Saturday, February 28, 2015

"One Last Ride" for PARKS AND REC

Article first published as TV Review: 'Parks and Recreation' Series Finale - "One Last Ride" on Blogcritics.

TV Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Series Finale – “One Last Ride”

Parks and Recreation, the last great sitcom in NBC’s once-proud legacy of comedy, came to an end this week with the hour-long “One Last Ride.” In it, the Parks Department gang goes on one final mission, while we see flash forwards to the futures of all of our main characters, as well as several secondary characters. It’s an emotional triumph.

As the episode opens, many in the group are getting ready to leave Pawnee, Indiana. While they have all moved on, none currently employed at the office in which they so memorably worked together, they’ve stayed in touch and still lived nearby. But now, some are moving halfway across the country, and it’s a true end of an era. Leslie (Amy Poehler) plans on commemorating it with a very in-depth recounting of their time together.

Thankfully, Leslie’s plan, which most of the others find boring, is interrupted when a citizen shows up to ask to get a swing fixed. Despite the fact that the Parks Department isn’t yet open for the day and that none of them have any authority to help, Leslie sees this as a chance to recapture their glory days, and as has happened so many times, the rest grudgingly agree to assist.

PR2Leslie is the glue that holds them all together, and while she can be annoying, without her, they wouldn’t have built the family they all cherish so much. That’s why she and her husband, Ben (Adam Scott), get the lion’s share of the focus in “One Last Ride,” with hints that Leslie eventually becomes President of the United States after serving successfully as governor of Indiana. Her dedication and her persistence helps them all, and at the end of the day, they do all realize and value that.

The various other futures, which are shown in different years to give us a more complete view of the characters’ timelines, are appropriate. All the characters end up happy, professionally fulfilled, and romantically satisfied. It may not be realistic to have such across-the-board success, but with Leslie behind them all the way, often popping back into their lives when they need her, it makes sense that this particular group would defy the odds and do well for themselves. Donna (Retta), Ron (Nick Offerman), Tom (Aziz Ansari), Andy (Chris Pratt), April (Aubrey Plaza), even Garry (Jim O’Heir), who, despite his plethora of names over the run, I still think of as Jerry, end up where they should be. This fixing of the swing is not the last time they are all together.

The central cast of Parks and Recreation is strong, but the series has always benefited from a solid second and third string. “One Last Ride” pays tribute to that, too, with flash forwards for Craig (Billy Eichner) and Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), and appearances from Chris (Rob Lowe), Ann (Rashida Jones), Lucy (Natalie Morales), Joe (Keegan-Michael Key), Perd (Jay Jackson), Mona-Lisa (Jenny Slate), Ethel (Helen Slayton-Hughes), Gayle (Christie Brinkley), Jen (Kathryn Hahn), Brandi (Mara Marini), Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler), Joe Biden (himself), and more. What’s notable about all of these guest stars is that they slide seamlessly into the main narrative, not distracting or disrupting the main story. Not everyone that arguably should be included is, but that’s OK because they aren’t the point of the finale. They are all well used, and while it doesn’t feel like a role call is being conducted, we’re left with quite a significant list who are involved.

Similarly, the futuristic technology included is a fun touch, but not all that important to what’s going on. This has been a trend all season, as these episodes have been set in 2017, and other than one really funny bit, the tech isn’t essential to any scene.

The hour ends far too soon, taking us back to the present setting of the show. It’s an installment full of humor and heart, one that makes fans laugh and cry, and captures both the spirit and the core point of Parks and Recreation. All told, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to send off the odd comedy about a bunch of misfits who achieve great things as a team. It will be sorely missed, both because of its own merits, and because it leaves the network that brought us Seinfeld, Friends, and The Office without another sitcom of this level of quality.

Friday, February 27, 2015

No "Recovery" for THE NIGHT SHIFT

Article first published as THE NIGHT SHIFT Review Season 2 Episode 1 Recovery on Seat42F.


