Mr. Harvey on SLEEPY HOLLOW: The Name Is The KEY

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Season 1, Episode 4 “The Lesser Key of Solomon”

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Oh, Sleepy Hollow… how I’m really starting to love thee. Episodes like this, well, episodes like this make me want to not have to be critical about the really silly things you do, because I’m just having so much fun. Of course I can’t really do that… not in my nature, I’m afraid, but really, it’s a close thing. We’ll try it this week and see how it goes, shall we?

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We open in Boston, in 1773, where it appears a bit of protest is going on down at the harbor, something to do with tea it seems. Or at least that’s what it first appears to be, because along comes Ichabod and some Colonials and they are on a mission that has nothing to do with tea or taxes. It all goes pear-shaped of course.

Picking up immediately after “For the Triumph of Evil”, our modern story finds Ichabod appearing to be talking to himself, delivering a soliloquy on his great love for his lost wife, but in reality he is dispensing relationship advice to the OnStar — I mean NorthStar lady, who apparently is quite grateful for Mr. Crane’s romantic wisdom. He is grateful for her unlocking the door of the car and teaching him how to use the stereo. It’s another little bit about Crane and modern tech, and as always, it’s cute and funny, but I’m still waiting for the real culture shock moment that should be here and isn’t. Of course I know it isn’t coming, because that’s not this show’s deal, but still. One does laugh.

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But all is not romance and laughter, as Abbie’s sister Jenny has escaped the institution and this is not good, since a) she’s wanted by the police, and b) she seems to know an awful lot about the recent weirdness about these parts, and c) she’s no real fan of her sister, feeling abandoned when Abbie denied that she saw the Demon that is behind this rush to Armageddon when they both were teens. (Abbie and Jenny were teens. Not Abbie and the Demon. This is FOX, not the CW. Although that could be fun. “Coming This Fall!”)

Of course Captain Irving isn’t happy about this, and also isn’t happy about Abbie wanting him to wait to put out an APB for Jenny, but then Irving isn’t much for being happy with Abbie in any event. It may have something to do with the fact that Sleepy Hollow shouldn’t even have a Sheriff, as it has a regular police department and a Chief of Police, but hey, we’re not tuning in for anything resembling reality here, now are we?

But Abbie and Ichabod aren’t the only ones looking for Jenny. There’s a vaguely threatening piano teacher receiving mysterious calls about Item 37, and suddenly the one friend Jenny seems to have out in the world is dead in his bar, and the piano teacher is revealed as being far more than threatening. What he and his men are looking for and what they intend to do will form the rest of the episode’s story, and give us the most fun in this crazy show since the Pilot.

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I could write about the Sister Dynamic here (Not Good), or the very Professorial Tone that Crane takes with both, or even the fascinating cartography skills he displays. I could talk about the shiny door to Hell full of nasty types ready to return to hasten the Apocalypse. I could, but it’s kind of a given: Abbie and Jenny don’t see eye to eye, but they will bond by the end of the episode, even if that seems a bit rushed; Ichabod was a professor, so turning it on his unruly “students” is a kinda natural thing and his map-making is a result of his photographic memory, which, you may recall, he brought up in the second episode. And the entrance to Hell, well, it’s very shiny and liquidy and CG-y. No, what I really want to talk about it our very chatty Hessian.

Because, oh yes, the Hessians have returned!  It’s not enough that the Headless one is lurking about, oh no. It seems that there are quite a few of these fellows around, and if you know your history at all, well, these guys were not known for being nice. And they are, apparently, everywhere, at least according to the Evil Piano Teacher, captured by our heroes, as sort of a consolation price for losing the magic sextant. And here’s where it gets fun.

You’re all familiar with The Talking Killer Syndrome, yes? Where the villain has the hero in his clutches, and instead of killing him like a sensible psychopath, he feels compelled to give a soliloquy? Well flip this around, and here you have our Evil Piano Teacher tied up and singing like a bird, because he wants our heroes to know what’s going on. Why? Because he serves a Demon from Hell, and he’s not remotely afraid of what they might do to him, and it gives him a chance to let Crane and Abbie know just how outnumbered and outgunned they are. Far more interesting than giving the info from a position of strength, here he makes it clear that all of this — Crane, The Headless Horseman and the upcoming Monsters Of The Week — all of this is far bigger than they know, and that the number of people they can trust is far smaller than they can hope for. Those Evil Witches Sheriff Corbin talked about? They blended into the population, and the Hessians did too, and they’re all over Sleepy Hollow, like demonic sleeper agents, just waiting for the right time to serve their hellish master. Andy the cop is just the tip of the iceberg. And these guys aren’t afraid to die, because they know they are going to Hell anyway, and that’s where they want to go. Nice.

So when the Evil Piano Teacher does the cyanide pill thing, and our heroes react so incredibly slowly to it, it’s because he accomplished his goal. His men have the sextant, and he got to be all threatening and cryptic, and so dying is just the next thing to do. Like you do.

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And that kind of leads me to the other thing I found really interesting this week: Sheriff Corbin was keeping a lot of secrets, like the important one about being in contact with Jenny, and being as much as mentor to her as he was to Abbie. One does wonder how much he really knew, and how much he may be connected to all this, since he told Jenny he knew death was coming for him… or perhaps that should be he knew Death was coming for him. The Good Witches blended into the town’s population too, right? Hmmm. Maybe there’s a reason Abbie is seeing his ghost, and that the rumor mill has Clancy Brown making more appearances this season. Hmmm.

Some other curious things to notice: The Mills Sisters are very well versed in the Bible, or at least in the Book of Revelation, and Jenny seems to have picked up quite a bit of knowledge about the Lesser Key of Solomon, the Ars Goetia and the 72 Demons of Solomon. It’s a quite unapologetic mix of Christianity, Judaism and Paganism running through the backbone of this show, and one must wonder how much we will get into real religion and faith. Oddly, I think that the crazy kitchen-sink mentality here may allow for some interesting religious discussions. And then there’s Captain Irving… who I still think is much more a part of this than he is letting on yet, with my current theory being that he’s part of the Good Witch contingent, what with the whole “I’m a yell-y Police Captain! Very Stereotypical! Except I keep letting my best cop hang out with the Crazy Guy and give them resources” thing he’s been doing. The police raid on the Evil Piano Teacher’s private torture chamber and the narration there sort of looks like they’re trying to give Irving a little bit of “Is He/Isn’t He” in the Good/Evil department, but for now… thinking he’s on the side of the angels.

Which is good, or at least may be good, ’cause I could be wrong, but hopefully not, because we know who our Big Bad is now, who Abbie and Jenny saw in the forest, who raised the Headless Horseman and imprisoned Crane’s wife in the limbo-esque world: Moloch, a King of Hell, real big on child sacrifice. Not a small player in Hell apparently, and while that’s certainly interesting and cool, it’s the child sacrifice part I think is interesting, considering the look we get into the history of Abbie and Jenny’s childhood. Raised by separate foster parents, and the one Jenny was raised by is a particular gem, the girls took the trauma of their family life and the experience in the forest and almost let those things destroy them. Their childhood was sacrificed to Moloch to some extent, but both women have turned that into strengths that will hopefully serve them well in the battle against the evil permeating Sleepy Hollow, in fact, Moloch may have made a tactical error… the Mills sisters may be his undoing.

So there we have it. And out earlier than last week! Yay! Should be even earlier next week! Yay! See you then.

[Sleepy Hollow on FOX]

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Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror film "American Maniacs", and serves on the board of directors for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and the Kansas City Film Commission.

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