So as I mentioned in my blog about pilots I saw at SDCC, Sleepy Hollow was one that I was VERY much looking forward to. Now that it’s out and I’ve watched it again, I’ve a few thoughts to put down, spoiler warning, from here on out!
The episode opens in Hudson Valley, New York, in 1781. It’s the Revolutionary War and we meet Ichabod Crane (played by Tom Mison), who in this reimagining of the classic tale, is not some timid school teacher. He’s a soldier, a medic, can take a slice to the chest, and still have enough adrenaline left to behead his attacker! His attacker… who is of course the Headless Horseman!
Next we see him emerging from a grave in a cave, amongst some creepy looking jars. Now,don’t get me wrong the show is called Sleepy Hollow, it automatically gets an automatic suspension of disbelief, but as he gets out of the cave it’s by stumbling and putting his hand on a rock that *conveniently* triggered an opening… (emphasis on “conveniently”).
Anyway, he gets out and wanders through the woods for a bit, until he finds himself walking on a road, and nearly gets run over, twice, seeing a person emerge from a car, he’s immediately and realistically confused and scared.
Next we get to meet out other main character, Abbie Mills (played by Nicole Beharie), sitting and having pie with her superior officer, Corbin as he mentions all the unsolved cases (something he says she should know about) in the area, and laments that she’ll be leaving soon to go to Quantico.
They head out on a call (related to some spooked horses, which illuminates why Mills is moving on to bigger and brighter things) they get there and things get messy. The horses are spooked due to, you guessed it, the headless horseman, not only did he behead the farmer, but he’s in the barn that Corbin goes to investigate, and ends up beheaded, which Abbie is there to see.
She calls it in, and one of the officers on his way stops when Crane runs out into the street and (for what feels like no reason whatsoever) arrests him, when Abbie is asked to identify him, she says Crane isn’t the guy because the guy “was wearing a military uniform like a red coat” and Crane interjects asking if the man carried a “broadaxe”, and mentions a couple other identifying features, prompting Mills to ask when was the last time he saw him, with Crane replying “When I cut off his head”
After the commercial we get a tense yet delightful scene of Ichabod getting a polygraph test. He passes with flying colors, and it’s quite amusing as he describes how he came to be serving under General Washington, and fighting the (now headless) horseman, and being treated by his wife, before dying. He’s told at the end, when he demands to know where he is, with the detective telling him “The question isn’t where you are, but when. The good news is you won the war, the bad news is it was 250 years ago, Welcome to the 21st Century Mr. Crane”, as he slides a one dollar bill across the table.
The plan is to send him to a psyche unit, but Mills wants to interrogate him, which Captain Frank Irving, (played by Orlando Jones) won’t allow, but he will allow her to transport him to the psyche ward.
We then get a lovely exchange between Mills and Crane regarding the fact that she’s a lieutenant and a female, and black, which though he finds surprising, he mentions that he’d been an abolitionist, she agrees to play along.
He has a special kind of snarkiness that makes what could have been awkward or somewhat flat dialogue, considering much of it is exposition, really enjoyable. Like when he’s told that he’s being transported to a psyche ward and he replies “This day continues to bear gifts”. We also watch the car ride where he’s amazed by powered windows, and seems a bit overwhelmed by the number of Starbucks locations. (Now I’ll digress for a sentence, but so far, even as I look forward to The Winter Soldier in 2014, I think Ichabod Crane may be my new favorite man out of time, over Steve Rogers). Even though he questions when it became “acceptable for women to wear trousers”.
Mills disobeying orders, asks Crane if he could show her the cave he says he came from, and he obliges, there finding among other things, a bible with a passage in Revelations marked “and there before me was a white horse… and his name was death” (Now this is Rev 6:2-8, the white horse, the bow and death are mentioned, but they skip a couple of bits… but hey the devil is in the details, right?). Ichabod is already certain that *the* horseman, must be one of the *four* horseman of the apocalypse, which Abbie doesn’t believe but the show wastes no time in confirming the “religious/prophetic” (which I say with quotes since they’re taking poetic license) storyline, as next we see the horseman kill the local priest, who won’t give up where something is hidden.
When Mills goes to investigate (with Crane still in tow), Captain Irving reprimands her for disobeying orders, and won’t accept that Crane may have answers they need, with one of Abbie’s fellow officers, Andy Dunn (played by John Cho) telling her to just drop it.
Crane who did not stay in the car followed a hawk to a specific grave. When Abbie catches up to him, frustrated that he did not stay, he reminds her that he’s regarded as “‘insane’ and therefore impervious to simple commands” (LOVE the dialogue in this show, Mison delievers these lines with just the right amount of sarcasm).
The grave though was Katrina’s (Crane’s wife), who was apparently burned for being a witch.
Crane at this point cannot understand why Mills won’t accept what’s going on, and she mentions that she can’t believe it and even if she did she’d be “alone again trying to explain something she didn’t understand”. Crane picks up on the “alone” and questions it, but Mills won’t give anything up, even though he tells her that she’s “been doubting her own perceptions from some time”
When they get to the asylum Crane regards it as “a measurable step up from the cave”. There he and Mills connect, and she opens up, saying that when she was younger she was walking home in the woods with her sister and blacked out after seeing four white trees that hadn’t been there, and a voice and a person or a “thing”. And everyone thought they were crazy, and after a while her sister believed it, (which Crane refers to as “battling demons”) and had spent her life “in and out of places like this”, and that she can relate to Crane because everyone thinks he’s crazy.
