Sleepy Hollow 1.08, 1.09 & 1.10 ReviewsA tv review article by: Jeffrey Roth
The Rundown: A series that started with some promise proves that it really had no idea what good writing, pacing, or storytelling was. I mean, really, how do you mess up a headless guy who goes around chopping people up? Apparently, really easily. Or maybe they worked at it. I don't know.
As a show that I've been watching, Sleepy Hollow until this point has had its ups and downs. While I don't fault a show for being serialized, or predictable, I can't really get behind a show that even manages to make a Monster-of-the-Week-type show worse. Since last I've written, our intrepid heroes have captured the Headless Horseman in a clever trap, lost him, and subsequently pretty much forgotten he was out there.
In Episode Eight, "Necromancer," Jenny Mills is brought back to help decide what to do with the Headless Horseman now that they have him. The brilliant plan is to grab the one guy who they know can communicate with him, and use him to interrogate the headless monster. Despite the actual Necromancer himself telling them what a bad idea it was, they do it anyways. Predictably, he escapes, but not before taking the Headless Horseman and turning him from a calm, silent killer into an angry ex-boyfriend.
This is all in the span of one episode.
While there is more that happens in the following two episodes, the way they handle the Horseman is really at the crux of why I can't watch this show anymore. They took my favorite part of the show, the only really semi-original thing about it, and turned it into a weekday morning soap opera. The two leading characters have lost all charisma, and apparently all reason. I don't like to watch things about incompetent heroes pretending at competence. If you're going to set up your heroes as the bane of all evil, you really need to reinforce that in subsequent episodes, and Sleepy Hollow fails at this spectacularly.
Also, when the biggest draw about your villain is that he's cold, ruthless, and inscrutable, partially because he is incapable of actually communicating due to a severe lack of head, you don't give him a voice. At least not literally.
SPOILERS: So yes, they give him a voice, and what does he say? Well, he reveals that the Horsemen, instead of just being an unstoppable Apocalyptic force, are comprised of corpses infused with power. Or maybe not corpses, it's very unclear, and that the corpse that Death inhabits is connected to Ichabod. Katrina was betrothed to the Horseman, and he was Ichabod's best friend. So Ichabod gets the girl, and the friend feels betrayed.
As a plot point itself it's not too bad, but the fact that there is zero buildup to it takes away the impact. To take an impersonal enemy, and try and make it personal, you should really give the story some time to build. Hint that maybe the Horseman is not as he seems; Have some episodes of threats related to the Horseman, but not the Horseman itself; Make me care, show me why it matters; Give me some hints that the Horseman has knowledge he shouldn't and then hit me with the revelation.
On the other side, the guy the Horseman inhabits was, apparently, Ichabod's best friend. A character we've never seen before this episode. Trying to cram a whole back story of betrayal and rivalry needs time for us to get to know both characters. Even Twilight realized this with its Jacob/Edward rivalry. When Twilight is beating you to the story punches, you're doing something wrong.
So, there you go Sleepy Hollow, you've ruined your antagonist, all that's left is for you to ruin your protagonists too. Oh wait, there you go. In Episode Nine, "Sanctuary," Ichabod and Lt. Mills face off against a killer house. That's it. That's the episode. A house with creepy roots inside it is trying to kill people. And it's not even that good at it. It apparently takes three days to kill a wealthy heiress. At the end they throw in some crazy revelations about Ichabod's past, again, probably to make you think the episode had a point at all, but really, it's just another MotW episode about a killer house.
You get Abbie Mills, already bordering on incompetent, showing that she truly is useless when the enemy is a mass of tree roots and decrepit walls. She gets more boring by the episode, and Ichabod's attempts to understand the modern world are now merely footnotes to his sentences instead of mini-sequences woven into the narrative. So there you go, protagonists gone. Ok, Sleepy Hollow, I'll give you another episode to maybe redeem yourself.
That brings us to Episode Ten, "The Golem."
Now, I love me some Jewish folklore in my shows, and the Supernatural golem episode was one of my favorites. So, ignoring the fact that they make no reference to the golem's Jewish origins, this episode fails since it spends almost no time on him. The episode just seems like an excuse to show how the characters are becoming one big happy family. Much of the dialogue is along the lines of "we've never had much family, now you're part of our family."
That kind of sappy sentimentality should be used sparingly in a show about hard-ass detectives trying to defend the world from Apocalyptic Evil. It should not be used as a device to move your story along. Also, spending an entire episode wrapping up a storyline from a previous episode - one that did not move the story along at all - is a waste of my time.
So, in the end, Sleepy Hollow proved itself to be just as bad as the earlier MotW episodes suggested. An episode of slight interest here and there is not enough reason to spend time on a storyline that has just become about two people with so little charisma and interest that they barely qualify as characters. While the periphery characters provide some interest, the writers of Sleepy Hollow seem intent on sapping all interest even from those.
The Horseman, once a force that seemed immovable and unrelenting, now just seems like a child throwing a tantrum for not getting the toy he wanted. It looks like the hard-nosed chief of police is now a cuddly bunny, having now seen the supernatural up close. Also, it seems he and Jenny Mills, the convicted insane felon, might have a thing going on. This show is headed straight for soap-opera country, and I am not going to follow it there.
Jeffrey Roth, is an award winning animator, all around badass, and is now writing for your amusement. When not wrestling with the mysteries of the universe, he is watching anything and everything and having opinions on it. ALL THE OPINIONS.