SLEEPY HOLLOW 1.3: “For the Triumph of Evil…”

SH01If you went into last night’s SLEEPY HOLLOW expecting to see Neil Gaiman’s version of the Sandman… well, no, that’s just silly; nobody was expecting that. But what we got at least featured a well-designed baddie — and a terrific gross-out effect that had me hooting at the TV!

It looks like the prophetic dream sequence might be a staple of this series, but it could get old fast; we might start assuming that the opening tease is always a dream sequence. But then again, the-powers-that-be could use that against us and slip in a “real world” opening.

The monster this week was the Sandman — but not the kindly old gentleman who sprinkles sand in the eyes of children to get them to go to sleep. No, this is the demonic version who throws sand in your eyes and makes them explode! Anyway, this demon works on guilt, and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) has been wallowing in pantloads of that for the last 10 years — ever since she refused to back up her sister’s story that they saw evil trees and a demon in the forest. Sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) got locked up in a sanitarium, and has nurtures a powerful grudge all these years.

Ichabod (Tom Mison) figures out this Sandman is the Mohawk version (I’m not even going to try to spell it!) and they hook up with a car salesman and part-time Mohawk shaman (don’t ask) who gives them tea and scorpion venom (again, don’t ask) that enables them to fight the Sandman in the dream realm. (Uhhh…) As everyone sitting at home figured out 15 minutes ago, Abbie realizes she has admit her guilt to Sandman to beat him. She does, he turns to glass (because he was made of sand, get it?) and she smashes him with a chair. The End. Except that while all this was happening, Jenny escaped the sanitarium.

SH02I love this show. I really do. I love that it is plunging headlong into its lunatic, tangled, confused, muddled mythology and simply shouting to the audience, “C’mon, keep up!” We just have to go with it. The whole enterprise falls about an inch short of cohering, but I’m sure they can pull it together by the end of the season.

Ichabod and Abbie have a real burgeoning Mulder/Scully dynamic going on here (but with Abbie a lot more credulous, thanks to her own mystical misadventure), and Mison and Beharie share absurd chemistry. I don’t think the ‘shippers are going to be very happy when Ichabod’s wife, the witch, is freed from limbo. The writers might have to rethink that development, because at the rate Ichy and Abbie are burning up the screen there will be riots in fandom if they don’t kiss during November sweeps.

Or, maybe they will cool things off by having Abbie reunite with her blockhead ex, Luke, and let Ichabod turn to her (even hotter) sister, Jenny. I love that Jenny made the obvious “Ichy” joke! Greenwood, who portrays Jenny, played a real badass on NIKITA, so we know she has the chops for some serious action; here’s hoping the producers had that in mind when they cast her.

One character that might draw some flak, though, is the Mohawk shaman — and, in fact, the entire American Indian story element. Perhaps the show meant to poke fun at the idea that any American Indian is automatically a shaman with detailed knowledge of ancient traditions, but that really didn’t quite come across. Not when juxtaposed with something like a “Geronimotors” car dealership. (Geronimo wasn’t even Mohawk; he was Apache… oh, never mind.) Perhaps the writers will revisit this topic and be a tad more careful next time.

SH03And Abbie should be careful what she says, too. I didn’t quite follow how the Sandman demon worked. I know he preyed on guilt and executed the guilty, so it would seem to me that admitting your guilt would empower the Sandman to carry out his sentence of death because he was justified. But I suppose Abbie relieved herself of her guilt, and thus was no longer… “guilty”? Probably best not to think about it too much. Sandman went away, and that’s all that matters.

This also seems to reinforce something that annoys me about Stephen King books/movies and the flick Flatliners: the idea that sins committed as children matter much more than stuff we do as adults. That’s backward to me; we should be held more responsible for what we do as grown-ups rather then stupid, thoughtless kids.

Finally, it looks like executive producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, veterans of FRINGE, have found a new outlet for their gross-out of the week, which used to be such a fixture on FRINGE. The idea of the Sandman’s victims’ eyeballs turning white with cataracts and then exploding and leaking sand is sheer brilliance! It was shocking and grotesque without being gory and disgusting. (Well, not totally disgusting…)

Next week: More Jenny! Yay!

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