Monday, October 7, 2013

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' - 'The Lesser Key of Solomon' Reveals Evil's Name as Ichabod, Abbie & Jenny Stop a Doorway to Hell from Opening

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 1.04 The Lesser Key of Solomon

Abbie and Ichabod search for Jenny, who has escaped from a Sleepy Hollow psychiatric hospital. As flashbacks reveal the real Boston Tea Party, Abbie and Ichabod discover more about the evil they are facing... and finally learn its name.

Sleepy Hollow has been on a role of producing entertainingly crazy and sturdy episodes after its pilot. We are four hours into this series and it is just as transfixing as that first hour strived to be. It has been able to hold up quality wise as well as narratively. But the show is also writing itself into a rut. The three episodes since the pilot all boil down to the same structure. The first half hour is setting up the mystery of the week and connecting it to both the current story as well as Ichabod's past. The second half hour has the team confronting the supernatural beings and excitingly stopping them before more damage can be down to the town of Sleepy Hollow.

Sturdiness is fantastic for a new series. It does need episodes like these early in its run in order to set up the basic structure and function of the series. Things are being well tied up at the end to prove how effective a team Ichabod and Abbie - and in tonight's episode Jenny - are. They utterly have no rational explanation for absolutely anything going on in Sleepy Hollow. But they are fighting to stop it because they fundamentality need to stop the forces of evil from destroying the world.

So, in "The Lesser Key of Solomon," Abbie, Ichabod and recently-escaped Jenny are looking for the Lesser Key of Solomon, a book that can open up a door to the 7th level of hell for the plethora of demons living there to enter into our world. That sentence sounds completely nuts but this show pulls off the ridiculous so well. The demons trying to enter our world was not a great showcase of special effects nor was it immediately as creepy as the Headless Horseman, the witch and the Sandman from the earlier episodes. But it is also very understandable why we got this particular story at this point in time - budget constraints from having to produce these episodes so quickly. We're going to get 13 episodes of this show basically nonstop this fall which means the production of the series won't stop until it's finished - and that can be pressing for a budget.

But this episode does offer us some answers and resolution - the name of the evil creature masterminding this entire plot is Moloch, Abbie & Jenny have their long-awaited talk. Those moments feel satisfactory and earned. It's simple plotting - giving us just the right amount of information at the right point in time while still keeping us intrigued for what's coming up next.

However, while the series is still very pleasant to watch and is masterfully crazy - as well as intentionally hilarious! - I'm still waiting for it to truly break out and just stun me. Everything is just being wrapped up a bit too neatly for the main players. They have no clue what they are really doing or the capabilities of what they are up against and yet they keep succeeding. They did lose the sextant to the evil German guys but they did ultimately succeed in stopping the portal from opening. I'm looking forward to the week where they will have to truly deal with the ramifications of their actions. Until then, I'm perfectly happy watching the show be crazy and Ichabod reacting to modern-day technology.

Some more thoughts:
  • Ichabod reacts to modern-day technology: OnStar!
  • No Katrina again this week. Gee, I wonder if she's okay in that world between worlds.
  • Captain Irving's investigation went no where in this hour. Those sequences with just him and the "normal" detectives feel out of place on the show. They need to figure out how to better utilize those aspects or simply write them out.
  • I do applaud the show for mixing real-life factual references into its grand mythology. Moloch has been used in multiple literatures over centuries and the myth of him fits very nicely into this world.
  • And Sheriff Corbin continues to help from beyond the grave!
  • This past week FOX also renewed Sleepy Hollow for a 13-episode second season to air in Fall 2014. That's a huge vote of confidence but after pulling in the numbers it has been doing in its first three weeks it's not a shocker at all.
  • And FOX keeping it in a more limited capacity feels like the best thing to keep this narrative focus. I have no doubt that the show could handle 22 episodes a year. But limiting it to 13 likely will keep it more focus and exciting to watch.