Sleepy Hollow – ‘Pittura Infamante’ gets back to Monster-of-the-Week basics

01.20.15

FOX

The back half of “Sleepy Hollow” Season 2 got off to a shaky start last week, as Katrina”s terrible life choices continued to hamstring the group. But as much as we want to lay the blame at the feet of Ichabod”s wife, it”s hard truth time: the show”s been wobbly for all of the sophomore season. The show has simply gotten bogged down by its own weight. Too many plots, too many characters, not enough truly bonkers one-off villains and too little of the dynamic of Ichabod and Abbie that made the first season so much fun. You know it, I know it. Apparently even the writers know it, because “Pittura Infamante” cut away the festering romantic quadrangles and hand-wringing angst about Henry's soul in a (successful) attempt to right the ship.

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For the first time in forever, **strains of “Frozen” soundtrack play in the distance**, the show cold opens without any of the main cast. Some poor soul is trying to paint without paint, so at first I thought for sure Henry was back and senility had set in, but no! It”s merely an art restorer. You can tell by his lab coat and misguided attempt to stop the paining from bleeding instead of, I don”t know, running away and/or setting it on fire. Yes, yes. It”s a priceless piece of history. A POSSESSED priceless piece of history. Priorities, man! Alas, our art restorer has the self-preservation of a rock. It”s a sad, debilitating disease known as Redshirtitis. Prognosis? Dead by the end of Act I.

At the cabin in the woods, Abbie is helping Ichabod get ready for a date with Katrina, which is both adorable and surreal. Just a police officer assisting her hetero-lifemate in the art of dating his wife in the 21st century. Totes normal. She even cracks wise about Ichabod”s excessive name dropping (bless her) because Ichabod is taking his wife on a date to a house they used to visit in the 18th century when it belonged to their friends and wasn”t a historic art exhibit. Hot.

Crane rocks a man bun while simultaneously declaring he doesn”t understand “business casual,” but his duds say otherwise. Not that it matters since Katrina is in a LBD and no one will be looking at Ichabod. Katrina inadvertently highlights the dichotomy of the modern dating wardrobe. Dudes get to look like they could be headed to the office while ladies have to balance on the knife”s edge of ‘oh, this old thing?” and ‘high class escort.”

Abbie accidentally outs Ichabod”s affair with Betsy Ross within Katrina”s hearing and, her job complete, exits stage left.

Our art restorer”s name is Mr. Hollister and he needs Ichabod and the audience to know he is ready for that gender reversed revival of MacBeth because the paint won”t come off his hands. Ichabod is concerned but possible demon shenanigans will have to wait because it”s 2015 and by God, he is going to grope his wife in public.

At the police precinct, Abbie combs through her family”s centuries old journal until some random officer we”ve never seen before engages her in conversation. Normally, I”d think it was just filler since it”s a white cop, but this is “Sleepy Hollow” and they”ve got no compunction for the status quo on which Red Shirts™ live and which die. The music swells, Abbie sees the other cop pull out his gun, and just when I”m about to feel vindicated that he will indeed die, the other shoe drops. Undead Frank Irving has turned himself in.

He looks pretty good for a corpse, to be honest.

Back at the Adams” home, Ichabod and Katrina are doing their best “we”re just like you!” impression while eating off their dead friends” porcelain. The Crane”s basically went to a wake for their date. Katrina laments that she sometimes wishes she was still in the 18th century. You and me both, sister.

Fun fact: Fifteen years after the fact, my first reaction to seeing Dawn Summers on my tv screen is still irritation. 

Luckily(?) the mood is lifted when the murder is revealed. Finally, something for the Crane”s to focus on other than their crumbling marriage. Poor Mr. Hollister had been hung upsidedown by his foot, in an approximation of the Hanged Man tarot card because “Sleepy Hollow.” Ichabod tries to monologue tarot information at Katrina but she”s all, “Dude? Witch.” Then it”s Katrina”s turn to monologue. She remembers Dawn Abigail Adams was in search of proto-Jack-the-Ripper – who was murdering vagrants – back in the day because all upper class ladies need a hobby. Dude was killing people in exactly the same manner, leading Abigail to conclude it must be a doctor, since only physicians and politician”s wives knew where the carotid artery was prior to 1974.

