Monday’s premiere was more of what’s always made Sleepy Hollow fun, but it covers little new ground.
The first season of Sleepy Hollow didn’t exactly end well for… anyone, basically. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) had been buried alive by his son Henry (John Noble), Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) was stuck in purgatory with no way out, Crane’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) had been freed from purgatory but captured by the Headless Horseman, Abbie’s sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) had been attacked by the Horseman and left for dead, and police captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) had confessed to murders committed by a demonic force… because otherwise his daughter was going to be jailed for them.
In short, nothing went well for our heroes last season… and because the finale had driven everything so far into the ground, the season two premiere had to spend most of its time undoing enough of the damage to leave the season in a place where it can actually start telling new stories. Unfortunately, this means the bulk of the episode is spent on storytelling — and sometimes literal — rescue missions, leaving little room for anything else. But because this is Sleepy Hollow, the episode still finds time for beheadings, gunfights, magic, and Ichabod being confused by modern technology.
So season two kicks off with more of everything we loved about season one — if you enjoyed Sleepy Hollow before, you’ll enjoy this episode, too, even though nothing too deep happens yet.
The episode kicks off with the best part of every episode: That Scene In Which Ichabod Is Confused By Modernity. Abbie brings him a cupcake with a candle in it because it’s his birthday, which is a roundabout way for the show to tell us this is happening a year later. Ichabod doesn’t understand birthday cupcakes or making a birthday wish and the audience laughs, knowing that this scene is always just the calm before the storm.
We’re right, of course: Abbie and Ichabod get called off to a case which turns into a frantic battle with the Headless Horseman. But they’ve been preparing for this for a year, and so they have special ammo and arrows to hurt him… though apparently not enough of either to actually take him down. He flees, but they got what he came for: information on a key of Benjamin Franklin’s, which could open purgatory and let anyone come and go without leaving someone else in exchange — i.e. how Abbie got stuck in purgatory in the first place.
While this has all the makings of a thoroughly ordinary episode, nothing here quite fits with where we left off last season — and even Ichabod seems to realize it. Unfortunately, when he does, the illusion shatters: nothing has changed at all, but Henry was using the illusion that they’d won to try to get their help in finding the key, which the demon Moloch wants so he can bring an army of tormented souls to earth. Now that they’ve given him a direction, he’s happy to leave Ichabod to his coffin and Abbie to purgatory.
Spoiler alert: they escape. Ichabod realizes that there’s sulfur in the soil around his coffin, which he uses as gunpowder with a jury-rigged fuse to explode his way to safety, which is probably just as dangerous as it seems. Still, between slow suffocation and blowing up, it’s hard to blame Ichabod for trying. Because he’s a thoughtful guy, before lighting the fuse, he records a message to Abbie on his phone… but of course it won’t record, so he goes through with it anyway.
Fortunately, it’s a success: our hero will live to see another episode!
From here, he meets up with Jenny who’s escaping from Henry — and doing a pretty good job of it on her own, though Ichabod does provide a rescue vehicle in the form of a stolen ambulance… which he can’t figure out how to put into reverse so they have to do a driver swap while they’re being shot at. (This isn’t a good episode for Ichabod’s relationship with modern technology.) The two of them make their getaway and then set about finding Franklin’s key, interspersed with some flashbacks of Ichabod and Franklin together — unsurprisingly, Ichabod knew him, and equally unsurprisingly, Ichabod didn’t think much of him.
They get the key and then head to rescue Abbie, who’s been stuck in purgatory with Andy (John Cho) all episode. While the episode got off to a good start with Ichabod/Abbie camaraderie — which is what we’re all tuning in for, right? — the rest of the episode she had precious little to do. She gets in touch with Ichabod to tell him about the demon army Moloch means to raise (leading to a nice moment in which Ichabod refuses to leave her behind) and spends some time unsuccessfully searching for a charm Katrina had given her. However, when Ichabod arrives in purgatory, she very quickly reminds us that she’s a badass by cutting off Ichabod’s head when he refers to her by the American pronunciation of “lieutenant.”
Fortunately, Ichabod hasn’t suddenly decided to practice Americanisms: it’s a demon that’s taken his place. (Though Ichabod seems more than a little disconcerted when he sees a carbon copy of himself dead on the ground in front of Abbie.) Our heroes use the key to escape from purgatory just before Moloch, and the day is (more or less) saved.
However, it’s not smooth sailing from here. As the episode closes, we see Moloch sending Henry a suit of sentient (maybe?) armor which will no doubt be driving trouble in the next episode. Further, Katrina is still in the hands of the Headless Horseman — who, before becoming a horseman, was her fiancé. He’s apparently found time for romance amidst his busy schedule of killing people, and it makes for some thoroughly creepy scenes between the two of them. We’ve also not seen anything of Captain Irving yet, though he’s presumably still stuck in prison, which is (maybe) a minor improvement over Katrina’s situation.
So what comes next? We’ll be tuning in next Monday to find out.
Bottom Line: This episode is more of the same Sleepy Hollow we all love, with lots of crazy supernatural elements, plenty of action, and great character moments. It didn’t go anywhere new, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Recommendation: If you liked last season, you’ll probably like this, too. However, if you’re not sold on Sleepy Hollow or you’re new to the show, this episode might not help.[rating=3.5]