Last summer, NBC aired a drama series called THE NIGHT SHIFT. This week, The Night Shift begins its second year in the regular television season, an upgrade few summer shows get. Has the show, which I labeled “pretty much a waste of time for all but the most bored summer viewers” in my pilot review on this very web site, improved enough to justify such a promotion? In a word, no.

For those who are fans, though, and I know that everyone has their own preferences, so there have to be some people out there that like THE NIGHT SHIFT, a sizeable enough number to convince NBC that moving it was a good idea, I will strive to give you a tantalizing preview into this new season.

When last we left the cast, much turmoil was rolling through the hospital. TC (Eoin Macken) was having trouble concentrating on his job, having flashbacks to past trauma. Jordan (Jill Flint) disobeys orders, putting in jeopardy her position of power. And the relationship between Jordan and Scott (Scott Wolf) is falling apart.

As the season premiere, “Recovery,” begins, much of that has played out further. Jordan is no longer the head of the staff. Jordan and Scott are no longer together. And TC is suspended, not allowed to do his job. These are all natural progressions from the season finale, and should come as no surprise to anyone.

The love triangle between Jordan, Scott, and TC, is a key component of The Night Shift, and “Recovery” has fun with this. Just because TC is suspended doesn’t mean he isn’t around, and while Scott remains a recurring player, not a member of the main cast, both find their way into the hospital with Jordan in the premiere hour. Their dynamic is fundamentally shifted by the close of the episode.

More surprising, to me anyway, is that one of the main characters quits their job. I do not think this signals an end to this person’s tenure on THE NIGHT SHIFT, as an intriguing new opportunity presents itself, and the show will surely follow them down that road, too. But in a charged scene that I enjoy very much, perhaps mostly because it involves guest star Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), this person is fed up and does not go quietly into the night.

There are also two major medical emergencies to keep the story moving. One is in the hospital itself and is due to equipment malfunction. The other is in a more exotic locale, providing the action-packed cold opening. Because there is little emotional investment in these incidents, since they are not happening to major characters, they’re more set dressing than plot. But the latter is definitely something that will hook in fans wondering if they should return.

There’s also a very sweet moment in which a doctor makes a very large personal sacrifice for the sake of a patient. It’s the kind of decision no doctor could possibly routinely make and keep their sanity and even a middle class lifestyle. However, the believability is not as key here as making one of the players look like a hero, which happens all the time in primetime scripted dramas.

And, just to lighten the mood, a prank war breaks out in the hospital, which is as fun as it is hokey.
Only one main player from season, Dr. Landry de la Cruz (Daniella Alonso), is not back, and no new players have been added to the core group. The show continues to star, besides those listed above, Freddy Rodriguez, Ken Leung, Robert Bailey Jr., Brendan Fehr, Jeanne Goossen, and JR Lemon.

The inherent flaw with THE NIGHT SHIFT is that it’s covering well-trod ground such giants as ER and Grey’s Anatomy have already done better, with little original to justify its contribution. That trend continues in “Recovery.” Had I never seen another primetime medical drama, I might be vaguely interested in the tension between co-workers and the unusual medical cases. But with so many better options readily available, it seems pointless to set a season pass for a series that barely rates that low level of interest.

THE NIGHT SHIFT airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.


Article originally written for Seat42F.

For the (several) generations that grew up watching Lassie, many may often have wondered what became of the boy and his dog. That question is answered, sort of, in THE JACK AND TRIUMPH SHOW, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim’s latest live-action series. Of course, the dog in question is not Lassie, but the unnaturally-long-lived Triumph (an insult comic puppet voiced by Robert Smigel), who starred in the fictional series Triumph’s Boy years ago.

As THE JACK AND TRIUMPH SHOW begins, Jack (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) is living with his former co-star, June (June Squibb, Nebraska), who takes him in after his parents squander his money. June has also gotten rid of the bad influence that led Jack into drugs and prostitution post-show business, Triumph, but after years away, “Triumph Comes Home.” It takes the dog no time at all to get dim-witted Jack into his old habits.

