Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x11)

You know, I am 100% okay with being wrong. I mean that. I am invested in my shows and my pet theories, but when the show in question does something different and something better than what I predicted, then they get a nice pat on the back. Last week, I predicted that the winter finale of Sleepy Hollow would find Ichabod and Abbie using the hero's sword against Moloch, walking down the monomyth road the show set up in the previous week. Of course, when I made this prediction I had neglected to look at the title for this weeks episode, "The Akeda." Ah, sure. So, the akeda is the story of Abraham and Isaac in the book of Genesis in which God commands Abraham to take Isaac, the only child Abraham has with his wife (and for whom they waited a ridiculously long time) and sacrifice him. Abraham takes his son up to the mountain and prepares to offer up his child to his god. It's a haunting tale and one that always causes a good amount of debate in religion classes. At the last second, God stops Abraham and provides a ram for the father in place of the son. A literal scapegoat, if you will. With that in mind, it seems that the main drive of this episode was the question of would the father sacrifice the son? Could Ichabod take down Henry is it meant getting to Moloch and stopping the Apocalypse? And then the tables turned, though I should have seen it all along because again, it's in reference to the title. In short: very good episode, climatic ending, and now we wait for January. 

Don't get too bogged down in the magic of it all. I'm not quite sure what the four trees had to do with anything except that there are four main characters in the show and it's a nice little parallel (oh, there are five you say. Well. Keep reading.) The four trees do serve as a lei line of sorts, a place of strong magic and a barrier between worlds. It's where Henry rose from the ground and where Jenny and Abbie first encountered their demons. The four white trees are now aflame and with each one comes a new horror to be unleashed on the sleepy town (oh, first pun of the blog!) including such delights as lightening, blood, demon armies (with guns!) and finally hell on earth in which Moloch will be free to really reign down...well, hell. The main part of this episode is about getting people into place and who gets to play hero. There is a lot of changing hands when it comes to the sword. The sword of heroes has a twist: anyone who wields it gets his souls taken and consumed by the sword. So...the sword is Stormbringer and the wielder is Elric of Melnibone? If you don't get that reference, please read more. But whatever the reference point for the sword in the show, it's a big problem for our plucky gang. They all have souls that can now be taken by the sword if they kill. Oh, wait. What's that? Frank Irving is soulless? That'll end well for him, right?

The nature of heroism is often sacrifice and Frank Irving payed the ultimate price. I can't decide how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm worried that this was done to usher in Hawley, whom I like but I was more invested in Frank. And, not for nothing, Sleepy Hollow is praised for its diverse cast and if they replace the black guy with a white guy, it's not going to look good. But on the other hand, Frank's sacrifice meant something. It really did. This wasn't some ridiculous death that served no purpose; it did push the other heroes into being heroes. The moment Abbie picks up the sword and states her intent to wield it, whatever the cost, I thought, "yes that's a hero." If Abbie falls, then she falls, but fear of falling doesn't mean that you don't fight. And when and if Abbie falls, Ichabod will be right behind her to pick up the sword and carry on, and then Katrina and then Jenny. Ending Moloch's terror and preventing hell on earth is more important than the individual lives of the four characters. It's sad but it's also how people view themselves in these type of war-like situations. Soldiers don't want to die, but if they have to...then they die. Which brings me back to Frank Irving (RIP). He went out and took War's avatar with him. It was quite a battle: the soulless man and the suit of armor, sword and axe. I'm sorry to see Frank go, but at least his death did give Abbie and Ichabod a nice "hero speech" moment.

Which brings us to: daddy issues and back to our title reference. Henry is a messed up kid, no? He actively thinks of Moloch as his real father. Ichabod gave him life, but Moloch pulled him from the ground and raised him, making him the Horseman of War. In that regard Moloch is daddy. But Moloch...is a heartless demon who doesn't give one lick about Henry. At one point, Moloch tells him, "there was a horseman before you and there will be a horseman after." Cold, man. Cold. A son like Henry longs for acceptance and approval from his father figure and all season he has been a disappointment to Moloch, and the black horned demon has let him know it. So imagine Henry's surprise when Ichabod isn't willing to kill Henry. Ichabod has the sword of heroes at Henry's throat and he'll use it if need be, but he doesn't want to. If Henry will let him pass and go kill Moloch, all will be forgiven and Henry can live in a world of free will and love and a real family. Abbie, Ichabod, Katrina, Frank, and Jenny? They are family. Henry is but a servant and an expendable one at that. You can tell that Henry is somewhat moved; for a brief second I did think that he would listen to Ichabod and let them pass, but that's too easy. But keep in mind that the words do affect Henry. So when Henry is ordered to kill his mother, Katrina, and then turns on Ichabod I thought just maybe the worst was coming for our beloved Mr. Crane. But then Henry gave this wonderful speech, as only John Noble can, about how a father who would willingly sacrifice his son is no true father. No one should have to obey a paternal god like figure who denies their children love and freedom. It's unnatural. That time is over. And then, taking the sword of heroes, Henry thrusts the blade into Moloch, the sky goes red and....see you all in January.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Akeda

--Ichabod on a motorcycle and loving it. Bless.

--"All magic has a cost." Sleepy Hollow, we are good friends but if you reference ONCE ever again I might have to reconsider you.

--Ichabod and Katrina are in some serious hot water with regards to their marriage. They view each other now as comrades. I honestly do believe too much has happened for them to truly find their way back at this point.

--Frank slaying the avatar of war with a sword is a bit ironic, yes?

--"You brought roots to a sword fight?"

--What happens now? Is Henry gone? Redeemed? Is the Apocalypse over?

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