Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 1: I, Witness

The headless horseman of death is looking all scary and menacing riding through the woods when he runs into a woman – who freezes him with magic while her eyes glow ominously yellow and she sucks the horseman into a magical box. Well she made an entrance. She then opens the box and completes a deal – she has given something in it the power of death now she wants fear

That is probably not a good thing

Now to the awesomeness of Abbie who is now an FBI agent with a very demanding boss. She goes to meet Ichabod… in prison, much to her surprise. Apparently nine months have passed since Abbie and Ichabod last spoke – Ichabod deciding to go walkabout (and supporting himself… somehow) after they killed Katrina (and can we have another round of applause for that moment). While Abbie understands needing to get his mind together this whole situation is still not one she’s a fan of. She gives him judgy eyes while he explains and expresses regret

He also has Katrina’s necklace – the magical one the Horseman of Death gave Katrina which suddenly glowed and burned and cracked (I would smile at the “Jesus” fake out but a) it’s been done and b) I’ve never known a Latino person pronounce their name like that). Damn the Horseman gives cheap gifts.

Hey what is this prison that allows their inmates to wear convenient hang-themselves-items around their neck?

Anyway the necklace proves that something has happened to the horseman which means something big and bad is out there. First they need to get him out of prison where he is for smuggling something he deemed vital.  Apparently it wasn’t that bad because Abbie easily gets him out and even cuts short one of his patented outraged rants about his property being seized. Well, almost. At least we get Abbie’s eye rolling and snark.

Meanwhile a monster, possibly from the box on the opening credits, slaughters a couple of guys.

Time for travel and Abbie deciding that Ichabod can stick with Lieutenant (I think because the writers and a substantial amount of the audience is enamoured with the pronunciation), snarking a little and Ichabod’s angst over not actually having a mission and purpose in the modern world any more after they stopped Moloch which set off his 9 months of wandering

Including to his ancestral home where he found his apparent grave inside which was a mysterious stone tablet (which was what he was imprisoned for smuggling – cultural artefacts can’t just be raided any more or easily. Anyway, despite the tablet being 4,000 year old Sumerian, it was entitled “the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Abbie finds the whole thing vastly amusing and snarkily sums up Ichabod’s obvious clinging of to the mission for a sense of purpose. Abbie has her own purpose – she’s an FBI agent and they just have the call for the two mauled bodies.

They arrive at the crime scene (of course Ichabod gets to play as well) where the powers that be have assumed an animal attack but Abbie points out there are no big scary animals round there. They find red residue and a strange footprint – neither human nor animal. Ichabod contaminates the crime scene by testing for demons – he gets a dramatic match

Back to the office with Abbie explaining why she went to the FBI (and how happy she is with it) and Ichabod being duly impressed by her office. She’s also part of an Anaconda Task force – which is hunting down drug dealers. This also introduced Ichabod to Mitch Grainger, Abbie’s new boss.

Ichabod makes a plea for Abbie to focus on the magical, but Abbie isn’t willing to give up her dream and purpose to follow Ichabod’s potentially desperately flailing purpose on so little indication. Not that she isn’t going to help his woo-woo investigation, but nor is she going to shelve everything for it.

Pathologist Dani brings in the report on the dead hunters (including that the hunters were super-duper scared) and is adorkably drooly over Ichabod. Abbie is amused and also has a perfect “give me strength” look when Ichabod continues to push the woo-woo

This calls for a visit back to their old lair, the archives – everything is being mothballed because the city is going to demolish the building. Ichabod is duly outraged. Jenny also joins to greet Ichabod with a hug and to report how Frank has, alas, left the country as quickly and quietly as possible to avoid any kind of repercussions. Jenny naturally joins in looking for the demon of fear

Brief interlude from ominous lady quoting magpie rhymes and apparently harvesting fear to water a plant that grows even faster than my front lawn.

Research identifies the demon as a Yao-Quai, a Chinese battlefield demon that paralyses it’s enemies with fear – and isn’t a leader so someone is probably controlling it. There’s a new big bad. We also get flashback to how this Chinese demon was also running around in the Revolutionary war, of course, which also means they need to find a message sent by a super-duper-agent that managed to find the secret of killing the Yao-Quai. That agent being Betsy Ross (who was far more talented than just the “flag woman.”) Abbie and Jenny tag-team teasing Ichabod about him having “a thing” with Betsy. Anyway they need the message – except Jenny already knows where it is because she is awesome at what she does.

