Around the Water Cooler: “Sleepy Hollow,” the Season 1 Finale and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS!)

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Sleepy Hollow” aired on network TV, specifically on FOX, Fall Mondays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Sleepy Hollow,” part supernatural thriller, part historical fiction, part revisionist fiction, part cop drama.  It’s got a little something for everyone.

When: The season 1 finale aired on FOX, Monday, January 20, 2014, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in what is now known to be Sleepy Hollow, New York (formerly North Tarrytown).

Why: Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, in their colonial times regalia and context, thrust into the present?  That premise alone doesn’t fascinate you?

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

WOW!!!  HOLY SMOKES!!!

This viewer initially rated Sleepy Hollow’s pilot four stars, seeing possible pitfalls in the premise, particularly with regard to how the writers would be able to sustain the story over several seasons. Those doubts have evaporated now.  Perhaps, this viewer has acquired a little “Sympathy for the Devil,” but in retrospect, and given this tantalizingly well-woven first season, as well as FOX’s deserving early gamble of automatically ordering second season renewal, I would revise my initial rating to five stars.  After watching the first season finale recently, it occurs to this viewer that Sleepy Hollow may be the best new show of the season, a true must-watch of five-star proportions.  Sing it, Mick:

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

Sleepy Hollow has woven a story of Biblical scope, combining and updating the legendary folktale with Apocalyptic/end of times mythology.  The Headless Horseman in this tale happens to be Death, one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, and his appearance in Sleepy Hollow heralds the arrival of his three brothers.

It all starts with the Rip Van Winkle awakening of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), formerly a soldier in the Revolutionary army, who, after being entombed for 200 years, awakens to all of the modern mayhem and horrors of today, including Starbucks and smartphones.  He’s a fish out of water and out of time, but his role in the apocalyptic saga is key: he is one of two witnesses prophesied in the Bible to fight against the onslaught of the end of days, having been linked to the Horseman Death by his wife, a witch named Katrina, only to meet his adversary in the grim future after a long, inadvertent sleep.

The other witness is Detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), who, along with her sister Jenny, witnessed the rising of Molluk, an ancient demon who guards the entrance to purgatory and who has sworn himself the major domo of the apocalypse affair, as children.  The first half of the season involved, first, Abbie accepting her role as witness as well as the fantastic reemergence of Crane.  Second, Abbie and Jenny worked to reconcile, as Abbie initially denied their vision of the demon for fear of the consequences while Jenny didn’t, causing Jenny to be institutionalized and the sisters to be estranged.

Molluk returns to Sleepy Hollow, as does the Headless Horseman, and both seek to destroy the witnesses.  In the meantime, Ichabod and Abbie follow bread crumbs of clues laid out for them by several sources, including Abbie’s erstwhile boyfriend, Andy Brooks, the cop who sold his soul to Molluk (John Cho); Katrina and her coven of witches; and the Founding Fathers themselves, including General George Washington, who is aware of Ichabod’s larger role and leaves behind his bible with messages written therein in invisible ink.  In so doing, Ichabod and Abbie make vital discoveries, one of which includes the revelation that Katrina was pregnant with Ichabod’s son named Jeremy, a troubled boy who was whisked away by her coven for protection, only to experience the rigors of abandonment and neglect.  Ichabod believes Jeremy to be dead after destroying a golem spelled into existence by the young man as a budding witch, but, as it turns out, he is mistaken.

Ichabod and Abbie also encounter Henry Parrish (John Noble), a “sin eater,” who is able to read and absorb the sins and marks of evil left behind like a fingerprint on an entity.  Henry is helpful to them at several points, providing a conduit to entrap the Headless Horseman and helping the Captain (Orlando Jones) to save his estranged daughter from demonic possession by Molluk.

At the end of the season, Ichabod and Abbie figure out that General Washington allowed himself to be magically resurrected after his death to disease, so that he could straddle the worlds of the living and the dead to learn the secrets that will help the witnesses defeat the Horseman Death. They also realize that the second Horseman, War, is the evil brother next to emerge, after Death’s and spirit Andy’s many warnings.  Ichabod and Abbie, with the help of her mentor’s belongings and General Washington’s hints, realize that the only way to prevent the coming of War is to open the door to Purgatory and free Katrina, Ichabod’s wife, who was banished there by Molluk so many centuries earlier.  Yet, they are haunted by a prophesy repeated frequently by Henry: one witness will sacrifice the other to stop the coming of the Apocalypse, and it is widely believed that Ichabod will sacrifice Abbie for the sake of his wife.

While Abbie is reticent to use the map found in Washington’s secret tomb to open Purgatory’s door, given the heat that she and her sister are receiving from Molluk, she is ultimately convinced by Henry to accompany Ichabod into Purgatory, where only their unique bond saves them from the temptations that linger there to entrap them (for Abbie, it is images of her dead friends and mentor; for Ichabod, it is the acceptance of his father for his decision to depart for the New World).  Yet, when they reach Katrina, she notes the trap: she can leave, but a soul must be left in her stead.  Thus, fulfilling the prophesy, Abbie agrees to stay behind, to finally confront Molluk, who has dogged her every step since childhood as well as that of her sister’s.  Ichabod promises tearfully that he will return for Abbie, but he and Katrina escape through the door as demons chase Abbie into her subconscious.

