Sleep Hollow: S2E12 “Paradise Lost”

Our Bond Cannot Be Broken

Orion with halo

They’re baaacck. Just as I was lamenting the opportunity to review Sleepy Hollow, the show returned to rescue me. My months of deprivation have ended. Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the show is back in fine form. Abbie is bold, strong, taking the lead. Innuendo abounds. The story moves. And we get an angel. What’s not to love?

As if from a deep slumber, like Ichabod, we awaken from a mid-series break to an opening scene that looks suspiciously like a dream.  The first person Ichabod touches is Abbie, then his wife.  Moloch is dead. Is this real? Six weeks later, Abbie and Ichabod are shopping together, a Couple Activity if there ever was one. Let me pause here. SIX WEEKS LATER.  What happens in that six weeks??  Big gaps in time, dreamlike opening scenes.  Just saying. Ichabod realizes how lost and purposeless he is without the Darkness. When it comes to discussing Katrina, Abbie can pour salt in the wound when she wants to: “She spends more time with her greatest enemy than with you.” She says it wistfully, with innocence, but there’s an edge and an ulterior motive hidden in there. Seems like our girl is cleverly creating a wedge now that Ichabod is living on a makeshift bed instead of at the cabin with his wife. She knows an opportunity when she sees it.

Katrina ep 12

And then, before the credits, we are treated to red-eyed apocalyptic demons, a winged halo-throwing angelic host in black and our gun toting dynamic duo! Meanwhile, Katrina is doing the bondage thing again, this time with the blonde headed Horseman in chains as she seeks a way to transform him back to human. Then what, Katrina? What plans do you have for him then?

Back to our fearless duo, the angel, Orion, tells them he’s one of the few angels who is devoted to fighting evil and has escaped from purgatory after being locked away there for 200 years. Let’s not assume Moloch locked him there. He might be there on a directive from on high for conduct most unbecoming.

When alone with Orion, Abbie asks some pretty lame questions.  She seems so much more sophisticated after all she’s seen than to ask an angel “was the world really created in seven days?” and “what’s he like, if he’s a he and not a she?” And she doesn’t get it when the angel tells her All that is, is All that is?? He ends up giving her a mini halo weapon charm for her to call him when she needs him.  Looks like a tracking device to me. Why don’t I trust him? Perhaps because he’s a super righteous, angry angel dressed in black, with black wings and weird eyes??

Angel Orion and Abbie

 

Katrina tells her husband that she wants their love to bring back the Headless Horseman.  Ohhhh-kay. I think I see the wheels turning for Ichabod that this will reintroduce Abraham once again as a flesh and blood rival for her affections.  Ichabod may sometimes be a little slow on the uptake, but he’s not a complete idiot. He stalls.

Orion has other ideas about Abraham. He’s bent on destroying him in a very It’s My Mission kind of way.  Yeah, he’s no good. Further giving in to her soft spot for Abraham, Katrina lets the Headless Horseman go so she can attempt his transformation to mortal.  Meanwhile, in a local bar, Abbie’s sister, Jenny, is looking more beautiful and wearing a leather skirt, which means Hawley is on the horizon to thwart any suitors and offer up an ancient Sumerian demon tracking device so he can learn that the Horseman is with the demons. (This show knows how to kill two birds with one stone.) And what is the Horseman doing after Katrina freed him and made him promise not to hurt anyone while she tries to fix him back to normal?  He’s hanging with demons and reforging his mighty axe, of course.

Ichabod’s ever sharpening research skills reveal that Orion’s appearance has historically presaged really major disasters and plagues. Then Orion tips his hand to Abbie, who he thinks shows good character, and tells her he will bring a great judgement to mankind, and use his blade to cleanse our wickedness. (Well, someone’s gotta do it.)  Angel battles Horseman. Ichabod and Abbie battle demons. It’s ON. Abbie distracts Orion, Ichabod destroys his weapon, thereby saving his friend (and rival), Abraham. Orion flies off.

black-angel-wings

I always wonder…why the cumbersome wings? If the giant bird wings are literal and real,  why the ability to make them come and go on command without the ability to make them look different? Why not appear in another way, like with sleek, retractable metal wings?  But I quibble.

