There is, I believe, a basic paradigm to what makes a good episode of Sleepy Hollow. You take the dynamic, unstoppable force that is Ichabod and Abbie and you add some sort of mythic monster-of-the-week. Throw in a few witty lines from Ichabod, a dash of philosophy about the nature of good and evil and basically you've got a campy, fun, and enjoyable hour of TV. So what happens when Sleepy Hollow decides to break the mold and shatter the paradigm? As one might expect, you get a rather lackluster, boring, episode. I'm not normally harsh on Sleepy Hollow because in general I expect to simply be entertained and have a little myth building but I don't anticipate life-altering TV. The fact is that Ichabod and Abbie make this show what it is and having them apart for more than small segments is a hindrance, especially when it is being replaced by Ichabod and Katrina, a character that often proves frustratingly opaque and useless. Ask yourself with regards to this weeks episode, "Pittura Infamante," who was the real hero of the hour: Ichabod, Katrina or Abbie? Katrina did very little with the exception of strutting around in a little black dress while Abbie came in guns literally blazing and stopped a demon. Katrina said some Latin; Abbie looked a not-so-dead friend in the eye and told him she didn't trust him. Added to this is the strange case of the not so legendary, not so mythic, magically mundane (a contradiction, I know) case of a serial killer. All in all, this was not Sleepy Hollow's best work of season two and my review shall be brief.
I hope this doesn't sound like I'm advocating for adultery, but Katrina and Ichabod together bore me, greatly. Why is it that the moment his wife enters the room, Ichabod seems to dull down considerably? Compare the one on one conversations between Ichabod and Abbie with Ichabod and Katrina. Worlds apart. One is a bit more free, and the other is almost tortuously soapy. Katrina was in this episode only to be an exposition machine who could give helpful clues about the nature of Abigail Adams (played by the scarily underused Michelle Trachtenberg) and lament that her old life was gone. It's not that I don't have sympathy for Katrina, but rather that we did this already. We watched Ichabod come to terms (and to be fair, is still coming to terms) with life in modern America. But whereas Katrina moans and gives speeches that always seem hushed and whispered, Ichabod had Abbie to help. And that made a world of difference. We watched Ichabod and Abbie relate to each other by figuring out the world of Sleepy Hollow together. For Katrina and Ichabod, there is just no sparkle--romantic or otherwise. It feels strongly like the writers don't quite know what to do with Katrina. They don't want to kill her, but they can't go the next somewhat logical step and dissolve Katrina and Ichabod at the least and make her super duper evil and the most. Honestly, watching Ichabod have to go up against an Evil Katrina might make for more interesting television than "date night meets murder mystery theater." And speaking of dull white women, Abigail Adams...wow. This appearance of the famous lady has been heavily promoted by the show but the actual portrayal left a lot to be desired. She had a few spoken lines, either praising Katrina or trying to solve a mystery by providing Katrina with helpful clues like some deus ex machina of the past. As for the monster of the week, the only truly good thing I have to say is that the effects of the blood and the painter rising from the blood were well done and quite scary. That's honestly about all. There was nothing mythic about it; it was a typical serial killer case that utilized magic in the end to end the killings. This isn't to say that the bloom has gone off the rose; even the very best TV shows will have a filler episode or two. But Sleepy Hollow needs to remember its founding paradigm of what makes it a watchable show.
Oh and bring back John Noble.
Miscellaneous Notes on Pittura Infamante
--Can we trust Frank Irving? Abbie doesn't think so. I'm glad they didn't drag out the question of when everyone would discover that Frank was...back, for lack of a better word.
--Double ew to Jenny pulling bullets out of a body.
--"How can one be both business and casual?" Ichabod Crane, always asking the important questions.
--I love that Abbie saved the day. Role reversals...I do enjoy them.