After last week’s pilot did the heavy lifting of establishing the show’s premise and setting up the loopy (and complicated) mythology, the second episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW had the equally tough job of setting up and status quo of the ongoing series and, luckily, it did an excellent job.
It does look like SH will follow a “monster of the week” formula, with each creature filling in some of the mythology and giving us an excuse to learn Ichabod’s and Abbie’s backstory. I do like the winking hubris of the script, suggesting that our two leads are fated to endure seven years of biblical tribulations — that stretch would get them well into syndication territory.
But before that happens, our heroes needed to figure out exactly what they’re fighting — and how they’re going to do it. While Abbie’s crusty boss, Frank Irving, will be filling the requisite (and boring) role of the Police Captain Who’s Always on the Heroine Cop’s Back To Solve This Case Right Damn Now Because He’s Tough Like That, Ichabod’s dead wife, Katia, will be providing guidance from beyond. Also making cameos from the afterlife and dispensing nuggets of wisdom: Sheriff Corbin.
Apparently the Headless Horseman will not be an every-week baddie, as he only appears in the opening dream sequence this week — and he and his fellow Horsemen of the Apocalypse are beside the point. The real reason for the dream is so Katia (Katia Winter) can warn Ichabod (Tom Mison) that a witch has been resurrected by a coven of bad witches to… do bad stuff. Serilda of Abaddon (Roxy Olin) is brought back to life Deputy Andy (John Cho), whose own head was put back on his shoulders by the same Demon who lopped it off last week. Serilda burns one guy to death and steals another dude’s ashes before eventually getting blowed up real good by Ichabod in a gambit that was telegraphed early on — call it “Chekhov’s Black Powder.”
Abbie (Nicole Beharie) also learns she can communicate with the Force Ghost of her former mentor, Sheriff Corbin (Clancy Brown). And Abbie’s sister, Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood), has been getting her Sarah Connor on while incarcerated at the mental institution, going so far as to fake taking her meds and improvising workout gear, just like Linda Hamilton’s badass mother of the future.
So, after this week’s events, it appears that Abbie and Ichabod have a new secret base — or at least a reference library in the form of the archives at the armory, and they have a network of secret tunnels to travel around town. Cho looks to be sticking around as the counterpart to our heroes — at least until Captain Irving (Orlando Jones) is revealed to be working for the Other Side. (At least, that’s what I’m assuming; he can’t be that obstructionist just on general principle alone.)
I am very happy to see Brown will be able to recur, but his character needs to be a little more fleshed out. He manifests in this story to congratulate Abbie on finally finding the life path she was meant to follow — but he could have saved her a lot of grief by just telling her about the supernatural threats to the town; his bleating that she wouldn’t have believed him doesn’t hold much water. She and Jenny had just seen ghostly trees and a demon, so why would they doubt the local authority figure? Corbin could have spared Abbie and her sister years of pain and ridicule and anguish and drug abuse and stints in mental institutions. If he really does care about Abbie, then… well, talk about tough love!
As seen in the pilot, the relationship between the leads is the key to helping audiences swallow all the lunacy. As they struggle to understand what’s going on from their positions of mutual skepticism and suspicion, their banter feels natural and not like a TV script. It looks like the producers really lucked out by casting two leads with such delightful onscreen chemistry. Although there is no hint of romance between Ichabod and Abbie yet, Mison and Beharie work so well together that it is inevitable, no matter what the-powers-that-be may have originally planned for the supernatural investigators.
Rescuing Katrina from her prison in “the world between worlds” is an obvious upcoming plot point, and Winter is in the opening credits, so there are clearly plans to bring Ichabod’s wife to the present day. And Abbie’s ex, gruff Gulf War vet Luke (Nicholas Gonzalez) really came on strong in his first meeting with the “visiting history professor from Oxford,” so romantic conflict is clearly on the show’s agenda. BTW, the “visiting history professor” gambit is a great idea, and a fun way to account for Ichabod’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Revolutionary War.
On next week’s agenda is an adventure with Jenny!