Last season Sleepy Hollow was FOX’s hit of the year, garnering staggering ratings in its freshman year, as 24 had in 2001. It was such a success, that the network immediately gave the green light for season two after only airing three episodes!
A story of two witnesses coming together to stop the Apocalypse kept the audience captivated, in a frenzy, and eager to see the mystery unfold. Every week Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie’s (Nichole Beharie) journey continued to intensify until the mind-blowing season finale! Henry Parrish (John Noble) was not only revealed as the Horseman of War, but also Ichabod and Katrina’s (Katia Winter) son! The plot explosion rocked Twitter like never before, and fans quickly uploaded videos of themselves watching the epic moment on YouTube. I’d say it was the best kept secret in television history! Such fun for Sleepyheads who proudly donned their label with pride. I am one of those Sleepyheads! Since the first episode, I have been riveted by Sleepy Hollow, a show that gives fans a chance to learn more about American history and embrace a mythology driven series.
The series premise is intriguing: A man, Ichabod Crane, awakens 250 years after his Wiccan wife casts a spell on him, tied to the Horseman of Death after Ichabod beheads the Hessian soldier on orders of General George Washington, during the Revolutionary War. Who would buy into such malarky right? But the talents of the cast makes us believe anything is possible!
I was glued to the television from the first episode, which is rare for me as I tend to multi-task while “watching” television. This one had me from the first gun shot in the 1781 Hudson Bay battle between British and American soldiers. The instant I laid eyes on the horseman that would find himself headless at the hands of Ichabod Crane, I was hooked! Of course I must admit that seeing Tom Mison as Ichabod didn’t hurt either! LOL
So, what exactly has happened to the show heard ’round the world? Since season two began, ratings have continued to decline, while passionate fans clamor about missing the Sleepy Hollow from season one! What exactly is it about season one that is so vastly different than season two? How could the powers that be have miscalculated the next part of the story so much, that a Twitter campaign designed to express disdain at the direction of our female characters was necessary? Can it be fixed or will FOX abandon the beloved series before the producers have a chance?
For my part, I can only describe what I see and hear via social media platforms during, as well as after each episode airs. This is my assessment of the situation…
In my opinion, “And the Abyss Gazes Back,” “Weeping Lady,” “Heartless” and “Mama” represent exactly what the show was in season one. All four episodes have great character development, a clear back story, answers questions and raises important new ones.
The premise of Sleepy Hollow: The arrival of the four horsemen signals the start of the Apocalypse as foretold in the bible. In Revelations, it speaks of two witnesses brought forth for a period of seven years, sent to stop the “End of Days”. The Horseman of Death, whom we later learn is Ichabod’s ex-bestie Abraham Van Brundt (Neil Jackson), has risen. In the pilot episode Ichabod and Abbie realize they are the two witnesses prophesied.
In episode two of season one, “Blood Moon,” Katrina appears to Ichabod in a dream and tells him the Horseman of Death has risen. “But now he’s returned to gather the others and together, they will unleash the Apocalypse. Before the four horsemen can ride, an army of evil will make way for their arrival.”
What does this mean? I took it to mean that our witnesses would have to battle otherworldly supernatural creatures to ensure the horsemen’s inability to enter our world. Henry has brought forth many evil beings the witnesses have defeated this season, including the Pied Piper, Wendigo, Succubus, Weeping Lady.
So who is Moloch (Derek Mears) and what’s his deal? Abbie and her sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) were walking through the woods after school and came across four white trees, then actually observed Moloch rise the Horseman of War out of the ground. Though Abbie is a Witness, she was too young to stop Moloch.
Obviously as the Guardian of Purgatory Moloch’s plan is to rise on earth and release all his evil minions to take over set the world on fire–literally. It is my understanding that Moloch could not rise until the four horsemen arrived, nor would the Apocalypse begin until all four horsemen were on earth. In Revelations it clearly states the four horsemen signal the End of Days. Am I wrong on this? In “Deliverance,” Abbie found an entry that spoke of the Horrid King, who turns out to be Moloch. “Who first, who last, who used the blood of sacrifice of parent’s tears” to make his entry into this world. So my question becomes, are the other two horsemen, the Horseman of Pestilence and Horseman of Famine already here, allowing Moloch’s entry via Katrina? Is the Horrid King also one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse? This hasn’t been made clear at this point and it kind of contradicts the original plot. I’m a little stumped by this.
