Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (1x12) (1x13)

Two hour season finales can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the writers have more time to get from point A to point B. On the other hand, because writers have more time to get to point B they often wildly diverge off the beaten path and visit points A-3, A-67 and B-A-1. In other words, the pacing of a two hour season finale is usually very slow until the last 20 minutes or so, then suddenly so break neck fast that the audience barely has time to process everything that is happening on screen. Sleepy Hollow has been the surprise triumph of the TV season. Promoted as a horror crime drama, it has quickly become less about the horror portion and more about the campy and kooky chemistry of its two leads, Ichabod and Abbie. The two hour season finale, broken into two episodes "The Indispensable Man" and "Bad Blood," was both frustrating slow and epically fast. However, the writers get major credit for the ultimate denouement. 

 The first hour of the finale, "The Indispensable Man," picks up where we left off last week--Team Witness trying to figure out why the Washington Bible is so vital to Moloch. One of the problems I have with the first hour as a whole, is the amount of overly convenient information that drops into the laps of Abbie and Ichabod. In this case, the information comes from Brooks, the head snapped former cop who apparently really loved Abbie. Was this hinted at in even the slightest degree this season? Did I miss the subtle hints that Brooks was in love with Abbie? See what I mean by overly convenient? They had 12 episodes to build the idea of Andy Brooks being in love with Abbie to help explain why Brooks is now helping Team Witness, but instead it failed to come across as anything more than convenient. Brooks's information is that the Bible is important because it has within it directions to a map that will allow Moloch to cross between worlds. Plot point A leads to Plot Point A-1 which leads to Plot Point A-2. Way too much magical hand waving, for me. The Bible has been held up all season has having many secrets and being important except now it's only important to what it leads to and then what that leads to. It's a bit convoluted. Through a flashback remembrance, Ichabod recalls how Washington was fond of the story of Lazarus, often referring to Ichabod as Lazarus since he would rise up against the forces of evil. Looking up the story of Lazarus in the Washington Bible, Ichabod and Abbie discover that it has an additional ten verses in Washington's own hand that explains how he was alive 4 days after his death. Washington knew that Ichabod was a witness and would be a major player in the fight against evil, so to ensure that Washington could pass down his information, Washington used cursed prayer beads to resurrect himself for a short time. During that time he was capable of moving between Earth and Purgatory and so he wrote an instructional map of Purgatory and how to cross the boundary. This is the map Moloch wants. This is also how Ichabod will free Katrina from her damnation.

Now, we get several different scenes leading up to finally finding the map. Ichabod figures out that the prayer beads used to hex Washington into a Zombie belonged to the priest from the pilot. Don't remember him? That's ok, neither did I really. He was a Warlock in Katrina's coven and held onto the head of the horseman for 2 centuries. He was killed very early on and never discussed again so it did feel a bit random to bring him back. Because the prayer beads are hexed, they are full of sin (ok?) so Team Witness calls in our favorite Sin Eater. Hi Henry Parrish! I really like Henry. It's like having Walter back on my screen (except for when the roof gets blown off this episode but we'll get there.) The prayer beads eventually reveal to Henry that Washington's body was carried to a secret grave site and that this is where the map is.
At this point Abbie is very nervous about the map. We must remember that there is a prophecy in place that Ichabod will hand Abbie over to Moloch and that this only happens when they understand the name of the sign (complicated prophecy but it will become clear later.) Abbie wants to know what's more important to Ichabod--his wife or the greater good? If saving Katrina means damning the rest of the world, would Ichabod do it? Could he do it and live with himself? It's a hard call for Ichabod who has never really stopped to think about the consequences of his "I must get Katrina back" venture. Obviously Moloch is holding her for a reason and by saving her, are you risking the rest of the world?

We finally get to the Washington secret crypt of doom (honestly, it took forever to get to this moment) where Ichabod uses his knowledge of the Free Masons and George Washington's personal life to realize that the body of the father of our nation is hidden behind a secret panel. And there's the map, clutched in Washington's dead hands. At this point, Brooks shows up again and decides to go full on crazy for reasons I don't really understand. Was he possessed? He seemed to turn into some sort of demon but in one moment of lucidity, begged Abbie to destroy the map because if Moloch got his hands on it, the world would literally end. So now Abbie is faced with a decision--she must convince Ichabod to destroy the map that would lead him back to Katrina. Team Witness might break apart if Ichabod doesn't see sense. But thankfully, it doesn't take much convincing from Abbie--Ichabod is an honorable man and he cannot betray Abbie's trust and friendship in such a way. "I choose to forge my fate with you." Oh. Well, I'll just sit here and die a shipper's death.

