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