Sleepy Hollow: Necromancer Review
Sleepy Hollow pulls from an unlikely source as the Headless Horseman's origin is revealed in this interrogation heavy episode.
“I’m in control,” Ichabod Crane desperately insisted this week to the reassurance of no one. But even if the Headless Horseman proved to be quite a loquacious fellow—all the more impressive in lieu of no head—when he ran circles around Ichabod, Sleepy Hollow has never felt more in control with what it wants to be. This week Sleepy Hollow finally found the voice creators Phillip Iscove, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Len Wiseman likely had in mind when it started. This wasn’t police procedural generics; this is historical fiction, Biblical horror and comic book melodrama masquerading in 18th century long socks. And it is damn fine entertainment. The plot was pretty tight and simple this week, as the focus was entirely on the sole characters of interest to Sleepy Hollow’s original purveyor, Washington Irving. There’s Ichabod, the Headless Horseman, Katrina Van Tassel and Abraham van Brunt. Yes, the show finally found a place for Brom Bones this week, and in some ways it is the most faithful rendering of the Headless Horseman to film or television. Read in the right light, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the story of how some locals played a fast one on an interloping snob who looked down on their small town customs. By dressing up as a ghostly headless horseman, Brom (Abraham) is able to scare away the snooty schoolteacher (Ichabod) with superstition that he’d otherwise look down upon. Of course, in all other versions of this American fairy tale—be it Disney or Tim Burton—the Headless Horseman is clearly headless and has dire designs in place for Mr. Crane. Almost inadvertently, Sleepy Hollow the TV show is now the first to marry those two warring visions. In a twist that should surprise no one who has read Irving (or seen enough TV shows), after several flashbacks introduce Abraham van Brunt as: A) Ichabod’s best friend.B) Katrina’s jilted fiancéeC) Ichabod’s aggrieved, rival duelist who is wounded, but left to die off screen… ….It turns out that Abraham is the Headless Horseman! So, the more skeptical readers of Irving were right all along! Sure, he is actually a headless horseman in this version, because he sold his sold to Satan Moloch to regain the hand of a woman who already spurned him, thereby agreeing to bring about the apocalypse because of a love triangle, but hey, she does have very bewitching eyes. This all comes out in a wonderful interrogation sequence in which Ichabod and Abbie have the Horseman trapped, but insist on trying to break into his mind (or whatever he’s using). They do this by recruiting Undead Andy Brooks to help out once more. Andy seems to do it for Abbie, which is still perplexingly odd, as she arrested him and got him on Moloch’s bad side. Seriously dude, she’s not that into you nor really cares that your soul is in fiery torment. But to his credit, he does warn them that if they put him in there, he will be doing the will of the show’s less Christian-offensive Ammonite Devil, Moloch. Strange how when it is convenient for the plot, Ichabod and Abbie believe every bit of ancient scripture and prophecy, but when a literal walking corpse who was killed by a demon says, “If you put me in that room, I am going to be forced to help him,” they just shrug it off as just a little hocus pocus. Once in the room, the Horseman uses Andy—apparently the Necromancer who summoned him from the grave before getting a terrible case of buyer’s remorse—to commune with Ichabod. It’s all small talk, really. “Hey, I’m going to kill you, bring about the end of times, and take your wife as mine for eternity.” He’s pretty chatty once you get to know him. Crane meanwhile does everything not to growl like Christian Bale and scream, “WHERE’S KATRINA?!” It’s a little bit comic book movie and not unlike Batman and the Joker or Bond and Silvia, but it’s also very, very fun. This is especially true because it allows Abbie and ourselves to see more of Ichabod’s past. It turns out that Ichabod, despite his protests, wooed Katrina away from his best friend. Does this contradict that they met when she was helping a freed slave that he was interrogating, apparently around the same time that Washington was preparing for war? Probably, but later in this same episode, we clearly see it stated that in 1774 (a full year before Lexington and Concord) Hessians for some reason are running around New York ready to shoot and kill any colonials walking through “enemy territory.” Let’s not sweat the small stuff like historical timelines or character motivation. In this particular episode, it works because it develops a wonderful motivation for the Horseman to hate Ichabod: The Horseman lost Katrina to him when they were super-BFFs. For creating drama in this moment, it’s superb. It does raise a few questions though. For example, how can a human being be turned into Death made flesh? Wouldn’t he just be an Undead corpse like Andy Brooks? Also, did he really have a choice? It seems the Hessians just turned him evil. Also, did the fate of human existence, and the war between God and the Devil, have to be broken down into a love triangle between Ichabod, Katrina and the Headless Horseman? I doubt any of those questions will be answered, particularly as it is too early to tell on the last one. But for the moment, it creates some great motivation for Ichabod to finally free Katrina, hopefully in time for November sweeps. It would make sense after the Headless Horseman escapes. In the B-plot, Frank Irving was finally allowed in on the fun when he and Jenny Mills valiantly fail to stop the Hessians from knocking out Westchester County’s power, thus killing the UV light holding the Horseman. Then (surprise, surprise) Andy in a demonic voice reads from Egyptian hieroglyphics and frees the Horseman. I. Am. Shocked. The curiosity of this is that Andy stops Headless Abe from killing Ichabod, insisting that Moloch has plans for Ichabod Crane. The plot now thickens, because why would Moloch want one of the only two Witnesses walking around upsetting his plans, unless Ichabod is needed to facilitate the End of Days? It is intentionally a thread left hanging, but for good reason. We now know why Katrina has been left in purgatory for a few hundred years: She is the prize the Horseman covets. I’m not sure she’ll be that into Abe after he brings about a great earthquake, the sun becoming as black as sackcloth, the moon becoming blood, and the seas boiling while the skies fall. But love springs eternal, I suppose. This is a terrific episode that dived deep into the mythology of the series and did a superb job of both developing Ichabod, as we see his more prideful, arrogant side, as well as putting heavy emphasis on why the Horseman is the show’s ultimate villain, even if he is sporting an AK-47 next week. He may be Darth Vader to Moloch’s Emperor, but he is the one with a personal connection to our hero, and he is the one we want to see vanquished. It made it personal, if in a dubious way, and even paid honor to Washington Irving. Plus, flashbacks to the 1770s are always welcome, as they are all that allows Katrina to be more than a damsel. Last week was funny, this week was genuinely engrossing. I truly hope that Sleepy Hollow has found its tone with these past two episodes and that we leave the most formulaic limitations of its genre behind in the future, because this episode was as killer as a demonically possessed Hessian in need of a skull. Den of Geek Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!