Ichabod also shows backbone in this episode when he faces Katrina, “We share  a mission, but we also chose to share a  life together. You simply used our marriage as a bargaining tool…We must redefine our marriage.”  Katrina wants to start today. Ichabod is like, uh no. On my terms, in my time. And this, ironically, becomes the sexiest moment to date between the couple. ALWAYS better when you let the characters fight the magic before it subsumes them. It works for Abbie and Ichabod, and a real husband/wife relationship and attraction gives Abbie something to fight for, even if it’s subconsciously or on the sly.

Nice treat: the Captain arrives, albeit looking a little worse for wear. Oh shit. I just realized what’s up with that and why he asked, “Is this Heaven or Hell?” And I thought we were rid of…I’ll hold that one back.

My Pet Peeves:

Shots turned upside down suggesting a topsy turvy world where what you think is real or good, isn’t! Gives me nausea.

The cursory Hawley In/Hawley Out moments. He still doesn’t feel like a full character.

My Favorite Moments:

“Witnesses represent.”

Abbie calls angel Orion a zealot.

Ichabod growing a set with his wife.

The preview for next week’s ep looks promising. I think the show is really getting back into its groove. The ethnic diversity is re-establishing itself. Abbie and Ichabod are making strong choices as co-Witnesses. Passion and love intrigue are in the air. Jealousy is asserting itself as a core issue. Now sit back, and enjoy the rest of the season.

 

 

 

 

Sleepy Hollow S2E9: “Mama”

You Are My Sunshine

Mama in strait jacketNo longer the plight of black women on Sleepy Hollow?

Is this the episode so many of us have been waiting for this season, where Abbie is front and center like she was in Season 1? Will Katrina, Henry, Abraham and Hawley overshadow Jenny and Abbie?  Or will the the Mills sisters get their full due in a family-devoted episode where we get to learn more about their mother?  I’m happy to report that we can worry less…at least for most of this episode.  Abbie is back, and so is Jenny.  And welcome home, Mama.

But before I dive into the episode, there’s something I need to get off my chest.  It’s no secret amongst fans that the straight jacketing of Abbie, and the perception that she’s been sidelined as a character has been an issue. The Crane family has been getting  A LOT of attention, while the Mills have fallen by the wayside.  It’s taken nine episodes to get to the heart of what matters just as much: Abbie’s past and family history.  This delay in dealing with the black side of the equation has been problematic. This is not supposed to be the Crane show.  It’s the Abbie and Ichabod show.  By putting white characters either first or foremost, the show slips into the same pitfalls of so many other shows written by a roomful of white writers. Even when there are key black characters,  the white characters’ point of view takes priority. The writers probably won’t appreciate the critique, as I understand they have gotten offended by the Twitter Sleepy Hollow fan hashtag #AbbieDeservesBetter.  It would be helpful for the writers to consider their approach to the season, the episodes and characters in the the context of a world that continues to sideline, ignore, neutralize, minimize, trivialize,  infantilize, criminalize, sexualize black people.

The fact that the executive producers’ and writing team’s hearts and minds have created such a diverse and potentially powerful cast is great. How that wonderful idea is executed and realized makes all the difference. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the Asian and Latino characters have also faded away from the show. It’s begun to feel a bit like a bait and switch, where we get some great diverse characters dangled in front of us, and then the seasons settle into a show about the Cranes, Hawley and Abraham, with Mills and all other ethnic characters filling in here and there in an increasingly ancillary way. (i.e. Abbie offering to make tea for the Cranes last episode…really?)  The light at the end of the tunnel is that at least one of the writers seems to be listening, or the team is finally getting around to what was planned all along. In “Mama,” they get things (mostly) right.

Sisters

In episode 9 we’re treated to a prelude of Abbie’s dream of her mom. Shortly thereafter, Ichabod is conveniently kept out of the way with a bad cold. Wait. Does the white man have to be sick to give Abbie focus? That might not be a good sign, because it’s temporary and offers us that horrible sense that a black character can only have power when the white man is weak.   Sorry, perhaps I’m taking the Mills Mom’s advice too literally:  “Eyes open, Head up, Trust no one.”

