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Sunday, January 11, 2015

SLEEPY HOLLOW Not "Lost"

Article originally written for Seat42F.



In “Paradise Lost,” the first of seven episodes this winter, FOX’s SLEEPY HOLLOW returns strong. It’s been six week since the defeat of Moloch, and neither Henry (John Noble) nor Irving (Orlando Jones) have been glimpsed since. Katrina (Katia Winter) keeps Abraham (Neil Jackson) captive as she tries to figure out how to separate his soul from the demon, while Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) ponder life after being witnesses. Then, an angel shows up.

I really dig Abbie and Ichabod thinking they may have won the day, and thus their lives’ purpose is fulfilled. It’s an interesting concept no television series has ever really explored much. What happens to the superhero after the supervillain has been vanquished? What is the purpose of supreme good when supreme evil no longer exists? Neither character has much of a plan beyond what they deal with immediately, and thus are a bit lost when it comes to moving forward.

Of course, viewers aren’t likely to buy the notion that the duo’s ordeal is over, as novel as that might be, as that isn’t the format of SLEEPY HOLLOW. It’s also far too fast-paced a show to give any character much time to dwell on a new world order before sending chaos back into their midst. Thus, “Paradise Lost” introduces new challenges early in the hour.

Enter Orion (Max Brown, The Tudors, The CW’s Beauty and The Beast). He tells them he’s an angel that has been trapped in Purgatory, and now that he’s out, he wants revenge on the being that put him there, which just so happens to be our own Headless Horseman, a.k.a. Abraham. But Orion’s words seem off to Ichabod, and those fears prove founded when it is discovered that Orion plans to bring judgment upon the Earth, as he has done in the past, basically ending life as we know it.

Orion is interesting because he’s an avenging angel. He thinks he’s good, and there’s an argument to be made that he is. But he is also full of hubris, thinking he is worthy of passing judgment on others, which isn’t true. And so he must be stopped, which Abbie and Ichabod manage to do, after getting over their disagreement with one another.

More importantly, Orion’s escape from Purgatory signals that others have fled, too, so there will be plenty of demons around for our heroes to battle, as well as some potential new allies. A disarmed Orion will likely not be one of the latter, though he lives to return another day at the close of “Paradise Lost.”

The big twist at the end of “Paradise Lost” is that Captain Irving is walking around again. He is presumed dead by our crew. Did he briefly go to Purgatory? Or does he remain on the Earth because Henry owns his soul? It’s a very mysterious introduction, one that leaves the explanation for another week. But at least we see Irving, as Henry is completely MIA from this episode.

Another after-effect of the big battle is that Ichabod and Katrina’s marriage is in tatters. That’s understandable. Katrina proved herself untrustworthy where Henry is concerned, and her continued compassion for Abraham as a friend, someone who Ichabod has no interest in being close to again, sparks his jealousy. I don’t think Katrina is with Abraham romantically, but one can see why Ichabod might suspect that is the case.

Can Abraham be saved? He’s been on a sort-of path to redemption, and Katrina could hold the key to his cure, should she be back on the market. I can’t help but feel it might be a better outcome if Ichabod is done with the witch, especially as that gives an opportunity for a demon to become a man again, but also because Katrina is annoying. Let’s hope this is how things shake out.

Lastly, there’s a bit where Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) goes to Hawley (Matt Barr) for help, and he expresses regret at their break up. I’m not sure what this is about. Didn’t Hawley ditch Jenny because he has real feelings for Abby? Is he changing his mind? Or is SLEEPY HOLLOW creating false drama? It’s bad enough that Abbie doesn’t know about Hawley and Jenny’s past; I hope this doesn’t morph into a true love triangle.

While there are weaknesses where intriguing possibilities are glossed over, “Paradise Lost” is a good returning installment because it quickly gets the story moving again and there is some fantastic Abbie / Ichabod interaction, the cornerstone of SLEEEPY HOLLOW. It’s hard to ask for a better return of a broadcast network show.

SLEEPY HOLLOW will take next week off for some stupid athletic competition, and then resume its run Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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