Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x9)

This show really is hitting all the right notes, isn't it? I feel like I say that often, but when I see good TV, I enjoying pointing it out! Last week, I made mention of the fact that there is a very strict formula for Sleepy Hollow this season and that while it's entertaining, and thus doesn't bother me, there is a certain mold that the writers could try to strive and break. And this week they did just that. This week's monster had nothing to do with Henry; the Moloch and apocalyptic plot were relegated as minor and only got a few minutes of on air time. This weeks episode, "Mama" was a character study in the Mills sisters. We've known, for awhile, that Abbie and Jenny's mother committed suicide while in the psych ward after being plagued by demons. The twist was learning that they were literal demons and not metaphorical. That story mostly got shelved, or rather there was nothing much further to develop, but this week, the writers took that story off the shelf, gave it a quick polish, and gave us an entertaining hour that was a nice leitmotif break from the major thrust of the season. The memories of the past come back to haunt us as daughters try to heal from what their mother went through while she lost her mind to the crazy world that our residents live in. And, while our main character Ichabod, took a big back seat this week, the episode was truly good. Also, terrifying! 

 There is a malevolent force haunting Terry Town Psych Hospital. It's causing people to commit suicide in the middle of the night. While investigating, Abbie and Jenny see the ghost of their mother standing in the corner of the victims's rooms, apparently telling these people to end their lives. There is a lot to recommended here; the first and foremost of which is the performance of the Mills sisters. Jenny is obviously still traumatized from being in Terry Town herself, locked up for the same reason her mother was. Being back is hard for her as it brings up bad memories not only of life in the institution but life with her mother, which was no picnic. But Jenny is a warrior; she has seen worse things since leaving Terry Town and it's only made her harder. Even when she is faced with seeing her mother on a final psych video where her mother is clearly out of her mind with fear, Jenny simply takes her sisters hand and braves the nightmares. They do it together. The Mills sisters are the stuff of dreams when it comes to portrayals of strong women. Being a strong women doesn't mean not asking for help and doing everything on your own; it means knowing when you need help. Jenny knows herself well enough to tell Abbie that she is scared to learn more about their mother, and absolutely petrified at the idea of seeing their mother's ghost again. Not that I blame her; Mama Ghost is scary though in a misunderstood sort of way. The real terror is Nurse Lambert, an angel of mercy figure who is killing patients whom she thinks want a way out of this world. Of course, I think it was pretty predictable that Mama Mills wasn't going to be the real villain here; the story was obviously about redemption for Mama and peace and forgiveness for Abbie and Jenny. However, Nurse Lambert was Nurse Ratchard level creepy; very nice villain of the week.

Let's talk about Abbie. I mentioned Jenny and how strong she is, standing next to her sister, but the real highlight of this episode is our Leftenant. Abbie is one of the strongest women characters I see on TV right now. Notice that she didn't need a man to save her; in fact, she insisted that Ichabod stay behind; she asked for Hawlie's help in small manners--bringing soup or supplies, but outside that, this episode was all about Abbie standing on her own and surviving. She too is haunted by demons but she's got this covered: she will stand at the mouth of Hell and fight them off one by one if need be. It's incredibly refreshing. If Jenny is outwardly scared about ghost Mama and what is going on in the psych ward, Abbie is keeping it all internalized and trying to be strong for everyone else. This isn't to say that this is what makes a strong woman, but at no point did Abbie shut down and say that it was all too much or put all her problems on the shoulders of another--man or woman. She was determined to handle it all, and she did. If this episode was about mothers, and it was, then Abbie is mother in her own right and all the different layers that means; though her children were her sister (whom she's always taken care of) and Ichabod, who is held up with a cold and who needs soup and blankets and love. It was rather adorable. But it was also quite nice to show how Abbie the full package: kickass law enforcement and detective, spiritual warrior, and compassionate caring mother. And in the end, capable of crying over her mother and everything they went through, but still standing upright. Bravo to the writers of Sleepy Hollow for making Abbie so complex and intricate.

Miscellaneous Notes on Mama

--Katrina and Henry and the super growth spurt baby! It's like a 1990s situational sitcom. But, seriously, that baby was freaky. But I am happy they didn't spend too much time on Katrina this week.

--Ichabod with a cold and soup was adorable. Loved him struggling with the bottle of pills.

--Detective Frank burst out of the psych ward! The team is back together!

--Next week is the fall finale and it looks amazing.

--"When I am well, there shall be hell to pay."

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