Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x14)

Alright, Sleepy Hollow. This was a much needed step in a better direction. It might be a small step, but I'll take it. After last week's incredibly lackluster and dull affair in which Abbie was shunted to one side and Katrina took up the part of Ichabod's partner, I was starting to worry that the show had forgotten what made it a success in the first place. Make no mistake that it was not the mythology nor the plot nor the campy goodness; it has always been the electric chemistry of Abbie and Ichabod. Not only did the show make an effort to bring that back to the forefront, but in a nice turn of events it had Ichabbie actually talk about their bond and how it was being tested and what it means for them. That was the positive part of this weeks episode, "Kali Yuga." The rest? Well, problematic and a bit too campy in some areas. But then Ichabod and Abbie sang "Proud Mary" so we're all good. Onward!


I hate to be that girl, but I don't particularly care about Hawley. His development since we met the man has been rather one note and one dimensional. He is basically a modern twenty first century Ichabod, a rogue thrill seeker. This is why he rubs Ichabod the wrong way at first. His secondary purpose seems to have been to come between the Mills women as a potential love interest to both, though since the first half of the season ended, Hawley has not been as persistent towards Abbie as he once was. The writers might have been clued in that the fandom was reacting rather negatively toward this and so they thrust Hawley and Jenny back together and let them do the dance of "will they, won't they" except that--as usual--I don't have amnesia, so I can remember when Hawley was blowing Jenny off. In short, getting a sudden expositional back story into Nick Hawley's life isn't exactly something I was yearning for because his character has only ever served minor a minor purpose. Would you believe that he had a rough childhood? I know, shocking. Ichabod had a hard father; Abbie and Jenny were haunted by a demon and Katrina is...well, Katrina. So when it turns out that Hawley was raised by his godmother who was a treasure hunter and attracted to the dark arts, I was not surprised. Quick aside but, man, was Carmilla annoying. The actress was trying to chew through the scenes but came across as some sort of seductress who was trying to get it on with her stand-in-son. Maybe that's part of the consequence of being dead and selling your soul to Kali, Hindu goddess of death and regeneration, but I could do without the sexual undertones. As is the norm on this show, the plot was about a million different things at once, but mainly Creepy Carmilla wanted a statue so that she could...what, exactly? Turn Nicky into an undead Vitala along with her other undead man army? I mean, she set up this entire con plot just for that? Oh and we got some lessons on Fort Knox and the Knox Family. Go with it. It's the plot that we don't really care about because there was some delicious Ichabbie happening.

See, this is what I like about Sleepy Hollow. It's like the writers knew what the criticism of last weeks episode would be and chose to address it in the following week. Abbie and Ichabod are having a rough go of it as late. They used to be a well oiled machine; the perfect partners in spite of the fact that one of them is over 200 years old and has a tendency to wax poetically about simpler times when there was no running water. Maybe their bond was easier "back then." Katrina was locked away in Purgatory; Molcoh was the big bad that they knew instead of random big bads popping up every other week. And, first and foremost, they talked about everything. If there was a decision to be made, they made it together. Now there are decisions on both sides that only one person made. Abbie chose to keep Orion's sigil just in case she ever needed him and Ichabod chose to let Abraham go even though Abbie disagreed. As Ichabod says, their bond is being sorely tested. What unites Abbie and Ichabod? It's not love--well, not romantic love. It's friendship, but one that was born out of a common cause to stop the monsters. If that cause is potentially no longer there, given that there is no BIG BAD right now, then what holds them together? It's a friendship that needs to be redefined. They aren't just friends when the demons come knocking at the door; they need to be partners in all things, even when they disagree. Which means sometimes, you gotta put down your hair, do a few shots of whiskey, and sing "Proud Mary" in front of a crowd of strangers. More karaoke, please! Can you imagine Katrina doing this? The answer is no. There's a reason Katrina is absent from both of these moments in the bar--this is not her world, she does not belong. Ichabod made this new world his, thanks to Abbie, but Katrina can't do that. She's stuck in the life she wanted, not the one she got. And I must say after her little seance with Frank tonight, I am even more suspicious that she's got some sort of ulterior motive. Those were some sneaky looks she was giving the Irvings.

Miscellaneous Notes on Kali Yuga

--Both Tom Mison and Nicole Behrie have excellent singing voices.

--"Perhaps I should have done the one about being all about that bass." Sweet mercy, yes.

--There were a hilarious amount of "Sons of Liberty" name drops this episode. It amuses me since the History channel is currently airing "Sons of Liberty" staring Michael Raymond-James (Nealfire)

--Love the teamwork moves of Abbie and Ichabod taking down one Vitala at a time

--Bye-bye Hawley. I'm sure he'll be back, but one can hope not.

--Um. Ending? What?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x13)

There is, I believe, a basic paradigm to what makes a good episode of Sleepy Hollow. You take the dynamic, unstoppable force that is Ichabod and Abbie and you add some sort of mythic monster-of-the-week. Throw in a few witty lines from Ichabod, a dash of philosophy about the nature of good and evil and basically you've got a campy, fun, and enjoyable hour of TV. So what happens when Sleepy Hollow decides to break the mold and shatter the paradigm? As one might expect, you get a rather lackluster, boring, episode. I'm not normally harsh on Sleepy Hollow because in general I expect to simply be entertained and have a little myth building but I don't anticipate life-altering TV. The fact is that Ichabod and Abbie make this show what it is and having them apart for more than small segments is a hindrance, especially when it is being replaced by Ichabod and Katrina, a character that often proves frustratingly opaque and useless. Ask yourself with regards to this weeks episode, "Pittura Infamante," who was the real hero of the hour: Ichabod, Katrina or Abbie? Katrina did very little with the exception of strutting around in a little black dress while Abbie came in guns literally blazing and stopped a demon. Katrina said some Latin; Abbie looked a not-so-dead friend in the eye and told him she didn't trust him. Added to this is the strange case of the not so legendary, not so mythic, magically mundane (a contradiction, I know) case of a serial killer. All in all, this was not Sleepy Hollow's best work of season two and my review shall be brief. 

