Saturday, March 5, 2016

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (3x13)

As Abbie says, sometimes it would be nice if the stories were just stories. However, that's not how Sleepy Hollow rolls, certainly not in this week's episode "Dark Mirror." This is a pretty standard episode of Sleepy Hollow, which is not ever a bad thing. We have Ichabod and Abbie facing down a legendary and mythic monster--who turns out to be pretty real--and, because it's Sleepy Hollow, also happens to have a connection to a Founding Father. We have some mythological development, some danger, and some good ol' fashioned adventure. It's a welcome change after last week's loose-ends episode. This, maybe more than any other episode since saving Abbie, felt like Sleepy Hollow at its finest. The charm of the show comes from Ichabod and Abbie working together to stop the various evils that inexplicably find their way to Sleepy Hollow (I swear this small town is sitting on several Hellmouths) and it's when the show highlights those charming interactions that we get a very solid hour of TV. But, again, like I mentioned last week, it's also becoming so rote that I  worry if there's a conversation to be had. But, for this week, the stories get some much needed depth and thus my worries are assuaged, at least for the moment. Grab your favorite alchemy symbol, try not to worship it, and let's go! 

The biggest selling point for this episode is actually Pandora and the Hidden One. Finally, after several exasperating episodes where they simply sit around and bemoan their fate, the gruesome twosome were given some much needed color. In the first half of this season, Pandora was a fairly compelling and properly creepy villain. She seemed unpredictable and obviously had a long game going on that was enjoyable to watch week after week. Once the Hidden One entered the scene, he began to suck all the life from Pandora--both literally and narratively. The two have felt incredibly ineffectual and lackluster for quite some time, but in case I had any doubts, Sleepy Hollow had a plan. Not only was the power dynamic between the two meant as a contrast to Ichabod and Abbie, but it also does a nice job setting up the backstory between the two ancient beings. The two villains were never equals; one was literally a servant to the other. For this particular story--the sort of which Abbie laments always turn our to be true--we have to go back in time, to what historians often call the mythological time. This is a time that is before history; not only before humans wrote down and recorded anything but also a time when our world was categorically different than the way it is now; and in this universe, a time when gods roamed the earth and held humans captive in their sway. I don't want to go into a whole lot of plot (because that's not what a review is) so instead we can discuss how the story here plays into the arc of the season. It seems pretty apparent that the Hidden One's goal is simply to recreate his former life--one where he was all powerful, a god, and humans brought him cups of blood everyday as an offering. Pleasant guy, I know. I think there's a narrative connection here to Ichabod, strangely enough. Both Ichabod and the Hidden One are men out of time.

Ichabod and the Hidden One have struggled with what the world became while they slept, hidden away underground. Ichabod eventually adapted, even to the point of wanting to become a citizen of this new world. The Hidden One desires nothing more than to go back to his glorious past. All he needs is a green light at the end of a dock--wait, that's Gatsby. But the message of both figures is the same: you can't recreate the past, no matter how hard you try. Ichabod tried with Katrina, to go back to their happy marriage but two many bridges had been burnt. It's a lesson that the Hidden One hasn't learned. It's not surprising, then, that the magical object of the week is a literal Sands of Time in an hourglass; a new world (which is really the old world) begins now. While the power dynamic between the Hidden One and Pandora is already pretty messed up, we see another point of contrast with the villains and our witnesses. Abbie never tried to recreate a supposed perfect past with Ichabod; in fact, she even went back in time to Ichabod's past and still knew that it was the future that mattered. Pandora, by contrast, only wants to recreate the Hidden's One past, and you have to wonder if she's all the keen on it. After all, her past was as a slave, with a brief moment in the sun before it all ended again. Her power is evaporating, her box is taken, and her own desires and agency are on hold while the Hidden One gets what he wants. We are not boats, beating against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past. We move forward; humanity moves forward. The Hidden One cannot win because what he desires goes against the very fiber of nature. Ichabod and Abbie aren't just safe guarding Sleepy Hollow; their protecting the very laws of nature and the universe. Heroes, the pair of them. Even if one of them might be ever so slightly enslaved by a demonic symbol? Again, I have no idea what to do with that but, as Abbie, who had some of the most on point lines of the night said, the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Abbie has asked for help. Together Team Witnesses will pull through. The cosmic nature dictates: the good guys win.

Miscellaneous Notes On Dark Mirror

--The Jersey Devil was a perfectly fine episode villain, but the real meat lies with the Hidden One and Pandora. And if I'm being honest, a colonial alchemist who turned himself into a goat, snake, scorpion was more silly than anything.

--Speaking of Mr. Hidden, might he actually be Set? I had though Amun-Ra, but if the goal was to destroy his brother, Set makes a certain amount of sense. Or, possibly, Mr. Hidden is an archetype for, simply, corrupt and evil divinity and has no particular mythological callback. Along the same lines, Pandora's story resembles the Greek story in the barest sense.

--Joe and Jenny had a cute little side adventure. Glad to see the more playful, less life and death, side of their relationship.

--Ben Franklin used to put warm spoons on..."not his nose." Gross!

--Ichabod's reaction to the hold the symbol has on Abbie was perfect for how these two characters have developed. He won't judge her, he won't condemn her. He just wants to help, if she'll let him. These two, I swear.

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