Sleepy Hollow: The Midnight Run Review

In the show's best episode since the premiere, Death (aka the Headless Horseman) has not taken a holiday...from Ichabod. The two do battle as Ichabod faces an even greater foe than Death himself; he discovers the Internet.

Now THAT is the Sleepy Hollow episode I have been waiting for! While last week may have been the first installment that I totally shrugged off, I have longed for Sleepy Hollow to find that bold, wackadoo style that made the pilot such a gonzo delight when it first premiered. After all, this is a show where Ichabod Crane is a time traveling revolutionary who has come to 2013 Upstate New York to do battle with the forces of Satan, as personified by a red coat-wearing Headless Horseman, double-wielding a battle axe in one hand an assault rifle in the other. If Quentin Tarantino decided that he wanted to make a quiet little horror movie, that pilot would be the edited-for-network version of it. Tonight, “The Midnight Ride” feels like the schizophrenic joy that we were waiting to see return ever since that early promise, but which has been bogged down in procedural, or in last week’s case, an earnest back story for Ichabod. Indeed, one wonders why THIS was not the episode to come off the two-week World Series hiatus. But here we are, and Ichabod is glad to meet his old friend again. “Death.” The show opens early on the deceptive direction that this will be our first hour about the Westchester Sheriff’s Department. It makes sense, considering that while Abbie and Ichabod are getting fairly well defined at this point, the dialogue-free demon Moloch has had more screen time and impact than these scenery players. This is a particular crime in regards to Orlando Jones as Capt. Frank Irving. Up until tonight, I was convinced that Frank was in on the conspiracy, as either a force of good or evil. Because let’s be honest, when six episodes pass of decapitation, ritualistic suicide and sin eating, and you STILL play the weary skeptic, it’s because you have severed heads of your own in the closet with bodies dissolving in the bath. Nonetheless, it appears that Frank really was truly oblivious to the reality staring him in the face—quite literally since he may as well have put a hat on Ichabod Crane stating “Honorary Detective”—for the past some months since he looked genuinely shocked when the Headless Horseman came busting into his science lab with an AK, ready to give his review of procedurals that use an over-abundance on CSI. “Analyze this,” the Horseman surely thought when he served up a fresh round of ballistics to the day-player doc. Frank was more fortunate when he shot his way out with the always unwelcome visitor from the other side of the fence, and returned exasperated to Abbie and Ichabod. It’s all real! Welcome to the club, Frank. Now, assuming the writers choose not to retcon that shock as just an act for a truly sinister ulterior motive (always a possibility from writers of the JJ Abrams School of Bizarre Plot Twists), I hope that Orlando Jones takes on more of a personality than the gruff non-believer who is there to spoil everyone else’s fun. Perhaps he can become a conspiracy theory chaser? I would love to see Jones transition Capt. Irving from archetypal hardass to a supporting actor who is Goldblum-ing. There is also some stuff about how supposedly important Det. Luke Morales is trying to protect Abbie again, but he remains little more than a red herring to invite John Cho’s semi-dead character back into the story, playing a very poor Lucifer for Luke’s Faust. Fortunately, that bit of non-drama is placed on the backburner for the rest of the episode, because the rest is bloody bonkers.
 Quickly, the show changes gears to the far more entertaining relationship of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, who have a newfound status quo, especially in contrast to their shared history with Paul Revere. As it turns out, Paul Revere had secretly contained the way to trap demons (and what can be more demonic than the first Horseman of the Apocalypse?) on his infamous Midnight Ride. This allows the typical bit of pseudo-history to be thrown in. Yet, for a show that has implied the Boston Tea Party was part of the Revolution, and indeed this week infuses the twist of a Hessian (really Death made Flesh) chasing Paul Revere down the road to Lexington, I must say that Ichabod’s umbrage with a Paul Revere tour guide who mistakes Revere for Samuel Prescott’s route in Concord to be a bit…hypocritical? After all, as Revere was detained by British soldiers, I now am beginning to suspect that he too is in on the Cult of Revelations, as his head (as far as we know) remained squarely attached to his shoulders. But the real joy of all this is that it returns the show to its humorous history madlibs (Revere was revolutionary, revolutionaries liked Cicero…Cicero is the key to locking the Revere Code!) of the pilot. Best of all, Ichabod is feeling sorely out-of-time this week. For example, he knows not how to work the wondrous visions that come from the Internet when transcribing information. He also worries that if an enemy should flee to London, it would require a three-month boat ride. However, the (comedy) highlight for me was the battle of the Jeffersons. Witnessing Ichabod Crane, who places Jefferson on a pedestal, deal with the very, very thorny sides of Jefferson’s history with race relations, particularly in regards to Sally Hemings was too delicious to overlook. Albeit, in the show’s rush to turn Jefferson into a punchline, it should be noted in his honor that most believe that the former U.S. president did not begin a relationship with Hemings until AFTER his wife had died. The other comic gold of the evening was Ichabod’s flummoxed conversation with Internet porn. Madame, he is a taken man. His proper English modesty is obviously intended for his still Purgatory-trapped wife, Katrina—though he does admit to Abbie (and millions of shippers at home) that only two likened “Witnesses” can truly know each other—but I think we know who he is really forever linked to: Mr. Necrosis himself. Because yes, despite separating themselves thanks to the magic of sin eating, Death clearly did not take a holiday from Ichabod. In this episode, it is all about their very special relationship. The show opens with the Headless Horseman laying a bloody siege upon the Freemasons, who are all now headed to a better place. The Headless Horseman also proves himself to be as much the scholar as Ichabod when he mocks the dead by placing candles and silvers into their severed skulls, an insult to their spiritual beliefs. But it all comes to a head [I apologize] when Ichabod holds the Horseman’s long-removed skull in his hands upon the fields of Death. In a graveyard chase worthy of Washington Irving, TV Ichabod finally lives up to his namesake as he pursued on horse, and eventually foot, by the Horseman longing to claim a scalp or two. He even gets more than that when he realizes that Ichabod has played him with a trick instead of a treat. THorseman finds one fake skull after another. Happy Halloween, Headley. Of course, it is all a brilliant trap since headless horsemen, it turns out, are like vampires. Using artificial UV lighting, Ichabod, Abbie and even the Captain Frank(!) lure the monster into their Demon-busting room filled with enough UV light to make Dracula take the permanent dirt nap. Sure, it is only containing the Headless Horseman, who’s probability for escape on a show called Sleepy Hollow is likely higher than the series’ body count…but for now let’s savor the small victories. This was a terrific episode of Sleepy Hollow. It did lack, as far as I can tell, much of the historical and mythological name-dropping, which has turned the middle episodes at their best into a 52-card pick-up of references. It also could have used more of the charming Ichabod and Abbie banter. But what it missed in those departments, it brought back from its original genesis like a Horseman out of Hell. The humor of Ichabod trying to circumvent the Internet is only surpassed by watching him dodge the Horseman. And when Orlando Jones is finally allowed to do more than roll his eyes and sigh, it is a big episode for this rookie series. I would tip my hat, but I’m feeling a little light-headed. Okay, you can groan at that one. Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Rating:

4 out of 5