Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 1: This Is War

After the extremely dramatic events of last season, Abbie is trapped in a doll’s house (simultaneously the most creepy and most embarrassing prison in history) and Ichabod is now buried alive, imprisoned by how own son, the Horseman of War.

Things like that make family reunions rather awkward.

We rejoin them – apparently in the cabin having a birthday party for Ichabod. Abbie is patient, Ichabod is snarky and out of depth and it all reminds me how I like these two. Especially as it turns deeper and they angst about loss. Emotional moments are interrupted by a call from the police department – a history professor wants to speak to them. Them, specifically and urgently

That doesn’t seem good – confirmed when they arrive to find headless bodies. And in the down time Ichabod has invested in a nifty crossbow and Abbie to machine guns. Alas, the professor is dead but they find some research about Benjamin Franklin – whom Ichabod knew and loathed. (Abbie rather accurately guesses that Ichabod’s ego didn’t appreciate another arrogant intellectual).

The horseman appears with a shotgun – and both Abbie’s bullets and Ichabod’s arrows are now nifty improved versions (consecrated and magical). They are very effective at causing the horseman to stagger backwards. A bit. So not the greatest upgrade in the world, especially as the horseman has invested in grenades but only so he can run away. Ichabod wants to follow on a huge, raging vengeance kit for the death of his wife – Abbie is more sensible, despite also wanting to avenge her dead sister (so she didn’t survive the last episode? Damn).

They return with the research including a rubbing of the key that Franklin attached to his kite for the famous electricity experiment – only Ichabod’s exposition (yes he was there, he was everywhere. He’s omnipresent history guy) reveals Franklin actually did it to try and destroy the key – which he failed to do. More reading – the key is the key to Purgatory, allowing them to free people and demons trapped there (which, as Abbie points out, would have been really helpful in season 1). Including Moloch.

Unfortunately, there’s no indication of where the key is so they are forced to question Henry – Ichabod’s son, the horseman of War. And their prisoner. They bribe him with potted plants – well, at least he’s a cheap prisoner – and he is all sinister about his ability to read and eat sins. Sadly, the research appears to have been handled by relatively sinless people despite its origins. Henry tries to poke Abbie into letting him rummage around her sins but prompts her memory instead – Jenny telling Abbie she’d gone on a mission for the old Sheriff to find out about a key.

Mentioning the dead  - Jenny in particular – causes Ichabod to have a strange little fit (for the second time) and he realises that he can’t remember the last year. Since Henry put him in the coffin he can’t remember how he escaped, how they captured Henry, anything (nor can Abbie. Nor, more importantly, can I, so please fill in some gaps, Sleepy Hollow).

Henry drops the act – this is all a ruse to find out where the key is; and they’ve just revealed Jenny (who isn’t dead) is the one who knows. Ichabod is still in his coffin, Abbie is still in Purgatory. As they’re both dragged back to their prisons (awesome CGI), Abbie urges Ichabod to find Jenny. Ichabod wakes up – buried alive.

Jenny is alive – but she’s also a prisoner. Henry uses his sin mojo to read Jenny’s thoughts and get the info about the key – but it’s in code and needs deciphering.

Katrina is a prisoner of the Horseman of Death (the headless one) but at least she isn’t in Purgatory any more. Her escape plan involves stabbing and doesn’t work. The Horseman uses mojo to make his head re-appear so he looks and talks like Abraham again (Ichabod’s old friend, Katrina’s ex-fiance) determined to win Katrina back (by kidnapping and imprisonment and murdering her loved one. Of course – because ROMANCE.)

Back in Pugratory, Abbie isn’t stuck in a dollhouse but is still stuck in the spooky landscape and avoiding Moloch – aided by Andy Brooks. Yes the dead/undead/really dead servant of Moloch and ex-cop. Moloch is busy preparing an army to unleash hell on Earth if he actually escapes and Andy has come to the side of not really wanting that to happen.

