Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: Heartless

Aaaaaaaand, I think I'm done here.

If watching Merlin and Robin Hood has taught me anything, it's that when a show goes south, it's better to bail out sooner rather than later. This doesn't mean I won't be watching the rest of the season, but I won't review any more individual episodes (except maybe the one where Mrs Mills turns up, because Abbie and Jenny deserve that at least).

This, you see, was the succubus episode. You've only seen it about a million times before, though the word "succubus" can be interchanged with a rich variety of other terms. All you need is a sultry femme fatale who sucks out the energy of men after reeling them in with her super-hot-evil-sex appeal.

On Merlin it was Lamia, on Smallville it was meteor freak Desiree, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Inca Mummy Girl, Torchwood had an alien that possessed a teenage girl and forced her to have sex with all kinds of men, Charmed had the one that involved Prue turning herself into a man (seriously), and by all accounts every third or so episode of Supernatural deals with one of these.

As sexist and clich├ęd tropes go, it's up there with – hey, what do you know! Mystical pregnancies.

Sleepy Hollow doesn't do anything particularly creative with the character (well, I guess they went for a mild subversion when she targeted a lesbian, but that murder wasn't even mentioned after the fact). Her eyes glow red. She smiles coyly. She's got the whole "sucking of a person's life-force out their gaping mouth" symbolism going for her. But ultimately she's just a tool to provide Baby Voldemort with energy that for some reason looks like dry ice under florescent lights.

I will however, give the actress credit for channelling the body language and voice modulation of Abbie and then Katrina when she faced Hawley and Ichabod respectively. It was subtle, but it was definitely deliberate.

And she did allow for the inclusion of this screen-cap,
which belongs in one of those "write your own caption" competitions.

If there was a theme to this episode it was getting people who exist at odds with each other to work together to destroy the separate parts of the slutty soul-sucking demon (aww). It came down to Abbie and Katrina searching for the succubus's heart and Ichabod and Jenny Hawley trying to kill the succubus's body, each team grappling with distrust and unease.

I'm thankful that the tension between Abbie and Katrina wasn't based in either jealousy over Crane's attention or whatever the female variant of dick-measuring is, but rather the very real issue of Henry. Katrina is convinced he can be redeemed; Abbie doesn't much care one way or the other, not while he's leaving a trail of bodies behind him. If conflict must exist between these two women, making it Henry is the best option.

Even though this shot tries to convince us it's Ichabod.

I'm tired of talking about Katrina, as it's usually to complain about her when I'd much rather be gushing over Abbie and/or Jenny, but the truth is that deep down I don’t want this character to fail, nor do I want the writers to take the lazy option and kill her off. Right now she's a flip-flopping cypher that still manages to eat up too much screen-time, though no one would be happier than me if the writers found a way to integrate her into the proceedings that make her useful to the team while not impinging on the partnership of Ichabod and Abbie.

Hawley on the other hand? Get rid of him.

Miscellaneous Observations:

So tired of every episode starting with Ichabod making portentous out-of-context statements that end up pertaining to something completely mundane. Still, I wonder how self-aware the show was by having Ichabod and Katrina discuss the artificiality of reality television just before diving into a pretentious discussion of their own relationship.

The succubus being defeated due to Abbie destroying her misplaced heart isn't as contrived as you might think – there's a long tradition of evil monsters increasing their power by removing their vital organs. Just off the top of my head I can think of the heartless giant from The Storyteller and the warlock with the hairy heart in The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Abbie successfully reading the magic spell to destroy the heart once again makes Katrina totally obsolete, though I wonder if Abbie was successful because of the spell itself, or because of her own innate power as a Witness.

Favourite scene: Katrina and Abbie desperately trying to out-casual each other when faced with their fears in the heart-holding jar.

HA! Well played, ladies.

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