September 26, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, episode 2 "Blood Moon"


Episode 2 has slipped a bit from the episode 1 numbers of 10.10mil to 8.59mil. This is a typical drop, and not unexpected. If it can hold around here, or even settle and stabilize in the 7mil range, it should be okay for another season. Still way too early to tell, though, as I've seen shows hold around here for a few weeks, then take a sudden plunge into 5, 4, sometimes even 3mil. Here's hoping they keep it in this timeslot, as it's just up against sitcoms and reality competitions, giving it an edge for people looking for a drama at the time.


Night. Ichabod is racing through the woods, the Horseman at his heels. Three other Horsemen, their armored shapes lost in shadows, join in the chase. Ichabod runs into a thicket, where the branches come alive and pull him into the ground. Ichabod finds himself in a catacomb, where Katrina appears and repeats his mission objectives, with the addition of, "Before the Four Horsemen can ride, an army of evil will make way for their arrival. The first dark spirit rises before the blood moon. She's one of us. You must stop her before she kills again!" Katrina disappears. Looking up into the thicket hole he came through, Ichabod sees a charred woman with red eyes looking down at him.

Ichabod wakes up in a motel room. The officer outside has orders not to let him leave, so Ichabod preps for the day by following a chain of post-it notes Abbie left explaining how everything works.

At the station, Abbie learns the other officers who saw the Horseman have recanted their testimony, again leaving her claims in hot water with Captain Irving, who still thinks Ichabod is a loon and doesn't want to be embarrassed by Abbie. Additionally, security footage of Andy's death now shows him running head first into a wall, snapping his own neck. Despite all of this, Irving isn't taking Abbie and Crane off the investigation, as they're the only ones who seem to be making any progress.

Abbie arrives at the hotel, muting Ichabod's protests with donut holes. Until he later sees the sales tax on the receipt and goes all Kermit flail. He tries telling her what Katrina said, but Abbie is having none of it.

In the police morgue, Andy wakes up, and after his initial shock at his state, Baddie Blur appears, snapping the man's neck into place, causing him to cough up a medallion, and telling him to go and release someone.

Before our first commercial break, we're treated to the debut of the show's title sequence... which isn't on YouTube anywhere, so no embedding.

Ichabod watches from a distance as Abbie attends the funeral of Sheriff Corbin. Ichabod drifts over to his wife's grave and, reading the inscription again, realizes that, by "She's one of us," his wife was referring to another witch.

That night, Andy visits a town square housing a monument consisting of several obelisks surrounding a stone pedestal. Placing the medallion on the pedestal, Serilda - the charred witch from Ichabod's vision - is reborn. Andy tells her he's been sent to help, and to deliver a message: "The ashes of the pious will ordain your resurrection. Take their flesh, and you will reclaim yours."

A middle-aged man named Jeremy Steven Furth is driving down the road when he's pulled over by Andy. After dismissing the man's concerns about his neck, Andy orders him to state his full name, then says, "It wasn't personal," before walking away. Jeremy has little luck getting his car to start, as the electronics are flickering and the radio starts playing Sinatra's "Witchcraft" (seriously?. Serilda pounces onto the hood, and Jeremy bursts into flames.

At the station, Ichabod and Abbie are still arguing as a constant reminder of what their dynamic is supposed to be. Realizing she's still mourning Corbin's death, Ichabod inquires, and Abbie talks about how, with Jenny sent away to institutions and nobody believing what the girls saw, Abbie fell into drugs and a bad crowd. When she and some bum tried breaking into a pharmacy, she was picked up by Corbin, who took her to a diner and, over a slice of apple pie a la mode, gave her a chance to change her course. "I got more fathering in those five minutes than I got my whole life."

A call comes in, and Ichabod and Abbie head out to a crime scene on the side of the road, where Jeremy's charred up body has been found in his car. Ichabod finds a section of the chest with visible claw marks and a chunk of ash scooped out. He believes he knows who did this.

Commercial break.

Ichabod's exposition dump flashback:

"What I am about to tell you, I myself would once have dismissed as superstitious folly, but that was before the war began. One night, my regiment was returning to camp near Albany. The moon hung low in its cycle, as it does now... a blood moon, as Katrina described.

"The destruction was far too extensive for common artillery. There were bodies everywhere, our men reduced to ash, which gave way to a darker revelation as I sensed a presence in the woods around us. I could not have told you back then what it was I saw that night, but it chilled my blood like nothing before.

