Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (1x7)

"Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;"

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Paul Revere's Ride"
If last week's episode of Sleepy Hollow was a massive info-dump, then this week was an attempt to find some sort of middle ground: give out a ton of information but also have quiet in-between moments that were full of character instead of plot. We didn't really need several scenes of Captain Irving and Abbie trying to explain Thomas Jefferson's affair with Sally Hemings to Ichabod, but it was fun to watch. This weeks episode of Sleepy Hollow, "The Midnight Ride," is a strange one (aren't they all) because there really was no theme with which to work. They sampled a few things here and there: knowledge, fear of the unknown, and even some political points about paying for items that should be "free" like water. Overall, the episode was trying to get the plot from point A (the dissolution of Ichabod and the Headless Horseman) to point B (the capturing of the Horseman by the Two Witnesses). This episode is simply the path between the points. Because of that, expect this review to be brief. 

Apparently Paul Revere was almost axed down during his now famous midnight ride. These are things you don't find in history books. The episode opens with word that the "Regulars" are coming (the British) and then moves to find Revere and his gang being chased down by the still headed Horseman, slicing through Revere's companions in an attempt to get to Paul himself. We'll get to why in a bit, but the episode was basically a chess game between Ichabod/Abbie and the Horseman. One of them makes a move and the other retaliates. Move one came last week when Ichabod managed to break his connection with the Headless Horseman with the help of the Sin Eater. The Horseman, sensing that his connection to Crane is gone, decides to take his revenge out on the Masons. There is a bit of a leap that somehow the Horseman knew the Masons were involved; I know Ichabod said that for 500 years the Masons have been engaged in a war against evil and therefore I guess I'm supposed to assume that the Horseman sees them as his natural enemy. But how does the Headless Horseman know where to go? For that matter, how does a Headless Horseman see well enough to cut off the heads of four Mason brothers and then later string them up as creepy Head-o-lanters?

Where was I? Oh, right. Suspend, Jacquelyn, suspend! Anyway, the Horseman chops off several heads but manages to get away before Abbie and Ichabod can get to the Mason home. Captain Iriving shows up and does his typical song and dance about how he can't have these two out looking for a headless horseman because it's so implausible and instead they should treat these murders as ritual killings. The Captain keeps doing this which is why I've suspected him in the past of being in league with Katrina and working for the Dark Coven, but thankfully this week, he eventually snapped out of it once he was being gunned down by a Headless Man in colonial dress. Ichabod and Abbie realize that the Horseman is after his head, which is still being analyzed at a lab. The Captain draws the line at destroying evidence in a murder case but does agree to go down to the lab and check on it. And the Horseman follows him? No really, how did the Horseman know where the head was and where the Captain was going? Surviving his shootout with the Horseman, Captain Irving is now a believer and agrees to help Ichabod and Abbie stop the Horseman. Meanwhile, Abbie and Ichabod have discovered that a mysterious book probably has a great many answers but the pages have been torn out (naturally). The pages are part of a document written in code that tells how to trap death using a witch who can move the moon and make it daytime because daylight is the Horseman's only weakness.

Ok then. Sure, why not. Back to Paul Revere. The document in code was given to Revere and that's why the Horseman was chasing him. The document today is in a museum but luckily it was uploaded to the internet for all to view. Ah, 21st century living. With me so far? Headless Horseman wants head in order to bring about the end of day because once reunited, Death can join up with the rest of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse; the head is now in the possession of Ichabod and Abbie who devise a cunning plan to trap death using fake sunlight, an idea they got from a manuscript written in code and given to Paul Revere before his midnight ride. Really, it's perfectly logical. This show will never take itself seriously, which is part of its charm. It's mythology is convoluted and confusing and frankly downright stupid, but it works because the show isn't trying to sell me a legitimate piece of art as thought provoking. It is selling me nonsense with a side of cute Ichabbie moments. One more little plot point: Sulu Andy Brooks made a return. Do you remember him? The guy who was working for Death and then got his head snapped. He basically stalked Abbie this episode, warding off people who tried to get close to her like her ex Luke Moralas. He gave a lot of cryptic warnings and then would vanish into the great unknown.

Eventually, they get the Horseman to the cemetery and there is a little chase scene where Abbie and Ichabod try to outsmart the Horseman with fake heads. And then Ichabod and Abbie lead the Headless Horseman into a trap using the oldest play in the book: pretend to be hurt so the monster comes to you, but then manage to trap him. The Headless Horseman is now trapped by the fake ultraviolet lights and chains (yes, you should think this is hysterical) and it's time to begin the inquisition. So why did this episode work? Well to be sure, not because of the plot. It was the adorable moments that made this episode worth watching. Ichabod going on and on about how water shouldn't be priced and wanting to know how the courts settled the great water debate. It was Abbie listening to all this with a straight face and then telling Ichabod he could drink the water from the taps if he wanted free arsenic too, much to Ichabod's horror. It was the trip to the museum of colonial history where Ichabod decided to do a rant about how everything was wrong. It was Ichabod trying to make a computer work and discovering gun websites and porn. Ichabod and Abbie have an undeniable chemistry that is just plain entertaining to watch and the writers know it. Did we really need a gag about Ichabod slurping through a straw? No of course not. But it was funny to watch. And that's really all Sleepy Hollow is trying to be: fun.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Midnight Ride 

--"You cannot kill death but you can trap him." I can't even take that seriously. However, watching Ichabod and Abbie come up with ways to destroy Death's skull was highly amusing: hammers, acid, TNT, ect

--"I have good news. The manuscript is online."
(deadpan) "That is excellent news"
"You have no idea what that means, do you?"

--Ichabod discovering online porn. Poor man.

--"All we really get is one another." Ichabbie is adorable.

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