Sleepy Hollow: This Is War

"Who's had a rough day?"

Decapitations, flaming swords, Benjamin Franklin -- what's not to love?

Seriously, was this episode fun or what? It was like the season finale, but on steroids. And they didn't make the classic season-opener blunder, which is resolving all of the cliffhangers and returning to the status quo by the end of the episode. (I've always thought of that as "season premiere cheating".) Yes, Ichabod got himself out of his coffin and he rescued Abbie, and happily, Jenny is okay, but Katrina is still a captive. And there's no news whatsoever about Captain Frank Irving. Well, and the Apocalypse is still approaching, but we knew that.

Even though I knew it had to be a Jedi mind trick, the opening sequence was terrific. It felt just as it would have if Jenny and Katrina had died, and Ichabod and Abbie had experienced a year without them. The red, white and blue cupcake with the birthday wish, the hit on the Historical Society, the fact that Ichabod and Abbie had grown even closer, all felt genuine. I loved the detail that Henry had started a little greenhouse in his imaginary prison. It even related to his power over the vines and the hint of unreality when the plant on the desk at the Historical Society started spouting tendrils. Didn't Henry have a lot of plants in his apartment last season, too?

Benjamin Franklin has always been my favorite of the Founding Fathers since he was an eccentric and often shocking genius. (See how I got that pun in there?) Timothy Busfield from The West Wing was pretty much perfect casting, too. Of course, Ichabod was Franklin's apprentice, and I liked that they were sure to tell us that it was at Washington's behest, since Washington knew Ichabod was a Witness. The key scene, the air bath, the Hellfire Club, Franklin's alphabet, so much historical fun. Please tell me that we're getting more Benjamin Franklin flashbacks?

The upright reconstruction of the coffin around Ichabod at the end of the opening sequence was very well done, and very creepy. I'm so glad he wasn't in there for long. He was so cool and calm! How was he so calm? Of course, he's been buried alive and gotten out before.

I thought Ichabod would get out using Abbie's cell phone since it felt like a call-out to the Alias episode (as I mentioned in my review of last season's finale), but just like Sydney Bristow, he utilized it as a light source as he used evil against itself by blowing up the coffin with sulfur from the white tree roots. For some reason, I really enjoyed him striding down the road checking for cell phone service, getting that text from Jenny and looking up to see the very convenient sign for route 9. And stealing the ambulance, even though he couldn't drive. As I've said before and will probably say again, I love this guy.

I also liked that even though she was freaking about her sister, Jenny did what Ichabod asked her -- she stayed behind as back-up in case his rescue attempt failed. She also took out a Hession minion by throwing a scalpel. Jenny isn't just a badass. She is smart, and I like her. Yay that Lyndie Greenwood is now in the cast.

John Noble is now in the cast, too, and Henry is full on diabolical now, which he manages to pull off while wearing a cardigan. That bit with the forged armor and the flaming sword mimicking his movements was good writing since it means we're going to continue to see the Horseman of War as John Noble, not just as the animated armor. Did Henry try hard enough to get the Key? It didn't feel like it to me. Is there a part of him submerged under all that angry evil that really cares about Ichabod and Katrina?

The writers must have rethought showing the Horseman of Death without his head all the time, too. Was it Katrina's necklace (a gift chosen by Ichabod) that enabled her to see Abraham with his head on? The seductive sexy time implications of headless Abraham running around without his shirt (that was some visual) completely creeped me out. He's trying to seduce her. That is probably why he went for a simulated head, so that he could attempt some sweet nothings. Bleah.

I've always loved the idea of a mirror as a pathway between worlds, and the cavern in Purgatory with the very Supernatural "demon hologram" finally explained how Katrina was communicating with Ichabod and Abbie in season one, and how Henry can communicate with Moloch now. Note how they also gave us a mirror in the opening hallucination between Henry and our two Witnesses. Abbie showed courage and moxie sneaking into Moloch's chamber of pentagram badness to communicate with Ichabod. She also had the nerve to decapitate the fake Ichabod without a moment of hesitation. (Ichabod looked just a bit freaked at seeing his own decapitated body on the ground.) Very cool that we got the return of John Cho as the more appealing incarnation of Andy Brooks, who was again defying Moloch to help Abbie. Is Andy in Purgatory now, or is his demonic form still trapped and smushed in Washington's secret tomb?

