Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x10)

Myths galore! Not that I mind; we all know I like mythology. Welcome to the first part of the fall finale, "Magnum Opus." Unlike last year, Sleepy Hollow is giving me two weeks to digest their finale, for which I am grateful. Two hours is a bit much for any show and when it's full of constant drama and myth, it can get a bit weary. However, I liked this episode quite a bit. There were a lot of fist pumping moments and it was all in the vein of classic heroes going on a classic heroic quest. There's even a magical sword! The hero and his magical sword is probably as old as time. Fantasy, epic romance, historical fiction, historical fantasy, mythology, whatever genre, it's there. The sword might transform into a wand or a light saber or a sonic screwdriver, but the hero needs his weapon to fight the darkness. Know what I loved most here? Yes, there is a literal sword that will serve as a weapon, but there are other weapons at play in this weeks episode: friendship, loyalty, and choice. This episode sent Ichabod and Abbie on a heroic quest against their most famous foe. It felt old-timey Sleepy Hollow with little Jeremy and Katrina and almost no Jenny and Frank. Just Ichabod, Abbie, and a Headless Horseman with a shot gun. This episode had some fantastic dialogue and moments in which both the hero and the villain were tested and could likely perish if not for one thing: know thyself. You got that, and you're golden, kid. 

Which myth should we start with? Well, I've touched on the sword, so let's go there. There is a lot in between point A and point B, so let's summarize. A sword, called Enoch's Sword, was once used to slay many demons and Ichabod and Abbie believe it to be hidden in Sleepy Hollow (naturally). They also believe that if they find the sword, they can kill Moloch who is living as a teenage boy (naturally). This entire quest takes them to a run down building where they must descend underground into a veritable labyrinth and face demons and monsters and self doubt. Oh, hello heroic quest. Aren't you all classic! Heroic quests often follow a specific pattern, though I want to emphasize here that they need not always do so. There is the call to adventure (which is really what season one was, leaning how to be a witness) and, since Sleepy Hollow is only 42 minutes long I'll skip a few, the threshold and descent into the belly of the whale which is where we ended tonight. Let's take them one at a time. The threshold is signified by the seal that leads to an underground cavern deep below the surface of Sleepy Hollow. The pictogram on the seal is that of the Oroboros, or self eating snake, symbolizing eternity and forever. Of course the familiar refrain that goes with the Oroboros is "as above, so below" so Ichabod and Abbie know that they have to cross into the netherworld. I'm using that word loosely here because of course they haven't left Sleepy Hollow (they are only underground) but it's a different world down there. If Sleepy Hollow is some sort of dual state of real and the fantastic, then the underground is pure myth, complete with demonic creatures, tricks, and magical swords that are pulled from stone. The descent into the underworld is fairly common--and you can look at Odysseus and Aeneas for the true classics. There's even a Medusa! Sidenote, but the Medusa is a nice call back to the importance of mirrors in the show either as means of communication or what Purgatory looks like when you cross over.

And when you've crossed over the threshold, you find yourself in what Joseph Campbell calls the belly of the whale. The hero has cut himself (in this case themselves) off from the world and are ready to undergo a metamorphosis. It's important that while inside the underground netherworld, Ichabod and Abbie must keep reminding themselves of who they are. Know thyself or perish. If they do not have utter faith in each other and in themselves, they will fail this quest. Abbie and Ichabod are in a sort of temple between their previous lives--Witnesses who were holding on by the seat of their pants and playing games to open their minds--and their new lives--magical and mythic heroes who have actual weapons to fight the demons of hell. Standing in their way, of course, is the Headless Horseman. I really must commend Abraham's actor for this episode. He was seething with evil; I truly believed he was the Horseman of Death as Sleepy Hollow has conceived of him--evil, a servant of the dark forces. His fight with Ichabod was powerful, two old friends fighting for the world instead of a woman. It was very reminiscent of last season's flashback in which the two dueled over Katrina. In the end, life is a series of choices and both Abraham and Ichabod make theirs. The former proudly declares that he is the Horseman of Death and he chooses Moloch; the latter chooses to be the hero and fight his former friend no matter what. I want to say a few words about Abbie and then Team Witnesses. Abbie is probably the only person who truly knew herself this episode. Last weeks foray into her past with her mother was the final piece of the puzzle and now Abbie is a whole person. She doesn't need to question her role in all this; she doesn't doubt what she must do. She's stronger than Ichabod in that regard. It's incredibly refreshing. Now, as far as Team Witnesses go, it's important to note that they had to do all this together. While Abbie figured out the swords, Ichabod fought Abraham. The oil that housed the magical sword could only be lit by both of them, not just Ichabod. And while Ichabod might wield the sword, he cannot walk this battle alone. He needs Abbie. The message of teamwork and partnership is rather endearing on this show, is it not? He's got torches and she's got flares. Together they bring the light.

Miscellaneous Notes on Magnum Opus

--Very little Jenny and Frank this week, but I suspect we'll see them next week for part two of the finale.

--Katrina and Jeremy had a very intense conversation in which Jeremy rejected his humanity with every breath in his body. Time to give up this ghost, Katrina.

--"Our quest is not without peril" "We can't have lunch without peril."

--"Good morning, Sunshine."

--"I was supposed to be the hero of this story, not the villain."

--"What do we have that they did not have?"
"Each other."

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