Sleepy Hollow: Blood Moon, Review

There is no Headless Horseman this week, but the Devil makes another appearance in this kooky monster mash. And in related news, Ichabod Crane toys with joining the Tea Party.

Last week, I gave Sleepy Hollow’s premiere pilot a glowing (severed) head’s up. It was a whacky gift in camp and television clichés knowingly wrapped in self-aware gothic packaging. Yet, this being a network procedural and all, the fear immediately set in that it would lose that all swifter than the Horseman’s axe. A week later, I can safely say Sleepy Hollow has thankfully retained the weirdness and levity of its first episode, however we are slipping deeper into formula with “Blood Moon,” and the risk of genre demands still threatens to eclipse this fledgling hit. Take for example how the episode begins. Despite more than a few of Westchester County’s finest ending last week by trading bullets with the Headless Horseman, who was so well armed he seemed more like a militiaman than an imperialist, we have resorted back to formula because the pilot got picked up. Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) seemed to give Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) leeway a week ago after obviously entering the supernatural. In fact, he all but let her deputize Rip Van Ichabod (Tom Mison) into law enforcement. But he has predictably recanted that original position tonight, deciding that she has to prove there is something spooky going on; he needs better evidence than multiple eye witnesses before he’ll believe his rookie’s hocus pocus gibberish! Fortunately, he then politely leaves to Albany for the rest of the episode, allowing the formula to run its course. If he is falling into type, Sleepy Hollow can still throw the clever curveball. As it turns out, it appears the real boss who will be calling the shots for the foreseeable future is Katrina Crane (Katia Winter). Sure, she may be dead, but that allows her to act as a liaison—or at least middle management—between Ichabod and the forces of darkness who are trying to bring about the Biblical Apocalypse. Ichabod might be her long-lost husband whose blood and soul is permanently mingled with the Headless Horseman, but damn if his foolhardy recklessness doesn’t get results!  Once Katrina summons Ichabod into her celestial office (think the set of Twilight for every time Ichabod goes to sleep), she unspools the first bit of tonight’s exposition: The Headless Horseman has gone to ground for the time being. No doubt, he is tacitly waiting for Fall Sweeps, the cunning bastard! Still, Ichabod and Abbie are in luck, because the ghoul of the episode has just come across Katrina’s desk. There is creature “like her” coming down the pipe for the town of Sleepy Hollow. When Ichabod reiterated this all to Abbie, frustratingly taking far too long to figure out “like her” means another witch, I was about ready to ding the show for already taking away the Headless Horseman and, I assumed, the Devil when the old horn head appeared. Let’s talk the Prince of Darkness. Sure headless horsemen with cauterizing axes are cool, but they’re so partying like 1999. Did you not see the box office returns on The Conjuring? The Devil is back. Yes, I know that thing we saw turn John Cho into a semi-pez dispenser has not officially been ID’d as the fallen angel Lucifer. But I’ve watched enough Rob Zombie movies to know that goat-like horns, besides signifying the slander of one of the farm’s most harmless creatures, means DEVIL. Playing “Sympathy for the Devil” during his first appearance likewise amplifies this case. So until Sleepy Hollow tells me different, I think they’re having a devil of a time with their big bad. And if so, who needs Headless Horsemen when you have Milton’s ultimate seducer walking around viscously attacking moderately famous actors from stoner comedies? Henceforth, it will only be a good episode if the Devil appears. And this week’s Devil Watch has batted us a two-for-two. If he sees his shadow in the third episode, it means two extra weeks of October! Anywho, the dark one came to resurrect John Cho in this episode. It is unexplained why the beast killed Cho and then brought him back, save for that we’re all holding out for a Harold & Kumar 4 (who isn’t?). Thus Cho’s Andy Dunn, the lapdog of the Headless Horseman, comes back with quite the long neck to be the lapdog of an old timey witch who Katrina once captured, allowing her to be burned at the stake. For whatever reason, that bitch is back and will reclaim her flesh from the ash of the descendants of the men who condemned her to fire. However, it is not all hellfire and brimstone. Mison and Beharie’s best chemistry moments still revolve around his fish out of water befuddlements in 21st century life. Take the scene where he looks at the receipt for a donut. Over four dollars, plus an eight percent tax! Ichabod demands to know why Americans are not protesting in the streets over this umbrage. Abbie rolls her eyes and threatens to send him to an asylum, readjusting him back to the show’s plot, but I couldn’t help but wonder how much more interesting it would be for a real colonial revolutionary to go down this rabbit hole. Imagine Ichabod taking his case to the press? He’d be in front of Tea Party rallies by Friday and have his own Fox News show on Monday. Now, THAT would be different. Of course, they’d tar and feather Ichabod when he revealed that he was an Oxford Professor who believes in a secular government…  Whilst Ichabod and Abbie drive cute around town, Andy and Witch of the Week hunt down her killers’ descendants. The first roasts in a car where the radio turns to, so help me, “I Put a Spell On You.” If only Bette Midler had made an appearance. Ichabod and Abbie follow the breadcrumbs to this witch zombie’s gingerbread house of a sewer just as she changes herself from scaly to flesh. Along the way, the witch reveals that Katrina is trapped inside a sealed realm between the living and the dead, and Ichabod blows her up, thereby wrapping up this episode’s menace. However, we did learn some intriguing nuggets to spread across the weeks. Firstly, Katrina is still alive. This really should surprise no one, considering that her body was not buried by her grave last week (it was the Headless Horseman’s skull). Plus, with Winter as a full-on cast member, there is no way they’ll pass up a love triangle down the road for when the wife comes back from limbo. Ichabod will save her, but not before this status quo is widely mined. The other development is that, to my surprise, Andy appears to be sticking around as a servant for the Undead and forces of darkness. He also shows remarkable sympathy for each man or child he believes he is sentencing to death. Wouldn’t he have squared away that morality before he started working with the forces of Hell? There is probably a storyline worth exploring there if Cho chooses to stick around long enough. Other than that, it also appears that flashbacks to the Revolution for Ichabod, and to a recurring ghostly Clarence Brown for Abbie, are in the cards as the show builds its tangled mythology. Two weeks in, I am still intrigued to see that foundation cemented with the bodies of many more upstate New York residents. Truthfully, I cared little for the “monster of the week” format unveiled here, as it is clear that unless the creature is the Horseman or some other Biblical threat, they’ll be dispatched without a second thought by credit’s roll. Still, despite the schizophrenic pace of the pilot screeching to the comparative halt of a network procedural, there is no denying that the man out of time vision of Ichabod is still bemusing and that Mison and Beharie’s chemistry is naturally appealing. If the show can bend more toward their interaction and the Dan Brown-by-way-of-Dante master-plotting, instead of just chasing a weekly specter, this will be one I’ll continue to stick my neck out for. Nonetheless, for the time being I will also continue scanning the horizon for the deadly axe in the shape of cop show formula. Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


3 out of 5