 I hope this doesn't sound like I'm advocating for adultery, but Katrina and Ichabod together bore me, greatly. Why is it that the moment his wife enters the room, Ichabod seems to dull down considerably? Compare the one on one conversations between Ichabod and Abbie with Ichabod and Katrina. Worlds apart. One is a bit more free, and the other is almost tortuously soapy. Katrina was in this episode only to be an exposition machine who could give helpful clues about the nature of Abigail Adams (played by the scarily underused Michelle Trachtenberg) and lament that her old life was gone. It's not that I don't have sympathy for Katrina, but rather that we did this already. We watched Ichabod come to terms (and to be fair, is still coming to terms) with life in modern America. But whereas Katrina moans and gives speeches that always seem hushed and whispered, Ichabod had Abbie to help. And that made a world of difference. We watched Ichabod and Abbie relate to each other by figuring out the world of Sleepy Hollow together. For Katrina and Ichabod, there is just no sparkle--romantic or otherwise. It feels strongly like the writers don't quite know what to do with Katrina. They don't want to kill her, but they can't go the next somewhat logical step and dissolve Katrina and Ichabod at the least and make her super duper evil and the most. Honestly, watching Ichabod have to go up against an Evil Katrina might make for more interesting television than "date night meets murder mystery theater." And speaking of dull white women, Abigail Adams...wow. This appearance of the famous lady has been heavily promoted by the show but the actual portrayal left a lot to be desired. She had a few spoken lines, either praising Katrina or trying to solve a mystery by providing Katrina with helpful clues like some deus ex machina of the past. As for the monster of the week, the only truly good thing I have to say is that the effects of the blood and the painter rising from the blood were well done and quite scary. That's honestly about all. There was nothing mythic about it; it was a typical serial killer case that utilized magic in the end to end the killings. This isn't to say that the bloom has gone off the rose; even the very best TV shows will have a filler episode or two. But Sleepy Hollow needs to remember its founding paradigm of what makes it a watchable show.

Oh and bring back John Noble.

Miscellaneous Notes on Pittura Infamante

--Can we trust Frank Irving? Abbie doesn't think so. I'm glad they didn't drag out the question of when everyone would discover that Frank was...back, for lack of a better word.

--Double ew to Jenny pulling bullets out of a body.

--"How can one be both business and casual?" Ichabod Crane, always asking the important questions.

--I love that Abbie saved the day. Role reversals...I do enjoy them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x12)

Welcome back, Sleepy Hollow! Did everyone have a nice break? A few headless weeks off but here we are again, ready to ride off on another heroes quest. This weeks episode, "Paradise Lost," deals with a few things, but two themes more than any other: the big question of 'what comes next?' and reinvention. For those that don't remember, we last left Team Witness on the scorched earth battlefield with Henry having killed Moloch and the Apocalypse being diverted. Good times. This week, the question of what life would be like without the constant battle for evil is raised...and then summarily dismissed as the Witnesses realize that they aren't out of the (metaphorical) woods. Because an angel has come to town. No, hes not wearing a long beige trench coat, but he does talk with a low raspy voice (Supernatural reference!) The tides are turning and we march back into the fray, ready to see how this show is going to rejuvenate itself.

Let's start with the fist question: what comes next? I am reminded of the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The First Evil is smashed back and Buffy has awoken all the Slayers of the World. She's unburdened and free to live her life, however she sees fit. Of course, in comic book lore Buffy is still Chief Slayer because once a slayer, always a slayer. But at the end, you have that question of "so what do we do now?" Six weeks after the demon Moloch is defeated, Katrina is living apart from Ichabod as they try to figure out their marriage...without speaking to one another. There's a good sign right there. Working on your issues without talking is usually the right ticket to solving the problem! While Ichabod throws himself into hunting down new clues that there is still demonic evil in the world, Katrina spends more time with Abraham because of course she does. See, I know I'm not the biggest fan of Katrina and, yes, I still think she is mildly evil, but I also realize that I am incredibly bored by her at this stage. Katrina keeps making these horrible choices that stem from an overly emotional frame of mind and she continues to contribute really nothing to Team Witnesses except to be Abbie's foil. Katrina thinks she owes Abraham and should return him to his humanity since she has seen a spark of the man he once was. Um, wasn't the man he once was a spiteful, jealous, egotistical clingy guy? Do we really need one more of those in this world? Katrina certainly thinks so. Drop her like she's hot, Ichabod. Do us all that favor. Meanwhile, Team Witnesses continue their day to day task of finding evil which is proving to be rather illusive. Abbie and Ichabod have a really great talk about how this is their purpose but it feels like it has been taken away; so what does that make them? Ex-witnesses? Regular Joe's with 9-5 jobs and a mortgage? What do you do when the evil you've been tracking has suddenly vanished? Luckily an angel swoops down to save us all from contemplating too hard.

Long story short, Orion is an angel who was held in Purgatory but is now free to bring his own special brand of crazy to the world. He is a zealot; he like justice and order and will damn anyone whom he perceives as being evil. Including Team Witnesses. Orion has an agenda against Mr. Headless which leads to the interesting dilemma of saving Abraham and risking him being their enemy or letting Abraham die but letting Orion unleash all sorts of zealous reform on the world. Choices, choices. Ichabod and Abbie chose what they feel is the lesser of two evil and Abraham is allowed to live--of course, cant have Sleepy Hollow without the Headless Horseman, now can we? Is Orion the new big bad? Is he not only what is next, but the reinvention of the show? Not sure and I'm not sure how I'd feel about it, if he was. Orion seemed set up that way and it does make sense that after the evil fest that was Moloch, we examine the other end of the spectrum, for the sake of balance. But I also just really want to know where Henry is! Seriously, where is that crazy loon? Oh, speaking of crazy loons...hi Frank.

Yeah, that's all I got on Captain Irving. Not even a the slightest idea on that.

Miscellaneous Notes on Paradise Lost

--Ichabod at an organic market. How cute.

--"That's what partners are for." Oh, Ichabbie. I have missed you.

--Ichabod still exists in between Katrina's emotion and Abbie's pragmatism. He might have to choose someday.

--Will Ichabod and Katrina get back together? I rather hope not.

--"Our bond cannot be broken. Witnesses represent."

--No, seriously...where is Henry?

Friday, December 26, 2014

In Which I Review the Doctor Who Christmas Special (2014)

Raise your hand if you think I liked this years Doctor Who Christmas special entitled, "Last Christmas." If you did, then pat yourself on the back, you're a smart cookie. Yes, I did indeed. It was like a little Christmas present all wrapped up just for me, complete with a big red bow. If we were to boil down the basics of this years episode, which was miles above last years terror, it would be thus: the collective unconscious minds of humans has a way of protecting itself with constructs drawn together that embody certain ideas and themes. In other words this episode was all about, say it with me now, archetypes! I did a little cheer of victory over here in my Jungian and Eliade corner and grinned as I watched The Doctor and Santa argue over who gets to give the scientific mumbo jumbo about the collective gestalt, a little wink from Mr. Moffat that these two men are one and the same in reality. This over abundance of praise is not to say that there weren't flaws but as I sometimes feel inclined to do, I'm willing to overlook those flaws because the rest of the episode was so darn enjoyable. It's Christmas time in Whoville and that means it's a time for miracles and second chances. And if you're Jenna Coleman, a new shiny contract for another year. Grab a tangerine and let's go. 