Abbie meets up with her sister at Tarrytown Hospital. They go to visit Captain Irving, thereby creating a rare trifecta of an intelligent scene between three black characters. Another good sign is the casting of Aunjanue Ellis, a fine actress, as Abbie and Jenny’s mother.

Back to sick Ichabod, and enter Hawley. What? Why?  Because if one white man is sick, there’s gotta be another one in the picture? And then, do we stick with Abbie? Oh, no. Cut to Henry Parrish, little baby Moloch and Katrina. Eww, that nasty ass thing at Katrina’s shoulder…

Back to Abbie and Jenny. And yes, Hawley (aka Ichabod Substitute), is joining the journey, because the black women need a white man on the scene. (Please make it stop.)  If  Hawley had to be involved, I would have liked to have seen him sidelined and utilized for research and relegated to remotely feeding Abbie and Jenny the info they needed to make discoveries at the mental hospital, while the women stayed on the case, alone. Hawley does not need to be in the hospital scenes. It throws off the dynamic.

The hospital takes on an American Horror-ish life of its own with funky lighting and abandoned wards (I don’t trust that nurse, do you?), and it starts to get interesting. I want the story to get nightmarish, build the tension, and to stay here. Alas no, we jump back to Katrina. Then we jump back to the sisters. This is not working for me. It would have been stronger to just give Abbie and Jenny the episode. Believe me, we would not forget about Katrina or Henry or Hawley or baby Moloch.

Back to more creepy hospital scenes with Captain Irving trying to off himself, under the influence of what is truly haunting the mental ward.  I think the show would benefit from more showing and doing, and less telling. “Oh look, this is the box with mama’s stuff. Oh look this is her journal. This is a West African incantation” etc etc. Let’s just SEE IT.  Let the story build some real tension and scares. The audience for this show is bright enough to follow the story and to connect the dots.

Mama tears

And please, can we take a break from incantations for a while? That nurse was defeated way too easily. There are other ways to defeat Evil. How about the powerful strength of the Mills women united in love? And why Why WHY do we need both Hawley and Ichabod when Abbie and Jenny are trying to help their mama?  They don’t need no white witness to take care of their mama. Let the ladies have that very lovely, emotional moment. (Yes, it made me cry.) And thank you for making Mama smart, strong, powerful and NOT just crazy.

Anyway, Captain Irving is outta there (Thank God). Let’s hope we get the Trifecta in action again.

Coda?  Back to Katrina, looking a little worse for wear (but still wearing those jeans and that corset).

My Favorite Things

Focus on Abbie (and Jenny).

The Trifecta

More than two black people in a scene.

Two women in conversation in a scene more than once. (We’ve gotten this before. Nice to see again).

An African incantation.

I cried.

My Pet Peeves

It’s okay to leave the white male characters in the intro and give the rest of the episode to the ladies. Really.

Most of what I mentioned above in the  review.

Another incantation.(Yes, I know Abbie and Jenny are probably witches, but still.)

Coming attractions seem to throw us back to the Cranes Center Stage With Abbie as Sidekick mode. Pray it isn’t so. Hopefully, the good faith and continued loyalty of the staunchest fans will be rewarded by more episodes like tonight’s.

Sleepy Hollow S2E5 review: “The Weeping Lady”

Katrina Weeping Lady

 

The Green Eyed Monster

First, let me get this out of the way. Ichabod’s jacket. Within the first moments of the 5th episode of the second season, some girl named Caroline is sewing buttons on it. At least they poke fun at my torture by having her add that she thinks Ichabod is a devoted Colonial re-enactor, and then reveals that she has made him new breeches, shirt and hose all cut from cloth woven on a Heritage Saxony loom. Oh, they know I’m watching. Does the jacket ever go in the washing machine? Get hand washed?  Now, I’ve done my share of wearing re-enactment clothing and period correct costumes. But why can’t Ichabod be more like Claire from “Outlander” and just get with whatever time he’s in and dress appropriately? Except the brass button pants. Uh, yeah. He can keep those on. Those, we like.

Hey at least Abbie’s hair didn’t stay bone straight after she fell in the water…oh wait, a few minutes later it’s like she had access to a blow dryer.  Must repeat: It’s TV, it’s TV, it’s TV.