The main plot of the series seems to be a battle between June and Triumph over Jack’s soul. Jack is easily manipulated, and while he may have a pure moral code, Triumph knows how to subvert that code with tricky (to Jack, not the viewer) language. Jack is essentially a plot device more than a fully fleshed out character, and that works for McBrayer, who has mastered the blank face.

Triumph and June are surprisingly well matched. June fully commits to their battle, tossing Triumph out the window in the woods, and seeming serious about it. I credit that to her skill as an actress, as many performers, especially those of her generation, would not be able to so convincingly go to war with a felt co-star, but she does it handily.

The larger problem is, the series isn’t that funny. The concept is dated, and much of the show plays out in a very old-sitcom style, thoroughly unrealistic. This is likely done on purpose to match all the throwbacks, from the obvious Lassie parallels to former pop culturally relevant guest stars such as Michael Winslow (the Police Academy films) and Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation). It’s a piece that pokes fun at itself, but perhaps not as expertly as one might wish.

The best part of “Triumph Comes Home” is when Triumph talks to Brent and others at an autograph show. He slips back into the comedic insults and off-the-cuff interviews that are a trademark of the Triumph character. This is what he was created for, and he has it mastered. A whole series could probably not be effectively built off of this, though, hence the more mundane trappings surrounding it. Still, by comparison to the insult comedy, the rest of the half hour is a little tame.

Perhaps tame is the wrong word for a show that has Jack McBrayer in a crop top giving hand jobs to Japanese businessmen in an alley. Yet, somehow that’s what it feels like. It may be Jack’s overwhelming sense of innocence, no matter how perverted the things he’s talking into doing are, or perhaps it’s because there’s a cartoon-like quality to the proceedings that lets you know no one will really get hurt, emotionally anyway, that makes everything seem safe. Either way, the tone of the program takes away much of the edge that would otherwise exist.

I like THE JACK AND TRIUMPH SHOW, but I don’t love it. I feel like it’s a premise that could get old very quickly. I am amused by the meta humor and numerous references to the past, but that doesn’t seem like recipe enough to sustain it. If this series is going to last, either the writers have to come up with an insane number of zany situations for these characters, or find a way to let them grow. My guess is, they’ll go for the former, which is far more challenging than the latter. I wish them the best of luck.

THE JACK AND TRIUMPH SHOW airs Fridays at 11:30 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

THE WALKING DEAD Goes "The Distance"

Article first published as THE WALKING DEAD Review Season 5 Episode 11 The Distance on Seat42F.

The Walking Dead Recap 5x11 The Distance

The survivors of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD have gone “The Distance,” and now might they finally find rest? That’s the question posed at the conclusion of last night’s installment, but before the group gets there, they must first overcome the things they’ve relied upon to help them survive. That’s not easy, to be sure, but there are many hopeful signs that it can be done.

As “The Distance” opens, Aaron (Ross Marquand) is brought to the group. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) does not immediately welcome the stranger to their midst; quite the opposite, in fact, slugging him as Aaron tries to present his case. Aaron tells the group that he has come to recruit them for his settlement, but knows they will be skeptical of his offer. His approach is the best that can be made under the circumstances, likely usually delivered to smaller, more desperately wanting acceptance, people (though he should have just ate the applesauce without complaint, Rick’s demand and reason for it being obvious). When the little bits of proof he provides turn out to be true, he asks Rick what else it will take to convince him. Rick doesn’t have an answer.

Rick obviously can’t save everybody all the time, and the cast has suffered major losses along the way. But Rick is, by and large, the reason this many people have made it this long. He hasn’t always known what to do, going too easy on people for awhile, swinging to extreme Ricktatorship, and then swinging back the other way to peaceful farmer. But by the time they encounter Terminus, he is exactly the leader the group needs to survive out on the road.

