Monday, January 20, 2014

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' Offers Up One Game-Changing Twist in Season 1 Finale - 'The Indispensable Man' & 'Bad Blood'

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 1.12 The Indispensable Man / 1.13 Bad Blood

Ichabod and Abbie discover a dark secret buried within the pages of George Washington's Bible and unearth the shocking true nature of his death; Irving makes a near-impossible decision for his family that drastically changes his future; and the battle between good and evil comes to an explosive head and the town of Sleepy Hollow will never be the same.

A good twist is one that comes unexpectedly and shockingly - and yet makes the absolute most sense once you go back to examine all the evidence leading up to said twist. So when the show reveals that John Noble is actually Ichabod and Katrina's son Jeremy as well as the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, it feels entirely shocking, well-thought out and amazing - all wrapped up in one! Noble was a fine addition during his previous appearances - but he also brought a weird energy that often was different than the cadences of Ichabod and Abbie. Now, that it has been revealed that that was the point all along makes me even more grateful for the great minds behind this show. They clearly had a plan for the arc of this season - with even those episodes that felt like throwaway filler being important to this conclusion.

When Sleepy Hollow began way back in September, it had a pretty cooky yet crazily entertaining pilot. No one was sure on how it would be able to fuel enough narrative to fill an entire season. Part of its success goes to FOX for capping it off at 13 episodes. If it went to the tradition 22 episodes, I don't feel like things would feel as satisfying creatively as they did tonight. But more importantly was the story that Sleepy Hollow set out to tell. They presented a thread of human connection - that even in the most wildest of circumstances, friendship and connection can be forged. The series' examination of the Ichabod and Abbie relationship - and to a much smaller extant the Abbie and Jenny relationship - presents a grounding force and reality. The mythology continued to pile on and yet it was entirely easy to follow because of how those two characters were reacting to things as a team. It's their bond that makes it so devastating when he has to leave her in purgatory. A moment Katrina spies oh too well.

The finale also works immensely because it isn't afraid to push its characters into "unescapable" conditions. Nearly every main character's fate is left hanging by the two-hour's conclusion. Abbie is trapped in purgatory with her memories from her first encounter with Moloch. Jeremy hands over his mother, Katrina, to Abraham. Finally, Ichabod is trapped in the same box under the same spell that Jeremy was imprisoned in. The show is presenting things unconditionally hopeless at this point. How in the world are they going to be able to escape these circumstances and stop Moloch and Jeremy from releasing evil throughout the world? I have no clue. And yet, it's the exact type of cliffhanger the show needed to have to conclude its first season - one of satisfaction but also one of surprise and suspense.

"The Indispensable Man" - B+
"Bad Blood" - A

Some more thoughts:
  • Ichabod Reacts to Modern Things - Cell phones, emoticons and social networking sites.
  • The Yolanda shout-out was pure fan service, right?
  • While I'm happy that Katrina has finally been released from purgatory, I'm hoping the second season is not another rescue mission to find her. Katia Winter still has so much untaped potential in this role.
  • I really want Lyndie Greenwood to be a series regular in season 2 - even though she's left for dead in the finale. SPECULATION ALERT - She could die in that crash only to be reunited in purgatory with Jenny and both of them escape back to the real world together!
  • Also, really glad to see Clancy Brown pop up again. He is another face I really want to see more from in season 2.
  • Also, a pretty interesting guest spot from Victor Garber. It wasn't a lot but he did make an impact as purgatory's version of Ichabod's father. 
  • The most disappointing thing from the first season is that they never found a way to connect the show Orlando Jones was on with the rest of the show. He doesn't appear in the last hour at all - and his fate (confessing to murdering that priest instead of seeing his daughter go to jail) feels like a good way to just cut the cord with him.
  • So, that's it for Sleepy Hollow until this fall. Good news is that production on season two is starting up in March! So, it's very likely the second run will be for 13 weeks entirely uninterrupted!
  • Also, this first season seems like the perfect thing to binge-watch back-to-back-to-back. Audiences know it's gonna stick around. So I'm hoping even more people discover it before season 2. I also hope FOX gives that potential audience a lot of ways to get caught up as well.