SLEEPY HOLLOW - SEASON 2 - Episode Guide and Reviews
Episode 1 - This Is War
Director: Ken Olin
Writer: Mark Goffman
Summary: Abbie and Ichabod discover that the only way to escape Purgatory may lie in a secret key hidden by Benjamin Franklin.
Abbie surprises Ichabod with a lit candle on a cupcake for his 251st birthday and explains the tradition of making a wish. Their subsequent conversation intimates that one year has passed since they escaped Henry and Moloch, with Katrina and Jenny both being killed in the process. The sheriff’s department calls Abbie and Ichabod to the Historical Society building, where their presence was requested by the attending professor. When Abbie and Ichabod arrive, they find a security guard’s decapitated body. Armed with weapons, the duo searches the building and finds research papers on Benjamin Franklin. The Horseman suddenly attacks, but escapes by throwing a flash grenade after battling Abbie and Ichabod. The professor’s papers indicate the discovery of a charcoal key rubbing in the archives at Harvard University. From his time spent as Franklin’s apprentice, Ichabod recognizes the key as the one used during Franklin’s famous electricity experiments. Ichabod reveals that Franklin was in reality attempting to destroy the key, which he had recovered in Europe during his attempts to infiltrate and destroy the notorious Hellfire Club. The professor’s notes claim that the key is known as the “Gehenna key.” Ichabod deduces that the key is capable of unlocking an entrance to Purgatory by sidestepping the rule that a soul can only leave if another takes its place. Ichabod and Abbie realize that Moloch wants the key so that he can exit Purgatory and invade Earth.
To learn the key’s location, Ichabod reluctantly agrees to interrogate Henry, who is currently held prisoner. Ichabod gives Henry the professor’s papers, but Henry claims to taste no sin in the documents. Abbie recalls that Corbin once tasked Jenny with going to Philadelphia to acquire a sketchbook of Ben Franklin’s. Ichabod and Abbie suddenly realize that they have no solid memories of the previous year. Henry breaks his chains and reveals that Abbie is still in Purgatory and Ichabod is still buried alive. The illusion was intended to draw out a lead as to the key’s whereabouts. With Abbie’s recollection, Henry now knows that Jenny can lead him to the sketchbook.
Henry interrogates Jenny, held captive by the Hessians, regarding Franklin’s sketchbook and the drawing of the key. In Purgatory, Abbie watches as Moloch prepares to raise a demon army with which to invade Earth. Abbie runs into Andy Brooks and asks for his help in finding a way to communicate a warning to Crane. Ichabod tastes sulphur in the dirt under which he is buried. Recognizing it as rudimentary gunpowder, Ichabod strikes a flint and frees himself with an explosion.
Now free, Ichabod calls Jenny. The ring on her phone distracts her Hessian guard, allowing Jenny to break her restraints and escape. Jenny texts a message to Ichabod that she is trapped in the export warehouse off Route 9. Andy leads Abbie to the mirror in Moloch’s lair that Katrina used to reflect a path to the outside world. Andy instructs Abbie in how to use the mirror before taking his leave. Jenny ends up in a gunfight with more guards. Ichabod steals an ambulance and rescues her. Ichabod explains to Jenny that they need the key in order to free Abbie from Purgatory. Jenny and Ichabod race to Corbin’s archives to find the sketchbook.
Abbie finds the mirror and uses it to temporarily reunite with Ichabod in Moloch’s Lair. Abbie wonders if they are being led into a trap to find the key for Moloch and volunteers to remain in Purgatory. Ichabod protests and vows to return for her with the key.
Ichabod discovers that Franklin encoded his sketch of the key with a cipher using Franklin’s personal alphabet. Ichabod and Jenny crack the code and follow the clue to Sleepy Hollow’s statue of Benjamin Franklin. There, they discover the Hessians already searching the grounds. Ichabod remembers a clue spoken by Franklin in the past: “the key to success lies under the alarm clock.” Behind a cornerstone brick marked with Ben Franklin’s initials at the nearby clock tower, Ichabod finds the Gehenna key. The Headless Horseman manifests himself to a hostage Katrina as her former suitor Abraham Van Brunt. Abraham promises that Ichabod will soon be dead and that Katrina should accept a new life with him. Jenny drives Ichabod to the ley lines and reminds him not to eat or drink anything upon entering Purgatory. Abbie searches the woods for the dropped charm she was given by Katrina to defend against Moloch. Ichabod finds her, but Abbie realizes it is an illusion when he tries to make her drink water and another Ichabod arrives to stop her.