Thankfully, Rick isn’t alone. Others around him have proven themselves in a variety of ways, as well as found ways to survive without him when everyone was separated. There isn’t anyone in this group who can’t hold their own any more, or has found a way to arrange protection, so Rick doesn’t have to be the sole decider, nor are they willing to let him be. Even while letting Rick be the figurehead, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Carl (Chandler Riggs), beyond-the-grave Bob, and even Daryl (Norman Reedus) express support for following Aaron home. On the advice from his closest advisors, Rick has to at least give Aaron a chance.

Rick being Rick, he has to do things his way, though, and while that makes sense, it also causes mishaps, leading to the group losing a car and Glenn and Aaron almost getting eaten. Thankfully, they make it through this and Rick (and the viewer) finally start to have their doubts about Aaron’s honesty erased when we see him with his partner, Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1). As Carl tells Rick late in “The Distance,” just because he’s wrong doesn’t mean he’s not right.

Thus, with Rick’s hackles somewhat calmed, the caravan reaches Alexandria, Aaron’s home, and this is where the most damning piece of evidence to support Aaron comes to light. Rick and Michonne discuss approaching Woodbury and approaching Terminus, and how they are met with silence at the gates both times. As the group gets to Alexandria, the sound of children playing drifts over the heavily-reinforced walls. This is the first place encountered that not only might kids be safe enough to be kids, but they are allowed to do so. It’s not a guarantee that all is well, but Rick risks walking in with his infant in his arms, and that’s saying something.

Can Rick lay down his weapons and be a member of a community? It’s hard to tell. Soliders, especially generals, do not usually easily adapt to peacetime. Rick is nothing if not a general, and he even does what he does at Terminus, leaving a backup firearm hidden outside the gate, though notably only one gun is in his stash this time. Rick shows signs of easing up, but it won’t be a quick or painless conversion. It’s just nice that he gets the opportunity to do so.

Not that Rick is the only one who won’t accept Alexandria at face value. Even Michonne, the most vocal supporter of going there, gets suspicious when she catches Aaron in a lie and makes him answer The Three Questions. His answers mean nothing by that point, a dramatically intense moment in the hour, more about revealing Michonne than Aaron.

This paragraph contains SPOILERS from the comic, so you may want to skip it. At this point in the written THE WALKING DEAD, the group settles into Alexandria where they still are, more than fifty issues later. This is a fundamental shift from survival mode to the rebuilding of civilization, a clearly divided two halves to the series. While their challenges are not over, they become part of something much larger than themselves for the first time. For this reason, I want to relax and appreciate the calm. However, THE WALKING DEAD television series has done such a good job of making me not trust anything and often deviates in ways large and small from the page. Because of this, I still feel like Rick, optimistic, but very cautiously so, as they enter the gated community. Whether the series follows the book or differs greatly, both offer many fascinating new possibilities.

“The Distance” is yet another excellent episode of THE WALKING DEAD. It has the obligatory action sequences and walker kills, but by and large, it’s a character piece. We learn something about ourselves and humanity in general while watching it, and that’s why, in an extremely competitive field, it has edged out all others as my favorite currently running television program.

THE WALKING DEAD airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Glee Celebrates "A Wedding"

Article first published as TV Review: 'Glee' - "A Wedding" on Blogcritics.

TV Review: ‘Glee’ – “A Wedding”

This week’s installment of FOX’s Glee, titled “A Wedding,” is set almost entirely in a barn in Indiana. See, it’s Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) and Brittany S. Pierce’s (Heather Morris) wedding day, and they still can’t legally tie the knot in Ohio, which is not harped upon, but is definitely wrong. As everyone plans and attends the wedding, the characters apparently make several trips that take multiple hours each direction across state lines, but almost no one important misses the big day, which turns into a double celebration.

Santana and Brittany are one of the two best couples on the series, arguably the best one, so it’s natural that they would get married before the series’ end. They always understand each other better than anyone else can, and their love is true. They break up for awhile and pursue their own interests, but eventually come back together because their bond is so strong. This episode is not surprising and a very welcome development, up to and including Brittany’s superstitious freakouts.