He leads Abbie to a magic mirror that Katrina (and Moloch) used to communicate with them while in Purgatory ; it’s in a very dramatically decorated cave

Ichabod fails to record a poignant good bye message on his phone to Abbie (which is hilarious, even life and death will not allow Ichabod to master technology) before using SCIENCE (and convenient sulphur) to explode his way out of the grave (yes the explosion blasts the earth from on top of him. No it doesn’t blow him up. Reasons). He escapes and calls Jenny

This causes 2 seconds of distraction for Jenny’s guard – which is 1.999999 seconds more distraction than is safe around Jenny. He’s now dead and she can send Ichabod a message about where she is locked up (being Jenny she doesn’t say “come get me out” she tells him she’s working on getting out). Ichabod barges down the door in an ambulance while Jenny is busying shooting her way out (before she swaps to driving them out because Ichabod can’t drive).

Quick recap later and Jenny shows Ichabod the coded page to find the key which Ichabod can translate due to his experience of Franklin (which he reports, scathingly). 

Abbie manages to use the magic to talk to Ichabod and they have an excellent reunion and recap – but Abbie is worried about them trying to free her from Purgatory; finding the key and using it is exactly what Moloch wants. Ichabod refuses not to try, refuses to sacrifice Abbie and reminds her (and us) of an anti-Moloch mojo amulet Katrina left Abbie, giving her something to do in Purgatory. When he returns to the real world, Ichabod’s insight into Franklin (and more snarking about the man’s arrogance) gets him and Jenny the key before Henry’s Hessians.

Using the key’s magic, Ichabod crosses to Purgatory (nifty effects) to bring Abbie back – Jenny stays behind (under protest) because they can’t risk everyone who knows about the war (and so Ichabod can be the sole rescuer).

He finds Abbie – but so does a Moloch Minion pretending to be Ichabod, there’s a fight and 1 Ichabod and Abbie escape with the key… but then Fake!Ichabod doesn’t pronounce Lieutenant properly – he says “lootenant” instead (yes, I’m going there. Americans who complain will face me drinking tea at them in a smug manner – don’t make me unleash my demon army, this show assures me I have one) and Abbie beheads him with a sword (lying around for ritual and plot reasons). Nice (Abbie reacts appropriately to terrible pronunciation.)

They escape as Moloch summons his army of lost souls, the gate closing behind them before Moloch can get through. They key is a one shot deal – with it used it then disintegrates, never to be used again.

Abbie and Jenny have a reunion hug and everyone returns to the cabin. It also gives them chance to digest the major events of the last episodes of the last season and with lots of major dramatic speeches about the War beginning.

To emphasise that, Moloch summons Henry, War, a suit of awesome ambulatory armour with a flaming sword. That looks significantly more scary than the first Horseman.

So it’s back – and it hit the ground running. It had a lot of action and also a lot of those wonderful anachronism moments and snarky moments that really make Sleepy Hollow. Ok, the plot was held together with a convoluted woo-woo deus ex (magic key! That works… once and we’ve never heard of before. Honest. And convenient directional explosions of sulphur soil! Hey, a knife left conveniently within reach of the prisoner!) but it was fun enough and exciting enough and generally worked well enough to let me overlook this slightly stretching the bonds of reasonable suspension of disbelief. Though, objectively, I snark heavily at all of these rather stretchy ploys used to basically reverse the last episode of the last season. I think it’s cheap to set up such dramatic cliffhangers and then handwave them so completely

Katrina looks like she may be more than a vague object elsewhere which is a plus – but she’s now a damsel which is considerably less so. I’m glad to see Abbie isn’t stuck in Purgatory, is still awesome and she’s the clam, sensible one in the face of Ichabod, for all he’s the intellectual one, being the one more driven by emotion and outburst. Jenny is also pretty awesome, I want to see more of her and that this character did not hang around waiting to be rescued because she most definitely wouldn’t. I worry that through this season we may see the delicate Katrina helplessly in need of rescue while Abbie and Jenny are the tough fighters able to kick arse and, at least, be mutually responsible for their rescues (I also have a minor concern that all 3 women needed rescue while Ichabod kind of saved himself – yes Abbie and Jenny were major agents of their own rescue, but Ichabod was the catalyst)

This all leaves me enjoying a lot, excited for a lot, with just a hint of wariness around the edges.

And I still want my demon army