I'm shipping Ichabbie big time, and the way they hugged each other not once but twice was so, so sweet. And they're still calling each other "Crane" and "Left-tenant". They're my favorite television couple. Loved the return of the fist bump.

Bits and pieces:

-- No credit sequence, and just when I was beginning to like it. Was that a saga sell by Tom Mison at the beginning, or was it just a catch-up for the season opener?

-- We got a glimpse of Benjamin Franklin in the previous season, but it wasn't Timothy Busfield and I don't recall any lines.

-- I keep mentioning Supernatural because Sleepy Hollow really could be taking place in the same universe. Along with the set dressing in Moloch's demon hologram cave, we got a very Supernatural rising from a shallow grave, and a massive arsenal in the trunk of Abbie's hatchback.

-- In this season's hair report, Ichabod's ponytail is neater and curlier, so I think Tom Mison got a new hairpiece. I prefer the old one. And they fixed John Noble's hair. Thank you.

Quotes:

Ichabod: "A surprise party. And why must your era celebrate terror with dessert?"
I find birthdays terrifying, myself. And I have a big one coming up next week.

Ichabod: "Well, then. I shall consider myself punk'd."

Abbie: "We are talking about Benjamin Franklin? The editor of the Declaration of Independence?"
Ichabod: "Blowhard, braggart, blatherskite and gasbag. He had an insatiable need to prove he was the sharpest intellect in the room."
Abbie: "I could see how that would be hard for you."

Henry: "These plants have no idea their sunlight isn't real, yet they bloom, nonetheless. A testament to the fact that anything can be tricked into believing a lie."
Again, Henry was hinting at the truth. Was it just to prove how clever he was, or did he want them to figure it out?

Ichabod: "Must learn to drive."
I wonder if Ichabod and Abbie's relationship would survive her teaching him how to drive?

Loved it. Four out of four red, white and blue cupcakes,

Billie
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Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.

9 comments:

Docnaz said...

Great review, Billie. Kwin and our 12 year old daughter settled in for a Moday night of Gotham, Sleepy Hollow and ( without Erika) The Backlist premieres. This is going to make Modays packed. We were happy with all of them. It is really is hard to watch a child hurting a parent ( even of they did not raise him) with seemingly no remorse. Thanks for the rapid review. Yours are the best.

Billie Doux said...

What a lovely comment, Docnaz -- thanks!

I'm trying to decide if I want to retry The Blacklist. The one episode I tried was so gory that it turned me off. (I seem to be able to handle gore better when it goes with a science fiction or fantasy show.)

Patrick said...

Sleepy Hollow definitely didn't lose a step over the summer, this premiere was right up there with their best from last season. I was suspicious in the beginning that what we were watching wasn't real, not because of the time jump, but because the utter lack of explanation for how both of them escaped their imprisonment. I think they waited just the right amount of time before revealing the subterfuge. The rest of the plot, while not terribly inventive, was well-executed. There were two downsides for me. One, nothing about Capt. Irving. I can't say I'm too surprised, there really wasn't room in this episode to cover his situation, I just hope we see him again soon. He ended up being a lot more fun than I was expecting him to be based on the first couple of episodes last year. Two, I'm not loving this new arc they've set up for Katrina. Seriously, she's being held captive AGAIN? I apparently like Katrina more than others around here do, and I freely admit that may be in part because I have a weakness for impossibly beautiful redheads, but I also have a hard time shipping Ichabod with anyone else when his beloved wife is alive and RIGHT OVER THERE --->
just sayin' :) I do think Ichabod & Abbie make one of the best heroic duos we've had on screen in quite some time, I'd just rather see them remain friends, is all.

mazephoenix said...

Brilliant episode. It's so good it's back. And that Jenny's alive.
Love Ichabod and Abbie as a duo as ever. Love their chemistry, be it friendly or romantic.
I trust we'll see Irving soon.
Billie, the Blacklist is still gory, so if that's not your thing I don't think it's worth it. I love James Spader, so that's why I'm in. And mostly I can handles gore, but it's obviously not for everyone.

