Sleepy Hollow "For the Triumph of Evil" Review: Sleeping With One Eye Open

By Kaitlin Thomas

Oct 01, 2013

Sleepy Hollow S01E03: "For the Triumph of Evil

This week on Sleepy Hollow, a faceless nightmare demon was haunting Abbie and her past, but before we get to that, I'd like to discuss the fact that this series needs a Previously On... segment before the Previously On... segment. The former explains the premise of the show, while the latter reminds viewers of what transpired last week. I liken that first segment to Battlestar Galactica's prologue, which preceded every episode to explain the cylons and their plan, and for many supernatural or science-fiction series, that sort of thing is actually really helpful. It's also a sneaky way to bring new viewers up to date so they don't sit there wondering what the hell is going on all the time. I applaud your thoughtful sneakiness, Fox.

Now, let's talk about the evil nightmare creature that made me never want to sleep again. Instead of having the thing haunt inconsequential members of Sleepy Hollow as most other supernatural series would do, this guy—who had a name I can't even begin to try to spell—was on a mission, and that mission was more or less to mess with Abbie Mills. Having this story center on Abbie kept it from straying too far into Monster of the Week territory while also helping develop Abbie's backstory—and for that we should all be grateful—but the execution of it was poor.

The episode kicked off with a dream sequence of Abbie's, and as the flickering lights foretold, nothing good was going to come out of it. When she woke up, she was called into work to deal with a jumper who turned out to be indirectly related to Abbie's own history—they lady was Abbie's sister's first doctor when she was admitted to the looney bin for talkin' 'bout demons and stuff. When Abbie arrived, the doctor's eyes were glazed over white and she told Abbie that she had believed what Jenny told her all those years ago but lied about it, and now she was basically paying for it. Aaaaand then she jumped. Right onto the hood of a car. Aren't there supposed to be like, trampolines or big mats down there or something? Have cartoons warped my sense of what actually transpires during those sorts of situations? I just feel like Sleepy Hollow PD wasn't even trying.

So, let's do a quick recap of what we've learned so far. Rule number one: Don't go talking about demons unless you want to be locked up forever (the exception would be if you're speaking to Abbie and Ichabod or perhaps the Winchesters). Rule number two: Don't lie about not believing someone when they're talking about demons because eventually one will come for you. Rule number three: Do not move to Sleepy Hollow. Actually, that should probably be rule number one.

As Abbie and Ike (not Icky because I would like to be friends with him some day) attempted to suss out just what was happening in Sleepy Hollow, we learned more about Abbie and Jenny's history and that day they saw the creepy demon creature in the woods. We also learned why Jenny is currently living in a facility that has electronic locks on its doors while Abbie's patrolling the streets as a cop. And it basically boils down to the fact that Abbie, fearing what may happen to both of them, denied having seen the demon in the forest, while Jenny was very forthcoming with the details. The man who found them in the woods (after a four-day nap!?) also denied having seen the demon, which is why he eventually also killed himself in front of Abbie. (Rule number four: Maybe don't involve yourself in any matters concerning Abbie Mills?)

After spending a little doing research (a staple of all supernatural shows) in the archives—which for all intents and purposes is now akin to Sunnydale's library in its homebase-ness—Abbie and Ike discovered just what kind of demon they were dealing with. It was a version of the Sandman, but one from Native American mythology. They tracked down the only Native American in the area, a used car salesman (but he had a DeLorean!), and after insulting him a bit, he agreed to help them defeat the Sandman. 

The climax of the episode was very anticlimactic. In fact, it was really easy for Abbie to defeat the faceless baddie once she and Ike drank some special dream tea. We already knew that Abbie had lied about seeing the demon, because Abbie herself had told Ichabod about the demon in the series premiere. We didn't need to know she had lied to the authorities about it, because we could infer as much once we realized that Jenny was locked up and Abbie was not. So when the time came to admit her guilt and confess to the demon why she denied seeing him, the result was very, very boring. It wasn't cathartic. It wasn't revealing. It was played as a triumphant moment, but Abbie had already confessed her sins (and they never really felt much like a secret anyway), so why should we care about her confessing to the Sandman? 

I've been mentioning other long-running supernatural dramas in these reviews since Sleepy Hollow began, and I've tried to keep them light because this show deserves to stand on its own without having to worry about being overshadowed by the shows that came before it, but "For the Triumph of Evil" was the first episode that made me feel like maybe the show should take a page out of its elders' books. 

As fun and creepy as Sleepy Hollow was this week (and don't get me wrong, I did mostly enjoy the hour), the final act was a letdown. Secrets and their accompanying guilt can be an effective method of storytelling and I think that's something Supernatural has always done well. I'm not saying I want Sleepy Hollow to be another Supernatural, but Sam and Dean's relationship has always worked on an emotional level because their characters have fully formed backstories full of unspoken feelings and secrets, and when they're revealed, it feels like an actual confession of guilt, it feels like these things have been eating them up inside for years. 