Brittany springs the idea of a double ceremony on Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss), who are just getting back together, and while the boys acknowledge the craziness of the idea, they do say their vows. Klaine is another destined-to-be-together pairing who has explored separate avenues but always come back to one another. It does happen too fast, but no one cares because the guys know who they are and what they want, so it works.

Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) tries to make it a triple wedding when she proposes to ex-boyfriend Mike (Harry Shum Jr.), but he declines. This feels just as natural as the other two tying the knot. Not everyone meets their soul mate in high school, and despite Glee‘s propensity for mostly only having McKinley students and alum date other McKinley students and alum, most high school sweethearts don’t work out. The promise Artie (Kevin McHale) and Tina make to marry if they’re still single at 30 is a silly, dated reference, and one that probably won’t work out since Glee won’t still be running in ten years.

So, look, the general conceit of this episode, that two pairs of must-be spouses not only date in their teen years, but get married at twenty, is ridiculous. It’s not realistic. But Glee isn’t always realistic, and I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions in the past that the series tends to favor emotion over story structure. In this case, “A Wedding” is an enjoyably sweet episode, even if it doesn’t really make sense when viewed from a real-world perspective.

Which doesn’t mean Glee should be forgiven for all of its mistakes. Will (Matthew Morrison) not showing up until the last minute and Quinn (Dianna Agron), who is around earlier this year, not showing up at all, is pretty inexcusable. Where are the couples’ friends from New York? The frequent costume changes at the wedding and reception are downright ludicrous. Burt’s (Mike O’Malley) lack of surprise at his son suddenly getting hitched and Kurt having ready vows is unforgivable. The girls being gifted a month-long honeymoon while the boys get a weekend and none react to it is stupid, but clearly signals who’ll appear these next few weeks. Why isn’t Sam and Brittany’s fake wedding referenced? I’m just saying the overall feeling of joy one gets from watching “A Wedding” mostly outweighs this, but Glee would be a much better show if their writers exerted a little bit of effort on continuity.

G2Sue (Jane Lynch) isn’t invited at first because Santana hates her, understandably. But Brittany, like most of their classmates, forgives Sue easily, like one would a racist elder relative, so the principal manages to worm her way in anyway. Sue is a complex character at her best, and while she isn’t always written consistently, her support of these unions is nice and shows a good side to her character.

Sue’s ticket in is by bringing Santana’s abuela, Alma (Ivonne Coll), to the ceremony. I like that Alma doesn’t come around on gay marriage, but decides she wants to be a part of Santana’s life again. Alma’s tears during the wedding likely are as much from disappointment as joy, but this is a realistic take on the generational divide, with Glee’s trademark happy ending twist to it.

Finally, there’s a weird little subplot in which Rachel (Lea Michele) is afraid of what Finn’s mother will think about her moving on with Sam (Chord Overstreet). I guess, from Rachel’s perspective, this is a concern, but from a logical approach, there’s no reason to think Carole (Romy Rosemont) would disapprove, and of course she doesn’t. I’m still not a fan of Samchel, nor do I think this story is needed here, but if it is going to be done, this is the best way Glee can do it.

The musical numbers in “A Wedding” start late, but are solid. The moms group, including Carole Hudson-Hummel, Whitney S. Pierce (Jennifer Coolidge), Maribel Lopez (Gloria Estefan), and never-before-seen Pam Anderson (Gina Gershon), whom duet with the reconnected Troubletones – Brittany, Santana, Mercedes (Amber Riley), and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) – on “I’m So Excited,” is all kinds of crazy fun mixed with real talent. Mercedes and Artie’s “At Last” is perfect for the wedding. “Hey Ya!,” which features Artie and a couple of high schoolers who probably shouldn’t be there, may not be generation-ally appropriate, but comes off great. Finally, the two couples sing “Our Day Will Come,” and it may not be the best piece in the hour, but is still pretty good.

