This is just a working theory of mine, but last night’s Sleepy Hollow kinda reminded me of Lost. Let me count the ways:
1. Pandora and the Hidden One’s origin story. Like that sixth-season episode of Lost that finally filled us in on how Jacob and his evil brother the Man in Black came to be (their mom was Allison Janney and yada-yada), “Dark Mirror” provided this season’s antagonists with a helpful, but boring, backstory. The result: a just-the-facts-ma’am explanation of why Pandora came to align herself with THO (just, like, because she developed a pity crush on him?), which delivered all the emotional depth of a grade-school film strip. Except this was technically a wax cylinder Abbie finds in Leeds’s laboratory. (I’ve got to give SH credit for finding a new way to impart historical filler other than a Crane flashback.)
2. Abbie is tormented by a lot of whispering, just like people on Lost who think they hear the Others whispering throughout the island?
3. Um, the show cut to one commercial break with a crescendo of staccato-ing violins like Lost always used to do?
Okay, this is certainly not much of a unifying theory, but let me get meta and put forth that my main critique of “Dark Mirror” is just that: While the episode supplied some affecting moments and bits of useful information here and there, it felt disjointed, lacked any sort of overarching narrative oomph, and didn’t consistently hold my interest throughout.
To this episode’s detriment, the largest amount of backstory (or at least what felt like the largest) was allocated to Leeds — even though, from the get-go, it was clear he’d merely serve as Monster of the Week. He starts out in “Dark Mirror” as a creature Crane identifies as the Jersey Devil, which means for the rest of the hour, I couldn’t not picture Puddy and his hockey-fanatic face from Seinfeld. (“We’re the devilllllls! The devillllllls!!! Hehhhhhh!!!”) Then Crane does his usual Crane-ing and realizes that the Jersey Devil is actually Japeth Leeds, ye olde scientific nemesis of Benjamin Franklin, and then I got all excited because I thought we were maybe-hopefully gonna get another Timothy Busfield flashback/cameo. What we actually got — a lotta Leeds, who turns out to be little more than a sniveling whiner with a chip on his shoulder, a poisonous scorpion’s tail on his rear, and a face like a rubber Halloween mask — simply couldn’t compete.
The Leeds story line also couldn’t compete with the episode’s top-of-the-hour brunch sequence, a Martha Stewart Living–like tableau of domesticity and friendship that was so full of cozy-cute feels, I actually typed in my notes, “Ooh, we’re brunching!” Sleepy Hollow has been grappling all season with how to incorporate the very touching, relatable, interpersonal connections that have developed among our Scooby Gang into its weekly demon-thwarting machinations. Last week’s episode contained multiple scenes that managed to do that brilliantly, but in “Dark Mirror,” they were separated out. Thus, this week’s episode opened with a frequently used SH crutch (the old randos-killed-by-monsters bit), then it cut to brunch o’clock and Team Joenny’s post-brunch domestic issues, and then it was back to the Jersey Devil. The contrast not only made me pine for more mimosas, but relegated Jenny and Joe’s fight over her flooded trailer to mere comic relief. That’s fine, I guess; Joe and Jenny are kind of a funny couple, and I love Joe’s frequent attempts to make Jenny laugh given how seriously she takes herself. But after last week’s episode, which one of the best ever, I couldn’t help wishing things this week were handled more deftly.
Another sample from my brunch notes: “It’s like a double date, except Ichabbie’s not dating.” The fact that Crane and Abbie do not have a romantic relationship, of course, has been a huuuge sticking point for many viewers this season — one that might have finally budged a bit last night when Abbie kissed Crane on the forehead (gasp!) after almost letting him die in Leeds’s lair thanks to her symbol fixation. Given last week’s amazing cliffhanger about Abbie’s symbol, I felt a little conflicted that Abbie ultimately chose to come clean to Crane about it at the end of this week. While I wanted the tension of to play out for longer, I’m definitely down with the dramatic steps Abbie took in not only kissing Crane (platonically-ish, but still), and even more importantly, in admitting to Crane that she needs his help. That was a first, right?
So here’s another not-quite-unifying theory I have about “Dark Mirror”: Maybe what the episode really intended to do was to present three relationships in parallel (Ichabbie, Joenny, Pan-THO-ra), and to compare how some people do or don’t know that they need their better half’s help and how they do or don’t go about asking for it. Pandora freed THO from his brother’s bondage, yet he still remains as unappreciative of her as ever. Joe buys Jenny a new trailer, a gesture she loathes because, as she later explains to him, a key sign of a healthy relationship is that you never touch her stuff without asking. (Mmkay.) And then there’s Abbie, who does the opposite of THO and Jenny, making herself as vulnerable than she’s ever been by openly admitting to Crane that she needs his help.
But what are we supposed to glean from this exercise in contrasts? Does it mean Sleepy Hollow is very s-l-o-w-l-y laying the groundwork for true love between our Witnesses? Will next week’s episode be as good as last week’s episode, because SH seems to follow a one-good-one-not-so-good pattern this season? I have a few questions below. Leave your best bets in the comments.
I feel like too little was made of Crane’s offhand mention that his request for citizenship was denied, but clearly this has to be dealt with down the road, right? I have no guesses for how this might play out; you?
When Leeds declared, “You survived my venom,” in my head I replied, “You sunk my battleship!” Anyone else? It was pretty funny (to me, in my head).
What’s up with all this talk about Joe and how rich he is? Why is he suddenly bringing up all this “blood money” (or “flood money,” haha good one Joe!)? Did I miss a detail from last week’s episode that had something to do with all the riches Nevins stole in the Iraq War?
Crane: These eggs are named after a traitor of this nation!
Crane: We must remain cognizant of her needs whilst vigilant to any subterfuge, intended or otherwise.
Jenny: Yeah, I’m not sure if Washington explained it, but that is called spying.
Crane: Now who’s the subpar alchemist?