Far be it for us to complain about an episode of Sleepy Hollow with hot guys engaging in the more metaphorical version of a sword fight, but this one felt like the first weak episode of the season. Which isn’t to say it lacked the charm that defines this show. Certainly that driving scene that opened the episode would have been worth the price of admission (if there was one). As always, Sleepy Hollow just works best when Ichabod and Abbie play off each other, even if it’s just in a parking lot driving scene.
It is interesting that Ich is such a fantastic driver. Of all the modern skills to pick up, it would never have occurred to us that it would be this one. It makes a certain amount of sense, though. We always did have a slight problem with how quickly he picked up computers, considering your average 75-year-old routinely finds them harder to figure out than the 250-year-old who refers to “log-in ceremonies.” But the concept of conveyance would be perfectly easy to understand for the 18th Century man. It’s just a matter of getting used to the absence of horses (and the much greater speed, of course). Even more interesting – and an example of the clever and subtle ways the show works with characterization – is the idea that Abbie’s teaching him basic modern skills in case she gets killed and he’s stuck in the 21st Century without a guide. It’s both practical and very touching at the same time. And it allows for yet another in a long line of utterly adorable Ichy/Abbie interactions.
And right on schedule, here comes Hawley in his tight pants and tight shirt to throw a cute little bearded wrench into the status quo. A character like this, who is designed to be confrontational with, and in some cases, to drive a wedge between the other characters often suffers from some terribly broad writing while he’s being established in the story. In some ways, it was a little too obvious which tropes are being checked off and which classic characters are being
ripped off paid an homage. The “Come fight with us”/”He’s just a lousy mercenary who only cares for money” stuff had everything but a blinking neon sign over his head that read “HAN SOLO.” And truth be told, there’s a tiny bit of Buffy‘s Spike in there too. And Lost‘s Sawyer. Granted, neither Ich nor Hawley are making any sort of romantic play for Abbie, which tends to cast the Luke/Leia/Han (or Angel/Buffy/Spike or even Jack/Kate/Sawyer) undertones in a more interesting light. If this was just two hot beardos fighting over a hot girl, our boredom would be epic.
And honestly, we keep going to the romance well with this character, but there’s really no reason to believe that’s where things are heading. Abbie doesn’t seem remotely interested – and neither does he, in fact. It’s just one of the many ways (like the diverse cast whose diversity is never mentioned or made a story point) that the show uses certain ideas that could turn out to be clunky and instead pulls them off elegantly. No, the “lovable, hot rogue” character isn’t remotely new. But for now, there’s no sexual tension and they’re not going to great efforts to make him particularly lovable, although his Sawyer-like nicknames for Ich are pretty fun. “Shakespeare” was cute, but “Pride and Prejudice” made us laugh out loud. Even without the cliched sexual tension, he makes a good foil for our two leads. It’s about time someone was brought in on the action who isn’t somehow destined to be involved or can be easily convinced on the more fantastical aspects of the story. A show like this needs a smart ass to say “Are you kidding me?” every now and then. And besides, among Tom Mison’s many talents in this role, we have to say that his slow burn is at the top of the list. Ichabod is never so entertaining as when he’s seriously annoyed with someone.
But our Monster of the Week story felt more than a little shallow. It felt like all the interactions and conflicts in this episode were written first, with “INSERT FOLK TALE HERE” typed in the script when it came time to introduce the bad guy. The Pied Piper felt like a thematically odd choice, because it’s not an American folk tale (in fact, it’s questionable that Ich would have even known of it). It’s like finding out that the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood were involved in the American Revolution and living in the (highly populated, it would seem) woods in Sleepy Hollow. Yes, there’s the German connection, but it still felt a little shoe-horned. And perhaps it was because of the clumsy feel of the character that we found him a little silly, both in his powers (super-speed?) and his rather standard-for-Sleepy-Hollow “goth Minuteman” design. He wasn’t even “pied,” for God’s sake.
And while we realize that the show is, in a lot of ways, about destiny and prophecy and all that good stuff, we don’t need every random character to have some sort of connection to Abbie, her sister and/or her mother. The story would have worked fine if Abbie didn’t know the Lancaster family well. Sleepy Hollow’s a small town and she’s on the police force, so it stands to reason she’d know a lot of people, but they don’t all have to have some sort of emotional connection to her. And maybe we got distracted, but her scheme wasn’t explained particularly well. We thought she was sacrificing her adopted kids to save her biological daughter, not the other way around. It didn’t help that, as moral dilemmas go, this one was a little hard to swallow. There were too many rules and too much needed explanation for any of it work. “Sophie’s Choice” this was not.
But any episode that ends with John Noble crushing up a child’s bone and eating the dust while looking eeeeeevil is okay in our books. Of course, we don’t know how anyone can crush up a child’s bone and eat it without looking eeeeeeevil, but even so. The man just knows how to do eeeeevil and make it entertaining as hell.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to drink at least three Tennessee stallion’s worth of coffee in order to get on with our day.
[Photo Credit: FOX Television]
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