“A Wedding” is a feel-good installment designed for maximum emotional impact, and it succeeds there. That the story is full of holes is sadly beside the point, but this close to the end, forgiveness of these glaring mistakes comes a little easier. Overall, I think this episode succeeds.

Glee airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.


Monday, February 23, 2015

"Mercenary" for VIKINGS

Article originally published as VIKINGS Review Season 3 Episode 1 Mercenary on Seat42F.

Vikings Cast
The History channel’s VIKINGS returns for a third season tonight, and boy does it start off on a high note! Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) people are anxious to get back to England, and as spring approaches, their King sets sail for the more civilized land. Upon arrival, King Ecbert (Linus Roache) does give them the farmland promised, but he also has a favor to ask, and his eye is on one of the savages.

The season premiere, titled “Mercenary,” really highlights the differences between the English and the Vikings. The English naturally think they are better than the non-Christians, assuming that since the Vikings don’t pray to the same savior, they are unevolved. We can see at a dinner held that these Englishmen consider themselves above the others, and feel they are manipulating them to their advantage. The Vikings, for their part, have their own gods and beliefs, as we see when Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) consults The Seer (John Kavanagh) at the start of the hour, and think the English ways are stuffy and ridiculous. The warriors feel they know better, and are only willing to help the English in as much as it suits them.

This is obviously heading for a serious split, but that doesn’t come in “Mercenary.” Instead, Ecbert’s people are united with Ragnar’s in helping Princess Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) win back her crown. Thus, Ecbert’s English benefit from the Vikings’ tactics when the large battle late in the episode comes to a head, the Vikings showing a different stripe than either group of English, who operate by tradition and ceremony, expect.

The battle is probably my favorite part of “Mercenary.” It’s intriguing to examine the differences in the people and the personal drama going on, but sometimes bloody sword battles are most welcome. After a slow burn through much of the episode, it feels earned when the forces finally engage.

There is an interesting moment at the end where Ragnar’s face turns unexpectedly. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, you’ll see what I mean when you get to it. It makes me wonder how happy he is. He clearly isn’t well-suited to be King; he likes the power, but not necessarily the responsibility or airs. But there’s a bit where he might finally see himself as the English do, he always being particularly empathetic towards others, and it begs the question, how much will Ragnar change? In the past, he’s only been willing to go so far, but as VIKINGS pushes on, that could shift, for better or for worse.

Ragnar isn’t the only restless one in “Mercenary.” Athelstan (George Blagden) might not be satisfied with his position. He gets quite chummy with Ecbert, and while he expresses continued loyalty to Ragnar, his interests are starting to seem divided. It makes sense for him to want to go back to his people, especially when he’s made to feel needed and accepted by the king.

And there are others feeling off. Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) is much displeased to be with wife (Maude Hirst) and child at home, feeling things are too peaceful and happy, thus luring him into getting too comfortable. Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) isn’t too pleased that his woman of choice, Porunn (Gaia Weiss), takes after his mother, not content to stay at home, instead riding into battle alongside him. Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) doesn’t look too happy to see Ragnar sailing off with his ex, Lagertha, as she stays behind with a crippled child that is a source of discord in their marriage.

Aslaug needn’t worry, as Lagertha stays behind when Ragnar goes to war, and seems to have a new love interest in King Ecbert. Ecbert likely doesn’t understand the shield maiden, no matter what he thinks, and I don’t see any lasting union between them. But it’s a fun little side story, and it likely will be enough to distract her as a turncoat, Kalf (Ben Robson, Dracula: The Dark Price), prepares to betray her.

“Mercenary” has a lot going on, and while there are slow parts, especially early in the hour, overall this installment holds up to the quality storytelling one expects from Vikings. It may not be historically accurate, not surprising, given how few formal records were kept of these people, but it is entertaining. The world of the show is ever-changing and expanding, and that only draws viewers deeper into the action.

Vikings airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on History.

