Saturday, February 4, 2017

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (4x5)

Predictability can be a good or a bad thing in TV--and all other--writing. On the one hand, if the story crafted is predictable it might be an indication that the writer did a good job of laying clues, of developing their characters, or building the story to a logical end. On the other hand, if the story is predictable, it's more likely that the writer has not attempted to stretch themselves, that they've done the bare minimum in creating a beginning, a middle, and an end. The twists can be seen a mile away and nothing learned is surprising and, more importantly, is something the reader of the text guessed or knew several pages/chapters/minutes before the story itself made the reveal. The second this week's episode, "Blood From A Stone," showed that Malcolm Dreyfuss once had a partner who apparently died, it was painfully obvious that the same former partner was the Hooded Warlock gunning for Malcolm and laying siege to his building. When Sleepy Hollow had Dreyfuss playfully say that he sold his soul to the devil it was a giant neon sign that he really had made a deal with the demonic forces for wealth, fame, and recognition. Rich, egotistical men: they are all fragile and insecure little boys. Is this message relevant, a little more than meta, and pertinent to the plot? Sure. But it's also pretty gosh darn predictable. Grab your sigil and let's go!

It's not fair to say I didn't enjoy this episode. As I said above, predictable can be good. All the pieces fit together nicely; but, rather, none of it makes any lasting impression because I had guessed the majority of it several episodes ago. This is somewhat of a narrative paradox; the story progresses in that we get our main villain fleshed out and given a proper motivation, but at the same time the story doesn't move forward at all since the audience is already in on the reveal. It's a plot heavy type of episode that does not lend much in the way of analysis so a brief rundown is needed. Malcolm Dreyfuss felt like no one saw him when he and his friend and partner, Ansel, were trying to get their business started. Malcolm believed he deserved more credit because, after all, he was "the brains" of the operation. His genius went unnoticed while his partner's charm and charisma were noticed in spades. Enter, predictably, a wish, a magical place, and a demon with a contract. The forces of the Underworld would grant Malcolm the life he wanted, in exchange for his soul, and Ansel would be cast down into the pit to suffer so that Malcolm's star could rise. In an effort to cheat his eventual death, Malcolm has been collecting pieces of the Philosopher's Stone (side note, the show didn't even give us one good Harry Potter joke about this!) All of this plot is necessary for whatever is coming up. That doesn't make it any less predictable, rote, and a touch boring. The only real emotional and character push here occurs at the end when Diana tells Molly she's a Witness, like "Mr. Crane." There is a throughline about good versus bad partners in this episode, the narrative takeaway point being that good partners are equals and are there for each other while bad ones are egotistical, self-centered, and will--literally!--damn the other to Hell to get ahead. Molly appears to have a lot of emotional maturity for one so young but the show needs to spend more time with her, and quickly, because right now she comes across as a Wesley Crusher-Wudnerkind sort of character. And those are always annoying. Surely she's got some spunk, some pizzazz buried somewhere in that mystical kid shtick. All of this is to say that this was a groundwork episode, neither good nor bad. But hey---next week? We're going home!

Miscellaneous Notes on Blood From A Stone

--Ichabod gave a rather rousing speech on the very bloody history of soccer. To a bunch of 13 year old girls. Bless.

--"A Witness is no different from any other person." Is that actually true? I would say the three Witnesses we've met--Ichabod, Abbie, and Molly--defy that rule.

--Apparently Dreyfuss was trying to drain a literal swamp at one point. Once again...subtle, writers. Subtle.

--I am a broken record but when it comes to Jake and Alex, I'd rather the show just...not. Surprisingly, Alex was more likable this week as Jake got creepy in his instance that the only reason why Jenny isn't "in to him" is because she doesn't know him. That's not okay! Also, Jenny not only lost her sister but also Joe. Do the writers have to force a romantic relationship on her so soon?

--"We will not stand idly by while innocent men suffer for your sins."

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