When Sleepy Hollow debuted last year, a lot of ink was spilled over the fact that it was like watching a grab bag of several other iconic shows from the not-too-distant past mixed together as one. Vulture’s own Margaret Lyons even noted that its influences came from far and wide: The X-Files, Law & Order: SVU, House, Sherlock, Lost, American Horror Story, etc. To me, last night’s installment of SH served as a microcosm of that theory, with mini-parallels to a slew of other shows jumping out at me — a surely unintentional gimmick that, for me, buoyed an otherwise thoroughly average episode. Here’s what I picked up on:
TV reference No. 1: The Bachelor
This one, of course, was not an innuendo but an outright parody. When “Heartless” opened with Crane and Katrina spouting ornate rhetoric about love (“love is borne out of mutual acceptance”; “love is neither a duty nor a burden, love is a gift”), the shot composition telegraphed that we were quickly headed for a joke, a har-har juxtaposition between their baroque soliloquies and the modern-day garishness of reality-TV romance. (This was also telegraphed by the fact that opening-scene, fish-out-of-water humor is pretty much a given on Sleepy Hollow.)
Speaking of romantic banalities, the sight of Crane and Katrina sitting shoulder to shoulder on the bed watching a cheesy reality show read to me like a reminder that all romances, even the most epic, can so easily devolve into two people zoning out to bad TV while silently harboring their low-grade resentments toward one another. And while I appreciated that Crane and Katrina soon proved me wrong by voicing their concerns (“It pained me to think you were not who I knew”; “Who I was never changed”), I’m a little over them talking to one another about trust. “We need each other as husband and wife,” Katrina insists, but do they really? I believe that they love each other, but I also believe that it’s Crane and Abbie who, as witnesses if not partners, need each other. Yes, I still ‘ship a teeny bit for IchAbbie, and in this episode, I felt like we got our strongest evidence yet that Crane is equivocating in his affections between her and Katrina.
TV reference No. 2: Alias
When the succubus stepped into the uncha-uncha club, eyed her mark, and then approached him in slick disguise, I got a shiver of déjà vu up my spine. It felt to me (in a very silly-fun way) like every other sexy-espionage scene on Alias, where Jennifer Garner would get decked out in any manner of latex clothing and seduce her targets. P.S.: There’s no way that the Stephen Glass dweeb who is preyed upon by the succubus would be friends with, let alone out clubbing with, that Brody Jenner “shots up!” dude.
I didn’t mind the whole succubus plotline this week. It certainly didn’t raise the stakes much, as her victims were not Abbie, Crane, or Katrina. But it did give a reason to bring back the ever-rugged McConaugHawley, who is clearly growing on Abbie and, likewise, me. (My favorite exchange between them: “Sorry you got your signals crossed, but I’m sure you’ve misread women before.” “Doubtful.”) Just as this particular monster of the week lured its victims through the fine art of flirting, I dug how our main characters’ interpersonal dynamics came to the fore last night, and how they even let loose with a little sexual tension. To my surprise, I like the Abbie-Hawley flirtation — although I liked it a whole lot more when Abbie said to Crane, “You like to dance,” and Crane replied coyly, “Wouldn’t you like to see?” (I can’t believe they didn’t let us see Crane dance; what a waste of a perfectly good setup!)
TV reference No. 3: My So-Called Life
“You ever get that feeling like you need something, but you just can’t have it? And it’s not even a need, it’s more like, like a hunger. And if you don’t satisfy it, you’ll die.” Said by the succubus to the Stephen Glass dweeb; may as well have been thought by Angela Chase while watching Jordan Catalano walk down the hallway to Mr. Katimski’s class. (By that logic, “Club Twerk” could very well be another Let’s Bolt. That is, a nightclub that improbably exists in a quiet suburb.)
The third-wheelness of the Abbie-Crane-Katrina triangle also reminded me a tiny bit of various character dynamics on MSCL (or, really, one of any number of relationship-y dramas). I loved how the scene in Corbin’s library toward the top of the episode, the one that ended with Crane choosing to escort Katrina home rather than help Abbie do research, segued into the third-wheel scene at the local diner.
TV reference No. 4: Seinfeld
Hear me out. After our two teams of daring doers defeat the succubus and her entombed heart, Abbie and Katrina are walking out of the cemetery when the latter jokes, “Fortunately, my head is almost as hard as Ichabod’s.” Just then, I realized that “Heartless,” with its clever choice to pair up people who are most uncomfortable around one another (Abbie and Katrina, Crane and McConaugHawley), is like “The Dog,” the Seinfeld episode where George and Elaine are forced to hang out as distant “friends-in-law” without Jerry as their social go-between. In both instances, the ice between the friends-in-law doesn’t melt until one of them cracks a joke at the mutual friend’s expense. Thus, Crane’s hard head is Jerry’s Morning Thunder tea.
TV (actually, film) reference No. 5: Rosemary’s Baby
“I think that there are things that even a mother’s love can’t overcome,” Abbie warned Katrina as the two were headed into the cemetery. Then Katrina returns to Abraham and is shown (by the son who disowned her, no less) the Moloch baby in his crib. It felt like a shot-for-shot homage to Polanski’s classic ending, no? It also felt like Abbie’s words are about to come back to bite us all in a most apocalypse-facilitating way.
Henry tells Abraham about Katrina, “You’re not to go after her. It’s Moloch’s command.” That was just for the sake of getting out of the way of the plot, right? What I mean is, did you get the sense like Moloch really needed Abraham’s attention focused elsewhere, or held an advantage if Katrina was out and about with free will? Or was that just the writers’ lazy-ish way of setting things up so Katrina could then return to Abraham as her own choice?
“Ah … macking. He was macking on a lady. Amber said the same thing about Marco.” (In keeping with the TV references listed above, I feel compelled to note that Crane said this in a very Sheldon Cooper way.)
“The modern world has many remarkable tonics and restoratives. Some of which are chewable.”
“This is not love. This is shameless, groundling kabuki.”
“Is this music or attacking the walls of Jericho?”