Monday, February 23, 2015

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.

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