Sleepy Hollow may be based on Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” classic. However, there is something more contemporary than America’s first fairy tale afoot in this upstate New York hamlet. Aye, it is a haven of horror movie madlibs. Bemusedly, creators Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Len Wiseman, and Phillip Iscove are throwing in all their apparent favorites from the genre and thus far it is proving surprisingly adhesive to this wall. However, with so many cooks in one Hell of a Kitchen, with every single one of them being noticeable, at some point it could boil over and burn us all. But not tonight.Our first shout out/homage/shameless copying comes from the beginning of the episode that sets the plot in motion. While Abbie is having dreams about her sister Jenny Mills (Lyndie Greenwood) and that sordid past glanced during the pilot, it is not until Jenny’s shrink is standing in her nightgown at the top of a building that Abbie begins to suspect dreams really do come true. It appears old Dr. Vega realized that Abbie’s sister Jenny had seen a demon when she was a little girl, but left her to rot in a mental institution for fear of losing her job.This provides enough of a tenuous explanation for her to do her best Omenimpersonation when she more or less tells Abbie “It’s all for you” before swan diving off the top of the building. While not quite the same as a nanny stretching her neck out for a love of duty, it certainly left an impression on the local sheriff’s department, starting with one of their cars. Once Abbie finishes her already obligatory scene of convincing the skeptical-for-five-seconds Captain Irving that Dr. Vega’s eyes were glazed over like a trance—they then evaporate into mist when the copper examines them—they all accept that a supernatural element is at play. Our intrepid heroes are on the scent!It has become more than evident that major Sleepy Hollowepisodes will be divided into three main plot threads for the time being. The first, which is the primary, is of the Four Horseman, the Bible, prophecies, and of course old Crop Top himself. The second will revolve around Ichabod Crane trying to save his wife, a witch, from an inter-dimensional realm because of her dabbling in pagan forces not approved by his Church. Both of these are rooted in Christian lore and have thus far featured the Devil. The third subplot is strangely Devil free (two strikes against this episode right there) because Abbie’s storyline is going to some REALLY different places.
Abbie’s plot, the center of the evening, goes back to the watcher in the woods she and her sister witnessed as children. It is learned that not only did they see a demon, but the sighting also caused them to “disappear” to places likely better left unknown for four days. Upon being discovered by a local farmer who witnessed the demon as well, they were interviewed about what they saw, causing Abbie to lie her way to the top; Jenny conversely discovered the truth did not set you free.That’s all very well and good, but when is someone going to get decapitated? Answers the show: Do bullets count?Given that this is Abbie’s first singular episode, Ichabod remains in the background. There is not even a summoning of semi-dead, but all bewitching Katrina to keep him interesting. However, he does have his first of two great moments tonight when he confronts Jenny. She discloses all that I said above and proves to link these deaths to the demon they saw. If her doctor didn’t believe her, then what about the farmer who also lied? Ichabod and Abbie rush across town just to be in the nick of time to see Farmer Clark remove his own head with a pistol under his neck. It’s not as clean as the Horseman’s cauterizing blade, but at least we can all enjoy the direction the show headed.Before long, they finally understand that the demon is from Native American myth with a name I am not even going to attempt to spell out. Apparently, there are many dream demons to fear: Asian ones, Native American ones, and a brightly sweater-ed American one that goes without a mention like the razor-gloved elephant in the room. The show ultimately settles for calling this bad boy “The Sandman,” and I respect the Halloweenwink inherent with playing The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman” classic to sell the point, but let’s all be honest: He’s Freddy by way of Guillermo Del Toro. He has a cool sand shooting effect and a lack of eyes that would make the Pan’s Labyrinth filmmaker smile, but he is still the dreaded Fred.To the show’s credit, by making it a creature of Native American folklore, it allowed us to flashback to Ichabod’s other quality moment of the night. He’s shocked (SHOCKED!) that Native Americans were not protected by the U.S. government. Ichabod supports emancipation, women’s right and viewed the Mohawk Indians as his equals? Maybe he isn’t a man out of his time, but one WAY AHEAD OF IT ….And he still is!Ichabod’s respect for those noble Native Americans does allow our heroes to meet who I hope is a recurring character, Wiroh (Alex Livnalli), a car dealer who also dabbles in ancient shaman medicine. What luck! He at first throws them some shade for treating him like “Kemosabe” (nice The Lone Ranger burn, Fox), but then agrees to place them in a dream state where they can fight Freddy. Once under, thanks to the magic of scorpion venom, Abbie is forced to relive her childhood trauma of lying that she didn’t see a demon. And just as Eye-Guy is about to claim her soul for Hell following a sleep-induced suicide, Ichabod shows up to battle the sand creature in a really nifty special effects sequence. Ichabod’s limbs are turned to sand as Freddy menaces, “Your sins are not mine to punish.” That’s cool…I think.It is in that moment when Abbie admits that she saw a demon and betrayed her sister. This causes Dead Fred to turn to ice, which she then smashes. Honestly, how does admitting you sinned absolve one of the guilt or redeem a soul? I don’t know, but it’s five minutes until 10 o’clock and the news out of D.C. seems to be awfully hellacious on its own.So that was this week. The take away is that Abbie’s story will be very interesting indeed, as the demon she and Jenny saw was the Devil. So, we did see him this week! I guess we can count that as another point for Devil Watch. Woot for Sleepy Hollow. That also means the location she and Jenny saw it, with the multiple white trees, is a place of evil not unlike from Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollowfilm of 1999. Is it also a gateway between our world and Hell? If so, it may be Ground Zero for the Apocalypse foretold in the Book of Revelations. Heavy stuff indeed.Thus, it will eventually curtail into the other two storylines. In the meantime, it gave us some cool sand imagery and what I hope is a recurring character who can become the mystical Lucius Fox to Ichabod and Abbie’s Batman and Robin. I certainly appreciated that he was more helpful than the CSI gal who was completely neutralized from TV jargon usefulness by an extreme case of failing eyesight. This episode also proves that they will be pulling more from than the Bible for their mythology. I cannot wait until we discover that Nessie is really living in the local Sleepy Hollow pond.Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars