Sleepy Hollow: John Doe Review
It was a return to top form on Sleepy Hollow tonight with the wackiest Lost Colony theory yet, plus the introduction of the next Horseman: Pestilence.
It took five episodes, but it is good to see Sleepy Hollow has finally returned to the glory of its oh-so delirious pilot. While there is nothing here quite as memorable as a Headless Horseman pumping off shotgun shells like he’s Rutger Hauer in an overrated grindhouse movie, this episode still played with some notions just as absurd: The Lost Colony of Roanoke has been hidden in the “Roanoke Forest” just outside Sleepy Hollow. What a coincidence! It’s confession time. As a native North Carolinian, I love myself some whacky Lost Colony theories. Granted, it is relatively likely they all died off from starvation, moved to a different area or mixed with one of the native tribes. Croatan, perhaps? However, that’s too boring when it could be space aliens! Or what about vampires who would later do battle with Abraham Lincoln? My personal favorite is that they were rescued to an alternate universe by Stan Lee/Jack Kirby superheroes in Elizabethan garb (thank you, Neil Gaiman!). Yet, none is quite awesomely wackadoo as this. As you may recall, Sleepy Hollow, beyond its procedural trappings, is a seven-year war of trial and tribulation between the two witnesses (Abbie and Ichabod) and the forces of Hell, as most signified by the Book of Revelations’ Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Well, turns out before the Hessian turned Death Made Flesh ransacked upstate New York during the Revolutionary War, the Horseman of Pestilence made his landing in North Carolina (then Virginia), chasing the first European settlers on North American shores all the way to New York where they have resided ever since under the watchful protection of Virginia Dare’s ghost, the first-born English-American and the first victim of Pestilence’s touch. Yeah. Let that one stir around for a bit, because I think we have a winner for best Lost Colony alternate history ever! (Though what is with always killing Virginia Dare, and in such grisly ways? Between that and her becoming vampire chow in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I think I’ll settle for Gaiman’s 1602 where she hooks up with the arachnid Peter Parquagh). Backdrop aside, this is only important because a boy of Roanoke has been lured out into Sleepy Hollow after some 400 years by a ghostly apparition. And unfortunately, child Thomas still carries the plague that the Horseman brought to Roanoke all those centuries before. While Virginia Dare’s spirit keeps the mystical town safe, real world Sleepy Hollow is about to get a mouthful of plague as this episode turns into a cross between Brigadoon and Contagion. This sort of zany and exuberant madcap nuttiness is why I loved the pilot of Sleepy Hollow so much in the first place. While the last three episodes have relied heavily on the traditional procedural formula, this is a bit different when the murder case is a sick kid whose ailment spreads from nurse to doctor to potential worldwide catastrophe. When the CDC gets called in, you know this is not supposed to be a job for the local sheriff’s department. Speaking of the Westchester Sheriff, our pal Capt. Irving has had a change of heart regarding Ichabod. He has all but officially deputized Ichabod, even going so far as helping his cover story as an Oxford professor from the 21st century who is “assisting” New York law enforcement in carrying out their duties. Of course, Abbie’s ex, Det. Luke Miles, thinks there is something fishy, but I call shenanigans on his red herring nosiness. What is important is not that he is investigating Ichabod, but that Capt. Irving is stalling for Crane, so far as to somehow have gotten Oxford to agree that a professor is on loan to the sheriff’s department. There is more afoot than liking his unconventional results! Speaking of Ichabod, after two episodes on the backburner, he is front and center again in his sweet, swaying coat, helping dear Abbie figure out that there is a hidden Roanoke Village in the woods and even giving her, as well as viewers, a history lesson about the lost tribe. Hell, he can even walk on water. No, literally there is a path of crossing-friendly water to Roanoke. Unfortunately, his supernatural awesomeness has its limits when he too is infected by Pestilence’s wrath, a side effect that came from caring for Thomas. Thus after visiting our time-warping Roanok-ians (yes, I did), he must be quarantined with the rest of the hospital staff who has come in contact with sick Thomas. This allows Abbie her first sequence of proving that Ichabod is more than just an asset or source for her duty, as she gets religion in his absence. But while she’s finding God in the small town hospital’s shockingly PC uni-faith chapel, Ichabod is finding the Devil in purgatory. When Ichabod returns to drowsiness due to infection, he is propelled back toward the loving arms of his missing wife Katrina. In the blue-tinted woods of tall timber in a murky witching hour light, Katrina reveals to Ichabod that she is in Purgatory. Oh Katrina, Forks, Washington can’t be ALL bad. Kidding aside, it is a grim fate, as she has been kept waiting here by the Keeper of Purgatory, Moloch. Woah, woah, woah. As we went over at length last week, Moloch is an ancient Ammonite god for child sacrifice (true) that got grandfathered into Bible studies thanks to a passing mention in Leviticus and then in Milton’s Paradise Lost. He now has the ability to control the fates of all those in limbo? And just why is Katrina in purgatory anyway? She even appears to be hiding something… Before she can confess what’s on her not-so-heavenly chest, Ichabod is yanked around by Moloch before being sent back to the living. As we are approaching the one-hour mark, Abbie is able to convince Capt. Irving, and apparently the now off-screen CDC, that the best cure for Ichabod and Thomas is in the healing waters of Roanoke. I know that the CDC has drawn up mock plans for a Zombie Apocalypse, but they’re really getting into the occult these days when a deputy and college professor can stroll out the front door of a quarantine with Patient Zero for a potential global epidemic. I hope they aren’t so easy-going with cursed werewolves too. In any event, as soon as Thomas is “baptized” in Roanoke’s heeling waters, the Horseman of Pestilence disappears, everyone infected, including Ichabod, is cured and…the Headless Horseman rises just in time to tease fans before Sleepy Hollow takes three weeks off for baseball’s post-season. Overall, this was an absurdly entertaining hour of television. For the aforementioned reasons, it worked so well because it shied away from the banality of procedural television that has plagued (pardon the pun) the last several episodes. By turning this into an infection-meets-historical fantasy hyper-fable, Fox gave viewers the thrills of the show they wanted while also raising some intriguing questions. Why is Katrina in purgatory? Before tonight, I just assumed because she was a witch that she was sent there. A fair damsel in need of rescuing. However, I am beginning to wonder if she is in league with Moll=och. Maybe she does not wish Ichabod harm, after all neither did John Cho want to hurt Abbie, but there must be a reason she is being allowed to chill there for over 200 years while Ichabod caught up on his beauty sleep (seriously, that flowing hair and coat are as timeless as his magical blood). Also, this is the first time I noticed writers drop the slightest hint of shipper delight when Abbie tells Ichabod that his place is “here in Sleepy Hollow” during the show’s closing minutes. Up until that moment, Abbie has been the rarest of the mythological characters on network television: A woman not defined by the man in her life. Could this whiff be the first aroma of a spell even greater than Katrina’s magic? And if Katrina were to come back, who is to say it would be as a friend? Certainly not to Abbie… Plenty to think about and burn through as we wait for next month’s return when the Headless Horseman rides into the land of the living once more. We’re about halfway done with the first season, and I feel like we could only now be getting to the good stuff. Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars