“Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream…”
Good Lord, but this is late.
Sorry Lads and Lasses… this week has been overly full for your Mr. Harvey, and here we are, running up against the broadcast of the next episode. Sigh. Onward.
So what do we have here, in the 3rd episode of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow? Is it more of the entertaining madness of the Pilot, or are we looking at something closer to the fun-but-somehow-disappointing 2nd episode? I am pleased to say that it is closer to our initial introduction to the apparently doomed town of Sleepy Hollow, with a lot more of the craziness that was so much fun the first time here. From sins of the past brought back in personal ways, a history lesson that is less than subtle but rather effective, to a couple of characters we don’t know a whole lot about getting some solid moments that raise interesting new questions, there’s much to like here… even more if you’ve been wondering what Tom Mison looked like shirtless, or Nicole Beharie in her bra. In that case, you did really well this week.
But first, because, well, I’m a critic, and some of the madness of this show does involve a certain amount of “Really?” moments, let’s talk about what doesn’t work so much. Because I do have a couple of moments here that I just shook my head at.
The first one, and the big one, is our introduction to Seamus, who runs the awfully named Geronimotors, a used car lot in Sleepy Hollow, and, apparently, the only Native American Abbie can think of. Naturally his response to being asked about an Navaho dream demon is “Seriously?”, and that I’m perfectly fine with. It’s the next bit, where he, OF COURSE, knows all about said demon, and how to fight it. Not saying that it’s impossible. My family is Scottish, and I can tell you a LOT about clan structure and history, but the fact that the first (and apparently, let me say it again, the only) Native American Abbie can think of has all the knowledge necessary seems a lot like Hand-Wavey Storytelling, which, for those who don’t know, isn’t a good thing. You know those moments, where the solution to a problem just doesn’t make any sense if you think about for a second, or you realize that you’ve just listened to a string of techno-babble, or magic-babble in this case, and you realize that the writers would rather you NOT pay too much attention and would just move onto the next scene? Yeah. That. Anyway. Hi Seamus. I suspect we’ll be seeing you again.
The other problem, and the funny thing is I kind of like it, in a weird kind of way, is the REALLY odd way Orlando Jones’ Captain Irving seems to A) Know Way Too Much and B) NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE IRVING KNOWS TOO MUCH. Sure, it’s early days, right? We’re just getting to know the characters, OK, but hang on a second here. Our heroes have broken into a locked archive room, by breaking down a wall, and somehow Irving knows they’re in there, and just nonchalantly offers them keys? He may not know “everything” like he tells Abbie’s ex Luke, but his reactions to all of the recent paranormal craziness in Sleepy Hollow is nothing short of odd. Between letting someone who could be an escaped mental patient run around solving mysteries with Department backing and reacting to Headless Horsemen and Witches with a kind of “Huh. Don’t see that every day” attitude, one does have to wonder what he’s really up to. I do like that part, because I like Orlando Jones, and I think he’s great in the part and clearly he’s got secrets that will be fun and ridiculous, but there are a LOT of police officers and detectives around him, let alone Abbie and Ichabod, and no one is thinking this guy is acting kinda weird for a police captain?
Oh. And no John Cho this week. And no Clancy Brown. Boo. Boo I say.
Anyway. There is much to enjoy here, like the tone and pacing seeming a lot better than last week. I thought “Blood Moon” kinda rushed its way to a fairly anti-climactic conclusion, and yes, the defeat of The Sandman is quick here too, but it felt more natural, story-wise, this time. Certainly the effect was better, with the whole sand/glass/shatter thing. And it felt a lot more personal of course, with the victims all being connected to Abbie and her sister’s first encounter with the Demon behind it all, and the guilt everyone involved feels over what happened to Jenny. Of course, one wonders why Jenny’s psychiatrist would believe that Jenny would have, in fact, seen a demon, but no matter! Guilt is a very powerful emotion, and The Sandman is using that guilt over Jenny’s incarceration in a mental hospital as a weapon, first driving Its victims crazy, then giving them cataracts that they can still see through, apparently, before driving them to suicide. That’s pretty creepy: A monster inside your dreams, using your guilt against you. Not bad. Kinda Freddy Krueger-esque, sure, but not bad.
And it’s a great looking Monster too! Mouthless, bone-white skin, those way too long fingers… yeah. The Sandman is a visually creepy fellow, one I hope returns in some way, as it almost seems a shame to lose such a visually striking baddy. A conversation with my The Walking Dead co-reviewer Dustin Adair raised the point that we saw The Sandman defeated but that doesn’t mean It was destroyed. Somehow one suspects there is plenty of guilt floating around this town…
Our main characters continue to be the best part of the show, with the interplay between Abbie and Ichabod being just a lot of fun to watch. Sure there’s the culture clash, this week focusing on the U.S.’s terrible treatment of the Native Americans, which gets us some great lines like “The new government and Native Americans fought over land. There aren’t very many left.”, which is a tragic understatement, and the introduction of Ichabod to energy drinks and receptionists. It gets a little rough with Abbie having to retell the story of the Four White Trees and the Demon and how it screwed up her and her sister’s lives, especially since we learned all about that in the previous two episodes already, and it feels like it’s just there to catch up the folks who came in late, but the chemistry between Mison and Beharie continues to be just about perfect. Maybe a little too good in fact, as this week seemed a lot more like hints of flirting than we’ve seen before, but at least Ichabod’s cryptic Witch wife didn’t show up to be all cryptic-y at him, which is probably for the best, as there was that shirtless scene. Ah, eye candy for everyone!
And then there’s sister Jenny.
I said last week that the first look we had at Jenny echoed Linda Hamilton and Terminator 2, and this week it’s more than the visual cue. Confined in a mental hospital for insisting she saw a demon, well, Jenny turned out to be right, didn’t she? There’s some fun to be had with her sparring with Ichabod, but more to come when we see she’s escaped, temporarily delaying the sisterly reunion. In an episode all about guilt, it’s good to see that Abbie has moved to a place where she can try and reconnect, and presumably make a really HUGE apology, but I can’t help feeling that there may be some future doom awaiting Jenny… In any event, Lyndie Greenwood is interesting to watch in the part, so I’m hoping she ends up being as much of a recurring character as she can be.
So… some more character development, a pretty creepy Monster, Ichabod and Abbie being all Mulder and Scully, which I’m sure already has fan fiction blowing up out there in the Interwebs, and more general weirdness than you can shake an ax at. Yep, it’s Sleepy Hollow. And it’s already been renewed for a second season. That’s OK, I’m thinking.