Since last night’s episode of Sleepy Hollow was sorta-kinda musically themed, let’s riff on that. Structurally speaking, the average Sleepy Hollow episode this season has felt all chorus, no verses. It’s the same old refrain: Open with light humor between Leftenant Abbie Mills and Ichabod Crane; something weird happens in Sleepy Hollow; Crane finds artifact from scene of weirdness; historical flashback as he explains artifact’s significance and realizes who monster of the week is; chase monster of the week; kill monster of the week; here’s a scene about how Captain Frank Irving is still screwed. Play us out, staring-into-space Henry Parrish!
Having said that, of course, the catch is that a Sleepy Hollow chorus, even when played over and over again at pretty much the same tempo every week, is still super catchy. Like Crane Tokyo-drifting all over a parking lot in Abbie’s SUV at the top of the episode, being all one with his steed and suggesting Abbie install a turbo charger for better acceleration. The Crane versus cars bit: The SH writers sure do get a lot of mileage out of that comedic premise! (Thank you, I’ll play myself out.)
A new grace note that’s entered our weekly compositions this season has been these proclamations of devotion and loyalty that Abbie and Crane often declare to one another, what with the whole we’re-trying-to-stop-the-apocalypse-together predicament they’re in. Like in last night’s episode, when the driver’s-ed levity was suddenly punctured by Crane saying, “It is not our fate for one of us to bury the other. We shall be victorious or defeated together.” While there’s nothing lovelier than hearing Crane convey such genuine, important, deeply felt statements of honor, I feel like these little bits of dialogue are the show’s way of tossing IchAbbie ‘shippers a bone (but not a flute made out of bone). Hey — they’re lovely bones! (Seriously, don’t worry, I’m leaving.)
Anyway, all that gets interrupted when Crane’s smartphone gets an Amber alert informing them that a local 10-year-old girl has gone missing. (We saw her at the top of the episode, descending a grand spiral staircase and exiting her family’s big brick house. Was anyone else reminded of the family home in Donnie Darko?) We find out the missing girl’s mom was Abbie’s case worker when she was a girl, and that the mom believes her family is cursed, although we don’t know why yet. Then Crane, in what I consider a very un-Crane-like move, thinks it prudent to creep around the bushes outside the home of a family whose prepubescent girl has probably just been kidnapped (oh, but they’d never suspect the guy hiding in shrubbery and dressed in costume outside the girl’s house). He espies a sword displayed with the name of Daniel Lancaster and, voilà! Crane knows what’s up. In the Revolutionary War era, Daniel Lancaster (“a scoundrel”) didn’t like the way British soldiers were hitting on his daughters, so he hired a pied piper to get them out of his house and mass-stab them to death on his lawn. (As one does.) Now there’s a curse on the Lancaster family, with one daughter per generation sacrificed so the rest of the kids don’t die of mysterious disease.
Actually, let me back up. That’s a somewhat less-than-thorough hashing out of the (hi)story behind the story, and sometimes I think I gloss over that stuff. Daniel Lancaster actually went back on his word after hiring the piper to get rid of the Redcoats, which is what predicated the piper’s curse on the Lancaster family. Meanwhile, the piper (who apparently likes to make deals) was among those who sold their souls to Moloch, which is how he got his musical-luring and whirling-dervish superpowers. There. But see, the thing is, the reason I gloss over this stuff sometimes is because, like, who cares? Sometimes the bits of mythology and folklore that make up the backstories on SH just feel like reading through a list.
In fact, proof that I found this episode less than overwhelming was the fact that I only had one out-loud reaction to all the goings-on, although it was a rather good one. When Abbie and Crane head into the woods to look for little Sarah Lancaster and instead find Hollister Model Hawley, I was all, “That guy!” Thank you if you’re someone who reads my recaps diligently enough that you get that I’m referencing myself there; I’ve taken to screaming “This lady!” at the TV every time Sheriff Reyes shows up, which, thank goodness didn’t happen last night. And also, shout out to no Katrina, no HH, etc. … Oh, but wait! No Jenny! Honestly, that didn’t even occur to me until now, and seriously, the more I think about it, this episode was a little off. It troubles me that the writers can’t find a way to balance their main characters, either quantitatively (as in, giving each a fair [though not necessarily equal] amount of screentime) or qualitatively (as in putting them in really morally complicated situations, or just making it feel like their characters are more than skin-deep).
So they find Hawley, who’s of course looking for the piper’s bone flute (made out of Lancaster-kid bone) so he can sell it (“privateer!”), and once again, he reluctantly agrees to be enlisted in their mission of the week to defeat their monster of the week … can I yada-yada most of the rest? Searching, fighting, saving (the girl), going back to fight some more, killing (the monster).
I think the real interesting stuff this week may have actually happened with Irving and his finite amount of screentime. What was up with his Rambo-like hallucination? Was that meant to foreshadow that, like it or not, Irving is one of Molch’s minions now (thanks to signing his name with his blood), so he’ll be fighting for the dark side in the coming apocalypse? Likewise, when Irving’s Bible caught fire, was that supposed to mean Parrish cursed it (did Parrish give him that Bible? Suddenly that seems like a hazy memory), or was that supposed to mean that Irving is somehow evil now, and thus possesses the ability to, like, torch religious texts? Is setting things on fire going to be his evil superpower? Okay, I may be getting ahead of myself; tell me what you think about Irving’s predicament in the comments, and I’ve got more questions for you below.
- Okay, this is minor, but was Crane pretending not to know how to drive this whole time?
- The piper’s spinning routine has me a bit confused. Firstly, is that referencing some bit of mythology? Like, is there some well-known creature or entity in mythological literature known for killing people by spinning until they die of some horrid sound? (I could never be on Jeopardy because the mythology stuff would kill me.) Secondly, he’s clearly awesome with a sword and can get people in a trance with his playing, so I’m not sure why he needs the spinning. Am I overthinking this?
- “We have faced many enemies on horseback, even discovered my own son is the apocalyptic Horseman of War. Thus, how challenging must it be to guide the power of 300 horses using only one’s right foot?”
- “I haven’t had to do this much sneaking about since the second Continental Congress.”
- “I’d like to see you try brining a cello onto the battlefield.”
- “Sadistic larceny, this … A gaudy hillock of overheated milk atop a thimble’s worth of coffee — and the cost!”
- This one’s technically an Abbie-ism, but I loved when she called him Ricky Bobby. Also when Hawley called him Pride and Prejudice.