Still full of heart and with a compelling plot, Sleepy Hollow's much anticipated return has been unfortunately thus far let down by some poor writing choices.
Sleepy Hollow was a surprise hit in 2014; it combined crime procedural and supernatural drama masterfully, and was bellied by a diverse cast led by Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane, a solider of the Revolutionary War transported from 1781 to the present day, and Nicole Beharie, police lieutenant of the once peaceful town of Sleepy Hollow.
The mid-season finale ‘The Akeda’ saw a showdown of quite literally Biblical proportions, with our heroes facing off against the demon Moloch with the secret holy weapon the Sword of Methuselah. The battle was not easily won, and sacrifices had to be made. Killing the Big Bad in the middle of a season is a huge step, and with the the ghostly realm of Purgatory now merging with our own Earth, audiences will be keen to see how the plot unfurls from here.
Sadly, the show’s characters have not always endeared themselves to viewers this season. Ichabod’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) was a fantastic ethereal, guiding voice from where she was trapped in Purgatory last season, but even though she was freed, her character was immediately captured once again. Her character is laboured and detracts from the plot; audiences are clearly meant to feel for her, but having shown so little of her own identity, this is difficult. What’s more, two or three episodes pass without Ichabod sparing her a thought, but the next episode he would speak as if his mission to save her had never wavered; this inconsistency can be jarring.
John Noble’s character of Jeremy definitely also deserves better. Unable to use his acting prowess in a role which could have been delightfully, deliciously evil, he is instead repeatedly left as a somewhat bumbling henchman in Moloch and Abraham’s shadow. With lots of wasted potential it can only be hoped that Jeremy’s character will read better when his machinations are used for good, following a surprise twist at the end of ‘The Akeda’ and that, freed of her imprisonment under him and Abraham, Katrina will receive a chance to shine alongside him too.
Some character arcs, however, have already been deeply rewarding. Ichabod and Abbie’s relationship continues to be constructed, and handled, beautifully, and Frank Irving’s (Orlando Jones) poignant sacrifice at the culmination of this episode truly hurts. Throughout this season audiences have seen his character manipulated and imprisoned, so witnessing this final act to use the last of his power to reclaim control and wield the Sword of Methuselah is deeply empowering.
Early in the season and in an effort to protect his family, Frank unwittingly sold his soul to Henry; now that the latter is good, there might be possibility of his future return. It can only be hoped, as the character was a much needed confidant for Abbie and Ichabod, and contributed to the rich character diversity for which Sleepy Hollow has been praised. Additionally, Jones has been called the ‘social media ambassador’ for the show and it is truly hoped that he is still able to connect and interact with the show’s fan-base, of which he speaks glowingly.
In short, Sleepy Hollow is still undeniably good fun. A mostly lighthearted romp full of, at times truly scary, magical realism, the show balances plot and character driven action. The chemistry between leads Beharie and Mison continues to be the show’s greatest strength, however poor writing choices and laboured character arcs seem to bog down the energy for which the first season was renowned.