Monday, December 1, 2014

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' - Ichabod Pleads to Henry's Humanity as the War with Moloch Comes to a Head in 'The Akeda'

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 2.11 "The Akeda"

Unforeseen sacrifices must be made and loyalties are put to the ultimate test in the fight against evil.

The final scene of "The Akeda" makes this fall finale feel much more like a season finale. If Henry truly does kill Moloch, then where does the show go in the second half of this season? Is it even satisfying that Henry is the one that gets to kill Moloch? Or will this war wage on? It's a great way to head into hiatus. However, that concluding scene doesn't hit as strongly as it should and that is largely because of the weird plotting of emotional arcs this season.

"The Akeda" has an epic feel to it. Moloch has risen on Earth and our heroes feel an urgency to rid the world of him before he unleashes the demons of Hell permanently. It's exactly what this entire war Ichabod, Abbie and company have been fighting against for the past two seasons. Why then, is it so anti-climatic? The family drama between Ichabod, Katrina and Henry has been a major focus this season - to the point that it has sidelined other stuff that should have been developed more. And yet, the family angst was never felt that emotionally deep or a strong source of tension. The "love triangle" between Ichabod, Katrina and Abraham was been bad all season long. Katrina was kept a prisoner in order to spy on the forces of evil. And yet, she barely retrieved any information for Ichabod and Abbie and spent most of her time saying the same thing over and over to Abraham and Henry. That character has really regressed this season. She is suppose to be an emotional center for the biggest plot this season. However, she just feels so hollow. She did nothing in regards to putting a sliver of doubt in Henry's mind over fighting alongside Moloch. And then, the fact that Ichabod and Katrina are willing to let Henry live is suppose to be enough to justify Henry turning the Sword of Methuselah on Moloch - the entity he has seen as a father for years now. That just didn't add up in a rewarding way. And yet, the plotting of this season would have you believe it's the conclusion that was meant to happen all along. Some kind of resolution to Ichabod and Katrina fighting to redeem their son. It ultimately just feels like plot progression for the sake of plot progression instead of a meaningful and complicated character decision.

And then, there is Frank Irving who is asked to do so much in this fall finale despite being such a non-entity this season. He has been cooped up in Terrytown Psych for the majority of the season and the only thing that has happened to him is Henry taking away his soul. And now, that fact is used to the benefit of Ichabod and Abbie. So now it seems like the only reason Irving signed away his soul was so he could use the Sword of Methuselah in this final battle. Henry didn't have a plan for Irving's soul after taking it which seems very uncharacteristic for Henry. He has been plotting his attacks throughout this city just so they could form the demonic star sign and bring Moloch and the underworld to this realm. Taking Irving's soul was just something he did for fun. That doesn't add up. However, it is very meaningful that Irving's grand fight sequence is against the armor of the Horseman of War. Henry has taken so much from Irving. And now, he's finally getting some payback. He just has to give his own life in order to destroy the suit and give Ichabod and Abbie one last chance to reach out to Henry's humanity.

And yet, Irving's death isn't that very meaningful in this episode because of how little he has been a part of this season. He has been an afterthought until the show needed him to be a part of the main focus. And then, Orlando Jones got to be a bit more fun and campy in his performance - just look at his interrogation of Abraham. It is the most exciting sequence for that character even though it ultimately just serves as a way to underline just how big a sacrifice must be made in this war with Moloch. Afterwards, Ichabod and Abbie have to determine the best strategy to attack Moloch before he unleashes his demon army. It's a bit preposterous how Abbie's plan to lure Henry to the church only to then take them back to Moloch and for Henry to be the one to use the sword on Moloch. It is crazy and has no reason to work at all. It's helped along in its justification when Moloch turns his back on Henry saying he can always find a new horseman to do his bidding. Without that scene, Henry's redemption wouldn't make any sense. It's still not as emotionally resonant as the show would have liked. They spent all this time on that family dynamic only for it to feel lackluster in the end. That only makes me think that this is not the end at all. Just because Henry killed Moloch doesn't mean he is on the path of redemption. Now, he could become the devil Ichabod, Abbie and team have to deal with on a weekly basis.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Akeda" was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Dwight Little.
  • Ichabod is hesitant to ride a motorcycle and then absolutely wants one once his journey is over.
  • When Ichabod and Abbie first held the Headless Horseman hostage, it was a tense sequence. And now, it feels lackluster because the show has added too much humanity and romanticism into Abraham.
  • Hawley's only purpose is to provide weapons and to protect Abraham from the potential demon army ready to free him. That's all I want from him anyway.
  • Where is the Kindred? Does the show even remember him?
  • Ichabod and Katrina recognizing that they are just soldiers in this war and have never actually enjoyed life as husband and wife seems like progress even though things are very cold between them afterwards.
  • The show gave us the great symbolic gesture of each member of the team vowing to pick up the sword should one fall in their quest to kill Moloch. And then, it's all meaningless in the end because of Abbie's plan to get Henry to do it.