Is it possible for the impossible to be true? What happens when a long dead figure returns and finds a way to alter your life for better or worse? Will you be happy for their arrival or regret every minute of it? That’s part of the premise of Fox’s hit show “Sleepy Hollow” as the cast returned for a second season and all stuck in their own nightmare. Sure, the beginning of the episode got off to a slightly rocky start with a twist that was remedied before viewers got too confused.
“Sleepy Hollow” followed the returned from the dead Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) stuck in a pine box once again, but this time it was at the hands of someone that he thought was a friend. It turned out that Henry (John Noble) wasn’t just a sin eater eager to help, but he was also Ichabod lost long son who had an axe to grind against his parents for abandoning him. Henry’s actions led him to being buried alive by witches and rescued by a demon that turned him into one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He only pretended to help his father and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) as he guided them down separate paths where he thought that they were destined to go. Abbie was trapped in Purgatory so that Ichabod’s long ago trapped wife Katrina (Katia Winter) could escape without there being any consequences for breaking any supernatural rules. Unfortunately, she was captured by the Headless Horseman who she was once engaged to a long time ago. The Horseman believed that he could make Katrina fall in love with him once again, if her husband was finally out of the picture. Sadly, he overlooked how resourceful Crane was at getting out of dangerous situations as he escaped from the coffin and rescued Abbie’s sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) who survived the car accident only to be imprisoned by Henry for key information. Once Jenny is free, they devised a plan to free Abbie before she became a permanent resident of Purgatory. This involved finding a key that once belonged to Benjamin Franklin who Ichabod knew and worked for, much to his past dismay. The knowledge helped to rescue Abbie, but it didn’t help to bring him closer to finding his missing wife or stopping his son before it was too late. Will Ichabod and Abbie save Sleepy Hollow from an impending war or will they die trying to do so?
In terms of questions, the show posed quite a few as it managed to weave true historical figures into some of the wildest storylines there were likely never part of. The show’s premiere managed to build on the momentum of last season’s shocking finale with the reveal that Noble’s Henry was the one villain that no one saw coming, even though there were minor hints in each episode he was in. It was also a welcome change of pace for Noble to play such a dark character after playing the complexly goofy Walter Bishop for five seasons on “Fringe.” He brought an extra level of menace and proved to be a strong villain who had emotional ties to two of the show’s main characters. Noble also had a strong rapport with Mison that worked even though the father/son dynamic had an unexpected twist involved as to which title belonged to which character. Let’s hope that Noble’s Henry will get to stick around for a while, because he managed to kick the mayhem up several notches in ways that no one expected for the better. As for the episode itself, the show’s opening 10-15 minutes threw viewers for a loop in a plot that made it look like a lot of time had passed and left a lot of stories unresolved. It was a confusing twist that was quickly remedied when viewers learned that the plot was an illusion to trick people, on and off screen, into believing a very different truth. The show has also made interesting use of Ichabod’s connections to past historical figures by creating flashback scenes that always served a purpose to drive current storylines and offered the opportunity for possible guest stars to play dress-up and flesh out an iconic figure from the past. Hopefully, the show will continue to focus on the growing bond between Mison’s Ichabod and Beharie’s Abbie as they were the driving force of the whole series. If that was taken away, the show wouldn’t be worth watching without the human element grounding all of the wild fantasy plots.
As for breakout performances, Beharie and Mison led the pack as their characters help to make some of the show’s craziest plots seem plausible to some degree. Beharie’s Abbie has transformed from the resident skeptic into a true believer that she was one of the witnesses destined to stop the world from ending. She also managed to make Abbie both strong and vulnerable at the same time as she tested every single day. It also helped that she had a comfortable rapport with Mison’s Ichabod that evolved from mild discomfort into a strong friendship that could even survive being locked up in Purgatory to rescue Katrina. Beharie and Mison had an almost buddy comedy type rapport as the outsider and the local trying to find a way to co-exist without driving each other crazy. One past subplot had Beharie’s Abbie trying to modernize Ichabod before she realized that she had to take baby steps in order for that to happen. She also had a strong rapport with Greenwood’s Jenny that evolved from sisterly resentment to a close bond that had completely healed by the end of last season. Viewers believed that their sisterly bond could likely translate off-screen as well because it appeared to be genuine enough. Mison, on the other hand, had the more challenging task of trying to give credence to his character’s constant fish out of water story as he struggled to understand being in modern times. Some of the plots were funny, while a few embraced one too many stereotypes. His strongest scenes often involved Mison’s Ichabod internalizing his grief over his missing wife and the loss of a son he will never truly know. He expressed his character’s sadness and anger without having to go into too many hysterics, but a few moments of hysteria would be understandable after everything that has happened and will continue to happen in the future. It should also be interesting for Noble and Mison to cross paths again on-screen to confront each other. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
“Sleepy Hollow” premiered on September 22nd and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on Fox.
Verdict: The show’s premiere did hit a slight stumbling block, but it quickly recovered as it took viewers on a very wild ride that foreshadowed even more mayhem to come.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)