Sleepy Hollow season 2 episode 1 review: This Is War

Fears of a second season slump begone. Holly can't contain her excitement about the return of the ace Sleepy Hollow...

This review contains spoilers.

2.1 This Is War

If you, like me, are a newcomer to Sleepy Hollow, you’re likely just as delighted that something or someone brought you to this underratedly wonderful show before you went on too much longer with your life. I binge-watched season one in preparation for this week’s season two premiere, and by the time the first notes of Sympathy For The Devil played in the first few minutes of the pilot, I was beyond hooked. As episode after episode maintained consistent – though often charmingly outlandish – intrigue, well, I had no choice but to become a serious fangirl. Or Sleepyhead, as I believe they’re called.

The first season finale left us with some major cliffhangers – Jenny is unconscious or possibly dead in the wreckage of her car, Abraham/the Headless Horseman has taken Katrina captive, Abbie is stuck in a dollhouse with time warp versions of her and her sister in Purgatory, and Ichabod is buried alive by his son Jeremy a.k.a. Henry a.k.a. War a.k.a. the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse. No big deal, but yeah, there are probably a few things to resolve at this point.

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Unsurprisingly, the season two opener picks up right where the finale had left off, though not without a little mind game first. Purgatory can do a number on anyone, and we as viewers aren’t immune. Though we can pretty much figure – since the brief first scene features Ichabod still in what appears to be his tomb – that the time jump to what is supposedly a year later isn’t real, it’s enough to disorient for the first third or so of the episode, and enough, unfortunately, to point War in the right direction to the key to Purgatory.

I will say I’m glad we don’t linger there in the illusion for the entire episode, however. I think one of the show’s strong points is that it doesn’t default onto the distractingly wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey. For a show with demons, alternate history, supercharged conspiracies, the impending Apocalypse, prophecies from the book of Revelation, and several characters who are well over 200 years old, the plot is surprisingly linear, or at least logically paced. It would be easy, say, to keep Ichabod and Abbie deluded on their own quest for Purgatory’s key until the end of the episode, and then just yank the floor out from underneath them and reveal Ichabod’s still underground and Abbie is still in that weird dollhouse. Easy and frustrating.

It’s so lovely to see Ichabod and Abbie back together when they actually do reunite, and extra lovely to hear Ichabod call her “Leftenant” (which actually contributes to the plot at one point) again. I will also say here on the front end – so that you may decide whether or not to keep reading – that I truly love them together but I truly do NOT ship them. Another strong point of the show, I believe, is their mutual respect and affection. Again, it would be easy to create a “will they or won’t they?” situation to drive viewership, but Ichabod and Abbie’s bond is far more significant than romantic tension – they are inextricably linked as Witnesses. They have to save the world together! My hope is that this is the bond that continues to be emphasized as the show progresses.

Ichabod is married, after all. And his wife, Katrina, is in her own reunion of sorts, but not at all a lovely one. As we learned last season, the Headless Horseman – when he had a head – was once her fiancé, Abraham. Their break-up, of course, was the catalyst for this whole thing, as it’s revenge against Ichabod that incited his return as the Horseman after his (first) death. Now he has Katrina, who surprisingly puts up a fight, albeit an unsuccessful one. This confinement gives him his chance to bestow upon her a beautiful necklace – a necklace he once gave her as his betrothed, and which now apparently has the power to make her see him as the man he once was, head and all. I’m interested in where this will go. Stockholm Syndrome, maybe? We did get a nice glimpse of him headless and shirtless, so…

We also get to catch up with Jenny, who thankfully survived the car crash. She is a sort of surrogate renegade Abbie this episode, helping Ichabod solve Ben Franklin’s riddles and generally wreaking havoc among whatever evil is lurking at the moment. It’s a nice turn for her, and a good chance to explore a different dynamic for both her and Ichabod.

Speaking of Abbie and Ichabod’s adventure solving riddles, the reveal that Ichabod was once apprentice to Ben Franklin (Timothy Busfield, whom I did NOT recognize) provided a goldmine of one-liners and revisionist history. I hope we see Mr. Franklin some more. Sleepy Hollow’s treatment of historical figures and Ichabod’s interaction with them is always ace, which again could very easily not be the case.

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Now everyone’s out of Purgatory (besides Andy, whom it was still good to see) and Moloch has suffered a defeat. This, though, as Ichabod says, is just the “opening salvo.” Henry/Jeremy/War has a new set of armour, and Moloch has a new plan. Please forgive my noobish glee, but I could not be more ecstatic about this season’s debut. If I’d had any concerns about a second season slump, they’ve been removed as definitively as the dirt over Ichabod’s grave. My only concern now is that I have to wait an entire week between episodes – how do you do it, guys?

Read our review of Sleepy Hollow’s season one finale, The Indispensable Man, and Bad Blood, here.

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