Was this not the Sleepy Hollow season finale of our dreams? Did this two-parter not fully meld, more wholly and seamlessly than any episodes past, the historical-fantastical mythology of its narrative with the long-unuttered romantic underpinnings of its leads? Did this finale not bring it, with the blindsiding plot twists and the assuredly established cliff-hangers and the Irving-subplot tearjerker, and the Corbin and Andy and Jenny scenes, and the mother-flippin’ flip phone?
And after a first season marred mostly, if not solely, by too much exposition and not enough action, was it not just perfect that a character finally gave voice to the why behind all the what, when Abbie said to Crane, “Are you willing to sacrifice … to me, that’s what this whole fight is about. What are we willing to do to keep everyone and everything safe?”
I’ll answer my own rhetorical inquiries with a Crane-ism: Does an alderman have an unwarranted sense of self-regard?
Let’s pretend we’re Abbie and Crane and take our cues from the Bible in breaking down what the hell’s going on. Specifically, the Book of Revelations:
Revelation No. 1
George Washington wrote invisible-ink instructions for preventing the apocalypse atop his Bible’s story of Lazarus, which is ten verses too long. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of mysteries solved and plots forwarded simply because of people remembering things other people once told them (i.e. Washington telling Crane: “Good will always rise like Lazarus from his grave), and I also don’t buy that Abbie notices right away that the story of Lazarus is ten verses too long. I’ll buy a 240-year-old crypt so well-kept it could star in a Swiffer commercial, but not that Abbie knows the number of verses in the story of Lazarus by rote. On the plus side, I’m grateful that Washington as a character was kept low-key (can you imagine if Victor Garber had been cast in that role?) and for the best hashtag of the night, #zombiegeorgewashington.
Revelation No. 2
Andy’s always been in love with Abbie, and Moloch wants a map. I always enjoy glimpses into Abbie’s home life, and it didn’t surprise me at all (though it did dismay me a bit) to see she her standard-issue condo kitchen. Not to pick on Abbie, but I also don’t buy that she chops vegetables. This girl has “microwave dinner” written all over her in invisible ink. Anyway, Andy’s proclamation of love was too ungrounded for my taste — his confession would’ve been much juicier if those longings had been telegraphed to us viewers at some point prior — but is anyone more deserving of love at this point than poor, sweet Andy? Only on Sleepy Hollow does the guy fans call Neckskin wind up the underdog puppy of the cast.
Revelation No. 3
Macey’s suspected of murdering the priest and the cop. A brilliant and total subversion of the horror genre; since when does an exorcism killing get real-world investigated? The first true blindsiding of the night.
Revelation No. 4
Smartphones truly are the downfall of civilization. Ever-noble Crane commits a slew of deadly sins (envy, lust, gluttony) while unabashedly and petulantly demanding his flip phone be upgraded. Later, he namby-pambies about with Abbie’s device searching for a signal on the island where Washington’s buried while Abbie dutifully ties up their boat to a tree. Chivalry is dead, good Sir!
Revelation No. 5
Judging by Washington’s crypt, the production design team behind the National Treasure franchise pretty much got everything right.
Revelation No. 6
Irving!!!! Not a revelation here so much as a moment that made me gasp so dramatically I may have lost consciousness for a second. His confession scene had me quaking and more than a little bit next to tears. I’d nitpick here and say the B story shouldn’t move me more than the A, but it was too good to care.
Revelation No. 7
Crane is totally Team Abbie! “If using this map meant betraying your trust, that’s something I could not do.” “I choose to forge my fate with you.” These are the ways people like Crane say how they truly feel to people like Abbie, who in turn swears they’re going to save Katrina together, because Abbie has issues when it comes to accepting, um, fate-forging.
Revelation No. 8
Purgatory is a slick, id-saturated netherworld more rife with temptation than the Garden of Eden, except when it’s just a sparsely populated Walking Dead episode. Purgatory may have been my favorite part of the second episode. It’s a dimension rarely explored in pop culture and I thought how they portrayed it was quite clever, perhaps second only to Defending Your Life purgatory. Also, regarding that weird piano banging in the wandering-zombie part of purgatory, I hope my fellow former film minors appreciated the little non-diegetic-to-diegetic trick there.
Revelation No. 9
Tom Mison has girly hips. I somehow caught this for the first time in the second half of the finale, probably when he was changing into his new Revolutionary War–era costume and was sans jacket for a moment. It is the only unsexy thing about him.
Revelation No. 10
That’s revelations, plural, because zomg bombshells! I’m sure some of you guessed Henry’s true identity before he revealed himself to be Crane and Katrina’s son. I didn’t and am sort of glad for it. (And it was only several minutes after the finale ended that I slapped an open palm to my forehead and exclaimed aloud, “Ohhhhh — that’s why his last name is Parrish!” I bought into the warped family triangle right away, with Mison and John Noble tweaking their dialogue to respectively convey paternal admonishment and adolescent resentment. And I suppose Katrina proved to be as useless a character as ever, but I actually like her and hope to see more of her next season.
Speaking of! Let’s switch gears and start looking toward the future. Here’s what I’d like to see, or see more of, in season two:
* Bump up Jenny to full-time cast member. Jenny is easily the Most Improved Player of the season. She’s demonstrated herself to be a worthy emotional foil to Abbie, in a sisterly dynamic that only gets more interesting as time goes on, and just as adept a detective. Meanwhile …
* Morales has got to go. One could make a case he was never really here in the first place, and that the writers never knew what to do with him. There’s no reason to care about Abbie’s ex when she’s too straight-laced to care herself. And Abbie and Andy had more palpable chemistry while one of them was handcuffed to a radiator than Abbie and Morales ever had. While we’re on the subject of tweaking the main cast …
* Come back with a decent opening-credit sequence. Every week I’ve considered making a joke about the low-quality, verging-on-self-parody snoozefest that is Sleepy Hollow’s opening credits. Plus, no prime-time drama has or should have only four main characters! Unheard of! This is not an Off Broadway play!
* Spend more than $23 per episode on CGI. The special effects on this show could likewise be so much better.
* Lastly, better writing, please! Less telling, more showing! This may be the chattiest fantasy and/or sci-fi drama of all time, and the lack of good plot structure is probably the only thing holding back this good show from becoming great. Example: Crane and Abbie’s decision to scratch the rosary-bead route to Armageddon-prevention because it’s just too risky. Standing there and talking about it and making a decision to not do something is simply not dramatically compelling — certainly nowhere near as compelling as it would be if, instead, there were simply no conceivable way to use the rosary beads owing to forces beyond their control.
The big question for me is, how does the show resolve the conundrum it’s set for itself heading into season two? Sleepy Hollow’s obviously at its best when Crane and Abbie are with one another; now they’re in totally different realms. But resolve that problem too quickly and it’ll feel as false as George Washington’s teeth. It’s quite the narrative conundrum. Or, as Crane might put it, “Many a mickle makes a muckle indeed.”