More importantly, in this episode, we get to see Katrina use her power, so she’s finally  “powerful and devious” not just Captive and Victim. Like may fans, I was getting a little antsy to see Katrina do something more than look moon eyed at the bewigged Headed Horseman between spying on Henry Parrish and glancing at the door.

The central story this week is the local Colonial folklore of a Weeping Lady who turns out to be someone Ichabod once knew. We’re guided between Fact and Fiction, Present and Past.  There are mucho flashbacks, so there isn’t a driving story arc. I’m finding that in the past two episodes,  the story lurches forward, has some good moments, but doesn’t deliver the punch of more stand alone episodes or the ones that have driven the story forward at a galloping pace.

Hawley shows up again right when and where Abbie’s researching a supernatural event, and AGAIN Abbie thinks this is normal.

Moloch gets his rolling thunder voice in there to express his ire and angst, leaving poor Henry Parrish weeping like a little lost boy.  And you actually feel a little sorry for him.

What I love about this show is that characters have unexpected secrets and complexity, good weaves with evil, and plot twists bring small reveals, and the headless horseman gets a little more vulnerable, a little more human.

Another little surprise: Jenny and Nick, sitting in a tree…

Jenny Mills Nick Hawley

 

Not sure if throwing the sister in there deflates the potential for romantic rivalry or just shifts it from Ichabod (who is, after all, married) to a potential Jenny/Abbie rivalry.

Anybody else think Hawley bears some resemblance to the original Sheriff Corbin (Clancy Brown)?? No?  Just me?

 

Sheriff August Corbin

 

My Favorite Moment

Ichabod, after watching high school Spirit Squad girls do aerial splits in tiny shorts: “I’m duly impressed by their…spirit.”

My Pet Peeve

You already know the answer to this.

Sleepy Hollow S2E3 review: “Root of All Evil”

coin

 

To Coin a Phrase…

This episode gives us a coin that brings out the worst in people as Henry grins his way through his latest machinations. There are some historical references, the usual flashback. Katrina and Parrish’s connection is advanced and explored a bit. We get more wit, and historical playfulness around Benedict Arnold, Samuel Adams. But this episode felt like the show was vamping (jazz definition, not horror). I would have liked to have seen Abbie go to the darkside instead of her sister.  I know that’s probably being saved for some future episode when she gets all demony just when Ichabod starts to get too close for comfort. I felt there was little or no tension when Jenny went hunting. You knew what was going to happen and how (even when).  Now, if she’d  had deeper sister issues and pulled the trigger and shot Abbie (to wound of course), THAT would’ve caught my attention. But really though, a little temporary rough and mean from Noble Abbie would have been welcome and refreshing.

Looking forward to seeing where they go with the Mother thing. And if the Blonde Hunk will be recurring. Ultimately, this was a setting-things-in-motion episode, and every show has them. As Ichabod said, it is important “now more than ever that you and I stay true. Trust is the only currency with any value.” Truer words were rarely said. It is necessary for the true fan to stay the course, and stay true to this show, for small treasures lead to greater rewards.

My Favorite Moments:

“I know about homosexuals, thank you.”

Ichabod in black. He works that shirt…no No NO, he’s putting that damned coat back on!

Uhm, blonde hunk.

All those close beards.

Nicole’s fresh phrasing and reactions. She’s not slouching.

The constant play on traditional history.

The model town (I love miniatures)

My Pet Peeves:

Ichabod’s jacket.  It has a life of its own.  As long as he keeps wearing it; I’ll keep complaining. Costume might be a way to establish character, but it’s not necessary to maintain it. WE’RE IN SEASON TWO. He has a British accent and speaks archaically. We won’t forget where he’s from or who he is. Let’s have some fun with modern versions of what he’s used to wearing.  And will he be wearing those tall boots in summer? (Note to writers: across that Tappan Zee bridge we keep seeing in the show, there is a big mall. Abbie could take Ichabod shopping, introduce him to the true new America and get him some NEW CLOTHES.)