"These strange murders became more frequent. Soon, a tale spread of a dark coven, led by a high priestess known as Serilda of Abaddon. General Washington came to believe the Redcoats had formed a dark alliance with this sorceress."

Abbie points out that Corbin knew of the two opposing covens, so they set out to further explore the Sheriff's files... but instead discover that his office, of course, has already been cleaned out. While Abbie looks into it, Ichabod is met and alpha challenged by Luke, another cop, which allows Ichabod to test out his cover identity of being a professor teaching Treatises of Civil Government, with a focus on the American Revolutionary War, at Oxford. Luke plays the "I fought in Iraq" card to bully Ichabod's manliness, asking what war he fought in. "One that I pray is never doomed to repeat itself, sir."

Abbie breaks up the pissing match - with knowing looks that lead Ichabod to tease her about she and Luke being formally "betrothed" - and says the files are in the archive across the street, which she can't get permission to access as Irving is out of town. Ichabod takes her into the basement, where he smashes through a wall and reveals a secret passage of supply tunnels connecting the two buildings, complete with a chamber filled with witch bones, and another with gunpowder.

Commercial break.

Ichabod finds a ladder leading up into a historical meeting chamber, now dusty and draped and full of discarded books and records which were taking up space elsewhere. They find the cabinet of Corbin's files, for which Abbie still has the key.

Kyle Hemmington is a boy playing soccer in a yard with friends. When the ball rolls up to the feet of Andy, the officer asks the boy to state his full name, then sighs. "It's a nice name, and I'm sorry that it had to be yours."

Ichabod, revealing he has an eidetic memory, uncovers the story of Serilda in another exposition dump flashback:

"It appears Serilda's fate was sealed by her enemies, a benevolent coven known as Sisterhood of the Radiant Heart. Their leader used white magic to weaken Serilda, making her vulnerable to mortal attack. A hunting party finally captured her in the woods around Sleepy Hollow. [the town magistrate sentences her to burn] In Romani Greek, she said, 'By the turn of the blood moon, the ashes of your ancestry will be mine. Your flesh will be my flesh. I will live again.' "

Looking up the magistrate's name, it's revealed he was the ancestor of Jeremy Furth. Ichabod and Abbie realize they have until tonight, the blood moon, to find any other remaining descendants to keep Serilda from fully regenerating.

Kyle's mother tucks him in for the night and turns off his lights. Soon after, he hears the creak of a door hinge and a bang. Looking, he can't find his mother, but discovers the front door is open. Serilda is looming behind him.

Commercial break.

Kyle's mom hears her son scream and flies out of the bathtub. She gets downstairs just as the front door flies open, revealing Abbie and Ichabod. Searching the house, they find Kyle hiding in a corner. Missing from a shelf is the urn of his dead father's ashes.

When they return to the car, Ichabod says they need to burn Serilda before she can become whole, and that she'll be in the tunnels, searching for the bones of her body. They peel out.

That is, indeed, where Serilda is, waiting as Andy digs up her remains. By the time Ichabod and Abbie get there, Serilda has already spread the ashes and fused to her bones, returning herself to her beautiful and uncharred form.

Commercial break.

Serilda catches a bullet out of the air and quietly pursues our heroes as they head for the gunpowder, positioning the crates and taking shelter. As Ichabod readies a torch, Serilda reveals that Katrina, head of the Sisterhood of the Radiant Heart, was the one who sealed away her magic, and that Katrina is now held captive in the "world between worlds". As Serilda reaches the crates, Ichabod throws the torch and witch go boom.

At the station, Ichabod and Abbie are still brewing over the situation, he wondering if he can find a way to free his wife, she wishing things could return to normal. At least they have each other. When Ichabod goes for coffee, Abbie sees a shadow pass the window of Sheriff Corbin's office. Opening the door, she sees Corbin smiling at her from his desk. "You look lost, kid." "What is this? I'm dreaming, right?" "What difference does that make?" After she vents a bit, about him being gone and leaving her with all these secrets and unanswered questions, he tells her, "Don't be afraid of number 49. That's where you'll find you're not alone." When Ichabod returns and asks if she's all right, Abbie finds the office is once again empty.

In an institution, in room number 49, Jennie Mills, Abbie's sister, continues hardening her already muscled body with constant pushups. An orderly gives her pills, which Jennie quickly spits up and discards before returning to her exercises. She sees a flash of Baddie Blur.