The second Ichabod fights the first before fleeing with Abbie. When the second Ichabod calls her “lieutenant” instead of “leftenant,” Abbie realizes it is another illusion and she cuts off his head. As Moloch begins raising his army from the dead, Abbie reunites with the real Ichabod and they use the key to escape Purgatory. Upon returning to Earth, the key disintegrates. Ichabod and the Mills sisters regroup at Corbin’s cabin. Through a mirror, Henry apologies to Moloch for his failure in recovering the key. Moloch instead directs Henry to a portal where a visage of the Horseman War emerges. Moloch commands Henry to control the sentient armor with his soul. Henry arms War with a sword that blazes with fire.
Worry is usually warranted when wondering if a television show might lose a step in its creative giddyup between seasons. Yet “Sleepy Hollow” strides seamlessly into its sophomore spell with a premiere that figuratively picks up right where the series left off, even though it certainly doesn’t do so literally.
How “This Is War” narrows the offseason gap while opening on a “one year later” jump is by continuing the flavorful flow underscoring the spirit of “Sleepy Hollow” as a weekly hour of escapist entertainment. On display is the usual modus operandi featuring end of the world antics lightened by anachronistic comic relief and the charm of characters whose plucky resolve can produce a perfectly-timed quip no matter how perilous the predicament. This is the familiar feeling fans have come to know, love, and expect of “Sleepy Hollow.”
Indulging in one standout stranger in a strange land gag has become standard practice for each hour. This episode’s historical ha-ha concerns a confounded Ichabod’s commentary on the absurdity of birthday celebration traditions. It remains routinely astonishing to continually uncover how much Ichabod still does not know about modern living, such as how to put a vehicle into reverse. The timeframe of exactly how long Ichabod has been out of the ground is unspecified, but you’d think any available moment not devoted to combating otherworldly entities might be spent getting up to speed on essentials like driving. Or maybe freeing up available storage space on a cell phone.
Of course, a fully acclimated Ichabod would likely be a less entertaining one. Although there would always be plenty of revisionist history humor available as an alternative when concepts like Timothy Busfield’s Benjamin Franklin having a proclivity for “air baths” are introduced.
“Sleepy Hollow” has been a show that takes its imagination seriously, even if its dire straights storylines are approached with a bit more of a mischievous wink. That doesn’t stop “This Is War” from piling on the demonic imagery and devilish iconography, though. Loaded with fire, bats, tortured voices moaning, and skulls lining a lair with an inverted pentagram mirror as its centerpiece, “Sleepy Hollow” holds tightly to an ability to be dark, moody, and melodramatic when it comes time to turn up the terror.
What is good news for familiar fans doubles as bad news for newcomers, however. Initial overnight ratings for the second season premiere indicated a dip in viewership when compared to numbers for both the first season premiere and the finale. Any number of factors can be speculated as contributing to the decline. But it is worth considering that the previous season’s cliffhanger was made more complicated first by the time jump and then by the rug-pulling revelation of its true nature.
Such twists can make a devotee delightedly mutter, “ooh!” But requiring an audience to recall where things were while following a whole new timeline is not exactly new viewer friendly. Especially when the entire first act of exposition turns out to be a trick. It’s terrific that the showrunners are thinking first about what will surprise loyalists. Except if the series cannot find compromises to entice anyone not already watching, and make itself friendlier to follow, “Sleepy Hollow” runs the risk of losing everyone uninterested in keeping up. That leads to the show taking a dirt nap longer than Ichabod’s.
I’ve eagerly watched, recapped, and reviewed every hour of “Sleepy Hollow” thus far. And when I found myself wondering, “where is Captain Irving in all this,” I had to consult my own season one episode guide to be reminded that Irving is still imprisoned for the crime his daughter committed, and actually hasn’t been seen for two episodes now.
In coming up with their scripts, TV creators have to remember that even diehards have lives in between each episode and in between each season. Factor in every other movie, show, piece of entertainment, and slice of real life occupying that time, and what viewers are expected to retain in their memory banks has to remain within reason. It gets to be a lot to keep straight, and a two-minute pre-credits recap can only do so much. By no means does “Sleepy Hollow” need to be any simpler in its style. But it does have to be aware of how to remain accessible if it wants to remain relevant.
That is a hurdle for future hours to continue hopping. For the time being, “This Is War” accomplishes the primary goals that any second season opener should. And that is wrapping up the previous cliffhanger while replacing the pins for a new arc to come. Despite erecting a somewhat hard to climb wall for those late to the party, “Sleepy Hollow” nonetheless appears poised to pull back its bowling arm with confidence, strength, and straight-arrow aim. Let’s see what happens on the release.
Episode 2 - The Kindred
Airdate: September 29, 2014