Friday, November 13, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (3x7)

This week's episode of Sleepy Hollow, "The Art of War," does not feature John Noble. When the show trots out a title such as this week's, one expects Henry Parrish/Jeremy Crane/the Horseman of War. Sadly, we did not get to see Mr. Noble and hear his low timber of a voice. However, this does not mean that the episode was a total wash. In fact, I really rather enjoyed this round of Sleepy Hollow goodness, but I'm a sucker for Egyptian mythology so maybe I'm not exactly impartial here (don't worry, Greek mythology. You're still first in my heart). Welcome to the show, Mr. Scary Man! Joking aside, the major theme and thrust of this episode is really two-fold: teasing the agent behind the Second Tribulation and fear of the unknown; all this time, we knew Pandora was working for someone, a darker being than herself, who was pulling the strings. Turns out, the Bigwig-Behind-What-Is-To-Come, is an actual god! Well, I assume he was a god. Big loud voice and coming through a tree tends to mean something not-human. My friends and I were having a friendly debate while watching: Amun-Ra, Anubis, or Set? Turns out: we don't know yet! Yay, I love a mystery. I'll go into why I think he's Amun-Ra in the proper review but as we approach the fall finale, it's all about every player falling into place as the next wave of the Apocalypse comes to Sleepy Hollow. Go berserk because here we go! 

Let's start off with something that definitely deserves a hearty round of applause: the show is opening up its mythology to encompass more of the world's stories. Sleepy Hollow has never shied away from touching on various world mythologies; beasts and monsters of the week have come from all over but are always summarily dismissed. The Big Bads and the coming End of Days have always been rooted in the Judeo-Christian traditions. When your Headless Horseman is also the Horseman of Death, is in league with the Horseman of War, and are paling around with a demon from Purgatory, it's easy to say that Christian mythology is in the driver's seat. However, in this season, Pandora's inclusion opened up the door to greater possibilities since she very clearly comes from some time before the Christian era. Many cultures have end of the world stories. The idea of the old passing away into the new and some sort of divine battle of good versus evil isn't localized to the Christian mythos. Ragnorak, the Islamic Day of Judgement, Frashokereti, and the list can go on,  cultures tell stories about the end of the world as a way to understand their present and the broad scope of history. Everything must end; this too shall pass and other such cliche sayings. By including a Big Bad who is (I assume) not a Big Bad from the Christian tradition but instead from other sources, demonstrates that the show realizes that Apocalyptic traditions are a big deal to many people, not just the one from which the writers come. On a show that tries its hardest to celebrate diversity, it's nice to see the writers take that theme and transition them beyond just the color of their characters. So why do I think this guy in the hood is Amun-Ra? Let's look at the clues; first, clearly an Egyptian deity, not that this helps us narrow it down. Second, Jenny is being set up as a consort type figure. The fact that Jenny feels as powerful as the man in her visions suggests that there is a equal link between the two. Man and woman, the perfect balance. Amun is almost always linked to his female consort, Amunet (if you've seen the show "Penny Dreadful," think Vanessa Ives). Third, there were various sun images in Jenny's scrawlings on the wall; Amun, in various stages of Egyptian history, is grouped with sun gods, including Ra. Fourth (and I admit that this is the biggest clue) the credits on IMDB list the character as "The Hidden One." Amun roughly translates to, you guessed it, "the hidden one." It has been awhile since I did any predictions for Sleepy Hollow, but there it is: Amun-Ra is the Big Bad and he has made Jenny into his Amunet. I think that makes Pandora akin to a high priestess? Still unsure how Pandora serves Amun.

Now that I've made some predictions, let's talk about fear of the unknown, which was the other major theme of this episode. Really, we could substitute "unknown" for future and it would amount to the same. For Joe, it's fear of what life might be like without Jenny (if he lost her) and, really, what life might be like with her (if they gave in and were together). For Jenny, it's fear of what is happening to her. She admits to Abbie that during those moments of her skin glowing red and going all white-eyed, Jenny feels powerful. Again, it's fear of what life might be like with that power and what she might become. But it's also fear of what life might be like without that power and how Jenny could never have that feeling ever again. Abbie is clearly fearing what is happening to Jenny, but she's also scared about her future with the FBI. Abbie is a control freak; she knows it and she doesn't try to deny it. Abbie likes keeping her life in organized boxes. Personal life over in Box A and career in Box B, but ever since Ichabod woke up and Leftenant Mills met Mr. Crane in a jail cell, those boxes have become incredibly muddled and confused. Now, with Abbie working for the FBI, those boxes are really supposed to be clear cut, but there she is, letting Crane break into a house that the FBI are investigating. Witness or FBI agent? Chose wisely, Abbie. And, then, there is Ichabod who is facing a very dangerous foe: the 21st century. As Mr. Crane says, "sometimes it feels like the unbeatable enemy is the 21st century." Ichabod has always been defined as a man out of time and his transition into the 21st century has been a focal narrative point since the start, from exclaiming about the Starbucks on every corner to emojis to romance. At present, Ichabod is staring at a future where he might become fully acculturated to the 21st century, no longer the 18th century man who just happens to find himself in the 21st. But what happens if Ichabod loses those roots he has made in the 21st century? The archives, the job, the mission? Abbie? Losing all of those 21st century touchstones would leave him adrift and it this fear of the unknown, of the future, the constant questioning of what happens next, that leaves Ichabod off his game. Pull it together, Crane! Team Witnesses are stronger than any hurdles the 21st century--or Egyptian deities--can throw at them.

Miscellaneous Notes on The Art of War

--Ichabod nicely sums up the theme of this week's episode thus: "What we do not know may hurt us."

--Berserkers! Gotta love the Norse mythology references.

--Joe's advice to Ichabod about those things Mr. Crane is fearing? "Talk to her." Even Joe gets that Team Witnesses need each other to be complete.

--Did anyone think Sophie was FBI?? I sure as heck didn't. But, along a similar vein, Ichabod calling her "pugnacious" is really his way of saying she's a bitch.

--Awww to Joe and Jenny. Joenny?

--The flashback worked well this week because it was informative to the current plot and did not rely on Betsy Ross and her corseted boobs.

--"The idea of losing you..." Oh dear. The Ichabbie friendship is going to kill me.

--Next week is the fall finale! And, as I'm sure all the readers have heard, Sleepy Hollow is moving to Friday nights in the Spring. This is basically a death sentence for the show. Prepare yourself. The cancellation is probably forthcoming. I'll miss this show. 

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