Screen / Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow: “What Lies Beneath”

I’m having a hard time caring about Sleepy Hollow these days. Even with its late in the game course correction, the show just isn’t hitting that sweet spot it did last season. It has its moments, here and there, but ultimately it feels a lot like I’m just going through the motions. The fun just isn’t there anymore. “What Lies Beneath” is the closest it gets to conjuring some of that old interest, but it’s still left lacking.

Abbie and Ichabod have been left aimless after Moloch’s defeat, dealing with some residual baddies here and there but without the blueprint they had once before. They still have that seven year outline to go on, but that’s not much, especially as it’s looking less and less likely Sleepy Hollow will even reach the end of those years. Cancellation seems to be looming, and it’s well-deserved. The show’s attempted to correct its mistakes, but it’s come a bit too late, and all the viewers who made this show the success it was last year have already jumped ship. And the show’s not giving them a lot of reason to come back either. The promo team decided to open this episode with “Ichabod and Katrina insist you don’t miss tonight’s episode” as if that’s incentive for anyone to tune in.

Exploring a set of tunnels, surveyors find a trapdoor holding an entity that makes quick work of them, and Abbie and Ichabod are put on the case. It leads to more of Ichabod waxing about his Revolution-era friendship with Thomas Jefferson, who built the vault to hide something.The creature that snags the surveyors is one of many, a product of a conjuring done to protect the vault’s contents. The centuries below ground turned the former protectors into feral creatures hungering for a meal. Ichabod’s annoying exposition is made somewhat more compelling than usual  when Jefferson turns up via hologram (yeah whatever). He’s essentially a less fun Jarvis, resigned to the surveyors dying to preserve the “Fenestella”, the combination of all the information gathered on the Witnesses forever ago.

Not even this potential for answers lends itself to anything truly interesting, and Ichabod’s wanting friendship with Jefferson is the same way. He’s not that great as far as mentors go, encouraging Ichabod and Abbie to let the surveyors die in exchange for maintaining the reams of information they’ve never had access to anyway. I’m not sure why they’d even be interested in associating with Witnesses who would sacrifice people this way, but I guess that’s the point? But the thing about Sleepy Hollow is that it’s never really played with such a thought so this feels like a very weak conflict. Ichabod’s there to argue with his holographic mentor about what’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t have any pathos attached to it.

It’s another one of Sleepy Hollow‘s unfortunate issues. How impersonal the whole show feels. Ichabod and Abbie used to be an emotional center, and sometimes they still are. Abbie and Jenny are better at occupying this position, but all of the show’s other attempts (Ichatrina, the Cranes’ respective conflicted emotions about their evil son) fall flat. We’re supposed to feel something about Ichabod’s friendship with Jefferson being undercut by Jefferson’s dedication to the cause, but it just feels like more of Ichabod name dropping, and the fake Jefferson isn’t anything to write home about.

The show makes a good step in introducing Calvin Riggs (Sharif Atkins), a photojournalist whose brother was one of the men exploring the tunnels . He calls them out on not knowing where the men are, and points out that Sleepy Hollow has become rife with unexplained deaths and mysteries recently. It’s about time someone came to this conclusion, and  Calvin is just the guy to do it. Granted he’s a nuisance (but a very attractive one), and he’s something Sleepy Hollow needs. The town’s felt very sparse. Promising guest stars (like Corbin’s son that one time) come and then promptly go, and Sleepy Hollow feels much larger and much more impersonal than it really is.

The same is true of Jenny and Irving. There’s some forward momentum here and there, which coasts along on Jenny and Irving’s former relationship. Going from antagonism to friendship works for them, and we’re even getting more about Irving’s complicated return to life. He enlists Jenny in retrieving something from lockup, lying and telling her that he’s after personal effects but it actually being information about the Hellfire Club’s finances. Irving explains away this suspicious behavior by explaining that he’s looking for reparations to make up for all that happened, but that he’s not actually evil. A rune shields his soul from discovery (which is why he  passed Katrina’s test) and allows him to fight against the Evil Frank. And that’s that.

Stray Observations

  • Like Reign, this show exhausts me more than entertains me, but with only two episodes left I feel obligated to stick them out.
  • Abbie: “By the way you guys are the ones who put freedom of the press in the Constitution. “
  • So who’s going to buy Calvin a new camera though?
  • Remember that time Katrina was told by an evil warlock that she should tap into her dark powers and she did just that? No sign of that this episode though Henry does turn up in a dream to say hello to her. He’s getting in good with Katrina, announcing that his and Katrina’s “kind” is what he killed Moloch for.

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