huffs at the idea of giving away his clothes, fearing a hipster (‘Purveyor of artisanal marmalade’) would snap it up and wear it ironically. Why it took them this long to burn on hipsters, I have no idea.
…confusion over modern life? Actually, Ichabod is all-in on technology this episode, in a storyline that goes nowhere, looking to upgrade his obsolete flip phone for a smartphone. Katrina does look at him uncomprehendingly when he says “I married a witch. How… cool.” and he tells her she’ll pick up the terminology soon enough.
…horsemen? Yes! Nowhere near enough of them, really. War has a really great look in the few visions we get, and The Horseman stands his ground calmly as he blasts Jenny’s truck with a shotgun and sends it end over end in one of the better (short) action sequences of the season. He’s the embodiment of bad-ass – more, please.
…Hessians? Sadly no.
…brusque was Cap’n Brusque? Not at all. He spends the first half of the finale wandering about in an ’emotionally drained’ state, which is really not a good look for either the character or the actor, and then is really only referred to in the second half.
…delightfully tortured was Deputy Andy? Ohhhhh Deputy Andy. We could easily watch a half-hour sitcom about you angstily existing between realms with your soul in the possession of a Babylonian god. He has a pretty good scene whinging to Abbie that she would be so much better off turning her back on humanity and joining them.3 I’m not sure how spider locusts putting you into a cocoon leads to you emerging better, stronger, and looking like you’re auditioning for a reboot of Alien Nation, but it does and it wasn’t too bad of an upgrade.
…noble was John Noble? For the first half of the finale, he’s spot on – believable and (apparently) warm towards Abbie and Ichabod. Then comes the reveal – and he’s very, very good, but (see the last note below) sort of underwhelming. The lines4 don’t give him much help, but for a guy who’s played both Walternate5 and Denethor something was missing from his moment of triumph.6
…bad were the FX? Demonic were the demons? A lot of BlurryVisionTM, especially while Abbie and Ichabod are in purgatory, but overall it was fine. Moloch looked good and a few of his rock minions skittered about in a rather freaky manner. The exploding mirror doorway between two worlds was… okay. And it wasn’t helped by a terrible greenscreening where Abbie and Ichabod walk not exactly into the doorway but rather in its general direction.7
…the Mills sisters fight about their past for the umpteenth time? Thankfully no. Their past did become a key part of the plot, when Teen Abbie reveals to Abbie (in purgatory/dream world) that Moloch actually removed her memories and I got so bored in that scene for some reason. But no squabbling, you two – Jenny had a very sweet, fairly genuine moment checking in on her sister’s seeming crazy plan to go to purgatory, and then promising to always back her up. And then my potential future co-host texted ‘I can’t remember which Mills sister is the older one’, so… character. Still a bit of an issue.
…any cool one-off characters have an impact? Not unless you count Zombie George Washington and, frankly, the less said about him the better.8 No, this was not a world-building episode of Sleepy Hollow which was a shame since a minor saving grace of this show is that, when the writers have decided to wander our ostensible leads off into a metaphorical forest inside an actual forest, there’s typically something interesting enough added to the mix by main character interactions with side characters.9
…Sheriff Clancy flashback all wonderfully paternal? Oh Sheriff Clancy. You big papa bear. It was good to see you, albeit briefly, and although your most paternal moments were in a hallucination and then you got an ignominious exit line holding your own head in your hands,10 we’re always happy to have you back.
The big picture stuff:
Who is still alive? Who is definitely dead? Despite our deepest hopes we seem to have definitively lost our dear, departed Det. Studly.11 He and the priest are specifically mentioned as part of the investigation and Abbie reports that Irving copped to both of their murders. Maybe I missed it, but Morales isn’t similarly described so it’s possible he was just unconscious when we saw him last.12 And Jenny is just seen motionless in her overturned vehicle leading us to believe… that the show wants to ‘keep us in suspense’.
Meanwhile, Andy Alien took a stabby object all the way through his now-pointy skull, only to leap up moments later, only to be buried under a massive pile of falling rubble. So I’m thinking haven’t see the last of John Cho on this show, and for that I am very pleased.
Did this episode fill its 44 minutes? Well it had 88 minutes to fill… and it didn’t really. ‘Two part’ finale is a barely accurate description. These were pretty clearly the last two episodes of the season and were put back-to-back for Fox’s scheduling purposes. They were written by different people and it showed – Irving’s thread is gone by the halfway mark, and there are a lot of cool elements revealed late but most don’t land with any impact because pacing is a mess. This did not feel like a season finale. It sort of felt like a mid-season finale, which, technically, it is, but that doesn’t do us any good with 7+ months off before the next season. All in all, a solid but disappointing episode with many high points.13
Have the Witnesses gotten any closer to foiling Moloch’s plans and preventing Armageddon? Seriously? You’re watching for that?
I have no idea. I’m sure it will all be explained soon.
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- BELIEVE ME I WANT TO. ↵
- Because so many of you are hanging onto every word of my analysis here… ↵
- Him. Clearly he means him. I’m surprised there aren’t lipstick kisses on her yearbook picture when we briefly see that in Andy’s tunnel hideout. ↵
- and the camera angle – it’s hard to look towering when they’re shooting ‘realistic’ POV from a hole beneath your feet ↵
- That’s a Fringe reference, for the many of you who missed out on that show ↵
- Bonus though in that St. Henry, from whom Jeremy takes his name, is the patron saint of those rejected by religious orders. ↵
- They may have lost footage or something because they also grasp hands in a closeup and then head into the doorway walking like a good foot apart from each other, hands at their sides. ↵
- He was fine as a concept, and Jenny did get a nice snark which actually included the words ‘Zombie George Washington’ in that order. ↵
- Big shout out to you, Wendell the bartender. ↵
- …….yeah. That happened. ↵
- Potential Co-Host’s text message review of his performance: “Very crisp. Cast off before we had time to register his vowels.” ↵
- Something about the writing makes me think they’re not sure which way to go and have left it so he can easily be explained as dead, or show up in a hospital in the first or second episode next season. ↵
- And as I completely forgot to include these two notes myself (even though I thought the EXACT SAME THINGS) let me quote from a friend re: episode aesthetics: “This episode was totally Sleepy Hollow does National Treasure. An argument might be made that the whole series is like that… “Bad Blood”. Purgatory has a delightfully Silent Hill quality to it. The way it should be.” ↵