Saturday, February 11, 2017

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (4x6)

There's no place like home. There have been a few vital components missing from this new rebooted version of Sleepy Hollow; Abbie is the most obvious and the Horseman of Death comes in at a close second but the third elephant in the TV room is the quaint and charming--yet riddled with supernatural monsters--town of Sleepy Hollow. In this week's episode, "Homecoming," we finally went back to where it all began, to where Abbie watched her friend and mentor become a head shorter followed by meeting a man out of time who told her of her destiny. As you might imagine, it's an emotional episode, fraught with memories of days gone by and people who are no longer with us and likewise no longer with Ichabod and Jenny. The emotions of both Ichabod's homecoming and his betrayal at Washington's hands play so much better than the too broad monster of the week who is truly characterless. Often times rebooting a show means revealing new information previously unknown to the audience; in this case, taking another look at Ichabod's death in ye olde Sleepy Hollow works to propel the overarching arc forward. Grab a magic-finding-scepter and let's go (back home)!

You have to give Sleepy Hollow credit when it's due; it doesn't forget its past like other shows do when they hit the same reset button. It would have been easy for the writers to start over at square one this season; all they would need to do is never mention Abbie, ignore the mythology and characters of the first three seasons, and pretend that Jenny is simply some girl Ichabod knows from "somewhere." Instead, the first six episodes have tried to remember their past, even while they push their own new agenda. Katrina, Abbie, Henry, past missions, and past emotions were all touched upon in this episode proving that even the writers miss aspects of Sleepy Hollow, season one through three. The emotional resonance of missing Abbie and that past life compacts the weighted feeling of betrayal when Ichabod learns that George Washington, his commander and his dear friend, condemned him to die all those years ago. Ichabod keeps losing many dear people in this little village, but in both cases the loss is mitigated by the joy of having them in the first place. A few blogs ago, I discussed Ichabod's archetype as a solider; one of the most prominent aspects of said archetype is a willingness to sacrifice their life for the greater good and a just cause. Ichabod has never hesitated to walk into the fire when called, but being pushed into that fire by a friend has a different taste. A more bitter one. It's to Ichabod's credit that he does not resent nor hate Washington for the decision to send our hero into battle against Headless, knowing Ichabod's life would be forfeit; indeed he understands it and agrees with it. If Ichabod's life meant that the American Revolution was won and that evil was stopped for a short period of time, then die Ichabod must. What this sacrifice caused is two fold; a unique bond was forged between Ichabod and the Headless Horseman--a bond Malcolm uses to his own ends in this episode with the Philosopher's Stone--but it also forget a new life for our man out of time. Without that sacrifice, without Washington's machinations, Ichabod would never have met Abbie, never known he was a Witness, and--in the long run--never met his new teammates, a new family. Sacrifices can often feel like betrayals in the moment, when we cannot see the path that lays before us, but hindsight is 20/20. If given the choice, Ichabod would want Washington to make the same choices the General made the first time around. He's still a hero, our Ichabod Crane.

Miscellaneous Notes on Homecoming 

--Ichabod with a giant blue Slushie (and then a brain freeze) feels very much like classic Ichabod.

--Jenny, regarding Ichabod and Abbie: "They had something special."

--Jenny's emotional journey this episode was also well done. She's right that there are "lots of ghosts in this place, but all ones I adore." In the end, she's able to see Alex and Jake as valuable teammates, who will fight by her side just as much as Abbie and Joe did.

--Making a Faraday cage is a total shout out to LOST, right?

--Look, I'm pretty familiar with ancient Egyptian mythology and that wasn't a sphinx.

--Ichabod at Abbie's grave was an emotional gut punch but it was perfectly acted and written. The Headless BobbleHead was a nice touch.

--I'm not sure I'm on the new #TeamWitness all the way yet but damn it if the show isn't selling it to me slowly, week after week.

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