One of the most important things for me when I invest in a show as much as I have Sleepy Hollow, is how the season unfolds episode to episode. If there isn’t a clear, concise direction, mythology driven shows sort of fall apart. Fans who love the show really dissect each episode- the meaning behind different symbols or stories, how it all connects, the lore, speculate where it’s going, etc… For me, a few important elements that are paramount in a mythology based series are character development, knowing characters inside and out, their back stories, etc… Without these a show like Sleepy Hollow just crumbles. The reason season one was so successful, in my opinion, is because it was very detailed from episode one to episode thirteen and took viewers on an epic journey, with a big reveal that rocked television! It was very well-thought out, planned and executed!
As an example of what I’m talking about, I actually went back and read one of my reviews, “Vessel” from season one: the famous skinny jeans episode. That episode specifically tied everything back to the witnesses- Washington’s Bible, Moloch’s fight to get it at all costs, our heroes doing whatever it took to save Irving’s daughter Macy. It was a very powerful, well-written and crafted episode that clearly tied back to the apocalyptic mythology.
In my opinion, the first two episodes of this season were fantastic and had everything fans love- suspense, humor, mixed with horror. So at what point did things change?
Where is “Team Ichabbie”?
I feel that the variation in the dynamic of the original team ie: Ichabod, Abbie, Jenny and Irving (Orlando Jones), affected the show. Ichabbie have a rhythm, a way of working together that adding Katrina into the mix disrupted. Also adding new character Nick Hawley (Matt Barr) into the group has marginalized Jenny’s role this season. The audience loves the Mills sisters, clearly evidenced by the rejoice that arose across social media platforms after “Mama” aired.
Another issue of contention among the fans is Irving being sideline the first half of the season, stuck at Tarrytown Psychiatric. There is a chemistry so-to-speak with the combination of Abbie, Ichabod, Jenny and Irving that, while Hawley is nice to look at, he just doesn’t quite fit. In contrast, if there is a need for another character on “Team Ichabbie,” it makes more sense to bring Joe Corbin (Zach Appleman) back because he was Sheriff Corbin’s (Clancy Brown) son, so is connected to Sleepy Hollow as well as his father’s legacy.
Last season, the show was historically driven by the presence of Washington’s Bible, yet we haven’t seen many episodes referring to it this season, nor have we seen Ichabod and Abbie following the cases Sheriff Corbin was tracking. I thought they would go that route having found his files and it would lead our witnesses to the dark Coven mentioned, other cases with biblical references to the Apocalypse, uncover more about Abbie and Jenny’s family connection, etc… Maybe this is something that is coming for the second half of the season. Now that Ichabbie is armed with Ben Franklin’s journal, Grace Dixon’s journal, as well as George Washington’s Bible, hopefully we’ll see roads leading back to some of Corbin’s old cases.
The Hawley Factor
One thing I like this season is some of the character development , which they’ve been able to do thanks to the extra episodes. However, bringing on Hawley, who is clearly supposed to be a love interest for Abbie, has yet to give up anything about his background other than he’s an armament dealer.
My problem with Hawley is that the character has no real ties to Sleepy Hollow, so for me it is just kind of irrelevant. Where did he come from? How exactly did Jenny meet him? What was the nature and length of their relationship? Why did he latch on to her? What adventures did they have together? Can he be trusted? Who has he worked for in the past? Why is he suddenly glued to the witnesses? These are all questions yet to be answered or even proposed! With how closed off Abbie is where her heart is concerned, the only reason to have Hawley even remotely intertwined with her is so Crane can realize he may have feelings for her. Other than this, while he’s definitely eye candy for the ladies, I feel hooking him up with Abbie would be too dangerous for her and mission as a witness. “Trust no one Mr. Mulder.” I think she needs to remember that!
The Witch, the Spy and the Liar
And then there’s Ichabod’s wife, Katrina, who has lied to him about several major things, including being a witch, working as a spy for George Washington, having their son Henry and being present for, if not outright killing, his ex-girlfriend Mary Wells (Heather Lind).
Relationships have their ups and downs, maybe minor fibs such as “Did you take out the trash,” “Yes I did”; however really didn’t. The lies Katrina told were life-changing moments that shaped who she is and now, Ichabod feels he doesn’t know her anymore! Her faith that Henry is only being controlled by Moloch and belief he can be saved has caused major tension among the two Witnesses, namely because he is the Horseman of War! Ichabod is clearly torn between his duties as a Witness and as Henry’s father, not wanting to have to choose a side. This has become an obstacle, as Ichabod’s focus has been compromised during the first half of the season. The duo, now working as a trio with Katrina, has been another item of contention among fans who are split between “Ichatrina” or “Ichabbie”.