A most basic plot hash for this years episode would be: Inception at Christmas. How many layers of the dream world were there? I think I lost count eventually but, if you've seen the movie Inception (which Moffat was clearly and almost too heavily drawing from) then you should understand the basic premise of a dream world within a dream world and that there are tells. In dreams, there are clues that something is amiss. Food is crunched too loudly, lights are too bright, people speak in riddles, physics is wrong, and sometimes, if it's Christmas day and you're dying from an alien life force sucking out your brain, Santa and two elves show up to try and push your brain back into reality. What is Santa? I don't mean here in the show; in the show, he's a dream, a trigger, a touchstone that indicates that you are in a dream world because he's not real. But leave the show aside for a second. In reality, our reality, what is Santa Clause? Ignore all the "real" stories you've learned since you grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales and focus on what the children of the world, the whole lot of them, think of when they think of Santa and Christmas. Joy. Giving. Cheer. Happiness. Santa is the embodiment of all these things. But he's more than that; he himself is an archetype. We call him Santa here in the US but Clara gives his very proper name early on the episode. Did you catch it? Father Christmas. The father of Christmas. The 'Father' of course is a very old archetypical construct--and, guess who else gets called "dad" in this episode? Yes, the Doctor when he comes a-knocking at Clara's dream house door. The Doctor and Santa are really the same thing: universal constructs--Father, Savior, Warrior, Sage--come to save us all! I think that's why Santa initially rubs the Doctor the wrong way; he sees the jolly elf and is reminded of his own rather curmudgeonly "bedside manner" as Santa put it. Santa has a sled that is bigger on the inside, plucky assistants, and can travel anywhere in the world in what sometimes feels like time travel. Not subtle, Moffat (but I'm totally okay with it). And of course, while Santa brings literal presents, the Doctor (who actually came down a chimney several Christmas specials ago) gives the gift of adventure and transcendence into the mythical world of adventure. The Doctor and Santa do eventually reconcile in a really ear-to-ear grin splitting moment when the Doctor takes the reigns (symbolism!) and flies the sled (and more symbolism!) right after Clara tearfully declares that her version of Santa looks just a wee bit different. So what's the point of all this? Second chances. The Doctor, through all these Christmas dreams of things that go bump in the night and Santa, is really about him and Clara getting a second chance. More on Clara in a moment.

Side note but did anyone else get a lot of flashes to "Listen' from this episode? The dreams, the nightmare monsters, the chalk boards? Anyway, it's hard to talk about plot for this episode because like all the dream worlds, it's intractably layered. I will say this, as a first criticism. Moffat doesn't know when to ease off the throttle. Maybe Moffat heard all the complaints about doing too many time jumps and decided that instead of time jumps he'd give us all dream realities, one on top of one another. It's a bit of a way to thumb your nose at the audience. No time jumps but instead you never know what is real and what is part of the dream world. There was a line the Doctor gave early on in which he said, "You know the problem with telling fantasy and reality apart...they are both ridiculous." I can't help but wonder if that is more significant than we know. The Doctor is both real and fantasy--and always ridiculous. And I think that's what made this episode so enjoyable. It didn't try to be blockbuster; it was just campy, pulpy, fantasy meets reality and it worked. It was all a bit mad, let's be honest. But there was some good heart, something that I felt has been missing from Doctor Who a little bit lately. Sometimes the heart works, and sometimes it doesn't. Let's go in reverse and I'll lay out my biggest criticism of the episode (and of Moffat) and then something I'm hesitant about.

Oh look. Danny Pink is back (she said unenthusiastically). Look, it's not that I hate Danny. I don't. He's a nice bloke. But I am so over Moffat's obsession with the whole "true love saves the day" trope. He did it countless times with Amy and Rory; he did it with some aliens both in season 7 and in season 8 and of course he does it with Danny and Clara at the end of eight and here. Yes, on some level the trope really works with the understanding that at the end of the day, Doctor Who is itself a fairy tale and operates under certain fairy tale parameters. But I don't need it shoved down my throat with every couple, every season. The fact is, this part of the episode became deadly dull. Yes, Clara is heartbroken and sad and wants to stay in her perfect fantasy life with Dream-Danny where this is their last Christmas, but see, I as an audience member, am already totally over Danny's death if I was ever affected at all. Maybe I'm being unfair seeing as how I often criticize Moffat and his tenure for cutting off the pivotal emotional scenes at the knees but this isn't really progressing the emotional storyline for Clara or for The Doctor. It's rehashing what we already know: Clara is sad over losing Danny and wishes he could come back. Isn't that almost exactly the same emotion she demonstrated when she stole the TARDIS keys from the Doctor and then later they went into 'heaven" together to find Danny? Nothing between the Doctor and Clara is dealt with. They both acknowledge that they lied at the end of season eight, but they never talk about it again. Clara's increasing addiction to the TARDIS and that way of life isn't addressed. Which brings me to something I am very hesitant about.

Clara Oswald is going back into the TARDIS. I really don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, Jenna does good work and she's a much better Clara in season 8 and here than in season 7, her first. But at the same time, I thought this should have been her goodbye. The final dream between Doctor and Old! Clara is quite moving. It's sad and full of regret, which is something that has always defined the Doctor. But lo and behold, it's a dream. The Doctor gets one more chance to travel with Clara now that the Doctor has sorted himself out after 12 episodes. He's an idiot with a box, traveling, helping and learning. And he wants to do all that with Clara, properly. My issue are a few, so let's go through them. First, this isn't the Clara Oswald show and almost every episode last season felt Clara heavy or Clara centric. If Clara is coming back aboard, then I hope that the Doctor takes control again. Second, what about Clara's addiction? That was very clearly something Moffat was trying to articulate last season but now it's not dealt with? Does the Doctor--this newish, second chance, more joyful Doctor--does he not realize that mental consequences Clara is undergoing because she travels? Look at all her lying; look at the life she was going to have in the dream sequence--she traveled, she learned to fly. Old! Clara was basically recreating her TARDIS life sans TARDIS! I feel like Moffat just took his addiction thesis for Clara and threw it out the window because Jenna Coleman changed her mind, which makes season 8 look very disjointed and structurally unsound in terms of Clara's narrative arc. This second chance idea is being celebrated but the second chance is really falling off that proverbial wagon back into the thing that caused her so much heartache in the end! I really hope that Moffat knows what he is doing with this one. I know that sounds like I just negated a lot of my enjoyment, but honestly I was smiling through most of this episode and that always counts for something.

See everyone next year!

