Sleepy Hollow’s mid-season premiere got off to a rocky but interesting start about 3 weeks back or so, though I find that with Moloch gone and done with, the show has lost a little bit of its appeal as well since things aren’t so “2 minutes to midnight” anymore. There’s a lack of urgency to things, and though the mid-season premiere did well by further exploring the weirdly fun world of the town of Sleepy Hollow by introducing angels into the mix, I also find that the show is kind of plodding along now, with little thought to a longer story.
The recent two episodes, “Pittura Infamante” and “Kali Yuga” do one thing well: they take the rocky relationship between Ichabod and Katrina and then try to smooth over their many differences while also showing more cracks between Ichabod and Abby. Both are reflective of the loss of a common enemy that brought the three of them together, and that’s where the episodes really focus. However, it is all far too… mundane and the clear lack of an over-arching plot for the tail end of the second season is really hurting the show, as far as I can tell, since the characters and stories are just plodding along, doing the basics necessary of them.
I’ll admit, I liked the mid-season premiere well enough. It instantly connected me back with the characters and the story, but then it slightly went off the reservation, and that is something that bothered me. And then, fortunately, last week’s episode, the thirteenth of the second season, kind of bounced the story back for me by showing Katrina and Ichabod trying to salvage their marriage while also establishing more of Katrina’s background during the War. But, this week’s episode kind of ticked me off in that while I liked the story, it wasn’t really anything special, and the particular monster chosen for it didn’t do anything for me.
In “Pittura Infamante“, we have Katrina and Ichabod attending a soiree at the Sleepy Hollow Historical Society, where things taken an unfortunate turn for the worse when one of the Society’s art restorers is found dead, brutally mutilated in the process. While presenting a formidable mystery for the husband-wife duo, this episode is also notable for the fact that it marks Michelle Trachtenberg’s entry into the series, as Abigail Adams, the wife of Johns Adams. The episode establishes the friendship and camaraderie between Abigail and Katrina in a great way and it is really nice to have another great example of two women bonding positively in the show.
And really, the writers use Abigail Adams to further show how Katrina was in the past, the kind of life she led then and all. I certainly had fun watching the exchanges between the two women and Katrina reflecting on their friendship to Ichabod. It was a rather melancholic episode, and certainly among my favourites as well. Katrina was fleshed out a great deal, and I like that the show is making more of an effort to present her as someone other than the show’s magical macguffin who can pop out a few spells or witchery know-how that lets the good guys win the day. Sure, that’s an important part of her identity but she is much more than that too, and this show focuses on that.
In contrast, “Kali Yuga” focuses on fleshing out Nick Hawley and his past, by bringing in someone from his childhood, Carmilla Pines, his league guardian during his teenage years. She is a treasure hunter by trade, with a sordid and not-so-good reputation as well, and when she arrives in Sleepy Hollow looking for Nick, wanting to bring him back into the fold as it were, things certainly get interesting.
But here’s the thing, the writers use the concept of vetalas from Hindu Mythology for this episode and they kind of butcher it all. Vetalas are tree-bound vampires in the mythology, and are also manipulative liars who can get you to do something they want by tricking you into a series of riddles and mysteries. But the show casts them as pure monsters, and rather generic monsters at that, so the whole execution falls really flat. It was, flatly, extremely disappointing as both a viewer and a Hindu myself. The show had a great opportunity here to do something really different, but the writers botched it up, and the whole episode just become another monster-hunt, something we’ve had dozens of before.
At the same time, both episodes also deal with the fact that Frank Irving is back in the world of the living, though how and why he was resurrected is a definite mystery, something that the two Witnesses and others are wont to explore further. With everything that happens in this regard in the episode from last week, I had yet more reasons to love the show. It had some great emotional drama between Frank and Abby, something that definitely moved the show away from its more laughable elements and more into the realm of something really serious, as it were. Frank being back like this can mean a whole lot of different things, not the least of which is that this could mean that Henry is also alive in some way, and that’s a clear threat to the good guys, despite the fact that he helped them all by killing Moloch back in the mid-season finale.
And this week’s episode takes the whole thing further, dealing with the outstanding criminal charges against Frank Irving, and also showing the good guys trying to judge magically whether he is under Henry’s influence or not. We do get an answer to the latter by the end of the episode, but it just raises more questions, and I find the whole thing really intriguing.
The good and the bad go together of course, and given the fact that the season has four more episodes to go before it wraps up, I’m hoping that we get something substantive out of them. The recent three episodes, as good as some of them may have been, haven’t really tickled my fantasy much, and I’m still waiting for some big-stakes events to happen, something that can really test the good guys, especially the Witnesses. because right now, everything is just about meandering along without any sense of urgency, just waiting for things to click. And I want the show to get out of that rut.
I guess next week’s episode would tell us where the show is really headed, in terms of that. Fingers crossed.
More Sleepy Hollow: Season 1.