Abbie's own secret had been mentioned in some way or another in all three of the episodes that've aired so far, so her confession this week was far less effective. Perhaps Sleepy Hollow needs to do more showing instead of telling? Maybe the protagonist shouldn't yell her secrets from the rooftop next time? Maybe she should act like this creepy childhood experience has been bothering her for the last however many years and not like she's just kind of annoyed by it all? I appreciate the writers' attempt to fill in some of the Mills sisters' backstory, but so far it's all feeling a bit blah.


Beheadings this week: 0 (Steve, we miss you, please come back), though two people did bite the dust on account of their own guilt.

Things that confused/intrigued/made Ichabod sad this week: remote controls, the plight of the Native Americans.

– Abbie and Jenny's parents left the picture when the girls were young age (see, here's a secret that Abbie is keeping and not talking about at length), and they were living in foster homes when the event in the woods took place. Who wants to bet her parents died as a result of Sleepy Hollow's magical history?

– Evil John Cho was not in this episode. Perhaps he's napping, or laying low since he thinks someone has probably noticed there's a squad car missing (not likely, Evil John Cho, the Sleepy Hollow PD doesn't seem to be all that competent). 

– I do hope Ichabod wears his period clothing forever and then everyone makes a big fuss about it when he finally decides to update his wardrobe.

– The Headless Horseman sign prank was actually pretty funny. But I'm still not sure why they're forcing the issue with Abbie's ex-boyfriend. I'm sure we'll find out what part he is to play in all of this soon enough.

 "Unless you have an encyclopedia of faceless nightmare monsters, why don't we just start with a little regular detective work here?" That scene would have been much better that they cut to Ichabod pulling out this Encyclopedia of Faceless Nightmare Monsters right there an then.

– Abbie: "She told the cops that she needed it because she was preparing for the End of Days." Ichabod: "Well she's perfectly sane then." 

– "You stopped having powwows? I rather enjoyed those."

– "No more scorpions. Ever."


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  • birdglen Nov 27, 2013

    I would love for there to be a scene where Abbie orders some clothes for Ichabod on a historical reenactor or cosplay website. "Your clothes are looking a bit ragged, so I got you these to feel more comfortable in."

  • e313 Oct 06, 2013

    i liked it. i liked Abbie, i liked Ichabod and i liked the way she defeated the 'bad guy'...she may have bn talking about it, but that's not the same are really admitting it to herself and taking responsibility for it.

  • KeyserSoze Oct 06, 2013

    Dear Producers,
    Could you stop having all the villains speak Greek? Or at least let some of the good guys speak Greek?
    It's starting to get a little bit offensive for us Greeks, LoL

  • e313 Oct 06, 2013

    i kinda like it! though they should work a bit on pronounciation. i have to replay the dialogue to get what they say sometimes... also, i find it endlessly amusing that the 'bad' guys including a native american demon speak modern Greek! i'm having fun trying to find reasons for it (maybe Greek is the one language before the Babel Tower fiasco or something? ;D )

  • KeyserSoze Oct 07, 2013

    The reason is that probably the producers thought Latin - which is the most common choice for this show - is kind of overused and went for Greek as a not such a cliche choice. They have done that in Fringe as well

    The pronunciation doesn't bother me much in general, I know Greek are a difficult language to pronounce for most people, but given the fact that they do have demons and supernatural beings speak Greek they should have work on it a little better. In Fringe they had American speak some phrases in Greek, so any pronunciation issues, are understandable. But if you have a demon, he should have been able to speak Greek fluently

  • ErlendJohanne Oct 06, 2013

    Maybe everybody didn't notice the fact that the sign in the prank with the headless horseman was actually a result of "Steve" swinging his axe and chopping the top off the sign before killing the old reverend in the first episode. At least none of the cops knew this, or I'm guessing it wouldn't have been so funny...

  • MirelaPilipo Oct 05, 2013

    You forgot one: Things that confused/intrigued/made Ichabod sad this week: remote controls, the plight of the Native Americans and ENERGY DRINKS

  • MirelaPilipo Oct 05, 2013

    The "sleep monster"/sandman looked like an ugly brother of the guy from the "American Horror Story/Asylum" promos.
    But the biggest problem with this show is still: ABBIE MILLS! sigh. I don't know if it's the actress or the writing but I can't get into it/her. Which really pisses me off because we desperately need good female characters on network television! I really like Ichabod....but Abbie......and in an episode that had the right formula because it was supposed to give us some much needed background on her as a character!!!! I did kinda like her sister (the grown-up version) so maybe that's something?

  • MarlboroMagpi Oct 04, 2013

    This episode was the worst to me. I am not into Supernatural, True Blood kind of shows. I was thinking of trying the pilot but it makes me came back for episode 2 and episode 2 was quite enjoyable too. However this was the weakest yet.