Of course this is only part one of the two part finale, so the map has to come back, right? Ichabod--feeling guilty over abandoning his wife--redraws the map (handy photographic memory is handy) which is actually a good thing because Henry Parrish, our favorite Sin Eater, has had a very disturbing dream. In the dream, Moloch has summoned some sort of creature from a grave. The grave is in front of four white trees (the same ones that Jenny and Abbie saw when they first met Moloch) and up in the sky, the sun went into an eclipse. In the dream, Moloch speaks from the Book of Revelation and calls forth War.  In the present day, it happens to be 13 years to the day since Abbie and Jenny met Moloch and then woke up in the woods, without their full memories of what happened. Henry deduces that the next horseman is on his way--War. Because of all these events converging, Abbie and Ichabod decide that they must enter Purgatory and get Katrina out. It's a very cool visual moment, Earth actually shattering around them like a cracked mirror and Team Witness walking into Purgatory--hand in hand. It was super cute, truth be told. I almost forgot for a moment that they were actually trying to stop the impending Apocalypse. Purgatory is full of crazy--both Ichabod and Abbie are given their own special treatment of a false life that they could have if they gave up the search for Moloch. Abbie sees Corbin and Brooks and a happy family, complete with apple pie; Ichabod meets his father again, who greets him with open arms. The only thing that saves the two is their memory of each other (yeah, you tell me that they aren't meant to be) and they escape their own Purgatory dreamscape.

The two finally get to Katrina, who is in her special church lighting candles for her dead son Jeremy. Katrina fears that she cannot go with Ichabod and Abbie because the only souls who are allowed to leave Purgatory are those who have been forgiven of their sins. Except there is a loophole. Of course there is! If another stays in Katrina's place, then Katrina can leave. Don't do it, Abbie!! She's not worth it!! But Abbie is a good soul and stays behind to let Katrina go. Her goodbye with Ichabod is very moving; Ichabod promises to come back for her and tells her to hold on to their connection, it will save her. Katrina and Ichabod flee Purgatory and Abbie retreats further into a "safe house" where she meets her younger self. Her younger self offers to show Abbie exactly what happened on that day 13 years ago, the part that Abbie has blocked from her memories. Not only did Abbie and Jenny see Moloch, they saw Moloch raise a creature from the ground and bring it back to life. Sound familiar? It should. It's exactly what Henry Parrish saw in his dream, which he said was the coming of War. But what the vision Abbie has tells is that WAR is already here.

Speaking of Henry, let's do the big denouement. Ichabod, Katrina and Henry run to the four white trees, expecting that War will rise from the ground at any moment and they must stop it. But nothing happens when Katrina tries to cast her spell. And then Henry, who has suddenly stopped being old and cute and instead is sneering and looking positively pleased with himself, tells Ichabod and Katrina that the reason Katrina can't bind War is because he is already there. And then he ties Ichabod and Katrina to two of the white trees and we get a lot of exposition. Henry has been playing on Ichabod's desire to reunite with his wife and playing on Abbie's faith that the strange occurrences in her life must mean something, but it was a con. A long con. Who is Henry? Just like the first horseman--DEATH--was once a mortal man (Abraham von Bromes) so too was WAR once a mortal man. Henry, in fact. Yes, Henry is a horseman. But, that's not all. He was raised from the ground 13 years go and waited until Katrina and Ichabod were together. Why, you ask? Because he is also Jeremy, their son. The hex put on him did not kill him but left him in a state of near death for 200 years until Moloch raised him. Pretty sure at this point, my jaw hit the ground. Jeremy resents his parents who were never there for him and who abandoned him. He now considers his true father to be Moloch. Why the name Henry Parrish? Because the name of the sign--when Henry/Jeremy was brought back out of the earth and he went running into town to hide, he passed a church and took its name for his own--St. Henry's Parrish. Twisted, no? And now Jeremy/Henry has his revenge against his parents--the Headless Horseman arrives for his prize, Katrina and Jeremy casts Ichabod into the earth, doomed to stay in his son's coffin for all of time. In the final second, Jeremy breaks the second seal and it's on--war has come to Sleepy Hollow.

See everyone in the fall.

Miscellaneous Notes on "The Indispensable Man" and "Bad Blood"

--Some good light hearted moments in the form of Ichabod interacting with the modern world. Specifically getting a text from Abbie and reading it out loud: "I am on my way... colon closed parenthesis." *tilts phone* "OH! It's a man's face!!"

--A few minor subplots that I need to address. The first is that Captain Irving turns himself in for the murders at his cabin last week. It was really Macy, but Irving can't let his daughter take the fall. The second is that I'm fairly certain Jenny died. She was on her way back to meeting Abbie, having discovered the Church sign with Henry's name on it, revealing that he is a fraud when the Headless Horseman blew out the tires on her truck and sent her truck flying. RIP Jenny.

--Ichabod solved his dry cleaning problem. He bought the exact same outfit. But now it's shiny!

--Loved the hipster reference by Ichabod in regards to his coat. That coat is fairly epic.

--"I married a witch! How...cool." Atta boy, Ichabod.

--Overall the season gets a B- from me. What really sells it isn't the twisty turny mythology but Abbie and Ichabod themselves. The plots are often confusing and contrived but still good fun. The show doesn't take itself seriously, and I appreciate that. Looking forward to the second season!

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