Monday, February 16, 2015

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' - Katrina Makes a Decision That Could Change the Course of History in 'Awakening'

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 2.17 "Awakening"

Ichabod and Abbie fight against those who want to re-awaken a powerful witch coven and Jenny learns a disturbing truth about Frank Irving.

Sleepy Hollow has been struggling to find narrative drive ever since Henry killed Moloch last year. That was a big part of the character's emotional arcs as well. What is Ichabod and Abbie's mission now that the big evil threat has been eliminated? Do they simply have to just protect this world from the handful of souls that escaped Purgatory? Or does their mission still have a long-reaching presence? Not having a face on the forces they were fighting against has meant that the two Witnesses have to trust each other and the prophecy.

But now, the faces of evil have presented themselves again. The revelation is unexpected to both Ichabod and Abbie. The new threat they face comes from Henry and Katrina working together to bring about the rise of a new witch coven to rule over this country. Katrina has been a problem character all season long because the show often would tell us she was a powerful witch and then make her a damsel in distress. Only recently has the show started to back up its claims of how powerful her skills actually are. Even then, I still could use more of an explanation. And yet, this sudden character shift actually gives her purpose. So often, she has been asked to whine about needing to save the souls of Henry and Abraham. It was a story that grew tiresome after two times. It was the only thing defining her character too. She didn't have a purpose in this narrative which is a huge problem if she's the face of morality and humanity.

That lack of direction and purpose is what helps this twist take hold. I don't care that she suddenly becomes evil without so much concern about all the work she has done with Ichabod and Abbie this season. I just desperately needed her to have purpose on the show. I don't need it to make complete sense based on everything else she has done. It just needs to be entertaining and feel right and consistent in the moment. The more you actively think about her choice to turn to the evil side, the more it doesn't quite add up. And yet, you could tell the show was heading in this direction lately. Her powers have been growing and now she presents a genuine threat to Ichabod and Abbie.

It also helps immensely that Katrina herself doesn't feel like she's suddenly evil and nefarious. She is simply acting out because of the way she sees the world now. All along she has been wanting to protect her son and have a relationship with him. He killed Moloch to save her. And now, she knows that he's alive and wants to form a union with her. He understands who he is as a person. Katrina takes some convincing but she's all for this plan as well. To the point, that there is some major weight to the second twist of Henry's death. Over the course of this season, he has largely been evil and nefarious without a strong and nuanced character underneath it all. He's clinging on to the past even though Ichabod didn't know any better way back then. His death holds merit because it cements the changes that Ichabod and Katrina have made in their lives right now.

Ichabod couldn't kill his son before. He still believed Henry could receive redemption. His slaying of Moloch was proof enough to Ichabod that a change did occur. He didn't know if his son was still alive or not. But he knew what he did allowed himself and Abbie to keep on doing their duties as Witnesses. And now, Henry has brought about this massive change in Katrina - a woman who Ichabod undoubtedly loves to his core. He has never loved a woman as much as he loves Katrina. Yes, there marital issues have never been that interesting this season. But there divide has been present in many ways. It's only because of what Henry does to Katrina that he finds clarity and the will to actually pull the trigger on his son. And now, Henry is mortal and can die.

John Noble has been a lot of entertaining fun on the show. But his death serves a purpose in sitting up the next life stage of Sleepy Hollow. Katrina joined Henry's cause because it was all about the two of them being powerful and together. With him now gone, she is a woman scorned. She despises Ichabod now and has the powers to make a difference. All she wants is her son and Ichabod ruins that for her. So, she simply casts a spell to return herself to colonial times so she can making drastic changes to the life she was previously living.

Abbie has been in the crossfire of the Ichabod family drama all season long. She had to respect their wishes in the way the team handled dealing with Henry. She didn't have that familial bond and couldn't have the final word on how things were done. But now, it seems that all she and Ichabod can count on in this world is each other and their mission as Witnesses. The stakes continue to be personal but he's standing firm in that belief as well now. Katrina is angry at him and Abbie simply gets in the way. When Katrina casts that time travel spell, Abbie gets swept up into it as well. It's a fun return to the original premise of the show - except now Abbie is the one displaced in time. She's now the one forced to react to a dramatically different world. However, she knows things about this place because of all the stories Ichabod has shared over the past two years. She can pose a real threat to Katrina's plan to change history. And that is simply an exciting setup for next week's season finale.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Awakening" was written by M. Raven Metzner and directed by Doug Aarniokoski.
  • Frank Irving also turns to the dark side but that feels like such an after-thought. The show is just flailing around a bunch of random ideas with him and none work all that well. He's evil and it's fun but then he returns back to normal after Henry dies and he loses his claim on Frank's soul.
  • Ichabod and Abbie instantly regret destroying all the knowledge and books in Jefferson's hidden room last week. Well, duh! They easily could have carried something out with them before blowing it up. It just took them until now to realize that they'll never be able to find those books again.
  • Seriously, are we ever going to see The Kindred again?