Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x7)

This show is on a roll. That was an unintentional pun, but it works. Honestly, Sleepy Hollow delivers something fresh and exciting and invigorating every week. Even amidst all the absolute absurdity--like demon births and magical stone tablets with Northern Light machines--it manages to be charming and eye catching. I could watch Ichabod and Abbie go on adventures every day and never bore of them. And isn't that why we watch tv, and fantasy tv to be more specific? To go on an adventure? Well, I love the one Sleepy Hollow is going on. This weeks episode, "Deliverance," hit all the right notes in the right strides: dramatic camp that relies on the charm and personality of its two leading heroes but doesn't deviate from their in-show mythology and continues to build their world with colorful building blocks. To be blunt: if you aren't watching Sleepy Hollow, there is something wrong with you.

I know my opening paragraph didn't do much in the way of theme, as it normally does, but honestly this episode was so good, that I had to fan girl a bit. Let's back track. This week's episode is the climax of a seasons worth of episodes thus far. It brings to head what we've been seeing before our eyes: Moloch's plan to enter our world and how Abbie, Ichabod, and Katrina fit into that plan. I think this is what I love most about Sleepy Hollow--apart from Ichabod and Abbie. The show doesn't wait until the last second to dump tons of information on you and then make you wade through filler. It gives out tidbits in piecemeal and then really delivers in a big BOOM type episode. This episode was the boom, by the way. Right from the start, it lets you know that this is going to be a major episode for the mythos of the program. Katrina, on the run from Henry, obviously sick after swallowing a spider/bug/demonic thing last week. Ichabod and Abbie reunited with the witchy red-head almost right after the credits. No fuss, no muss. Clean and straightforward. You could accuse the episode of filler in the very beginning with the voting jokes (given that the day after the airing of this episode is voting day in America, it's apt) but the voting speaks to one of the larger themes of the episodes: democracy and voices. The signs on the background read that your vote is your voice, and everyone of importance got to have a voice this week. Abbie's own hesitancy to put her faith in trying to reach Henry; Katrina's almost blind faith that she can reach her son and Ichabod, in the middle, as usual, weighing Abbie's pragmatism and Katrina's emotional response and coming up with a plan to appeal to Henry on both fronts. Teamwork! This is how you do! Watching Sleepy Hollow makes me frustrated with other shows that can't put this kind of work into their characters and stories. Abbie is the definition of a strong badass woman. She is hard, no nonsense, mostly independent, but she can be vulnerable and slightly dependent on her allies to help her. Being a strong woman does not mean that you never depend on people; it means you know yourself well enough to know when to ask for help. Abbie can't raise an army to storm the Hellfire Club, but she can use her wits and cunning to convince her police chief to help her. Ichabod and Abbie are the example par excellence of how to put men and women in a working relationship without giving into the romantic tendencies. While there is a lot of chemistry between them, it doesn't stop the mission. Abbie doesn't need to have a long winded conversation about her feelings and "what does it all mean!" because there is a job and she knows that no matter what, Ichabod has her back and that's enough. It's rather glorious to behold.

How about some plot? The spider Katrina swallowed was an infestation (a bug! literally! how clever) and it came from the Hellfire Club we heard about back in the season opener (oh my gosh, continuity is a thing on this program!) The bug actually caused Katrina to become pregnant in a truly horrifying take on the immaculate conception. Impregnated by a demon (who, yes also happens to be her son, but let's those Oedipal notes go for now...) to give birth to the demon of the apocalypse, Moloch. Of course she would die in the process but I might consider that the cherry on top of the sundae; sorry, still not a huge Katrina fan, though I did like her more this episode when she wasn't just lazing about and muttering in some form of witchy Latin. Ichabod is sent to treat with Jeremy to try and convince him that he doesn't need to kill his mother; he has a choice in this world and it doesn't need to be evil. Jeremy responds, evilly and gleefully, that he's chosen Molcoh. Hats off, as always, to John Noble and his ability to make my skin crawl, an impressive feat since he'll always be "fruit cocktail in Atlantic City" Walter Bishop to me. When Jeremy refuses to help there are only a few options. Katrina's option is suicide to prevent the magical and demonic birth, which seems very in character. Actually, if Katrina isn't just straight up evil, I think she might tend toward the fatalistic side of things. Her whole life is about the war on evil (so she says. I'm still Team Evil Witch) and if that means giving up her life then so be it. The real answer, comes, as it normally does, from a book. In this case, Benjamin Franklin provides the answer: the tablet that foretells of the demonic birth also holds inside it a prism that will make the Northern Lights and stop Moloch. It's so full of camp that you just have to laugh. A prism inside a tablet that prevents the demon baby from clawing its way out of Katrina. Sure! Add in Katrina's impressive black stretch marks and it's  a B Hollywood movie in 42 minutes but you'll hear no complaints from me.

The day is saved in the end by the magical prism and everyone is reunited. But we are left with some big thoughts: namely, how much faith can we put in Jeremy and any possible redemption? Katrina refuses to give up on her son. I've made many mentions of this over the season, but the motherly love she bears for her child is going to be the undoing of the Crane alliance and family. Whether or not Jeremy can be turned, I don't know (though after this episode, I do lean one particular way) but what matters is that Katrina firmly believes she can reach him. Ichabod seems to share this notion more than he did at the start. The vision of young Jeremy running in fear, begging for help, spoke to him. He saw his son frightened and alone and without a father to guide him, and I think that is going to plague our dear Ichy. He might have thought that "evidence of good in him is not proof that he will change" but there is a big difference in seeing your child scared and only thinking that your child was once scared. The problem, then, is Abbie. She's not convinced that Jeremy can be turned back and her pragmatism is such that she wants to save the world first and foremost. There will be loses and pain, but what matters is stopping Molcoh, one victory at a time. For the rest of the season, I suspect we'll see Ichabod bounce back and forth between these two women and their ideas on Jeremy and how to deal with him. As for me, I tend to believe that Jeremy could be saved, but it's a matter of will. Jeremy doesn't have the will anymore. I think he may go to great lengths to prove that he doesn't have redemptive desires, crushing his own internal voice that is that scared little boy. You know who might surprise us though? Abraham. His alliance with Moloch and Jeremy might be coming to an end if he can't have Katrina. Is it better to not have her but fight beside her, or is better to fight against her? The Headless Horseman was certainly willing to fight against Jeremy, at least, to save Katrina from War's men. Lots of players moving forward, all with a different game. And heads will roll. That pun was intentional.

Miscellaneous Notes on Deliverance

--Ichabod's slight rant against the American voting system was wonderful, but equally beautiful was Abbie's response about how long it has taken for women and people of color to be able to vote.

--Ichabod got a sticker and it made him happy. Adorable.

--"How can a headless horseman SAY anything??"

--"I must internet....immediately!" I'm using that from now on. That shall be my motto in this world.

--Where is Jenny? What is she up to?

--So New Police Chief isn't evil? There goes one theory.

--Really great effects with the prism and the demon baby inside Katrina.

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