Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x14)

Alright, Sleepy Hollow. This was a much needed step in a better direction. It might be a small step, but I'll take it. After last week's incredibly lackluster and dull affair in which Abbie was shunted to one side and Katrina took up the part of Ichabod's partner, I was starting to worry that the show had forgotten what made it a success in the first place. Make no mistake that it was not the mythology nor the plot nor the campy goodness; it has always been the electric chemistry of Abbie and Ichabod. Not only did the show make an effort to bring that back to the forefront, but in a nice turn of events it had Ichabbie actually talk about their bond and how it was being tested and what it means for them. That was the positive part of this weeks episode, "Kali Yuga." The rest? Well, problematic and a bit too campy in some areas. But then Ichabod and Abbie sang "Proud Mary" so we're all good. Onward!

I hate to be that girl, but I don't particularly care about Hawley. His development since we met the man has been rather one note and one dimensional. He is basically a modern twenty first century Ichabod, a rogue thrill seeker. This is why he rubs Ichabod the wrong way at first. His secondary purpose seems to have been to come between the Mills women as a potential love interest to both, though since the first half of the season ended, Hawley has not been as persistent towards Abbie as he once was. The writers might have been clued in that the fandom was reacting rather negatively toward this and so they thrust Hawley and Jenny back together and let them do the dance of "will they, won't they" except that--as usual--I don't have amnesia, so I can remember when Hawley was blowing Jenny off. In short, getting a sudden expositional back story into Nick Hawley's life isn't exactly something I was yearning for because his character has only ever served minor a minor purpose. Would you believe that he had a rough childhood? I know, shocking. Ichabod had a hard father; Abbie and Jenny were haunted by a demon and Katrina is...well, Katrina. So when it turns out that Hawley was raised by his godmother who was a treasure hunter and attracted to the dark arts, I was not surprised. Quick aside but, man, was Carmilla annoying. The actress was trying to chew through the scenes but came across as some sort of seductress who was trying to get it on with her stand-in-son. Maybe that's part of the consequence of being dead and selling your soul to Kali, Hindu goddess of death and regeneration, but I could do without the sexual undertones. As is the norm on this show, the plot was about a million different things at once, but mainly Creepy Carmilla wanted a statue so that she could...what, exactly? Turn Nicky into an undead Vitala along with her other undead man army? I mean, she set up this entire con plot just for that? Oh and we got some lessons on Fort Knox and the Knox Family. Go with it. It's the plot that we don't really care about because there was some delicious Ichabbie happening.

See, this is what I like about Sleepy Hollow. It's like the writers knew what the criticism of last weeks episode would be and chose to address it in the following week. Abbie and Ichabod are having a rough go of it as late. They used to be a well oiled machine; the perfect partners in spite of the fact that one of them is over 200 years old and has a tendency to wax poetically about simpler times when there was no running water. Maybe their bond was easier "back then." Katrina was locked away in Purgatory; Molcoh was the big bad that they knew instead of random big bads popping up every other week. And, first and foremost, they talked about everything. If there was a decision to be made, they made it together. Now there are decisions on both sides that only one person made. Abbie chose to keep Orion's sigil just in case she ever needed him and Ichabod chose to let Abraham go even though Abbie disagreed. As Ichabod says, their bond is being sorely tested. What unites Abbie and Ichabod? It's not love--well, not romantic love. It's friendship, but one that was born out of a common cause to stop the monsters. If that cause is potentially no longer there, given that there is no BIG BAD right now, then what holds them together? It's a friendship that needs to be redefined. They aren't just friends when the demons come knocking at the door; they need to be partners in all things, even when they disagree. Which means sometimes, you gotta put down your hair, do a few shots of whiskey, and sing "Proud Mary" in front of a crowd of strangers. More karaoke, please! Can you imagine Katrina doing this? The answer is no. There's a reason Katrina is absent from both of these moments in the bar--this is not her world, she does not belong. Ichabod made this new world his, thanks to Abbie, but Katrina can't do that. She's stuck in the life she wanted, not the one she got. And I must say after her little seance with Frank tonight, I am even more suspicious that she's got some sort of ulterior motive. Those were some sneaky looks she was giving the Irvings.

