Last weeks episode of Sleepy Hollow was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. After weeks of seeing dull plot lines that make no sense and character moments left mysteriously unexplored I pretty much had it. Sleepy Hollow feels undercooked, a TV-series with little love from its creators who seem distracted by the many other projects they got going. Well, I could go on about the flaws of Sleepy Hollow for many pages but suffice it to say I started skipping scenes last week to get to the end. In comes this week’s episode entitled ‘The Midnight Ride’ which is pretty much how I envisioned Sleepy Hollow should be with a Headless Horseman using machines guns, Ichabod Crane dealing with porn pop-ups on his laptop and several headless freemasons whose heads are used as grizzly Halloween lanterns. Oooh, and John Cho is back. The big question is, will Sleepy Hollow learn from its mistakes?
In The Pale Moonlight!
Andy appears to Luke and warns him to stay away from Abbie; Luke is traumatized by the encounter with his dead colleague and refuses to pick up Abbie’s calls. Ichabod travels to the Freemasons’ headquarters to discuss their plans, only to find that the Masons have been killed by the Horseman and their heads taken. Ichabod realizes that the Horseman is searching for his head, so he and Abbie go to Irving, who has been keeping the head in Evidence. Irving collects the head from the lab studying it, narrowly escaping the Horseman himself and becoming a believer of Ichabod’s story. Ichabod and Abbie attempt to destroy the head by various means, but are unsuccessful. They discover the Masons’ heads hanging in town, having been repurposed by the Horseman into Paul Revere-style lanterns from the Midnight Ride. This makes Ichabod recall seeing Paul Revere being given a manuscript with anti-demon markings on it. He and Abbie manage to find a copy of the manuscript’s pages which reveal the means to trap the Horseman. Andy appears to Abbie, claiming he wants to help. He confirms that the Horseman can be trapped, and agrees to pass a message from the Ichabod to the Horseman. Abbie, Ichabod and Irving work together to build the trap for the Horseman. They successfully lure the Horseman through the tunnels using fake heads, and eventually trap him under a UV spotlight while it is still night time (“transforming the moon into the sun” as per the manuscript).
For the first time watching this show I was reminded of the 1999 Tim Burton movie Sleepy Hollow starring Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken and Miranda Richardson. Whereas Johnny Depp’s Crane was a skeptic of the supernatural Tom Mison’s Crane is skeptical of the modern world which to him seems to act as magic on the people around him. The headless horseman of this week is also far more menacing than before and seems to bear a striking resemblance to the 1999 version as played by Christopher Walken. Both similarities leads me to conclude that the writer, Heather V. Regnier has at least taken some inspiration from Tim Burton. I don’t mind this at all if it gives us a good TV episode, which it does. The humorous antics of Ichabod Crane in the modern world and the devious acts of the headless horseman follow in quick succession, as such this episode feels very fast paced with little time taken to draw things out. The puzzles and the history that Ichabod and Abbie have to deal with is carefully prepared and intertwined thus adding to the excitement.
I was also appreciative of the other character development that took place. Captain Irving’s encounter with the horseman and Detective Morales’s encounter with Officer Brooks has turned them both from skeptics into believers and thus drawn them deeper into the story. Orlando Jones in particular deserves praise of his depiction of Captain Irving as a mam who seems to almost buckle under the strain of not being able to explain to his superiors the mysterious things that have happened. The fact that Crane, Abbie and Irving catch the horseman should act as an interesting springboard for the next episode.
Stylistically this episode was the best so far, with just the right amount of horror without making it a snuff movie. Sleepy Hollow has to tread carefully from now on, it has to keep up this kind of quality without turning the town of Sleepy Hollow into the murder capital of the world as has happened in Haven. The only thing that still needs to be explained is just what exactly John Cho’s character is doing all the time, his depiction of the late officer Brooks still seems to vex me more than anything else.
Nicole Beharie still feels like an outsider to Sleepy Hollow, her character should act as the one the viewer can easily relate to similar to Anna Torv on Fringe. So far there has been no spark. I will give her more time but even this weeks episode made her character feel too wooden.
Score; 8.7 / 10. Great episode though the joke about paying for water didn’t catch on.