Now, here’s the best screenshot I could find, from the very creepy scene we got as Mills told her story:
The creepiness isn’t so much in what we see, but what we think we *almost* see. Now this blog is not the place for theological arguments, or demonology, but since the show addresses demonic activity… a lot, I think it’s worth stating that if you can definitively know if something is real or not, it makes it less scary in a way, but if you’re not sure, and therefore cannot trust yourself (as Abbie cannot), then it adds a degree of fear, and I have known people like Abbie, who have dealt with this sort of thing. What this show at least does is acknowledge, even on a fictional level, that if demons/witchcraft etc. exist, then people should have human, and relateable reactions to them, and I think they’ve done a great job of showing that with Abbie.
Ok…. back into the recap, where was I???
Ah, so, the next morning Abbie’s in Corbin’s office, because she found a key of his that didn’t fit anywhere, until he finds that it fits in a filing cabinet, which has a tape recorder, and files on occultism, witch covens (specifically two, representing good and evil) and tons of unsolved cases, which she suspects to all be connected. One of these cases is of Abbie and her sister, that they saw a demonic figure and four white trees, which a local farmer had also seen before, and supposedly those trees are tied to the four horseman, being raised. Corbin had (as per the tape recorder) wanted to tell Abbie, but had never felt that he knew who to trust, and felt like he was getting close.
Captain Irving catches Abbie, just as she’s putting everything up, and reminds her to go home, and let everyone else there do their jobs. My theory at this point is simply that he *may* be involved in a coven, but I’m thinking he’s on the good side.
When Crane wakes up int he asylum… or rather “dreams up” the bird is there, and Katrina is there, in the mirror, speaking to him, she’s apparently been trying to reach him (through the bird), she tells him that her grave is not where she’s buried but is rather the location of the horseman’s head. She apparently has been a part of a secret order protecting Sleepy Hollow, and that when Crane died, because of where he fell his blood mixed with the horseman’s, so that’s why he was raised when the horseman was. By now Crane is also in the woods with her (because it’s a dream), as she starts giving vital information. Such as: “Three more will follow and then it will begin [and] light is his weakness… the answers are in Washington’s bible… [he is] the first witness” all of this is cut short though as she tries to give him information, because by now she’s shouting at him to “WAKE UP!”, and something demonic is rising from the brush.He abruptly awakes to orderlies trying to strap him down, but Abbie arrives just in time to get him out.
Though she kind of bent… well broke all the rules doing it… But that’s ok, because everything gets really action packed from here!
As the sun goes down we see the horseman rise from the river (which I assume will be important, since he could have just hidden in a cave…). Abbie and Ichabod are on the way to the church to get the head from Katrina’s grave. Abbie calls Dunn to have him send support to the church… but Dunn makes a stop along the way… at his apartment, where his gun safe has been opened, and the horseman is there waiting for him. Dunn tells the horseman (wondering at this point how he hears anything… but not really caring) where to find his head.
So, when Abbie and Ichabod get to the church, so do the Horseman and Dunn. While Ichabod is trying to avoid getting killed, Abbie asks Dunn where backup is. Dunn tells her he doesn’t know, knocks her out while she isn’t looking, and as he tries to get her in the back seat of his squad car, she bites him (quite effectively to get away). Finally, Ichabod gets the head, and backup arrives. The officers who arrived try shooting at the horseman to no avail, and just as they are about to be his next victims, the sun begins to come up, and the horseman rides off into the sunrise.
That morning back at the station, given Dunn’s actions, the head, and the fact that 2 other officers corroborated the fact that they saw a man with NO head, Captain Irving is much more prepared to let Abbie take the lead on the investigation into Corbin’s death, and is much more willing to have Ichabod (who he refers to as “Captain America”… a reference he doesn’t get), help. This is good considering two things, the first is that Katrina had told Ichabod that he was the first witness (and Revelation speaks of 2… though again they’re taking TONS of poetic license), and Ichabod believes the second is Mills. The second good thing is Dunn is willing to confess, but only to them.
What’s not so good is just before Mills and Crane get to Dunn’s cell the demon gets there first… and let’s just say that he wasn’t pleased with Dunn’s performance. Crane and Mills get into the cell and see Dunn, just as the demon is walking away, into the woods through the mirror.
As they watch it leave we get one of the creepiest moments of the show, that definitely brings the “JUMP” factor… I remember people screaming during the pilot at SDCC! But I won’t spoil it here, you’ll have to see it for yourself, if you haven’t yet.
So there you go, the pilot of Sleepy Hollow, it was SO MUCH FUN! I cannot wait until next Monday. Also and maybe this is premature, but since Star Trek had “trekkies” and Fringe had “Observers” as their fanbases… I’m pretty certain Sleepy Hollow fans may adopt the nickname “Witnesses”… but it’s just a theory.
As always feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!