Don't you just love it when, for every two steps forward a show take, there's also one step back? I find this happens a lot after pilots, where, in order to sell their show, they needed to go a little further into events than they really wanted to, so once they go to series, the subsequent episodes have to stick some u-turns in place to bring us back to a steadier status quo, despite the fact that they're now visibly trying to funnel back in a wad they've already blown. Thus, the facepalm I was left with as this week's installment got off to a start. In the last episode, Abbie was fully on Ichabod's side, and she had the backing of her Captain and the testimonies of other officers to give her nutty investigation some weight behind it. This would be a neat thing to see explored, the police force of this small town having to come to grips as a whole with the supernatural situations misting into the present, which would give us scale, a variety of viewpoints, and gradually set up this entire community having to take sides in the coming struggle. Nope, we apparently don't get to have that, at least not this early in the show. The other cops have recanted their reports, Captain Irving is again cracking down and turning a blind eye to nuttiness, and Abbie is again doubting Ichabod, trying to convince herself it's not real because her entire job - the job she just gave up an even better job to now keep - is still on the line.

Look, I get that TV needs drama. I get that having leads who are at odds and up against the system is the status quo of how everything is supposed to stay interesting and entertaining, but pardon me for wanting something a little outside the norm now and then. Especially when it's hinted that's what I'll get at the end of one episode, only for it to be yanked away.

That said, we do get some retconning of a better variety. Remember my fear that this would be an episodic journey from point-to-point on the map of supernatural occurrences put together by the late Sheriff Corbin? While our heroes do explore the good Sheriff's files a bit, that map is never mentioned, and the Witch of the Week is much more significantly tied to broader events. We don't get to see much of Serilda's personality, as she's covered in ash and trying to rebuild her body for most of the episode, but what we do see is pretty much your typical hot witch making cryptic threats in Greek while slinking towards our heroes with red eyes and the occasional "I'm evil" hiss. It's not deep, but well played by the striking stuntwoman/actress Monique Ganderton. I'm hoping the kersplosion isn't the last we'll see of her, as I'd be interested in seeing how she could develop over time. More interesting is John Cho as the resurrected Andy, who approaches his assignments with a great air of both devotion and a long-suffering sigh of "seriously?" The bit where he's digging up Sherida's ashes, moaning about her not doing anything to help while just squatting there, is hilarious. As is his stretched-out neck.

While I'm bummed Abbie has sunken so far back into skeptic territory, her chemistry with Ichabod is still great, and wonderfully platonic as he teases her upon discovering an ex boyfriend (the actual meeting of Luke is a bit forced, however). There's other great moments like Ichabod discovering her post-it notes all over his hotel room, telling him how everything works, or him proudly demonstrating he does indeed known how to operate a firearm, only to then wonder why she's chewing him out for discarding it after only firing one shot. "It has more?" "Yes, Crane, a lot more!" Again, their banter is heavily reminiscent of Holmes and Jane Watson on Elementary, but still so well done that I don't particularly mind it. And I love the new moment they have to bond on at the end, where Abbie is having visions of Sheriff Corbin to match the visions of Ichabod's wife. Kudos to the crew for giving me more Clancy Brown, which is never a bad thing. Now here's hoping Abbie is immediately up front to Ichabod about what she saw, instead of keeping it from him for a drag of multiple episodes.

Let's see, other things I liked were the great setpiece of the hidden catacombs (especially the dramatic way Ichabod reveals them), the clever twist of why Serilda doesn't need to ash the boy, the fizzling of the torch, Ichabod not even blinking an eye at the idea of an interracial romance, Serilda literally laying onto her bones, donut holes, apple pie a la mode, and our first glimpse of all Four Horsemen in the opening dream sequence. Other stuff I didn't like were how long the opening dream sequence dragged on, the ridiculously convenient gunpowder, elements of Serilda's backstory which got a little dry and lost me, and the twist of Serilda not actually ashing the boy. And if we're going to have a character who's a Romani gypsy, does she need to be the bad witch? Really? Can't we challenge the stereotypes there a bit?

And finally, we get to the end, where we meet Abbie's sister Jennie, and... she's Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Judging by the way she's keeping her self heavily fit and trained with all those pushups, I have a sense that she's definitely going to go on a warpath to rival Sarah Connor's once she gets out of the facility.

Despite some frustrations, this is still another wildly fun and nutty installment, and I'm eager for more.

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