Dr. Johnny Fever said...

Guess I'm in the minority... I didn't enjoy this episode at all. I didn't hate it, but there were just stretches where it failed to hold my attention.

3 things I think were the problem:

1. The exposition. POI is bad for it as well, but Sleepy Hollow takes it to a whole new level. I've never seen a show so bad for having its characters just spout plot points.

2. No risk. Of course Crane was Franklin's apprentice. Of course Franklin told him where the key was hidden. Of course Crane learned the secret alphabet. There was never the risk that Crane would NOT know something.

3. The directing/editing/pacing. When the episode has ADD, there's no time to appreciate the creepiness of the things. For example, the seduction of Katrina could have been fascinating, but instead it cuts away like a dog that just spotted a squirrel.

This show needs to slow down, and and do more showing with less telling.

milostanfield said...

How interesting your take that Henry Parish may have a spark of redemption in him yet. I'm not sure yet if that is more hope than perception, but it would make for some interesting plot maneuvers in the future. I;ll keep an eye peeled for that, so thanks. But hey, anyway we got John Noble as a regular! Too bad Josh Jackson has his own new series coming out. He would make a fun guest star.

I like that we're back in modern times for now. Ichabod's "anachronisms" about our time are one of my favorite things about SH. And we did get him not knowing what the hell reverse was.

As long as this show doesn't start to take itself too seriously (Hello, Xena!) it will remain delightfully fun.

ChrisB said...

Fantastic opening episode. Yes, just catching up now.

Loved the birthday party although the math doesn't work. If Crane were 251, he would have been born in 1763 which would have made him a teenager during the War of Independence. Oh well, it was fun all the same.

Jess Lynde said...

Fantastic opener. Again, I knew about the opening being not real, but it was nicely done. It played very believably, but with several nice hints that it wasn't reality. "Anything can be tricked into believing a lie."

I loved getting another bit about a great historical event (the kite flying with the key) actually being related to a secret apocalypse averting activity. I know that Crane always having the right historical connection is a bit contrived, but I think they fully recognize it and try to have fun with it. Abbie's amused "of course" reactions were a hoot!

Yea, John Cho! I hope he keeps making special appearances. I think maybe he's both in Purgatory (the soul part of him) and smushed in Washington's tomb. So we can probably get him in whatever form they want to use him. (When he's not busy with his own show.)

Orlando Jones is still in the cast, so hopefully we'll get back to resolving Captain Irving's situation soon. I miss him!

I'm with Patrick on the shipping thing: Just let them be friends. Can't we have a strong male-female partnership without it becoming romantic? I love that they are so close and supportive, but that's enough for me. He's committed to his wife, and Katrina's committed to him, and I think that's lovely. Of course, I have a history of wanting men and women partners to just remain friends --- I never shipped Mulder and Scully, and was downright angry when they forced Pete and Myka together on Warehouse 13 --- so it isn't too surprising that this is where I'd land on Ichabod and Abbie. :)

Patrick said...

Jess, I think what annoys me about some characters getting paired up romantically on shows is when it feels contrived and/or forced. And I *really* don't like it when a show seems to put a couple together for the sole purpose of pleasing a bunch of shippy fans(not meant to be mean, I promise). The Pete & Myka hook-up on Warehouse 13 definitely felt like that. It just kinda came out of nowhere, especially since in previous seasons the two of them had emphasized that theirs wasn't that kind of relationship, and they didn't give us anything to justify the change. It felt like they were just throwing a bone to the Pete/Myka shippers. I don't want to see the Sleepy Hollow writers cave to pressure from Ichabod/Abbie shippers and put them together, especially if they have an overall story arc involving Katrina that would have to be changed. That's not just because I like Katrina(and ok, because I'm head over heels for Katia Winter, I admit it), but because trying to please shippers is a bad reason to alter the roadmap for a show.

And yeah, it does seem like every time there's a male/female team on a tv show they wind up becoming romantic, or at least being tempted to. If that's what you want your show to be, fine. But don't think you have to just because they're a man & woman.