However, the Sleepyhead fandom really blew up after “Deliverance” aired, an episode written by new additions to the writing team, Sam Chalsen and Nelson Greaves. Mostly fans felt that Abbie’s opinion as one of the Witnesses, was disregarded after Ichabod sided with Katrina against her, wanting to ask their son Henry for help. Then as the episode unfolded, Abbie seemed to be sidelined a little bit as Ichabod sort of took the reigns and saved Katrina via CPR, (which he apparently immediately learned right after almost losing Abbie in “Weeping Lady”). Fans felt she was written as a stereotypical “helper.”
For Beharie’s part regarding this issue, in a recent, interview she she noted that she was surprised at the outpouring of support and had this to say, “Well, I’m highly aware of that just because I’m an actress and I’m African-American, so I’m aware of that kind of thing, those stereotypes.” She further added, “I think it’s just- we have amazing fans, they’re so passionate, and I think they want to see the females characters on the show be developed totally in the way that some shows haven’t done, in the way that everyone has expected from a show like this. One part of me is like “why does it have to be political or weird about who’s doing what?” But I just think it’s people caring about each character so much, and that’s definitely a testament to the other actors work and the writers and the whole upheaval, it’s really entertaining from this end. It’s almost like you guys are entertaining us after we attempt to give you your jollies.”
The Fan’s Voice
Fans have been tweeting me their feelings about season two and this is just an example of a few from both sides of the debate:
Ultimately, I feel the reason for the decline in viewership is the change in the dynamic of “Team Witness”: Ichabod’s lack of focus, Katrina’s feelings about Henry, addition of Hawley, lack of Jenny and Irving. Would The XFiles have been the same if the journey wasn’t Mulder and Scully’s alone? Yes they had their “team,” comprising of their boss Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), The Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Bruce Hardwood, Dean Haglund), then later Agents Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish). Much like Mulder and Scully, our Witnesses are the only ones that can complete their mission together. Changing the dynamics muddies the original plot and vibe of the show.
What’s Next? (SPOILERS AHEAD)
The original formula implemented throughout season one appears to be what we will see in the mid-season finale episodes- can I just say hallelujah! Now that Irving has escaped Tarrytown Psychiatric, Katrina may possibly go dark side and Jenny is back, I think the second half of the season is going to remind Sleepyheads why we fell in love with the show.
So what now? Word is, producers are keenly aware of the fan’s growing concerns about the show. They’ve planned an incredible two-part Fall Finale that begins on Monday, November 24, with “Magnum Opus.” I’m told it’s what fan’s have been waiting for, with our two witnesses stronger than ever, and searching for the “Sword of Methuselah,” which might stop Moloch. Irving and Jenny are both back front and center, scrambling for the Canadian border in hopes of staying ahead of the law. In addition we’ll see a flashback of Ichabod and Abraham before they left for the Colonies. (Watch sneak peeks below)
“Akeda,” part two of the Fall Finale, will mark Ichabod’s first motorcycle ride with Abbie! I’m very excited to see our dynamic duo buzzing down the street on a Harley! Additionally, looks like Katrina is back in the mix, away from Henry and a now fully grown Moloch! However, seems like our witch may have feelings for Abraham after all. Additionally, sounds like she and Ichabod will have decisions to make regarding their son Henry, that will cause a rift between Ichabod and Abbie. The time has come for him to choose his family or duties as a Witness. Which choice will he make and how will it affect Ichabbie’s future? These episodes will change everything, with surprise twists we won’t expect! I have a feeling we’re in for one hell of a cliffhanger!
Producers promise that the second half of the season will be packed with lots of magic from Katrina, a possible new ally in the form of a mysterious man named Orion (Max Brown). They teas that a fun Karaoke outing is coming in episode 14, and Ichabbie will have to work out their differences to once again focus on their mission!
For this Sleepyhead, I’m “all in,” anxiously awaiting to see how the rest of the season unfolds. I have confidence that if Sleepyheads can hang in there, the powers that be will right some of the issues and Sleepy Hollow will once again be on top!
Don’t miss television’s thrill-ride, Monday November 24 at 9p on FOX!
SNEAK PEEKS “MAGNUM OPUS”
*Watching online? Be sure your viewership is counted by using these platforms: FOX, FOX On Demand, FOX Now App, HuluPlus and check in on TV Tag. All of these platforms collect analytics, which are sent to the network so they can determine how their shows are being watched.
*Listen to “Official” Sleepy Cast Podcast on Nerdiest Tuesday, November 25 when host Clarke Wolfe chats with some of the cast and crew!
*Don’t miss our fan post-mortem on Spreecast, Monday immediately following east coast airing of “Magnum Opus,” November 24 at 10p ET.
What do you think of season two? Post your comments here to be used in an upcoming episode of Sleepy Hollow Addicts.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00KC57IWG,0553419005]