Well, it couldn”t last forever. After two episodes that were entertaining – if not exactly the definition of “strong” – “Sleepy Hollow” relapsed into a aimless mess with “What Lies Beneath.” From a needlessly complicated sub-plot that introduced a retroactive schizophrenic Frank Irving to the pointless destruction of an upgraded Library of Exposition, the most logical thing in this episode was the magical hologram of a dead President.
Let”s dive in, shall we?
Despite wandering the halls of the Sleepy Hollow Underground for months, it”s neither Ichabod nor Abbie who stumble on the secret cache of knowledge about the End Times™. That honor is instead bestowed upon construction workers mapping the tunnels for excavation, because we”re expected to believe a colonial New England town would destroy history to build a parking lot rather than allocating funds for restoration and tours. The unlucky trio find a mysterious hatch, which is obviously filled with zombie monsters called Reavers*.
*Yay, “Firefly” reference!
Unfortunately for our heroes, one of the missing men has a meddling brother…who also happens to be a Pulitzer prize-winning war journalist. To top it off, he”s also super genre savvy. Calvin Riggs isn”t one to be given the brush-off. He quickly makes it clear that either Abbie and Ichabod can bring him along willingly, or he”ll just follow on his own. I really like Riggs and hope he sticks around. The dude is brave and can obviously keep a secret. There”s a zero percent chance he didn”t see the creatures he was snapping photos of like he”s the damn Zombie Paparazzi and he DEFINITELY talked to his brother.
But keeping tabs on an over-curious journalist is just the tip of this convoluted iceberg. The Reavers are protecting an underground vault built by Thomas Jefferson, because of course it was. At the heart of this Byzantine structure is a magical Tesseract battery powering a holographic President Jefferson, which may or may not be infused with a smidgen of the original”s soul. Holo-Jefferson is protecting a wealth of information meant to help the Two Witness”s defeat the powers of evil and emerge triumphant. Originally meant as sentries, the Reavers have gone mad
from the government gassing their planet from two centuries in the dark. Somehow they”ve mutated into patchwork monstrosities. I guess napping by the unholy power cube had unintended side effects. Whoops?
So the conundrum posed to Ichabod and Abbie is this: either they can save the two construction workers that are still alive, or they can let the Red Shirts™ die and keep the knowledge. If this choice makes no sense to you, it”s because it makes no sense. Holo-Jefferson argues that Ichabod and Abbie can”t fight the Reavers in their lair because they might hit the Revolutionary Mainframe. It”s never clear if doing so would just kill the echo of the third President of the United States, or if all the scrolls and books are also holograms. But it doesn”t matter because if the books are real, the heroes can just carry them right on out of there. And if the knowledge is holographic? The Reavers are super sensitive to sound and there is LITERALLY no reason Ichabod and Abbie can't just lure them away from the MacGuffin and mow them down in the hallway.
Look, I get that part of the ebb and flow of a TV show is holding the carrot of understanding in front of the lead characters and then yanking it away. But it needs to make sense within the context of the universe. You can”t just slap a “Well, someone else would”ve found this room anyway” on the end of the episode and expect it to fly. You can”t tell me the Scooby gang couldn”t wall up the tunnel and have Katrina cast magic hide it. If British wizards can disguise an ENTIRE WIZARDING SCHOOL, Mrs. Crane can disguise a door.
Meanwhile in the B-plot, the writers are still struggling to make undead Frank Irving work. This week he tricks Jenny into helping him break into police lock-up under the guise of retrieving his wedding ring. But Jenny is no fool and sees the suspicious tattoos on his arm. It doesn”t take long until she calls him out and Irving is spinning a yarn to save his ass. Something about a rune he discovered off-camera. Supposedly it”s the only thing keeping him from turning into Evil!Irving, but the magic is wearing off. This smacks of tacked-on backstory because that”s what it is. But Irving”s arc seems so disparate from the rest of the show these days that whatever, fine.
We end with Katrina waking up to discover the prodigal son returned. Henry, clutching three black roses like a 14-year-old goth, declares his love for his mother in the most creepy way possible. Basically, he is officially declaring a Transfer of Obsession™ from from Moloch to Katrina.
Good luck, girl. You”re gonna need it.
Odds & Ends
• Where is Sakina Jaffrey (Reyes)? Her character has been texting Abbie instead of calling and is conspicuously absent from crimes scenes.
• Ichabod”s disdain for “Instant-Gram” is adorable coming from a man who lived in a time when selfies involved hiring someone to paint you surrounded by your favorite things.
• Is Sleepy Hollow really big enough to warrant an underground parking structure?
• Riggs seems pretty okay with Crane breaking his $7,000 camera. Can he file for reimbursement with the sheriff”s office?
• Of course Byzantine architecture is a “minor passion” of Crane”s. Nerd.