    The ending definitely had something to do with it. Dreams sandman are so overdone in so many other movies and shows !

    If the show is going to be about the 2 of them fighting a monster every week, I think it will gets tiresome very soon. Perhaps we need more John Cho. He was awesome in the 1st 2 episodes !

  • angeleys151 Oct 04, 2013

    Ich's taste of the energy drink was priceless, right up with him freaking out about the shower. I really liked this episode; and while it's really tough not to compare it to stuff like Supernatural and Buffy, I find myself enjoying it just as much as any of them so far.

    I did think the two segments of recap was too much. Considering they only have 3 episodes so far, it's a little tedious. I understand wanting to bring in new viewers, but when I'm starting a new show without knowing the backstory, the 'previously on" segments don't help anyway.

    Correct me if I'm wrong: Sulu/Harold blew up with the bad witch under the tunnel in the second episode so he won't be back.

  • fzlmcq Oct 04, 2013

    I thought it was funny that you mentioned the opening. I didn't mind the first recap (Who is Ichabod and how did he get here?), but then the second one (previously on...), and then the opening credits sequence I felt as though we lost a HUGE amount of airtime before we got to anything we didn't already know.

  • bleumystique Oct 03, 2013

    • This show is bat-sh!t insane. The moment you just recognize it as unapologetically ridiculus and awesome you just roll with the crazy and it's that much more enjoyable. It isn't taking itself too seriously. It isn't trying to be something it isn't. It just is what it is. I love that about it and that's probably why I've become so addicted to this utterly ludicrous madness and all of the awesome facets of it! I didn't mind the episode. It worked for me. A little backstory, some scary mythical creature tied in with one of the main characters, an intro to the other Mills sister, humor, unwavering loyalty among acquaintances...all win.
    • On any other show I would roll my eyes and sigh over just how "PC" they are trying to be here with the historical aspects of this show. On this show, I can't though. I fully blame the amazingness of Tom Mison and his delivery of everything. So we essentially have Mr. Tall, White, and British who wanted to free the slaves, who was besties with the Native Americans, who was respected by the colonialists who has a solid religious foundation and sense of morals, but who isn't judgmental enough to mind that his wife just so happen to be a witch...who didn't question the authority of the Asian-American law enforcement officer who hauled him into jail in the pilot...He's just so ridiculously, absurdly PC. Non-threatening to the masses and powers that be, but sympathetic and genuinely kind and caring about all the "little people" , the marginalized, the oppressed. Yet, he does all this and displays all of this without coming across as the White Savior. I spare all the fascinating discussion that could come from this, but no matter what happens, no matter what they discuss or bring up or talk about, we know for sure that even if it contradicts itself and is absurd and insane, Ichabod Crane will always be on the right side of history. Thus making him the ultimate likeable character.
    • Oy the Shaman thing. I loved how devastated, confused, and mortified Crane was over the Native Americans. They were his friends, and now, now they are no more, a disturbingly small race of individuals relegated to bits and pieces of land that was once theirs. I'm appalled too Ich. I'm appalled too. But, um, for the record, don't come to me looking for help on voodoo or black magic just because I had ancestors from the South and from Africa. The odds of stumbling across a Native American used cars salesman who also has all the dirty details and knowledge on ancient tales of a Native American tribe from 250 years ago, and the mystical concoctions that go along with it are slim. By slim I mean wtf?! But ooooookkkkayyyyy. LOL!
    • Jennifer Mills is a badass. I loved her fun banter with Ichabod when he visited her. "Tall, Dark, and British" awesome! "Do your friends call you Icky?" "Not if they want to remain my friends." So much sassiness my face hurt from smirking so much. I'm looking forward to her finally being reunited with her sister, but I'm so happy that she's out. If anybody can stop the harbinger of the Apocalypse Jenny Mills can. I feel like she's intimidating enough to walk up to HH and punch him in the throat and he'd like...gallop away or something. Jenny Mills is the best, basically.
    • Ichabbie has a place now! I love that it's officially their place. I loved that he went to the dream world with her and...I just love Ichabbie. I love them so much. They are just so much fun to watch. I love their little partnership. Their chemistry is insane. I loved their little talks. I loved their energy drink scene. I just never tire of the pair of them.
    • No HH and no Katrina. Hopefully next week we'll have more on that front.
    • I loved the prank with the sign. I want one!!
    • Yes, what IS the deal with Abbie's ex?
    • I'm okay with Ichabod's clothes as long as he's laundering them. It works. I'd love if he randomly got a makeover and it was so out of the blue that people sort of flip, but I could see them doing the more subtle approach, because he'll probably keep his boots and his jacket, and the hair.
    • That sandman freaked me the hell out in the best of ways. This is about as scary as I can get with anything, and I swear I took a phonecall while watching and was whispering into the phone and looking over my shoulder.
    • So many awesome lines in this show. Too many to type out, but Crane has the best lines.

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