Miscellaneous Notes on Last Christmas

--"Because you're a fairy tale; I grew out of fairy tales."

--I really need Santa and Shona to be the Doctor's new companions. "I will mark you, Santa!" I laughed for five minutes solid. Also, the North Pole is stripy so you can see it spin. It's actually basic physics.

--While I get the whole "every Christmas is last Christmas" motif running throughout, I'm sorry to say I didn't think it was executed very well. No one knows it's their last Christmas when they have their last Christmas.

--I feel like I would understand the tangerine joke more if I was British. 

--The Doctor driving the sleigh was full of joyous wonder.

--"I've known you your whole lives, watched over you from Christmas to Christmas." "But you're not real!" "And yet that never stopped me." Santa or the Doctor. You tell me. ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x11)

I have a Mudslide. That's not necessarily relevant to Once Upon A Time or this week's episode, "Heroes and Villains," but I thought you should know that I am drinking while writing this. Granted, it's a little drink. A small celebratory "I made it!" toast to myself for making it through the first half of this season. Look, let's be frank with each other. I haven't been happy. I think that's readily apparent in, oh, almost every review I've written for this show since the season began. I've been snarky; I've been mean; I've yelled and screamed and cursed and caterwauled (how does one wall a cat?). And I have, in vain, tried to rationalize my own continual watching of what is now an inferior product. So maybe my drinking is also in memoriam to what ONCE once was (ha, word play!) Here's the frankness part of this years mid-season finale: it was a mostly dull, treading water, heavy handed, plot device filled, too soap opera-y written, hour-long melodrama that isn't worthy of the show that once gave me Skin Deep and Manhattan. BUT--oh sweet heaven above, there is a but--there was one scene that really stood out that made me feel something besides a sort of disgust and hatred for this show. A scene that actually made me whimper in sadness and remember what I once loved in ONCE (oh hey, more word play. Must drink more often). But there's also a chance that a little dalmatian puppy is secretly Cruella De Vil and that makes me want to burn things because of the utter stupidity of that idea. Let's do this, shall we?

The (Drag) Queens of Darkness 

Look! A plot device! And we're only 10 minutes into the show. I doubt that is a record for ONCE, but it is certainly rather early. Normally the magical deus ex machina nonsense comes toward the end just when all hope is just about lost. It's a magical thing! From a magical land! That does magical...something? I don't know. It leads you to the person's greatest weakness which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. First off, how does it know which person to seek out? Does you have to tell it, "okay magical gauntlet. Find me the weakness of Mr. Bob!" And then it (magically) finds the weakness of Mr. Bob? Does it pull you along? Does it float toward the person at rapid fire pace? How does the person doing the seeking then keep up? Does it POOF you? Does it require blood, hair, nails, semen? God, I hope it's not that last one, though did anyone else think there were quite a few suspicious fanfiction like lines coming from Rumple and Belle this week? I mean, I swear I've read some of Rumple's dialogue in Rumbelle fanfiction over at A03. Anyway, this is the first non-FROZEN ALL THE THINGS flahaback in a good long while (okay, except for one tiny part that was done only to appease the masses of FROZEN fanatics but we are so totally skipping over that mishegas.) Instead, we are treated to a rather timeline wonky Rumbelle centric (featuring DISNEY ALL THE THINGS--that's going to be my new thing guys; get used to it). When was this supposed to take place? I assume it was early on in Belle's stay because of the unreliable curtains being closed, but at the same time, Rumple lets Belle out in the woods...by herself...where she can run away? When it was pretty firmly established that Belle never left the castle until Skin Deep when Rumple let Belle go for good? So, what...he trusts that the girl he is holding captive in a dark cell isn't going to up and run away when she's out doing his laundry? Yeah, that sounds logical. And later, in the present day, Belle says that this particular flashback was the first time Rumple saved damsel-in-distress-can't-do-anything-because-she-is-not-really-Belle and that this moment was when Belle first began to see the good in Rumple, the man beneath the Beast. But in "Lacey" she begins that episode by crying over her forever-vacation in the Dark Castle and by episodes end, she sees goodness in Rumple when he gives her a library after sparing Robin and Marian. So...what? It goes back to something that I've touched on before and will likely do so again: the writers don't care about the past episodes. They care about the here and now, the current story arc, the current magical villain and their problems without trying overly hard to stick to canon or established fact. They are hoping that their audience has amnesia (I do not) and won't care that their flashbacks are feeling increasingly disjointed and bizarre (I do).

So, let's do the most basic rundown of this flashback. Belle, new to the Dark Castle, but not so new that she doesn't fear or resent Rumple's attitude and way of life (the timeline is an illusion, like cake) that when he returns from Camelot, she questions why he needs this weeks's current plot device--I mean the magical gauntlet of feelings but also shows an interest in learning about Rumple's life out in the world since she is a shut in (except when doing laundry...yeah, this bugs). When Belle continues to pester him, Rumple banishes her to the woods to do laundry where she does not try to run away like any sensible human being would do...until she spots a puppy dog. I swear to every deity in this universe, if that dalmatian is actually Cruella and she can turn herself into a dog, I will burn this world to the ground. Talk about a Ruby-esque plot twist that wouldn't be fresh or inventive and woild be, frankly, silly. Let's take the defining characteristic of Cruella, the thing that makes her a villain and make it her secret identity! Riiiight. Also, if true, it means that Cruella is probably Perdita and is looking for Pongo, her long lost true love who was stolen by Roger and Anita. Or something like that. Let's face it, that is something akin to where this is going. Why do the villains want to win? Because they are sad sacks of sad who probably only need love to make them whole!

