Everytime I turn on Sleepy Hollow I ask myself if this episode will be better than the last, will this hour officially mark the turning point of the rather disappointing second season. I take some comfort in being far enough in the season that the many complaints from viewers and critics are reaching the people in charge of this once wonderful show. The only way to tell if they’re listening to any of it is in how the show changes going forward, if any changes are even being made. It’s still impossible to tell (it’ll become clearer once we hit the second half of the season), but as far as “Magnus Opus” goes, it’s amazing what Sleepy Hollow can do without Nick Hawley.
It feels like the first episode in eons without Hawley being shoved down our throats. And it is. Since his debut in “Root of All Evil”, Hawley’s been in every episode except for “Deliverance”. The quality of this episode isn’t solely due to Hawley being left wherever he may be this week (because as we know, “Deliverance” wasn’t good), but it certainly helps to be back with people we know and care about. And Katrina. Especially going into the fall finale.
With Katrina telling Ichabod and Abbie of Moloch’s impending maturation, the Witnesses rush to locate the Sword of Metheselah talked about in Grace Dixon’s journal. It’s a sword that can kill anything, including Moloch which makes it a natural tool they’d want to employ in the approaching battle. But they are, naturally, in a race to find it with Abraham. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a real season one era Witnesses vs Horseman brawl, and like season one these fights are pretty much Abbie and Ichabod hoping to avoid the Horseman until daybreak.
Abbie and Ichabod are as usual a highlight of the episode, the two feeling more like partners than they have all season. Season one was full of this, mostly because they didn’t have the others helping them, and this season’s looked for any opportunity to shove Hawley into the middle of things. But this episode has Abbie and Ichabod looking for the sword together, unraveling clues to its location and descending into the gorgon’s cave. It’s been so long since we’ve seen them do this that watching them camp out and wait for the Horseman, whose lack of head gives him a one up, is actually really nice.
The gorgon itself is an unexpected and kind of wonderful use of a monster. Outside of the monster of the week format it works very well, to see Abbie and Ichabod finding an obstacle that isn’t connected to Moloch and Henry.This new setback has Abbie in near hysterics, as they barely escape the gorgon before she turns them to stone and Abbie discovers one of her ancestors down there, one of the gorgon’s victims. Considering the Mills’ ancestry, things don’t look particularly good for Abbie or Jenny, next in a long line of women who have tried and been killed trying to stave off the apocalypse. But Abbie working for it now means that those losses wouldn’t have been for nothing, a concept that works much better than Ichabod suddenly having an identity crisis in relation to his and Abraham’s relationship.
Flashing back to Ichabod and Abraham’s friendship back in England isn’t fun at all. The Crane fatigue is still a very real problem for this show, and it’s one the show seems determined not to fix. While Abbie’s thinking of the many women in her family felled by their goal of stopping evil, she doesn’t get the same extra time. But we’re rehashing old news on Ichabod’s end.
But using Abraham, and his lack of head, to take on the gorgon is a pretty good plan. Abbie looks for the sword in the meantime, made complicated by a series of magical whatevers in the cave that make putting one’s hands on it especially difficult. As boring as seeing Abbie contemplate which sword to grab probably would have been, there’s no way it could have been worse than Ichabod and Abraham’s duel. Whatever thrill could have been drawn from the fight sequence, which was suitably good, the whole thing is dragged down by Abraham and Ichabod taunting each other about who Katrina loves more and Abraham remind Ichabod what a crappy friend he was. The Headless Horseman was much more intimidating as a headless villain running around town than he is now as a jealous baby whining about his lot in life.
When Abbie doesn’t find the sword, they’re about to be blown away by the Horseman when Henry blows that ridiculous horn and calls Abraham to his side. Why Abraham doesn’t just kill them is beyond me, since that’s what he so desperately wants to do, but his departure (while promising Moloch’s rise) gives Abbie and Ichabod the chance to discover the sword after all, in a moment that actually manages to be triumphant despite being followed up with grown-up Moloch’s ascension. It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve really seen something close to a victory for our Witnesses, despite prevailing over various weekly monsters. In the grand scheme they’ve been several steps behind.
“Magnus Opus” is the first half of the fall finale, and it definitely feels that way. A lot is left open for next week to wrap up, but there’s really no telling how much of it is going to feel earned. Katrina’s stuck in the same position she’s been in since forever, Frank is in hiding, and Henry’s still trying to prove to his parents just how mean he can be to them. The worst thing this first half of the season could do is feel worthless, and though this episode has a lot of great things in it, it feels like the first real progress we’ve made since the season began.
- I wish to waste no more time complaining about how awfully Katrina’s character is handled on this show. It’s exhausting and redundant.
- Whatever happened to the Kindred, the monster the show devoted an episode to so he could come forward and face the Horseman for Abbie and Ichabod?
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