Now that’s more like it, Mr. Crane. After a rather jittery season two premiere, Sleepy Hollow has found its new kooky rhythm just in time for what will hopefully become a new pop culture icon—or at least a meme on Tumblr—FRANLKINSTEIN! Of course, Abbie Mills had to rob a million reviewers of the glory of coming up with that.
Yes, “The Kindred” had some still creaky issues (more on that shortly), but this was Sleepy Hollow returning to its wacky charm of man-out-of-time jokes, a supernatural riff on Moonlighting chemistry, and a wild ride with the Headless Horseman, which has apparently left Ichabod once more in the passenger seat of his own marriage.
But above all else, there is the reveal that Benjamin Franklin sewed together the corpses of the dead to create his own anti-Horseman monster. The reveal that Benjamin Franklin could have been a contemporary of Mary Shelley (or more if you read Percy’s manifestos) if born a number of decades later is silly enough to probably amuse the American thinker himself. I haven’t been this giddy since I was puttin’ on the Ritz.
Alas, the episode had some less welcome developments as well. The first, and by far most long-ranging, issue is the revelation of Sheriff Reyes, ably played by Sakina Jaffrey. A gruff and no nonsense kind of boss, she clearly and vocally announces that there is a new sheriff in Sleepy Hollow. Or, in other words, here comes another annoying procedural cliché of the tough, professional skeptic who gives our heroes a hard time. Be it 48 Hrs. or Lethal Weapon, I didn’t like the stereotype when it was “fresh,” uch less now when every half-decent procedural soils themselves with this yawn-inducer, much like Castle in recent years.
The best thing about Frank Irving, besides Orlando Jones being obviously awesome, is how quickly he lost the “I wish you did it by the book—but damn if you don’t get results!” attitude. The boss joining the television dynamic duo to make it a triumvirate was refreshingly subversive and rewarding to the viewer. This, on the other hand, will be a long road of formulae…unless of course she ends up being evil….which is an interesting idea now that I’ve typed it.
Oh yes, she also cements her initial antagonism (until Abbie and Ichabod win her over with their steadfastness later in the season) by arresting Jenny Mills and putting her back in a season one cul-de-sac while also trying to Carrie Matthison Frank Irving.
But back on the positivity front, Ichabod and Abbie’s story was dynamite beginning with Ichabod’s obvious dream of Katrina falling into a ring of fire. Afraid that the Horseman will take her head in order to wed her to himself, Ichabod, Abbie, and Jenny (pre-plot device) devise a way to save Katrina via exhuming Benjamin Franklin’s aborted monster—the “Kindred.”
At first, Abbie seems reluctant about playing the role of a modern day Prometheus. However, Ichabod insists, “This Kindred wouldn’t be a monster; he’d be our monster.” Hell yeah! Except, um, Ichabod, I think that he may prefer “Creature” or perhaps “Sharply Featured Man” in lieu of Kenneth Branagh sensitivity training? I don’t know, but personally, I think “Caliban” has a nice ring to it.
In any event, they first must retrieve the Horseman’s Head for the Kindred, which is (where else?) in the Sleepy Hollow Savings and Loan. Enter a nice man-out-of-time joke about Crane rightly noting that despite the broad smile of a walking suit, these banks have made us a nation of debtors. Invoking the Founders, Ichabod chastises the bankers for putting chains on their front desk pens (or “quilts”), duplicitously promising free finance when we cannot be trusted with ink. Well said!
Meanwhile, Katrina’s story fails to gain any real traction with an increasingly less scary iteration of the Headless Horseman. Geez, with the way he’s going on about how much Ichabod prefers Abbie to Katrina, I’d half mistake the Hessian for a teenage fangirl. However, my trust in Katrina is tested as well in this sequence since she says to her one-time lover that Ichabod and Abbie are witnesses and their fates are pre-destined despite “whatever plans we may have for them.”
Doth my ears deceive me? “Plans?” “We?” Katrina may not be in league with the Horseman, but I’m definitely firmly calling it now: Katrina is an inevitable antagonist for Ichabod and Abbie, which thus solves any conflict between Ichabod’s marriage and Abbie in the future. Whether she is in league with Moloch or simply serving some other bewitching scheme—or perhaps just siding with her long-lost son?—these are not the words of a loving wife waiting for her knight.
Indeed, we see what happens when Ichabod does show up. While there is an awesomely nutty duel of fates outside between the Horseman, Franklinstein, and an empty suit of armor (there’s no way they’re getting John Noble on one of those horses) with a flaming sword, the far less interesting development inside the house is revealed when Ichabod saves his princess, only to learn that she wishes to stay in the castle. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she plans to be a mole and spy on Moloch and the Horseman’s conniving and what not, but I agree with Abbie’s initial reaction when she sees Katrina is staying. “Damn, this is some contrived television writing!” Bah, these are but quibbles in the face of two and a half Horsemen outside.
I just hope that when “Ichabbie” (Google it) settles down that they have “Keadless” over for waffles.
Speaking of Ichabbie, we have some nice old fashioned shipping going on when Ichabod and Abbie share a heart-to-heart about their weaknesses. Abbie says that she thinks her trust in Ichabod is her weakness. Mayhaps. But it is most certainly Sleepy Hollow’s greatest strength.
Another such power source is John Noble, who once again gets the devious final scene of the episode when he shows up at Frank Irving’s side “saving” him from the sheriff. I don’t know, cutting his blood on that contract makes me think a lobotomy would be Heaven compared to the Hell he’s in store for.
However, as viewers, this was nothing but a triumphant return to form for Sleepy Hollow. Annoying procedural clichés aside, this episode was powered by some seriously strange ideas. On any other show, this could qualify as the strangest hour in the entire series. But as Frank says “then I came to Sleepy Hollow.” And here? It’s just another glorious Monday.