“Let’s go through this again,” Ichabod Crane’s abductor instructs at the start of our first post-apocalyptic episode of Sleepy Hol — wait, am I getting confused? Our Witnesses did indeed manage to thwart the apocalypse during last season’s finale, right? And that’s why Abbie died? (Well, that and Nicole Beharie wanted out, but you know. Bygones.) Maybe all that “post-apocalyptic” stuff is just my subconscious doing the talking, since the season premiere of Sleepy Hollow certainly felt that way: barren and soulless, like a nuclear winter. With Abbie gone and Joe gone and Jenny’s role significantly downsized, I have gone from all of the #Ichabbie and #Joenny feels to feeling dead inside …
Sorry! I started daydreaming about our old Westchester County digs for a second there. Anyway, Crane recaps all the insanity he’s been through with three years of demon-chasing and whatnot. “Now it’s just you, alone,” his interrogator taunts him, “which means that no one is ever going to miss you.” Not true, Shady Guy Who Probably Works for Some CIA Shadow Organization! I miss Crane! I miss him so much that I actually missed him while I watched him in “Columbia.” I miss his rapport with last season’s characters, I miss his gestures of grandeur and loyalty toward Abbie, and I miss him having someone to care and worry about besides those poorly CGI’d boogeymen. I know that you know I miss these things about Crane, Sleepy Hollow, because as soon as he busts out of his little interrogation cage, the first thing he finds — the very first thing you make us look at — are surveillance photos of him and Abbie together. Which is almost like torture.
“Who are these people?” Crane wonders about his kidnappers, as he pores over books and maps and a sketch of the Lincoln Memorial. “Yeah, who are these people?” I wonder about the brand-new cast. Where are the characters we actually watch this show for? Why did so many of them have to leave? How has Sleepy Hollow managed to go through so many characters — a few duds, but many totes endearing — yet we’re right back where we started, just wondering when and where the next demon might pop up, knowing full well that Crane will find a way to kill it 42 minutes later? Scrolling through this show’s IMDb page is like a dead-person montage on an awards show: Abbie, Frank, Katrina, Henry Parrish, Pandora, her creepy boyfriend, Betsy Ross, Joe Corbin, August Corbin, Sophie Foster, Daniel Reynolds, Hawley, Zoe, Andy. Sleepy Hollow has asked me to invest and reinvest too often and has delivered nary a satisfaction or payoff in return. Unlike the Lincoln Memorial, I am not made of stone.
Speaking of the Lincoln Memorial, that’s where Crane goes by foot from his subterranean holding cell at Reagan National. (For reasons I do not know, this sequence is scored to a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”) It’s at the Lincoln Memorial where Crane meets-cute with Abbie’s replacement, Homeland Security agent Diana Thomas (Janina Gavankar). Diana had just finished saying conveniently portentous things to her partner, Eric — “I don’t like new people. I don’t like change” — when they get a call: Lincoln’s statue has been decapitated, and of course, with the entire federal government located right there in Washington, D.C., a mere two agents are sent to check it out. That’s all. Two agents, no police tape, no nothing. Because the symbolic re-assassination of an American president on the grounds of a federal monument in the nation’s capital is, like, no big whoop. They probably shoulda just done a drive-by, because Eric winds up getting killed inside the memorial by a demon who looks like Marilyn Manson in a pork-pie hat.
Diana doesn’t know whether to keep training her gun on Crane or to go along with his crazy suggestion that they actually chase the monster who killed her partner, and then it doesn’t matter because both the monster and Crane just suddenly vanish. She winds up tracing Crane back to his underground DCA bunker. “You owe me answers,” she demands. “That’s a rather demanding attitude from someone whose life I just saved,” he replies. “I am the only one who can find the people who killed your partner.” So they poke around some tunnels together and we learn that Diana is a single mother and a former Marine. If this is supposed to be the scene that endears me to these two as our new Witnesses, it ain’t working. Not even when Crane does his super-cute finger-pointing thing. It all just feels like going through the motions. Abbie and Crane charmed us into falling in love with them; this feels like being set up on a blind date you never asked to go on.
