Saturday, April 2, 2016

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (3x17)

Does anyone know where the River Styx is? I'm asking because after this season of TV (and four years of undergrad to earn my history degree) I am genuinely confused as to where this mythic river is. One would think it would be where the Ancient Greeks thought it was (it is their mythology after all); but it turns out it is both in Stroybrooke, Maine and is, also, the river known as the Delaware. So, really, humans are surrounded by the Underworld and we're all just moments away from tipping into Hell. How's that for optimism! In this week's episode "Delaware," our wandering heroes, weighed down by all that they have lost, plunge once more into the heart of darkness, traversing the Underworld in an attempt to stop a malevolent god (seriously, are the writing teams of OUAT and Sleepy Hollow swapping notes and ideas?) This is not only the penultimate episode of the season but, most likely, of the series and like the sands running through the Hidden One's hourglass of doom, we're running out of time to tie all the threads of this season into a neat little bow and finish this effectively. That's not a criticism; it's a harsh reality of TV. You never quite know when you're going to be given a pink slip. However, with the threat of cancellation hanging over our silly little show, the writers did an admirable job trying to give everyone something to do and play a part in the greater conflict. The team is complete, Danny and Pandora having rounded it out nicely, but, with the clock ticking away, time is our enemy as much as the Hidden One. Pour yourself a good strong cappuccino and let's go.

In the original Greek mythology, the only thing left inside Pandora's magical box, after she opened it, was hope. There is something beautifully poetic, then, that the restoration of the magical box can only happen with Ichabod and Abbie working together. Everything in the box has fled and the world is going mad; but Abbie and Ichabod are the hope. The plot of this show is such a hodgepodge of crazy at this point that it's almost not worth really delving into the mechanics, but the sentiment behind the plot is still very much relevant. Ichabod and Abbie are the hope, the unifying glue that stem the tide of evil before it sweeps over the world and a very angry god becomes even angrier. The Ichabbie-team dynamic of this show works well, even if there are now multiple players, each of whom have a little niche or specialty and make a valuable contribution. But as much as this is a team effort, it's all down to our two Witnesses. I think this, more than anything, is the lasting legacy (for however long that legacy does last) of Sleepy Hollow. There are teams on TV; Abbie and Ichabod didn't break the mold. Instead they bettered it. Consider other teams on TV; there tend to be a few kinds. Male/male in which one is a rigid, by the book kind of guy and the other is a more lax Lothario type; the female/female dynamic tends to be the same, but with women. There are also less bar trips and more wine and discussing relationships.  Then there are the male/female teams who invariably, almost without fail, turn romantic. It's the famous will they or won't they that has plagued team dynamics for as long as team dynamics have been around. Ichabod and Abbie could be romantic, and I've certainly had a positive reaction about that in the past, but honestly, they work better as best friends. More than best friends, even. They are soul mates, in that unique way that has nothing to do with romantic sexual love, and everything to do with such an intimate knowledge of each other that you transcend your own individual existence and exist together as one being. Ichabod and Abbie have individual lives, individual personalities, and different approaches to the world. But they exist, as the best version of their selves, together; through time and space and history, the Witnesses have to be together to be complete. This is why I reject, utterly, Betsy being alive in present day and inserting herself into the story. First, was there ever a character on Sleepy Hollow more mundane and dull than Betsy? Katrina can give her a run for her money, but at least Katrina was a part of a larger story whereas Betsy is simply the ye olde assistant Crane doesn't need. Given the looks between Betsy and Abbie, I suspect that if Sleepy Hollow is renewed for season four, the two women in Crane's life will detest each other (much like Katrina and Abbie did at first). There were a lot of sweet moments between Ichabod and Abbie that reinforced their singularity (like hand holding!) that nicely contrasted the very warped version of love between Hidden One and Pandora but also between Betsy and Ichabod. While the two former spies worked well together in the past, their souls do not speak to each other as Abbie and Ichabod's do; Ichabod never attempted to find Betsy (and instead went forth and married another woman) and the bond between the two did not save Betsy as it saved Abbie. And this is ultimately what I mean by bettering the mold when it comes to Ichabod and Abbie; their existence, happiness, and importance depend on each other but in a way that is unlike any other on this show and a great many others.

A lot of what I just wrote are beats that the show has been hitting frequently and even more frequently this past arc than any other. There are other things in this episode, though again, they are more of the same beats. The Hidden One and Pandora are an emotionally abusive, sick, twisted love affair that went no where fast. Danny Reynolds reveals to Sophie that he's been spying on Abbie for the higher ups in the FBI, something we already knew (at least in a small way) and, again, something that demonstrates that what Abbie and Danny have is nothing compared to the mutual-soul-existence of Abbie and Ichabod. Papa Mills turns out to know more about the supernatural than previously thought (though, I think this makes sense given how fatherly August Corbin was to both Mills sisters, as if he was aware of some secret about them, something Papa Mills alludes to). And, finally, the real shocker of the year: Jenny killed Joe. Does anyone else think that Joe won't stay dead for long? I'd be surprised given how tender and sweet the writers have made the most recent Joenny moments. All of this is to say, as I stated in the opening, that there are many threads hanging out in Limbo right now with only one episode to go. Many of these threads are in case the show gets picked up for another season, but many are also plot points that need to be tucked away in one hour next week. It might not happen; in fact, most often writers struggle to tie all their plot points together before the end of a season. But one thing remains: Abbie and Ichabod will survive, so long as they stick together, because "when it comes to you and me, Leftenant, there is no greater certainty."

Miscellaneous Notes on Delaware 

--Ichabod and Abbie having a normal everyday moment like coffee and donuts is too precious for words.

--"If this doesn't work, we're just two people. In a boat. Singing."

--I don't talk about it much but one of the best things about this show, apart from the natural chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie, is how it defies traditional color lines with heroism. Abbie Mills, black 21st century woman, holding the American Flag on the Delaware, replicating one of the most iconic white-man moments in American history. That's powerful.

--The special effects of the storm were cool, but it would have been nice to see some of this intense (as Jenny called it) hurricane instead of just the after effects.

--So why is the FBI spying on Abbie? Do they know she's a Witness?

--The Ford Product Placement was annoying and obvious.

--"This time you are not alone." These two, I'm telling you...bless.

--One more to go!

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