Miscellaneous Notes on Kali Yuga

--Both Tom Mison and Nicole Behrie have excellent singing voices.

--"Perhaps I should have done the one about being all about that bass." Sweet mercy, yes.

--There were a hilarious amount of "Sons of Liberty" name drops this episode. It amuses me since the History channel is currently airing "Sons of Liberty" staring Michael Raymond-James (Nealfire)

--Love the teamwork moves of Abbie and Ichabod taking down one Vitala at a time

--Bye-bye Hawley. I'm sure he'll be back, but one can hope not.

--Um. Ending? What?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x13)

There is, I believe, a basic paradigm to what makes a good episode of Sleepy Hollow. You take the dynamic, unstoppable force that is Ichabod and Abbie and you add some sort of mythic monster-of-the-week. Throw in a few witty lines from Ichabod, a dash of philosophy about the nature of good and evil and basically you've got a campy, fun, and enjoyable hour of TV. So what happens when Sleepy Hollow decides to break the mold and shatter the paradigm? As one might expect, you get a rather lackluster, boring, episode. I'm not normally harsh on Sleepy Hollow because in general I expect to simply be entertained and have a little myth building but I don't anticipate life-altering TV. The fact is that Ichabod and Abbie make this show what it is and having them apart for more than small segments is a hindrance, especially when it is being replaced by Ichabod and Katrina, a character that often proves frustratingly opaque and useless. Ask yourself with regards to this weeks episode, "Pittura Infamante," who was the real hero of the hour: Ichabod, Katrina or Abbie? Katrina did very little with the exception of strutting around in a little black dress while Abbie came in guns literally blazing and stopped a demon. Katrina said some Latin; Abbie looked a not-so-dead friend in the eye and told him she didn't trust him. Added to this is the strange case of the not so legendary, not so mythic, magically mundane (a contradiction, I know) case of a serial killer. All in all, this was not Sleepy Hollow's best work of season two and my review shall be brief. 

 I hope this doesn't sound like I'm advocating for adultery, but Katrina and Ichabod together bore me, greatly. Why is it that the moment his wife enters the room, Ichabod seems to dull down considerably? Compare the one on one conversations between Ichabod and Abbie with Ichabod and Katrina. Worlds apart. One is a bit more free, and the other is almost tortuously soapy. Katrina was in this episode only to be an exposition machine who could give helpful clues about the nature of Abigail Adams (played by the scarily underused Michelle Trachtenberg) and lament that her old life was gone. It's not that I don't have sympathy for Katrina, but rather that we did this already. We watched Ichabod come to terms (and to be fair, is still coming to terms) with life in modern America. But whereas Katrina moans and gives speeches that always seem hushed and whispered, Ichabod had Abbie to help. And that made a world of difference. We watched Ichabod and Abbie relate to each other by figuring out the world of Sleepy Hollow together. For Katrina and Ichabod, there is just no sparkle--romantic or otherwise. It feels strongly like the writers don't quite know what to do with Katrina. They don't want to kill her, but they can't go the next somewhat logical step and dissolve Katrina and Ichabod at the least and make her super duper evil and the most. Honestly, watching Ichabod have to go up against an Evil Katrina might make for more interesting television than "date night meets murder mystery theater." And speaking of dull white women, Abigail Adams...wow. This appearance of the famous lady has been heavily promoted by the show but the actual portrayal left a lot to be desired. She had a few spoken lines, either praising Katrina or trying to solve a mystery by providing Katrina with helpful clues like some deus ex machina of the past. As for the monster of the week, the only truly good thing I have to say is that the effects of the blood and the painter rising from the blood were well done and quite scary. That's honestly about all. There was nothing mythic about it; it was a typical serial killer case that utilized magic in the end to end the killings. This isn't to say that the bloom has gone off the rose; even the very best TV shows will have a filler episode or two. But Sleepy Hollow needs to remember its founding paradigm of what makes it a watchable show.