But wait, Sleepy Hollow fans, there is a glimmer of hope amid this gloomy season debut! It arrives in the form of one nerdy supernatural believer named Jake (Jerry MacKinnon), who has apparently been waiting for Crane inside a musty federal-agency office (what a ko-winky-dink!) that looks an awful lot like August Corbin’s library back in the Hollow and “could provide the answer to all of our needs.”
“You’re Captain Brownbeard,” Jake gushes adorably to Crane, inadvertently revealing the fanfic name he’s made up for Ichie in his head. “Sleepy Hollow, right? I’m a big fan.” (He even tried to snap a selfie with Crane, which was an honest LOL for me.) Jake is endearing as all get-out and I think he should be Crane’s new partner. Why not? He can provide Crane the governmental access he’s always lacking, and why does Crane’s new partner have to be another comely woman with a badge? Go where the chemistry is, Sleepy Hollow! (I loved, loved, lurved the little bit where Jake’s like, “I don’t believe in this stuff” and then Crane says all matter-of-factly, “I do,” and Jake’s immediately like, “I do, too.”) Besides, Jake appears to be the only new character who really wants to be where he is, doing what he’s doing.
At Jake’s office, Crane is very much doing what he wants to be doing, which is what he’s always done on this show, which is reading out loud from old books. “This is the secret history of America,” he says, which includes the fun fact that John Wilkes Booth summoned a demon to kill Honest Abe. (Cue music-video-style historical-flashback diorama!) This winds up having something to do with fashioning bullets out of pennies to kill the Marilyn Manson demon, which is a job for Jake’s super-feisty co-worker, Alex (Rachel Melvin). She’s basically a Miss Sassypants hybrid between a CSI detective and one of the helpers on Mythbusters, and the legitimacy of her in-office science experiments seems as improbable as sending a mere two agents to check out the decapitated Lincoln Memorial.
The inevitable kill-the-demon scene arrives, and it’s pretty boring until Jenny arrives as well. (Yay!) She kills Marilyn Manson just in the nick of time, moments before it was about to kill Jake, and later helps Crane do a little soul-searching about making D.C. his new home. Crane calls her “Miss Jenny” and I swoon like I did last year.
Side question: Is anyone else watching Timeless? Did anyone else feel like the introduction of this evil-preneur was like another Rittenhouse subplot? Anyway, that’s another wrinkle to contend with this season: A cocky businessman named Malcolm Dreyfuss (played by Jeremy Davies, doing his best impression of Sam Rockwell in Charlie’s Angels) is apparently summoning all these demons because “there really is no amount of blood that I won’t spill to get the rest of these” — these being the oversized-coin-looking thingies like the one his goon extracts from Abe Lincoln’s busted bust with his red laser eyes. That’s cool, although I think the twist ending with Diana’s daughter was way cooler.
So, the daughter is the Witness? We know this because she obsessively draws sketches of Crane, which I thought was kind of a nifty throwback to Abbie’s symbol obsession last season. I’m wondering if the daughter going mute is meant to coincide with Abbie’s death, thus officially making her the next Witness. Either way, we’ve got a long road ahead of us.
“That was supposed to be really badass,” one of our new demon-fighters says about the new gang and their spirit-slaying toys. My thoughts exactly.
- Crane: “The ongoing success of shows about real housewives … you know, evil.”
- Crane: “Your brogues are loosening … Your shoes are untied. [Knocks out abductor.] Oldest trick in the book. And that’s coming from me.”
- Diana: “I cannot believe this is what I’m doing. Crawling through tunnels with Mr. Downton Abbey.”
- Crane: “Allow me to introduce Miss Jenny Mills — soldier, scholar, gentlewoman, and all-around badass.”
Jenny: “Actually I prefer Ms. Badass.”
- Jake: “Because copper is the demon’s Kryptonite!”
Crane: “Or because copper is the demon’s weakness … oh yes, the Superman [pronounced su-per-min].”