Oh look. Maleficent got herself a new hat and wardrobe. Raise your hand if you are surprised. If you read my blog, then you know that I did not find the Disney live adaption of "Maleficent" to be...uh....good. My review was less than happy but at least ONCE had established Mal in her own right on their show. They actually decided to step away from her Disney incarnation in the first season and I found that to be delightfully refreshing and entertaining. It was something ONCE was founded on: these are only the stories you think you know. They could cater to Disney but not take him absolute. Now, we've got Mal decked out as the Mistress of All Evil, with a dragon staff, the demon horns, wearing all black and looking incredibly Jolie. I know the DISNEY ALL THE THINGS is a controversial topic in this fandom. It does seem like Adam and Eddy can't win. On the one hand, if you don't make the Disney incarnations close to their Disney counterparts then people are going to complain. But going too close to Disney--as this show is now doing at an increasingly alarming rate--also causes people to complain. It's clear that Adam and Eddy "changed" Mal's wardrobe not for story reasons but for money and marketing reasons. Now she "looks" like Mal--Disney's Mal, at least. And that's what matters to the Great Mouse. The second you see Snow wearing that appalling red, yellow, and blue getup, run for the hills, though. That's a sign that the Mouse is really running this shindig. So what is up with these three (drag) queens of darkness? What do they want? Who the frack knows or cares. I'm not kidding. If ONCE is constant in one thing, it's that these three--Mal, Cruella, and a really horribly dressed Ursula--will have tragic backstories in which they became villains because they had their hearts broken or lost loved ones or had bad fathers and mothers. That is how ONCE operates: by formula. Take villain X. Give them roughly the same backstory that is full of sad, connect them to either Regina or Rumple, and present it with a new shiny bow, trying to fool your audience that you're reinventing the wheel. There is no invention anymore. Everything is so literal: the Rock Trolls were actual Rock Trolls! The Wishing Star was an actual Star necklace! The fact is, right now, I know next to nothing about what these three (drag) queens of darkness want. They apparently faced Rumple once before and were his students (oh god help me...that means one of them is in love with him!) but that's about it. They mostly just whine that the "game" is rigged and they can't win because they are villains. Well then maybe you shouldn't do villainous things! It's not a hard concept! I fear that ONCE is actually going down this rather bizarre path that destiny (or The Author) made these people villains instead of the villains doing really terrible things. It's horrible morality (pipe down OutlawQueen, I'll get to you) and it flies in the face of "evil isn't born, it's made." In the end when Cruella says, "the game is rigged" I almost threw my imaginary popcorn at the screen. Which takes us to....present day.

Cleave 

The plot device broom found the plot device door! I...weep. Now that the FROZEN ALL THE THINGS storyline is done, the writers finally turn to the Rumple-is-Evil storyline. And we got a full explanation for why Rumple has been acting the way he has all season! And boy was it good. You see Rumple...nope, wait. Sorry. I lied to you just then when I said we got a logical, well thought out, well written reason. We got jack squat about his motivation except power is good, I can have it all, and power power power. Here's what really irritating me, this idea that Rumple has never given up power before. Does anyone else remember when he threw the dagger at the Wicked Witch, finally choosing Neal over his power? How he allowed himself to be taken by Zelena in order to save his child? Does no one on the writing staff remember the only good (using that word hella loosely) thing about the worst episode of ONCE ever? So, now, at the end of all this, why in the name of sanity is Rumple even doing all this? What was his plan after he cleaved (twitch) himself from the wavy knife, to quote Anna? Go forth into the world aaaaaand? And would the dagger even have any power over him in the real world anyway? There is no magic out there, right? That's the whole point of sending Marian over the town line, to cure her FROZEN heart? So then doesn't it follow that the dagger shouldn't be able to control the Dark One out in the real world; he shouldn't be beholden to it because its magic is rendered null and void? So he needn't have gone through with this cleave (twitch) storyline in the first place? In other words WHAT THE HELL WAS THE DAMN POINT OF THIS ENTIRE RUMPLE STORYLINE EXCEPT TO ONCE AGAIN SEPARATE RUMPLE AND BELLE AND MAKE RUMPLE INTO THE MOST EVIL PERSON IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE?! Answer: because Adam and Eddy have no idea how to write "good" characters because they are too fascinated by the dark. Look around, folks. How much Snow and Charming did you see in this weeks episode? The episode was called Heroes and Villains...but where were the original heroes of our show?

 And so we come to the moment of the show that almost broke me. Before walking through the convenient door (that is open cause LOVE), Anna spills the beans about Rumple being a lying liar from Liar Town (population: Rumple and Clara Oswald). It's an overly silly moment that is highlight by the fact that ONCE had the perfect, ready made reason for Anna spilling the beans that would have made more sense than the magical gauntlet of feelings and Anna's sudden need to talk to Emma one last time: Belle. Have Anna and Belle interact--actual character interaction from people who met in the past that furthers the plot! Shocking I know! Once Anna tells it like it is, Emma and Snow (because Ginny Goodwin is contractually obligated to be in so many scenes, cause other than that Snow added zip to this moment) run over to the clock tower where Rumple is in the process of cleaving (twitch) and crushing the pirates heart (must. resist. making. comments). Rumple is having a rather hard time crushing Hook's sad pathetic (can't resist too much) heart and it turns out because Belle POOFed (or something?) out of thin air with the real dagger. You see, she found the magical gauntlet of feelings and it led her to the real dagger. That's when she knew; the dagger and the power it represents are Rumple's true love, not her. Oh hey. Did the show just kill my (former?) OTP? Did they just un-canonize TL Rumbelle? Huh. Has anyone checked Tumblr? Is it on fire?

At the town line, Belle finally admits the hard truths: Rumple hasn't changed at all. He is hurting people (though she still doesn't know about Zelena) and only cares about his power. Instead of seeing the man beneath the beast, now she only sees the beast. It's time for Rumple to go and thus Belle, using the real dagger, commands him over the own line. It's pretty heartbreaking and Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin deserve a huge round of applause. This was the moment to why I loved Rumbelle and ONCE so much before. Rumple, here, is sacred and lonely and ugly and selfish and cowardly and afraid, and it's breathtaking to watch Bobby act all these things. When he crosses over, Rumple's leg is instantly hurt again and he falls to the ground. Belle can't even look to see if he's gone, she just turns away and that's that. He's already lost her. I don't need my Rumbelle to be all fluffy and gooey. I'm okay with angst. I'm okay with a good story. Belle shoving Rumple away because of his addiction is a good story, and not one that was necessitated by this whole mini seasonal arc of Rumple being super duper evil. They could have found another way to let Belle in on what was going on with Rumple without the sucking hat. What will Rumple do now? Go to NYC of course! Where he finds...Ursula...and they make plans...and wait what? How is she in our world? Oh my god, if there is another plot device door, I will cut someone. Their plan? Find the other two (drag) queens of darkness and find "The Author" and have him write their fate. Or...something. Guys, I'm calling it right now. The Author is some sort of amalgam of Merlin and YenSid and he lives in our world under the name Walter, but you can call him Walt. The Great Mouse will be pleased.

Miscellaneous Notes on Heroes and Villains

--There was a lot of stuff that I left out because it doesn't really deserve my full attention, so we'll do this bullet point style. Up first, OutlawQueen. Goodbye Robin! Actually, I thought Regina letting Robin go was quite touching. She was chosen, finally, but in the end it doesn't matter. If Marian doesn't get across the town line, she'll die and Regina won't have more blood on her hands. Character development. Atta girl. Will we see Robin again? I sorta hope not. In the end, I can't support this ship, not after sex in the crypt and the fact that Regina makes Robin want to be a man without honor and principles.