Hey, folks, it’ll be Halloween before we know it. I drove through the actual Sleepy Hollow this past weekend and will be attending the annual Halloween event there, which pre-dates the show. And yes, there is a very cool and impressively scary Headless Horseman on an actual horse.  I wish I could figure out how to laser carve one of the creepier faces from the show onto a pumpkin:  A grinning Henry Parrish.

grinning henry

 

Sleepy Hollow S2E2 review: “The Kindred”

the-kindred-sleepy-hollow copy

A New Sheriff And Monster Are In Town (and don’t mess with her/him)

While Sleepy Hollow settles into its procedural formula of consulting old texts for clues, flash backs and Abbie telling Ichabod something witty/funny about this wacky modern world, the show also surprises us with nice tidbits like prophetic nightmares, a new monster and the introduction of a woman as the new sheriff in town.  Sheriff Leena Reyes. Latina, thank you very much, and played by Sakina Jaffrey (from House of Cards). Here is one of the many ways Sleepy Hollow excels: it gives you one of the most diverse casts on television and allows them to be complex, vulnerable, tough, smart, faulty and funny. While the writers don’t shy away from dealing with race, they don’t let it define the characters. After my own heart.

This episode draws us deeper into Moloch’s plot to scorch the world. He’s got a plan that even Ichabod’s turned son doesn’t fully understand yet. As we descend deeper into more evil characters, The Kindred’s creature of parts, and War’s golem-like incarnation, we start to get some humanity on the part of the Headless Horseman.  He’s head over heels in love, and the writers wisely (and conveniently) allow him to transform into a deceptive human form as handsome Abraham, so that he can woo his true obsession, Katrina Crane.  You can see her resistance beginning to flag in tiny increments. It should be interesting to see where that goes.

Two black people are in jail in this episode. Hmmm.  But not for long and both went willingly, with ulterior motives to help others (Jenny aids Abbie, and Captain Frank Irving went behind bars for his daughter).

Raising The Kindred is a nice addition to the chess board. And I need to start keeping a running list of all the things that Ben Franklin(stein) is capable of!

A key recurring element on the show is Truth vs. Lies, often embodied as Good People vs. Evil Monsters.  We see it throughout this episode: Jenny fully admits she got caught with a gun. Capt. Franklin takes a lie detector test and tells the whole truth. Abraham lays it on the table. Uncovering The Truth Underneath It All is ostensibly what the show has been about, from the first moments of the unearthed truth of Ichabod Crane himself. But what happens when the people lie (What Katrina says to trick Abraham) and the Monsters are honest (Abraham letting Katrina come to him of her own free will)? When the lines begin to blur, things can become very interesting indeed. Also, we’re never quite sure what is true on this show.   Sheriff Leena Reyes might have known Abbie’s crazy mother. But is that all to the story? What part of the truth have we not learned yet?

My Favorite Moments:

Ichabod’s attack on U.S. Banks’ creation of a Credit Nation aka “An Insolvent Flock of Debtors” (could he lead another revolution?)

Abbie: “Shouldn’t we light candles or something?”   Ichabod:  “Only if you want to set a mood.”  The hallmark use of sharp humor during tense scenes.

Monster vs. Monster vs. Monster

The fact that Abbie and Ichabod both plan AND improvise.

One white man cogently arguing with two strong, sensible black women over an important plot point.

That fire in the eyes and snout of War’s horse

Katrina’s self sacrifice (so much is getting set up for some surprises there)

The mention of Dobbs Ferry. I happen to live in the Rivertowns and when towns like neighboring Dobbs Ferry get mentioned, I do a little happy dance.

My Pet Peeves:

How blase and jokey Ichabod was at the end after that last scene with Katrina. He only conveyed mini sorrow. I know the show is doing a balancing act between his obvious affection and attraction to Abbie, but it makes it SO much more compelling if his agony over his wife and his connection to her stays deep, and his leaving her is a lot more torturous. It reveals the depth of his honor and the level of his commitment, which is a true and sexy thing.

I’ll reserve full judgement until I see how it pans out, but usually you have to voluntarily sign things  away to Evil Forces (like your soul), usually because you want something bad enough and don’t fully realize the true consequences. Being tricked into it? Hmmmm.

Sleepy Hollow continues to take us on a merry ride, and with 16 more episodes to go, there’s lots of ground to cover and truths to reveal.