Meanwhile, at the precinct, Abbie discovers Irving doesn”t remember dying, doesn”t feel particularly evil, and would like to see his family (and probably a shower, though he doesn”t mention it). Abbie is suspicious because she is genre savvy.

Katrina has a vision/memory that leads her to Dawn Abigail Adams” secret correspondence. Turns out the killer was one Mr. Colby, deranged painter. He disappeared in 1782, into this painting it would seem. Roald Dahl would like a word, “Sleepy Hollow” writers. Anyway, Colby”s creating an inverted cross out of human blood to escape from the painting. They don”t say it, but Colby must be cursed to only use one drop of blood from each victim because seriously, humans are basically 1.5 gallons of blood supported by bones and a sack of flesh.

Nothing says “touch me” like a possessed painting glimmering with the blood of a recent victim, so of course Ichabod complies. Then, to add another layer of “burn it, OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY BURN IT,” this happens:


Via Twitter

While Ichabod and Katrina hem and haw about their evil painting, Abbie is working her ass off: roping in Jenny to go retrieve bullets that can kill a dead man (inadvertently leading Jenny to almost getting eaten by a zombie), telling Irving”s widow that she”s not really a widow, explaining to said ex-widow that they need to make sure the deal Frank made with the devil isn”t still viable, discussing with Jenny the best way to give Frank a supernatural physical to check for residual demonic influence, and lock and loading her gun with new anti-undead bullets. Mills” sisters get shit done.

Side note: While Jenny is freaking out about digging around in a gooey corpse for the bullets, the most unrealistic thing is that her cell signal would be that good in the middle of the woods. Also, adorable that Abbie”s big sister instinct kicks in and she offers to come out and fish the bullets out herself.

It takes a hot minute, but Colby finally escapes the painting again. Well, now we know why he needs so much blood. He”s been wasting it all by bathing in it. Dude, you are too old for the modern art movement. Use your brush to paint, not your face.

Unperturbed by the number of witnesses or police, Colby casually sucks another dude into his painting. Ichabod and Katrina follow, after realizing the frame is covered in entrapment runes that are obviously doing a bang-up job of keeping the killer contained…wait. Apparently Dawn Abigail Adams and Katrina”s coven captured Colby and entrapped him. If they offer an explanation as to why they did that instead of, I don”t know, killing him, I didn”t catch it.

Witch covens: Creating solutions that cause more problems since the dawn of time.

Inside the “mind of the killer,” as Ichabod says since he”s a drama queen, the Crane”s are easily distracted from their mission by a bunch of books. Katrina laments that Colby became a murderer because someone in his childhood wouldn”t let him be an artist. The screams of the Red Shirt™ resonate through the house like a polite cough, reminding the heroes that they”re on a time table. Better get to heroing.

They arrive too late, the Red Shirt™ is strung up and bleeding out. Just kidding! He”s still alive and Katrina whisks them all back to the real world right before Revolutionary Carrie kills them all. In an actual great moment of bait-and-switch, Ichabod goes to set the painting on fire but can”t, leaving it up to Abbie to play the Big Damn Hero™ and shoot the painting until Colby is dead.

Bullets. What problems don”t they solve?

Despite disregarding every order given to her, Reyes forgives Abbie for stepping in since she both killed the killer and may have been right all along about Frank Irving. Evidence has apparently come to light that could exonerate him! Huzzah!

Oh, also Katrina and Ichabod are going to try and fix their marriage. Meh.

So, what did y”all think? Was this a step back in the right direction? Or has “Sleepy Hollow” jumped too many sharks to save itself in your eyes?

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