--Next up, CaptainSwan, albeit briefly. How is it that Emma doesn't question Hook, at all, about his goings on with Rumple. I mean, she still doesn't know about the hat sucking and the nun sucking. Is she ever going to find out? Is no one concerned that the nuns are missing? Why haven't they realized that ALL THE NUNS ARE GONE?! No, seriously. Rationalize this for me.

--One more FROZEN ALL THE THINGS reference. This time "chocolate!!!" complete with the giggle. Gah. I won't miss this arc.

--Henry and Belle scene! How adorable! But Henry didn't mention Neal when discussing New York City. That's just wrong.

--"You have a hole in your heart." Yes, and its name is Neal but you'll never hear Rumple talk about it ever again.

--A bird that poops sand dollars that talk.

--Normally I'd do some sort of season/mini season wrap up, but like season 3B, I'm too exhausted from ONCE to even try. At least, not a full one. I do want to talk about one thing and that is: why we don't let mega corporations run art. They have different agendas. No one will deny (and certainly not me) that TV is also a business that requires cold hard cash. But mega coprs, a la the Great Mouse, don't care about art for the sake of art. They care about their bottom line. If anyone really thinks Disney isn't calling the shots now on ONCE, let me tell you this: guess what comes out of the Disney vault in February, a month before ONCE returns for 4B? Yes, 101 Dalmatians. Is it any wonder why Cruella is showing up now? It's marketing. It's all clever marketing where the two--ONCE and Disney--play off each other. It's very "you scratch our back, and we'll scratch yours." There is no heart to this show anymore, well not substantial heart anyway. It's all about the big shiny object to play with until the writers get bored and move on. While I like the 11 episode arc structure because it does give me a long break, it's killing the emotional center of this show. Why bother getting invested? Why bother theorizing when the writers use not-so-clever magical handwaving to wrap up the story in ways that the audience never saw coming? What's the point of getting involved in Anna and Elsa when a magical wishing star unites them and a magical door takes them home (where apparently they defeat the invaders of Hans and his brothers in like a day...?) Adam and Eddy don't care about storytelling anymore; they care about product. They aren't mutually exclusive, but once upon a time (more word puns!) they cared about one more than the other.

--Final Grade for Season 4A: C- (though, for the record, I liked Ingrid way more than I liked Zelena)

--Final Episode Ranking for 4A
Shattered Sight
Heroes and Villains
Breaking Glass
Family Business
Rocky Road
Smash the Mirror
A Tale of Two Sisters
White Out
The Apprentice
Fall
The Snow Queen

Monday, December 8, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x10)

Are you ready for something shocking? I genuinely liked this weeks ONCE episode. There is no caveat to follow that--I won't be qualifying it with "inasmuch as I can like any episode anymore." I mean that I actually, really, and truly liked this weeks episode, "Shattered Sight." I have issues, of course, but even before my utter vitriol ramblings about ONCE, I had issues, so it's not fair to call it a hate-filled criticism. Here's the thing: this episode was silly, stupid and nonsensical. It really was. It was campy and over the top and full of cliche tropes that aren't mold breaking at all. But ONCE knew all that and decided to play with it. If you read my Sleepy Hollow or Doctor Who reviews then you know that I do like camp. I don't find camp to be a bad thing except when camp is being forced on me in an inorganic way. Bo Peep? She was stupid camp because I don't care about her at all. But Evil Queen Regina and Dark Snow White having a sword fight and yelling like half this fandom does...good lord, that is delicious campy goodness. That is camp that I don't mind watching and devouring. This week, the spell of Shattered Sight hit the town--hard--and everyone turned on each other. Meanwhile we get the final loose ends of Emma and Ingrid's backstory tied up (with some overly convenient bows--I'm still me, guys) and everyone prepares to move on to the second half of the season. Sit back and enjoy. I got issues, but mostly I'm smiling. 

What? Your Parents Never Threw You In Front Of A Car? 

First, I gotta sing some praises about Elizabeth Mitchell. As someone who was devoted to LOST for six years, I really grew to love Miss Mitchell and even followed her to "V" and "Revolution" and she manages to deliver a solid performance every week; you know, in spite of the rather torturous dialogue and bizarre plot lines. What worked really well this week for the flashbacks was that it wasn't heavy plot. There was little in the way of super magical devices (except one and we'll get to that) but rather it was emotionally driven. Ingrid might be somewhat creepy and slightly off kilter, but you could tell that she really did love Emma and that Emma really did love her. It was heartbreaking knowing that little Emma almost had a family and then lost Ingrid because of what essentially amounted to as "lack of patience." Ingrid is a bone chillingly cold villain because she doesn't much care about the people she hurts while getting what she wants; she's a bit like Cora in that regard with her, "I only just arrived in town" after killing someone she didn't know. She is also a lot like Rumple and there were some obvious parallels to Rumple in "Going Home." It works in a lot of nice ways--the villain who does get her happy ending because of love and self realization. Now, I do have a lot of issues about how it worked out in present day (and we'll get to those) but overall Ingrid as a villain was great. I believed the emotional storyline even if the plot storyline was weak and cliche and rather silly. But back to Emma and Ingrid....

Emma finally found a home. Ingrid is kind and warm and treats Emma like she is special and worthy of love. Ingrid is also clearly waiting for Emma to "spark" (erm, literally). Ingrid doesn't even encourage Emma to think of her as a mother, but as a sister. It makes a lot of sense from Ingrid's storyline that this is how she wants Emma to view her, but it's also nice from a foster/adopted kid standpoint. Ingrid isn't forcing Emma to think of her as a parental figure, something Emma had difficulty doing with her own biological parents later in life. Trying to force mother/daughter feelings on a child when they've been rejected their whole life can go terribly wrong (just ask Snow White in Season 2A). But this all ends when Ingrid decides to throw Emma in front of a car. Ok, let me contextualize that. Ingrid has been waiting for Emma for a long time and she rather jumps the gun a wee bit. After a small demonstration that Emma does in fact have some sort of power--light flickering--Ingrid decides that an emotional upheaval is necessary to really jump start Emma's powers. It's not uncommon. Lots of superheroes in comics, ect get their start that way. Something traumatizing happens to them and suddenly their powers manifest; Adam an Eddy are such nerds (and the rest of the writing staff) that I'm not surprised they went this route. In fact, they reference Harry Potter in this episode and Harry's powers really began to manifest on his 11th birthday after a very trying day--side note, but what is with all the Harry Potter references of late? However, Emma doesn't have a Dumbledore to help her; she has a foster--soon to be adoptive--mother who literally drags her out into the middle of the street and tells her to stop an oncoming car! Call to adventure: rejected (go check your Campbell, my friends). Of course when Ingrid tries to explain, Emma run away cause that's how Emma rolls. Suddenly it becomes clear; Ingrid doesn't love Emma, she loves what she apparently sees in Emma--and least that is how is appears to Emma. Like I said above, I truly believe that Ingrid does love Emma as a reminder of her sisters and a quasi-happy life. Emma runs off into the night and never seen Ingrid again. Oh wait...

