Sleepy Hollow: Sanctuary Review

Sleepy Hollow branches out into some classic horror for this thankfully haunted house spookfest. Also, Ichabod's a daddy!

It may be Thanksgiving time this week, but in Sleepy Hollow it’s always Halloween. After the last two weeks’ one-two headless uppercut, it seemed inevitable that we would be forced to return to “monster of the week” or (worse) procedural formulae. Yet, if the new status quo is as entertaining as tonight’s that should not be a problem at all, because Sleepy Hollow celebrated Thanksgiving in a haunted house. And I’m not just talking slamming doors and other paranormal phenomenon either. This was straight up Sam Raimi-styled madness, complete with a tree that was far too touchy-feely. This week centered around the home of one Lachlan Federicks, a fictional New York aristocrat who really put the fiction in fictional when it is later revealed that he paid all of his black servants a “fair wage” as freemen. It is both refreshing that a series like Sleepy Hollow would admit that a northern colony, such as New York, allowed slavery (until 1781), but then goes back on the harsh truth by providing a rich stalwart who would be so brazenly free as to form a “sanctuary.” However, the history of New York is not the issue, but rather the tree monster that is inhabiting his house like a cross between the vines in Sleeping Beauty and the bi-pedal monstrosity from Wes Craven’s version of Swamp Thing. And it’s come to this home for one particular reason…to claim Ichabod’s child. In a shocking twist, it is learned that after Ichabod’s “death” at the hands of the Hessian, Katrina discreetly delivered a child in this sanctuary during the American Revolution. Tragically, her bliss was interrupted when Man-Thing showed up to claim the kid as his own. It is a stunning revelation that made this week’s whole shenanigans feel far more important than it otherwise should have been.  The episode begins in the 2013 present when Lena Gilbert, a young billionaire with a taste for history, shows up at what was an ancestral home in Upstate New York. Her bodyguard cautions her of the danger inside, but faster than you can say Evil Dead, vines are wrapping around her legs and pulling her in a closet for what is decidedly Seven Minutes of Not Heaven. Thus, Frank Irving, now a firm believer in all things occult, sends Ichabod and Abbie on the trail, which is a nice relief for them as they both are lamenting how they do not have a family to share Thanksgiving with (though Ichabod takes particular exception with the concept of Pilgrims and Turkeys). It is all business-as-usual until Ichabod realizes that the missing heiress was researching Katrina Crane before she disappeared and that she is related, very loosely, to the saintly Lachlan. Before the 10-minute long cold open is over, Ichabod and Abbie are inside what Ichabod recalls was a paradise of freethinking, fighting against vines in the dusty tomb and their own ghostly shades after freeing Lena from one of the show’s funkiest (and creepiest) looking critters yet. It’s a fairly tight and economical premise, but haunted houses are always welcome, particularly if they come from the Raimi & Cambpell School of Upstate Tree Hugging. However, what made the episode memorable were the flashbacks to the 1770s enjoyed by…Abbie?! Being a Witness apparently comes with the perk of actually witnessing your ancestors if in the right room when convenient for the plot. In one Hell of a coincidence, it turns out that one of Abbie’s many times over great grandmothers was a free servant for Lachland and escorted Katrina and her newborn son by Ichabod off the property while her employer was getting a particularly nasty splinter downstairs. Apparently, whatever Ichabod did to keep him worthy of living in Moloch’s eyes—as Andy spared him on the demon’s behalf last week—extends to his son. The way crows were flying into the house during his son’s birth a la The Conjuring served as a prelude to Moloch sowing the seeds of this house’s discontent. Not only does the demon want Katrina as the Horseman’s eventual prize, but he wanted, at least at one time, Ichabod’s heir. What does this mean? One thing that should be pointed out is that the walking compost pile kept Lena Gilbert for Moloch knows what purpose. While it dispatched her bodyguard outright, Lena has apparently been trapped in that house for days. Indeed, during the final fight, it seemed more intrigued with having her than in killing ichabod and Abbie. Perhaps, this is because Ms. Gilbert is Ichabod’s great-great-great-great-great granddaughter. Consider that the Johnny Appleseed fellow also killed Lachlan immediately upon meeting him (the presumed ancestor of Lena), but desired to hold Ichabod’s son for unknown purposes. It likewise maintains the billionaire in its grasp instead of slaying her. Could this be Ichabod’s long-lost family that he so needs for the Thanksgiving holiday? It is a question skirted by for this episode, because Ichabod goes all Ash Williams once he gets the women folk out and returns with an axe and a mission. Ever so politely British, he tells the monster to give Moloch his regards, but it would have been so much more satisfying if he simply stated, “Swallow this” right before delivering an axe to the face. Also, credit to the cinematography for that showdown. It had a very Descent vibe to it.  As Ichabod licks the wounds of knowing that there was a son he (seemingly) will never meet, and that his wife is missing, Abbie reminds him that they have each other. Shippers swoon while the show gives Frank Irving a new wrinkle. Now that he is thankfully no longer the skeptic, he has to deal with his own critics when his ex threatens that if he doesn’t make more time for his daughter that she will file for complete custody of their daughter. Also, the show seems to be setting Frank and Jenny Mills up for a romance. Swoon once more, they will. Overall, this was a very solid week of entertainment in a series that has remarkably avoided ever falling into cliché or staleness despite its risky premise. Evil trees, haunted houses and major revelations into both Ichabod and Abbie’s histories? If every standalone episode is this good for now on, the Hollow may never be too sleepy. Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 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!


3.5 out of 5