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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: Sanctuary

This episode was one of those stories that is fabulous in so many ways, and yet kinda clunky in others.

First off, I like the idea of Ichabod and Abbie being trapped in a haunted house, as well as the clever conceit that Moloch managed to trick his way past its protective charms by planting one of his demons inside the perimeter and waiting for it to grow. That said, the demon itself was fairly silly: a tree monster that lurched around like something out of The Wizard of Oz and whose "bleeding roots" gimmick was swiped from the Tim Burton movie. And for some reason it was inexplicably credited as a "Scarecrow" in the credits.

Plenty of the chase scenes were suitably creepy, particularly the ones that took place behind the walls (triggering my claustrophobia, so you know they're effective) and Abbie being the only one able to see her own great-great-something grandmother was a lovely touch, especially as that was what got them all safely out.

But still, there was just something missing.

Maybe it was that the backstory was a little messy? Let's see if I've got this straight: Katrina scoped out Fredericks' Manor because she wanted a safe place in order to give birth to her child. She received Ichabod's letter that informed her he had fallen on the battlefield, gave birth to a baby boy, smuggled him out of the house, left him somewhere (?), made it all the way back to Ichabod's bedside as he lay dying, and cast the spell on him that put him into his three hundred years sleep. Or was it that Ichabod died first and then Katrina went to Frederick's? If so, then how on earth did Ichabod not realize she was pregnant? And why'd she bother to put his letter in that book for him to find?

Well, I guess she's gradually becoming less of a plot-device and more of a character in her own right, but she's still damn confusing. I mean, how many things is she keeping from her husband?? First the fact that she's a witch and then that she was pregnant? It must have been a very strange marriage for her to keep so much from Ichabod, but hey - at least we know that her favourite book was Gulliver's Travels.

Then there was the little subplot of Jenny meeting Irving's ex-wife and daughter, and the domestic strife that's going on between the divorced couple. Now, it's not that I didn't like these scenes - but was it really a good idea to have these fairly mellow scenes intercut with Ichabod and Abbie fighting for their lives in a haunted house that's trying to kill them?

It was a bit jarring, which is a shame because there was a lot of stuff in here that I liked:
Irving/Jenny flirting. That wasn't just me, right? That was definitely flirting? Because I love opposites attract couples, and I especially love couples that take me by surprise. In amongst all the debate surrounding Abbie/Ichabod/Katrina, I honestly didn't see this one coming.
On a related note, it was so nice to see Jenny being laidback and friendly. She's been pretty gung-ho up until now and it was nice to see her connect with a little girl.

Speaking of whom: Amandla Stenber! Yay! It's so nice to see her again after The Hunger Games, and I hope that the rapport Macy struck up with Jenny means that she'll be recurring character. I did think that it was a little odd that a tween would open up so completely to a total stranger about her relationship to her dad, but as Diana Rigg once said: "it's plot exposition, it needs to go somewhere."

Also, Jenny said she wanted thanksgiving dinner in order to: "say thank you to Abbie for taking me in." Does that mean the sisters are living together? When are we going to see that??

And I liked that Irving's ex-wife was portrayed as a nice, caring women instead of the usual ex-wife = shrew stereotype. Time will tell though whether either of them will be incorporated into the supernatural goings-on in Sleepy Hollow. On a similar note, another post that was doing the rounds pointed out that although Lena Gilbert was a wealthy socialite, she was portrayed as brave, helpful and genuinely interested in her family history.

Basically: so many women! So many women of colour! Every time I think the show has met its quota, they bring in three more as though it's the most natural thing in the world. There was a GIF set floating around of the six women that appeared in this episode and only one of them was white (though on reflection, it didn't count Lena Gilbert). Still that's a 2/5 margin, and I honestly can't think of another fantasy/sci-fi show off the top of my head that has such odds. Amazing.

There's a lot of game-changing stuff here, most obviously the fact that Ichabod has a son, though he's found out a few hundred years after his wife gave birth. I suppose now the questions are:

Will Ichabod find out what happened to him?

Why didn't Katrina say anything?

Why did Moloch want the boy so badly that he would have the house attacked during his birth?

Obviously something is up with Ichabod Junior, presumably to do with the fact that his daddy is a Witness. I'm not entirely sure that I'm on board with this particular plot or wherever it may lead - but at least we got that lovely reveal that Grace the matron/midwife, the woman who helped bring Ichabod's son into the world, was also Abbie's ancestor. Saw it coming a mile away, but that made it all the more rewarding when it was confirmed.

Not a bad episode, but not my favourite either.

In Hindsight:

So this episode heralded the arrival of Jeremy Crane, a.k.a. Henry Parrish into the world, though we didn't know it yet. And it would seem that right from the beginning Moloch had a vested interest in Ichabod's son. Why? Not exactly sure, but by this point Abraham had been turned into the Horseman of Death, so perhaps he just wanted a Crane-themed set of Horsemen.

Watching it the second time around also clarified Katrina's time-line. As far as I can understand it, this was how it went down: Ichabod writes Katrina a letter to say goodbye in case of his death --> Ichabod is fatally injured by the Horseman --> Katrina receives the letter and rushes to his side --> she performs the spell to put Ichabod in stasis all whilst NOT telling him she was pregnant --> some time later she returns to Frederick's house to give birth, putting Ichabod's goodbye letter in her copy of Gulliver's Travels. 

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