That was two paragraphs of praise, so let's do some critique. This was just plain silly. I know the show is playing fast and loose with the rules of magic in Storybrooke but there was a lot of convenient plot device items going on here. First Ingrid just magically appears in town after holding the scroll. She didn't even have to cross the town line. It's bothersome that she didn't have to physically transport herself over the line but it's more bothersome that Regina didn't realize that a new lady was in her frozen (oh dear...no that's not a pun or reference) town and setting up shop as an ice cream maker. That's a bit too implausible for the woman who lived in a town that never changed for 28 years and controlled the fates and destines of everyone around her. And then there are the rocks...erm, crystals. They needed to answer why Emma had no memories of Ingrid even though Ingrid was in Storybrooke in season one (apparently) so they pulled out a plot device item. It's from the movie FROZEN but I'm more bothered by the fact that magic is rather "eh" in this town. Regina sacrificed her ring but even then it was barely powerful enough to power the hat (oh lord, that sentence is just strange if you don't remember season one.) It's a bit too magical handwaving. And why is Ingrid just now making an appearance? Why didn't she pop out to see Emma after Emma...you know...broke the curse? Proved she was the Savior? Why not do all this then? And how did Ingrid even know that Elsa would come through to Storybrooke someday? See, this is the part where I'm supposed to ignore all this flimflam and move on, which is ultimately what I'm going to do since I want to enjoy this episode and not bog myself down...but you guys get that this is an issue? It's lazy and sloppy and does try to make sure the audience isn't paying close enough attention. But as I continuously say: I don't have amnesia.

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

The present day conflict of this episode is really two (and a half) thrusts. There is the main plot of Emma, Elsa, Anna, and Ingrid and then there is the overly campy but oh-so-good silliness that is Regina, Snow White, and Prince Charming having a verbal and sword play fight. Let's take the latter first. Regina decided that Emma was to blame for all her woes (which doesn't make sense since the spell didn't take her memories..but whatever). When Emma releases Regina from her vault (in order to get what I can only describe as a laughably stupid plot device), Regina makes for the sheriff's station and finds Snow and Charming locked up and decides this is much a better plan--kill the Charmings! It's old school ONCE and it's very episode 301 where Regina and Snow have a fist fight. Only this time Charming is more or less on no one's side. It's all rather glorious. It was exactly like fandom fighting: the Evil Regals yelling about how Snowflake promised to keep a secret and the Snow fans yelling about how she was only 10! I swear, it's like Adam and Eddy and the writers went to Tumblr and paid attention for a hot minute what was going on inside their fandom. There were a lot of really great one liners that will probably make their way into my notes section, but outside of that, there is something I want to talk about: the ending. Regina and Snow and Charming are taken out of the spell and they laugh. There are no hard feelings, no shouting, no hurt feelings. It was a curse that they all had to suffer through and they've come so far in the 4 seasons that they can actually just joke about it now. I know I give the show a lot of grief that it rightly deserves about character, plot, and story but this was a nice reminder of where we started--Regina declaring that breaking up Snow and Charming and cursing everyone was her happy ending--to where we've got to. The situation and the fight are so preposterous that everyone just laughs. Two years ago, Regina and Snow would have been hurt over what the other one said and let it stew. Now...not so much. Well done, all around.


I have a lot of mixed emotions on how this all ended. On the one hand, it was beautifully acted and, yes, that always counts for something in my book. However, there are a lot of overly cliche moments and in one case, something incredibly troubling--at least for me. The trope of "saved in the nick of time" is an old one and certainly one ONCE has done many times before. It's not new. But they added to it this mea cupla from Anna and Elsa's mother--Gerda--that equated to a giant and very sudden change of heart. The parents regretted trying to change Elsa; Gerda regretted taking away Arendelle's memories of Ingrid and not celebrating her sister's powers, letting her hide away. It's all super (word of the season) convenient. I expected Storybrooke to be saved in the nick of time, but I didn't expect that it would involve an overly trite letter. I guess I should have--there was no way the Big Mouse was going to let Adam and Eddy leave Elsa with the worst parents of the year. They had to go and fix that. But the way it happened: finding the bottle, reading the letter, Anna getting to Ingrid just before Emma tries to kill Ingrid, it's just...convenient. There's that word again. It's almost like god reaching down and giving the villain a redemptive motivation just before the heroes are forced to do something nasty. And, let's be honest, it's lazy.

Which brings us to the real issue I have. It's the big one. Ingrid, having been moved by Gerda's words, knows that she must end the spell of Shattered Sight by (and yes, this is a direct quote) "I have to destroy myself." I have issues. Many of them. First, I know how this reads. It's sacrifice for the sake of others. I get that; but it does have some seriously heavy suicide as a happy ending overtones. Ingrid says that this is her happy ending--bear in mind that when Rumple essentially did the same thing in "Going Home," his proclamation was that "villains don't get happy endings" so he knew this wasn't his happily ever after. But for Ingrid, it is. This is how she will find happiness with her sisters. It's a troubling message for many who find suicide a triggering subject. It's saying that killing yourself is a way to find happiness and that's...not an okay message. Now, to be fair, I don't think it's what Adam and Eddy and the writers were going for, not at all. But I don't think they are aware of how it comes across. They aren't thinking about how viewers will react to this disturbing message of Ingrid bathed in white redemptive light having killed herself awhile proudly proclaiming that this is a good thing. I know there are many that are going to shrug this off and relegate it to "villain who did a good thing in the end" which is fine. I know that what I'm saying is not how it reads for everyone, but I do hope that people can see what I'm trying to say. I don't want to end this mostly positive review on a bummer so here's something fun: snow falling wakes everyone up and the spell has ended. Also: FROZEN ALL THE THINGS is almost at a close!!

Miscellaneous Notes on Shattered Sight

--Madame Faustina was both hilarious and slightly unnecessary.

--Should I talk about Not-Rumple? Probably. I am at my wits end. So he really does want world domination? And he's planning on releasing darkness on the world? I really and truly am lost with him--and it's not just a character development standpoint; it's confusion about the actual plot. What is his plan for after he has cleaved (twitch) himself from that dagger? On another note, if he says cleave one more time, I might throw my TV out the window.

