We got a good sense of exactly what kind of wackadoodle show “Sleepy Hollow” aspires to be from last week’s surprisingly highly rated pilot, but now comes the real test. Did enough viewers like what they saw to tune in for week two, and will the events of the second episode keep them hooked?
Thankfully, “Blood Moon” is about as good a follow-up as you could hope for. It’s not quite pitched at the same WTFBBQ-level of crazy as the pilot, but it’s not far off. And more importantly, episode two settles into what could be an enjoyable weekly rhythm for the series moving forward. We got a little more backstory on our leads, were introduced to a few new big picture mysteries, and discovered that just because Clancy Brown and John Cho were killed off in the pilot doesn’t mean the show is done with them yet.
This isn’t earth-shattering Golden Age of Television stuff, but it’s all handled with the sort of confidence you want to see from a show that blends a complicated (and admittedly nutty) mythology, horror genre tropes and a bantery central relationship. If what you’re hoping for from “Sleepy Hollow” is a crazy/creepy/charming escapist ride, we’re off to a good start.
While the pilot spent a considerable amount of time with the Headless Horseman and his heretofore unknown connection to George Washington’s Bible, “Blood Moon” relegates Ichabod’s arch-enemy to a quick opening dream sequence cameo (side by side with his three fellow Horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing conquest, war and famine). That’s when Ichabod’s beloved, Katrina, appears to him in a vision to warn him about the episode’s Big Bad. She only drops a few hints before disappearing (“There isn’t time to explain!” she explains), leaving Ichabod and Abbie with just enough information to start investigating, although Abbie still needs convincing — even after everything she saw in the pilot.
Imitations of the Mulder and Scully dynamic are easy to find in genre TV. Successful imitations, not so much. But so far the conflict between Ichabod and Abbie is working, and it actually makes sense. Ichabod has been thrust into a world where every little thing seems impossible (there’s a quick montage early on of his reactions to running water, coffee makers and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”). Combined with his previous knowledge of the supernatural, it’s entirely justifiable he has no problem believing there are demonic forces intent on bringing upon the apocalypse.
Abbie, on the other hand, has spent her entire adult life trying to repress an uncomfortable childhood memory: that moment she and her sister saw something otherworldly. She’s built up a wall that won’t be so easy to break down. The fun will be seeing how quickly it crumbles, especially with Ichabod (and apparently the ghost of Brown’s Sheriff Corbin, her mentor and father figure) egging her on.
It helps that the chemistry Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie demonstrated in the pilot was no fluke. They give great banter, and their relationship — still marked by mutual skepticism, but also a deepening co-dependence when it comes to fighting evil — has terrific potential for growth. Whether or not that growth involves romance seems, fortunately, like a question we won’t have to deal with for some time. Ichabod met Abbie’s ex, Iraq war vet and fellow cop Luke (Nicholas Gonzalez), in a scene that obviously foreshadowed more to come for the former lovers. Meanwhile, Ichabod discovered that Katrina is being “held captive in the world between worlds” (and since Katia Winter is one of only four series regulars included in the snazzy opening credits sequence, she can’t just be popping up in dream sequences and flashbacks forever, right?).
That tidbit about Katrina came courtesy of Serilda of Abaddon — the powerful witch Katrina warned Ichabod about, who is resurrected to wreak havoc on Sleepy Hollow. All that means is killing one poor guy and stealing another man’s ashes, but even if Serilda never becomes much of a threat, the extra crispy creature design is freaky enough to satisfy. (And she’s apparently played by Roxy Olin, the daughter of “thirtysomething” actor Ken Olin, who directed this episode.)
Plus, in the episode’s most delightful twist, Serilda is resurrected by none other than Andy Dunn (Cho), who himself is resurrected by the uber-demon who snapped his neck in the pilot. Watching Andy stumble around the morgue with his head flipped behind his back and then set out doing the demon’s dirty work with some extra flesh bunched up around his neck is exactly the kind of macabre lunacy “Sleepy Hollow” is training us to expect, and — at least for now — it’s working.
Odds and ends:
– Abbie’s sister, Jenny, obviously took a different path, as the episode’s final moments reveal her institutionalized for a delusional disorder that we know is anything but delusional. She’s played by Lyndie Greenwood of “Nikita,” and we’ll see more of her next week.
– Random unintentional association #1: Andy telling Serilda’s victim in the car that “it wasn’t personal” played extra unsettling in light of this week’s “Breaking Bad.”
– Random unintentional association #2: Anyone else think Abbie’s confession to Ichabod that she turned to a life of crime before Corbin saved her was like a hyper-condensed backstory from “Orange Is the New Black”?
– Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft.” Nice.