The message has found its way to a Colonial-era theme restaurant. Ichabod is not amused. Abbie is highly amused tormenting him (though he does snark about a giant headed Benjamin Franklin). They get the message and Abbie drops Ichabod off to translate it – because she is going back to work on Anaconda. “There’s a lot of evil in the world and not all of it is supernatural”.

Ominous magic lady continues to be ominous. She’s heading to Sleepy Hollow.

At the archives, Jenny is confronting some old memories and being all sad and nostalgic and Ichabod and Jenny discuss their shared conflict of lack of purpose. They do some research and find the Yao-Quai is attracted to gun powder and aggression.

It’s an NRA demon!

Anyway, Jenny and Ichabod realise that this means the Yao-Qai is going to be attracted to somewhere where there is both gunpowder and aggression. The words “needle” and “haystack” come to mind but they decide that Abbie’s Anaconda sting against the drug dealers is the most likely choice (because gun wielding aggressive people are so rare in America).

The Yao-Quai attacks the drug raid and Agent boss guy (damn it, I learned this guy’s name!) ends up dead. The drug dealer they were investigating, Chang, escapes – and he gets blamed for the death. The Yao-Quai doesn’t kill anyone else though because Abbie shoots it… apparently that’s enough to wound it

This surprises Ichabod and Abbie since it’s supposed to be invulnerable. But his eyes turned white when he attacks and that makes it vulnerable – yes, don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes. This requires a team to bring it down as it attacks other people.

Lorenzo Chang has been found – and he has a hostage and demands to speak to Abbie since Abbie really saw what happens and knows he is innocent. Abbie goes to try and talk him down with a whole epic speech on the monsters are real and she, a Witness, is there to stop them.

Hostages freed, Abbie battles Chang and arrests Change, while Jenny (who is awesome) and Ichabod lure the Yao-Quai. Thankfully the Yao-Quai decides not to claw them as it bat them around and Abbi shoots it just as its eyes turn white as it leaps on Ichabod. Welcome back hugs and silly grins all round.

Onwards and Ichabod gets his tablet back and they pull it back to find the tablet also has a picture of both of them on it. Under their picture is the word “Destroyers.”

They discuss this in a bar (where Jenny now works) and Abbie kind of accepts that they’re into their next mission. And Abbie trying to comfort Ichabod into feeling his own place in the world – even if the country is not what he expected or hoped it would be as well as how he isn’t alone just because Henry and Katrina are dead (woo-hoo!)

And Abbie meets the evil witch woman – Pandora. Who refers to her box as “a dowry”.

Ok, while it makes for a staple of the show and somewhat comic relief, Ichabod’s man out of time schtick and political rants that can only happen with someone who has no grasp of current reality simply cannot work any more. Not only has the man been in the present for some time, but he’s also apparently been fending for himself, in the 21st century, for 9 months (though where he got his money from I don’t know).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – what are all these police forces doing who allow any random person from children to guys cosplaying in period dress to tromp all over their crime scenes.

That said, this episode seemed to return to the core of what made Sleepy Hollow good in the first episode: Abbie and Ichabod, together, snarking back and forth, bouncing off each other with so much fun and chemistry. All enhanced by the presence of Jenny as well, creating a three way which is immense fun, lots of emotion and an excellent team. On top of that we have all three of them showing talents, skills and resources. No-one is extra. No-one is unnecessary

 In short, exactly the same thing the storyrunners fled from in season 2. Dare I hope they’ve learned their lesson?

I do like the idea that Abbie returned to her hopes and dreams. It was reasonable for them to put them to a side when they had to literally save the world, but once the world is saved becoming an FBI agent was still Abbie’s ambition, still her dream. They didn’t make it vanish or forget it – we returned to what Abbie always wanted and kept that character goal intact. It’s not that she won’t fight the mystical, or won’t drop everything to stop another apocalypse – but short of that she has a life and ambition. And, yes, she did return to being a Witness, but only when he claimed it as HER mission to Change in her nifty speech. Hopefully she’ll be able to keep up as an FBI agent as wekll.

I live for Abbie’s facial expressions on this show.

But we do have another example of a supernatural creaturebeing pulled from a non-western mythology without any actual foundation or substantive presence from the culture it has been pulled from: this is a continual problematic pattern in the genre.

I am worried that Ichabod and Betsy may turn into another Ichabod and Katrina, but Betsy did show herself as more competent in one tiny flashback than Katrina did in her whole time on the show.