--Speaking of Not-Rumple again, does anyone understand the logistics viz a viz Not-Rumple, Belle and the shop? Because this is how it played out: Not-Rumple puts Belle in the shop and puts up a protection spell; then the Shattered Sight spell hits; then Not-Rumple goes...back to the shop and Belle isn't there? So what he put her under a spelling spell? He knocked her out? I don't understand.....

--Hook and Henry were funny and huzzah! Henry never liked him anyway! Atta boy.

--Ready for some funnies?
"He's a baby not a breakfast burrito!" 
"Hey Swiss Miss. I pick flowers, I talk to birds. I do all sorts of warm fuzzy things. You know what else I do? I kill. I killed the evil queen's mommy. I said I was sorry, but I didn't mean it."
"I don’t know who you are, but why don’t you go back to where you came from.” POOF
"You said you could keep a secret!" "I WAS 10!!!!!!" (that one takes the cake if only for meta fandom reasons.)

--Snow and Charming's kiss....totally a callback to 122 "A Land Without Magic" which will always be one of the finest hours ONCE has ever done. I actually got teary eyed.

--If you saw next week's promo...don't ask me to explain. I've known for awhile who is coming for the second arc and yeah, I'm not entirely thrilled. One more episode to go...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x11)

You know, I am 100% okay with being wrong. I mean that. I am invested in my shows and my pet theories, but when the show in question does something different and something better than what I predicted, then they get a nice pat on the back. Last week, I predicted that the winter finale of Sleepy Hollow would find Ichabod and Abbie using the hero's sword against Moloch, walking down the monomyth road the show set up in the previous week. Of course, when I made this prediction I had neglected to look at the title for this weeks episode, "The Akeda." Ah, sure. So, the akeda is the story of Abraham and Isaac in the book of Genesis in which God commands Abraham to take Isaac, the only child Abraham has with his wife (and for whom they waited a ridiculously long time) and sacrifice him. Abraham takes his son up to the mountain and prepares to offer up his child to his god. It's a haunting tale and one that always causes a good amount of debate in religion classes. At the last second, God stops Abraham and provides a ram for the father in place of the son. A literal scapegoat, if you will. With that in mind, it seems that the main drive of this episode was the question of would the father sacrifice the son? Could Ichabod take down Henry is it meant getting to Moloch and stopping the Apocalypse? And then the tables turned, though I should have seen it all along because again, it's in reference to the title. In short: very good episode, climatic ending, and now we wait for January. 

Don't get too bogged down in the magic of it all. I'm not quite sure what the four trees had to do with anything except that there are four main characters in the show and it's a nice little parallel (oh, there are five you say. Well. Keep reading.) The four trees do serve as a lei line of sorts, a place of strong magic and a barrier between worlds. It's where Henry rose from the ground and where Jenny and Abbie first encountered their demons. The four white trees are now aflame and with each one comes a new horror to be unleashed on the sleepy town (oh, first pun of the blog!) including such delights as lightening, blood, demon armies (with guns!) and finally hell on earth in which Moloch will be free to really reign down...well, hell. The main part of this episode is about getting people into place and who gets to play hero. There is a lot of changing hands when it comes to the sword. The sword of heroes has a twist: anyone who wields it gets his souls taken and consumed by the sword. So...the sword is Stormbringer and the wielder is Elric of Melnibone? If you don't get that reference, please read more. But whatever the reference point for the sword in the show, it's a big problem for our plucky gang. They all have souls that can now be taken by the sword if they kill. Oh, wait. What's that? Frank Irving is soulless? That'll end well for him, right?

The nature of heroism is often sacrifice and Frank Irving payed the ultimate price. I can't decide how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm worried that this was done to usher in Hawley, whom I like but I was more invested in Frank. And, not for nothing, Sleepy Hollow is praised for its diverse cast and if they replace the black guy with a white guy, it's not going to look good. But on the other hand, Frank's sacrifice meant something. It really did. This wasn't some ridiculous death that served no purpose; it did push the other heroes into being heroes. The moment Abbie picks up the sword and states her intent to wield it, whatever the cost, I thought, "yes that's a hero." If Abbie falls, then she falls, but fear of falling doesn't mean that you don't fight. And when and if Abbie falls, Ichabod will be right behind her to pick up the sword and carry on, and then Katrina and then Jenny. Ending Moloch's terror and preventing hell on earth is more important than the individual lives of the four characters. It's sad but it's also how people view themselves in these type of war-like situations. Soldiers don't want to die, but if they have to...then they die. Which brings me back to Frank Irving (RIP). He went out and took War's avatar with him. It was quite a battle: the soulless man and the suit of armor, sword and axe. I'm sorry to see Frank go, but at least his death did give Abbie and Ichabod a nice "hero speech" moment.

Which brings us to: daddy issues and back to our title reference. Henry is a messed up kid, no? He actively thinks of Moloch as his real father. Ichabod gave him life, but Moloch pulled him from the ground and raised him, making him the Horseman of War. In that regard Moloch is daddy. But Moloch...is a heartless demon who doesn't give one lick about Henry. At one point, Moloch tells him, "there was a horseman before you and there will be a horseman after." Cold, man. Cold. A son like Henry longs for acceptance and approval from his father figure and all season he has been a disappointment to Moloch, and the black horned demon has let him know it. So imagine Henry's surprise when Ichabod isn't willing to kill Henry. Ichabod has the sword of heroes at Henry's throat and he'll use it if need be, but he doesn't want to. If Henry will let him pass and go kill Moloch, all will be forgiven and Henry can live in a world of free will and love and a real family. Abbie, Ichabod, Katrina, Frank, and Jenny? They are family. Henry is but a servant and an expendable one at that. You can tell that Henry is somewhat moved; for a brief second I did think that he would listen to Ichabod and let them pass, but that's too easy. But keep in mind that the words do affect Henry. So when Henry is ordered to kill his mother, Katrina, and then turns on Ichabod I thought just maybe the worst was coming for our beloved Mr. Crane. But then Henry gave this wonderful speech, as only John Noble can, about how a father who would willingly sacrifice his son is no true father. No one should have to obey a paternal god like figure who denies their children love and freedom. It's unnatural. That time is over. And then, taking the sword of heroes, Henry thrusts the blade into Moloch, the sky goes red and....see you all in January.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Akeda

--Ichabod on a motorcycle and loving it. Bless.

--"All magic has a cost." Sleepy Hollow, we are good friends but if you reference ONCE ever again I might have to reconsider you.

--Ichabod and Katrina are in some serious hot water with regards to their marriage. They view each other now as comrades. I honestly do believe too much has happened for them to truly find their way back at this point.

--Frank slaying the avatar of war with a sword is a bit ironic, yes?

--"You brought roots to a sword fight?"

--What happens now? Is Henry gone? Redeemed? Is the Apocalypse over?