Screen / Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow: “Tempus Fugit”

If there’s anything Sleepy Hollow‘s been desperately in need of this season it’s a return to the fun of season one. The second season has been a disappointing departure from what made the show so great to begin with, and though it’s made some attempts at fixing it, it hasn’t earned back all the goodwill it squandered so quickly at the show’ s return. “Tempus Fugit”at least picks up on some things that are sweet and still kicking about the show, namely Abbie and Ichabod’s bond as Witnesses. Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison’s natural chemistry will always be in the plus column when discussing the worthiness of the show, and by taking Abbie back in time the show’s able to nod to the pilot.

Abbie reunites with an Ichabod who has no idea who she is and no reason to think Katrina would be out to kill him. Going back in time releases the show of the kitschy and often corny flashbacks to Ichabod’s former life, and spending more time with that Ichabod makes it actually fun to watch. Though Abbie’s the person out of time here, we still get moments of Ichabod trying to figure out her phone (which leads to a particularly hilarious moment of him literally sliding it across a table to unlock it), and we see some of Abbie’s own discomfort at carriage rides.

Abbie going back in time could have ended up being more proof that this show sucks, as its former ability to prove itself as a diverse and original show wobbled quite a bit this year. But “Tempus Fugit” manages to be sensitive to Abbie’s placement in the past, and I’m not mad at it for glossing over the truth of what a runaway slave, as everyone believes Abbie to be, would have had to endure. I would have hated to see Abbie abused and mistreated only for the show to jump back into its lighter material. Because despite its best efforts, Sleepy Hollow is only sometimes good at balancing emotions with its more action-oriented bits.

“Tempus Fugit” does a particularly good job with its action, beginning with Ichabod’s time on the battlefield as he leaps over trenches and shoots down incoming British soldiers. The episode maintains its momentum throughout, as Abbie convinces Ichabod to trust her information on the Headless Horseman. She leaves out the bits about Katrina also wanting to kill Ichabod, a wise choice considering that Ichabod certainly wouldn’t believe that his beloved wife is out to get him.

Katrina is, as usual, a weak link. Even as a bad witch she’s a poor character. Before now she’s been a painful intrusion and now she reeks of Sleepy Hollow trying to clean up its act. Her swift turn to bad guy hardly felt organic, just a quick way to justify her leaving the show. She allies herself with the Horseman (and the show drops the ball by tepidly attempting some kind of continuation with her relationship to Abraham) to kill Ichabod, and barely tries at pretending to be anything like the wife he knew, so Ichabod figures out pretty quickly that something’s off about her, and off Abbie and Ichabod are to reverse the spell and get Abbie back to her own time.

But it all feels pretty worthless one we learn that there’s an easy fix to reverse everything that goes down. It immediately cuts out the time paradox that would change the future (which would be an interesting way to see to inject some energy into Sleepy Hollow‘s potential third season). Moments like Benjamin Franklin being beheaded aren’t as interesting or impactful when we know it’s all going to get cleaned up and put back together. The same isn’t true for what happens once Abbie’s back in the present day.

And speaking of things that aren’t all that meaningful, Katrina’s death is one of them. Her passing is just as boring as her son’s last week. Though Tom Mison does his best with the lacking material. Because lacking it most certainly is. Katrina’s actual death amounts to a clumsy stabbing and what may as well be an “Oh well” from Ichabod later, and though I’ve been as anti-Katrina as anyone, this whole thing feels cheap.

Fox started pumping out promos advertising the inevitable death of someone, and I’m confused as to if we were supposed to think it wouldn’t be Katrina. Who else would it possibly be in an episode that limits the show to its two main characters and Ichabod’s poorly written wife? I can attest that Katrina’s characterization was awful, but could the show not have simply written her better? If killing her off, rather than integrating her into the story, was all they could do, exactly how talented are these writers supposed to be? It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the show failed so thoroughly at making Katrina a watchable part of the show and then had to resolve to kill her off because keeping her, and her pathetic characterization, around was more harmful than beneficial. Only time will tell if Sleepy Hollow can really return to form with a third season, leaving this one behind and forgotten about. Hopefully it can, but there’s still no guarantee it’ll even get the chance.

Stray Observations

  • Abbie’s password is Ichabod’s birthday? Okay.
  • Seeing Grace Dixon in the flesh was a lot of fun, and it’s about time Abbie got to have her own moment with an ancestor. Grace is significantly more affecting than Ichabod’s long list of mentors.
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