Monday, November 4, 2013

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' Returns Confidently in 'The Sin Eater' with the Best Ichabod-Abbie Scene of the Series

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 1.06 The Sin Eater

When Ichabod goes missing, Katrina appears to Abbie in a vision warning her that the Headless Horseman will return to Sleepy Hollow by nightfall; Abbie seeks help from the mysterious Henry Parrish (John Noble) who holds vital clues about how Crane can vanquish his blood tie to the Horseman; and an encounter from Crane's past weighs heavily on him.

For a show as young as Sleepy Hollow is, it has no business being as good as it was during that Ichabod and Abbie scene. And I sound pretty foolish for saying that last sentence. Sleepy Hollow has, by far, been the best new drama series on a broadcast network this fall. That has largely been because of the dynamic between Ichabod Crane and Lt. Abbie Mills. It is a strong case of the right actor finding the right role and performing it greatly.

The first season, so far, has basically operated under a monster-of-the-week structure. And that plotting is largely dropped in "The Sin Eater" to better establish the serial elements of the second half of the season. The Headless Horseman of Death has risen again but isn't quite on the same destructive warpath he was on in the series premiere. Ichabod and Abbie are both trying to find a way to break the blood tie he shares with the Horseman. "The Sin Eater" is a very exposition-heavy hour. I probably didn't buy into the importance of the flashback sequences as much as the show wanted me to by episode's end. But when it all leads up to the wonderful Ichabod-Abbie scene, it all feels absolutely worth the time getting there.

A large problem I've had with the show is it's failure to expand its world much at all. So much of the screentime is dominated by Ichabod and Abbie. And yes, when you have two great actors in those roles, it is completely justifiable. However, the show needs to build up the world around them. In the past, when the show tried to do something with its supporting elements, it has fallen very flat. Orlando Jones is still the disapproving, black authority figure. I have no clue what they're trying to do with Nicholas Gonzalez's detective. John Cho hasn't popped up for several episodes now.

With the additions of John Noble and, to a much lesser extant, James Frain, the show tries to rectify that fact in "The Sin Eater." Ichabod and Abbie are still leading the fight against the evil forces but now they at least have some allies. Neither of the new characters are given much time to develop as fully rounded characters. But they are also very pleasant additions to the show. 

Some more thoughts:
  • Ichabod Reacts to Modern Objects/Customs: Baseball.
  • Katrina has to reach out to Abbie for her weekly vision of vague information. But next time, she should probably avoid doing it while Abbie is driving.
  • Ichabod called Abbie by her first name for the first time!