Yet, when Ichabod and Katrina emerge and find Henry and follow dark forces to a spot believed to house the skeleton of War, they find the encasement empty.  War, it seems, has already risen, lying in wait for his moment.  What’s more, after Henry the Sin Eater pins Ichabod and Katrina to the four dead trees in the forest, the harbinger of doom seen in premonitions by Ichabod, it is admitted by Henry that he is none other than Jeremy Crane, the immortal son of Ichabod and Katrina. What’s more, he is the willing vessel for War, and it was he who rose in the forest with Molluk’s help that day so many years ago, which Abbie and Jenny witnessed as children.

At the end of finale, Jeremy summons Death, the Headless Horseman Abraham, to come for Katrina.  Henry assumes the demonic form of the horseman War, sheathed in armor, as Ichabod looks on in horror.  Abbie remains trapped in Purgatory, having realized that she and Jenny blocked the memory of who/what really arose in the forest that day.  Jenny appears to be dead, having been attacked by the Headless Horseman after discovering the true identity of Henry Parrish herself, rolled over in her SUV on an abandoned road.  Oh, and the Captain confessed to two murders of cops assigned to the security detail of his daughter, when it was she, demonically possessed by Molluk, who perpetrated their deaths, while his ex-wife and daughter remain confused about the forces that threaten them and everyone around them.

The possibilities are endless!  The questions compound with each new answer!  The show is scary/creepy, filled with suspense and “holy shit” moments, and the performances are stellar, even that of Beharie, who found a rhythm and chemistry with Mison that makes her Abbie Mills endearing and that allows her to be one of the true heroes.  To sum up: this viewer cannot wait until season two premieres in the fall!  Sleepy Hollow is the best new show of the 2013-2014 season.  Many praises to FOX for green-lighting and standing behind this project.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

OLD QUESTIONS

1) I have so many questions right now, that i can’t even begin to list them.  To the credit of this show, I want to keep watching to have them answered.  My biggest question right now is what the demon in the woods is…is it another horseman?  Does it control the horsemen, including the now headless one?

Answer: It was Molluk, the guardian of Purgatory, who facilitated the rise of War, the second Horseman of the Apocalypse.  Heavy!

2) What is so special about Abbie and Jenny?

Answer: They witnessed these events, rendering them “witnesses” described by the Bible, who are ordained to stop the Apocalypse.

3) I think there is more to Orlando Jones’ captain character than meets the eye.  He seems too copacetic lately with Ichabod and Abbie’s supernatural investigation and gave them the key so easily to the abandoned office under the police station.

Answer: The Captain’s character shed his skepticism early.  I’m not sure why, but he may not have a hidden agenda after all, given what happened to his daughter, Maisie.

4) Will we encounter more witches?  What happened to Mr. Headless?

Answer: Oh, Headless came back.  He never left, really.  And we encountered some witches, who then were murdered by Jeremy’s Golem.  Now, only Katrina, and Jeremy in his original form, survive as witches of the coven.

NEW QUESTIONS

1) Will John Noble remain part of the cast?  He has become one of my favorite actors, particularly given his run as Walter Bishop on Fringe.  Now that War is upon us, though, it seems he should be the one to play that horseman – he could bring so much depth and dimension to that role.  Make him a series regular!!

2) How will Ichabod save Katrina?  How will he save Abbie?

3) Is Jenny really dead?!  I hope not!

4) How far behind are Famine or Pestilence at this point?! Have they already risen?

5) What happens if all Four Horsemen ride?

6) Why is Ichabod obsessed with new smartphones but can’t be open to more contemporary clothes?

7) Do the witnesses have secret abilities beyond the hidden messages and clues left for them?

8) Can be there be more spot-on musical montages?  “Sympathy for the Devil” was a perfect choice to open and close this show’s season…

PARTING SHOTS

AgainSleepy Hollow deserves the gamble that FOX is taking on it.  It is a highly original concept or, at least, an original new mixture of old concepts but with a very specific, if broad, focus. It’s well written, well performed, and there is both horror and humor in each episode so far.  Plus, it’s fun to watch out-of-time Ichabod struggle with current technology, like the rewind button on a VCR remote control.  This show is highly recommended and is definitely “must see” TV.  This show would appeal to fans of ilk like Supernatural and the X-Files, The DaVinci Code, or National Treasure, but would also be interesting to those who love horror, fantasy, historical fiction, or just a really good story.  It’s got a great mixture of ingredients for amazing television.  This viewer cannot praise this show enough – and the twists are not at all predictable (unless you are reading this entry…spoilers…).

LOOKING AHEAD:

Sleepy Hollow is now in hiatus but will premiere its second season in Fall 2014!  If you haven’t watched this series, you should find it on Netflix or Hulu and catch up on the show’s thirteen produced episodes – have I mentioned that it’s a great show, with great production values, not to be missed?  Well?

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