Sleepy Hollow: The Lesser Key of Solomon, Review

Evil Germans, Ammonite gods, and a timeline-defying Boston Tea Party, oh my! It's another week in the genre-warping world of Sleepy Hollow.

The damned Germans are coming. Literally. U.S. and German relations may have improved dramatically over the last 65 years, but things are still tense in Sleepy Hollow where residents still haven’t even forgotten that OTHER time. No, not World War I either; That OTHER, other time. As it turns out, a small sect of “Hessians” have waited all this time in a long frozen sleeper cell—we’re talking permafrost—and 200 years later, they’re ready to open the gates to Hell. Also, the Boston Tea Party was just a cover to find a sexton with a Biblical treasure map hidden inside…but I’m getting ahead of myself. This episode of Sleepy Hollow was very keen on following up the cliffhanger from last week when Abbie’s sister, Jenny Mills, escaped from the psych ward. And for the most part they get right to it. Capt. Irving is his usual “I want results” skeptic self to Abbie at the start. Something about being upset that she’s not going by the book or some such. Meanwhile, Tom Mison’s impeccable deadpan delivery as Ichabod Crane continues to carry these exposition-laden openings, as he lightens the mood early by recapping what happened to his beloved Katrina to the OnStar car-helper (now THAT is great product placement). However, gears start moving quicker than usual this time, as a certain rapport is being established by the characters. Technically speaking, Ichabod Crane should still be viewed as a cray-cray lunatic connected to a murder, especially given how Irving treated him in earlier episodes, but at this point he is just part of the team. We are no longer meant to think about his “temporary” status and nor are the characters, just as how Nathan Fillion’s Castle somehow managed to glue himself to the NYPD long after his book from Season 1 was published; it’s the beauty of television status quo. On the downside that can mean some generic “investigation” sequences, such as where Abbie and Ichabod interview the woman who helped Abbie’s sister, but for the most part it means storytelling shorthand that can get to the heart of the week’s narrative. In this case, it is about Abbie and Jenny learning to forgive each other. Indeed, Ichabod once more must take a backseat to their story with only some much-needed flashbacks to the original Tea Party (we’ll get there) to alleviate the tension. This primarily works, despite circling recriminations from what we already knew last week: Abbie betrayed Jenny when she lied about seeing a demon in the woods.  Speaking of the demon, I have bad news…Devil Watch is over. It has been fun up until now, because seriously, when the Headless Horseman is getting upstaged on a series named Sleepy Hollow, you have to be doing something right. Nope. It turns out that the goat-ish creature is named Moloch. For those of you who know your Milton, this is a terrifying demon king believed to require parents to commit child sacrifice, stemming mostly from ancient religiosity in the Middle East where Moloch was worshipped as a king of gods by the Ammonite peoples, as well as the Phoenicians and Canaanites. And yes child sacrifice by parents through fire was probably done in his name. The Book of Leviticus has a whole condemnation of this. That’s all well and good you’re probably thinking, but what’s he doing in Sleepy Hollow, America’s proverbial icebox? The answer is exceedingly simple: He is waiting for his sleeper cell of evil Germans (a-ha!) to trigger the Apocalypse by opening a portal to Hell with the Book of Solomon, allowing 72 demons to cross over into our world. Yep, that old chestnut. Did I mention that this is a whacky show? The use of Paradise Lost and ancient, old world mythology is fun, but it is also finally pulling from Irving again. As hopefully all remember, before the horseman was “Death Made Flesh” and the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he was originally a Hessian warrior decapitated during the Revolution when Irving wrote his fairy tale. And despite my insistence on calling the Horeseman a Hessian, I do believe tonight’s episode was the first attempt by series writers to draw attention to that fact, but they do so in a big way. Not only does Ichabod finally call the Horeseman a Hessian, he points out that these mercenaries for the British Crown were fighting the war WAY EARLIER than any of us recollected! According to Ichabod Crane, the Boston Tea Party was a diversion that he devised, so he could sneak aboard British ships to confiscate a sexton. I really enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed III of it all, but I am going to have to call shenanigans on this timeline. As stated in the pilot, Ichabod was originally a conscripted officer in His Majesty’s Army sent to the colonies to put down the rebelling subjects, at least until he switched sides. However, there were no colonies rebelling in 1773 (at least openly with a unified organization listing grievances). Further still, this is more than a lazy retcon: Ichabod states that General Washington sent him to Boston to stop this secret Hessian plan that could turn the tide of this war. Considering that Washington didn’t assume command of the Continental Army until the Siege of Boston in July of 1775, nearly two years AFTER the Boston Tea Party, that is a Hell of a secret plan executed flawlessly by Crane. Also in the flashback, it is revealed that a Hessian would sooner blow himself up than be taken by the Sons of Liberty, who I can only assume were actually Hospitallers from the Crusades implementing their master plan to birth the Illuminati through the prophesized ascension of John Adams. I wouldn’t put it past this show. In any event, those sneaky Hessians are still in Sleepy Hollow circa 2013, apparently as some form of witch/warlock/Satanist, ready for their final solution of opening the gates to Hell with the aforementioned sexton, which acts as a projector with a map for the Book of Solomon. And long story short, they succeed because Abbie and Jenny are too busy bickering, thereby robbing us of more Ichabod witticisms and Dan Brown-styled history fun. Fortunately, they make up for it by literally having a fight with the Hessians at the gateway to the Seventh Circle of Hell in Sleepy Hollow. Indeed, the baddies almost knock Abbie into the portal as CGI demons come for her soul. The look on her face is pure: “But I didn’t like Van Helsing’s special effects the first time!” Luckily, Jenny helps Abbie out of her predicament and all the Germans either bite cyanide pills or literally fall through the portal by the end of the hour. Actually, the last one more or less runs after the Book of Solomon, which Abbie herself chucks through the gateway…thereby closing it? If the demons have the Book of Solomon, couldn’t they just open it from the other side or use one of its many other incantations to their advantage? My head is beginning to hurt…  Still, this episode can be chalked up as a win for our heroes. Jenny forgives Abbie for the whole “my sister is all sixes and eights” schtick, and one of the Hessians before dying reveal a few key tidbits. First their cult/coven/neighborhood watch community is still in Sleepy Hollow and everywhere. Very sneaky and suspicious. But then again how successful can they be at hiding if their idea of a low profile is decapitating the local bartender and putting his head on a pool table (talk about getting behind the 8-ball)? The other is that the leader of their Sleepy Hollow order is Moloch, the aforementioned. This also gives a name to Abbie’s nemesis for the season, as I imagine that we’re about to hear it a lot. So overall, the mythology was nicely layered and expanded upon in some hilarious and creepy ways, depending on how you view its effects on kids watching this instead of reading their U.S. history textbooks. Meanwhile, Jenny has forgiven Abbie, meaning no visits from the Sandman for a while, and has been promised by Abbie through some vague dropped line that she’ll be out of the asylum in six months (Season 2?). So yay, as that means we’re back to the much more entertaining banter of Ichabod and Abbie next week. That’s a win all around. Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


3 out of 5