SLEEPY HOLLOW Needs An "Awakening"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

Last night’s SLEEPY HOLLOW on FOX is titled “Awakening,” and if anyone in the audience is falling asleep, this hour is sure to correct that. Henry (John Noble) and Katrina (Katia Winter) team up to revive those with witchy powers in the area, intent of setting themselves in the middle of a powerful new coven. Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) are freshly committed to their mission above everything else, but that is sorely tested in this particular situation.

If taken on its own, “Awakening” is pretty great. The drama of a family torn asunder is compelling, Ichabod prepared to stop his wife and son by any means necessary. The stakes are high, and the pacing is quick. For quite a bit of time, the outcome is murky, those with the upper hand shifting back and forth. By the time Henry is killed, a major event for the series, viewers are sure to be emotionally invested and on the edge of their seats. Tossing Abbie and Katrina back in time at the end is icing on the cake, a heck of a cliffhanger for next week’s season finale.

But I can’t take this episode all on its own, and that’s where the problems lie. Having Henry die in the penultimate episode of the season and posturing Katrina as the Big Bad is fine, and certainly fulfills the wishes of many a fan. But starting an all-new, time-traveling adventure with only an hour left is regrettable. Even more than exploring Purgatory at the close of season one, the past in SLEEPY HOLLOW begs for further examination. Abbie should spend some serious time there, and by not allowing her to do so, as I can’t imagine the season finale will end without her getting home, the series is squandering a heck of a third season premise.

Far worse, though, are the inconsistencies in character motivations. Katrina is a big offender, having hinted at changing sides during her captivity with Henry, but then seemingly recommitting to Ichabod and Abbie’s team later. Standing by Henry’s side makes sense, since she is his mother, but we need to see her wrestle with the decision more and understand why she is changing her mind again. Similarly, Henry has almost nothing but distain for both of his parents (Katrina far more deservedly than Ichabod) right up until the moment he decides to work with his mom. I assume he’s only using her, as it makes no sense for him to forgive her, but we don’t see that.

Ichabod is much better handled, as he has been struggling with putting down Henry, and in “Awakening,” finally agrees that it must be done. With the fate of the world at stake, Ichabod would like to save Henry’s soul but realizes he doesn’t have the means or the time to do so. Being OK with Henry dying, yet still running to his side as he slips away, is the perfect way to end Ichabod’s indecision, completely consistent for the role.

After Henry dies, Irving (Orlando Jones) seems to become good again. Sadly, Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) accepts this far too easily. It’s likely Irving really is cured of Henry’s control over him now that Henry is dead, but Jenny has no way of knowing that. Why does she give in so easily?

Finally, as Abbie is arrested in the past, quite appropriate for the time and circumstances, she asks for Ichabod Crane. This makes absolutely no sense. Abbie is there prior to Ichabod’s hibernation and he would have no knowledge of her, nor his role as a witness. Why not ask for Thomas Jefferson instead, whom is part of the group guiding Ichabod to his destiny? It seems much easier to get someone already mostly in the know to believe her story than a man who has never met her, no matter how close they end up being in the future.

Which brings us to next week’s season, possibly series, finale. What do I want from it? Well, I want Katrina to succeed in saving Henry, at least partially, so John Noble doesn’t have to leave the cast. I also want a reset, possibly with a changed set of circumstances in our present day because of what happens in the past. This will allow the writers to play with the familiar, bring back beloved characters who’ve died, and hopefully clear out a lot of the missteps they’ve made this year in story and character. Above all, I want consistency next year, something SLEEPY HOLLOW sorely lacks in its sophomore run, with a mythology-heavy plot, not case-of-the-week crap. But those are simply my wishes, so we’ll see.

At this time, as a fan, and not a fair-weather one, as I’ve stuck it out and rooted for the best, I almost think the show deserves to be canceled, even if it ends without tying anything up, as it likely will next week. If season three is going to be like season two, I’d rather it not go on. However, if they can get back to what made the end of season one so special, then I’d like to see that.

SLEEPY HOLLOW airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.