Oh and bring back John Noble.

Miscellaneous Notes on Pittura Infamante

--Can we trust Frank Irving? Abbie doesn't think so. I'm glad they didn't drag out the question of when everyone would discover that Frank was...back, for lack of a better word.

--Double ew to Jenny pulling bullets out of a body.

--"How can one be both business and casual?" Ichabod Crane, always asking the important questions.

--I love that Abbie saved the day. Role reversals...I do enjoy them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In Which I Review Sleepy Hollow (2x12)

Welcome back, Sleepy Hollow! Did everyone have a nice break? A few headless weeks off but here we are again, ready to ride off on another heroes quest. This weeks episode, "Paradise Lost," deals with a few things, but two themes more than any other: the big question of 'what comes next?' and reinvention. For those that don't remember, we last left Team Witness on the scorched earth battlefield with Henry having killed Moloch and the Apocalypse being diverted. Good times. This week, the question of what life would be like without the constant battle for evil is raised...and then summarily dismissed as the Witnesses realize that they aren't out of the (metaphorical) woods. Because an angel has come to town. No, hes not wearing a long beige trench coat, but he does talk with a low raspy voice (Supernatural reference!) The tides are turning and we march back into the fray, ready to see how this show is going to rejuvenate itself.

Let's start with the fist question: what comes next? I am reminded of the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The First Evil is smashed back and Buffy has awoken all the Slayers of the World. She's unburdened and free to live her life, however she sees fit. Of course, in comic book lore Buffy is still Chief Slayer because once a slayer, always a slayer. But at the end, you have that question of "so what do we do now?" Six weeks after the demon Moloch is defeated, Katrina is living apart from Ichabod as they try to figure out their marriage...without speaking to one another. There's a good sign right there. Working on your issues without talking is usually the right ticket to solving the problem! While Ichabod throws himself into hunting down new clues that there is still demonic evil in the world, Katrina spends more time with Abraham because of course she does. See, I know I'm not the biggest fan of Katrina and, yes, I still think she is mildly evil, but I also realize that I am incredibly bored by her at this stage. Katrina keeps making these horrible choices that stem from an overly emotional frame of mind and she continues to contribute really nothing to Team Witnesses except to be Abbie's foil. Katrina thinks she owes Abraham and should return him to his humanity since she has seen a spark of the man he once was. Um, wasn't the man he once was a spiteful, jealous, egotistical clingy guy? Do we really need one more of those in this world? Katrina certainly thinks so. Drop her like she's hot, Ichabod. Do us all that favor. Meanwhile, Team Witnesses continue their day to day task of finding evil which is proving to be rather illusive. Abbie and Ichabod have a really great talk about how this is their purpose but it feels like it has been taken away; so what does that make them? Ex-witnesses? Regular Joe's with 9-5 jobs and a mortgage? What do you do when the evil you've been tracking has suddenly vanished? Luckily an angel swoops down to save us all from contemplating too hard.

Long story short, Orion is an angel who was held in Purgatory but is now free to bring his own special brand of crazy to the world. He is a zealot; he like justice and order and will damn anyone whom he perceives as being evil. Including Team Witnesses. Orion has an agenda against Mr. Headless which leads to the interesting dilemma of saving Abraham and risking him being their enemy or letting Abraham die but letting Orion unleash all sorts of zealous reform on the world. Choices, choices. Ichabod and Abbie chose what they feel is the lesser of two evil and Abraham is allowed to live--of course, cant have Sleepy Hollow without the Headless Horseman, now can we? Is Orion the new big bad? Is he not only what is next, but the reinvention of the show? Not sure and I'm not sure how I'd feel about it, if he was. Orion seemed set up that way and it does make sense that after the evil fest that was Moloch, we examine the other end of the spectrum, for the sake of balance. But I also just really want to know where Henry is! Seriously, where is that crazy loon? Oh, speaking of crazy loons...hi Frank.

Yeah, that's all I got on Captain Irving. Not even a the slightest idea on that.

Miscellaneous Notes on Paradise Lost

--Ichabod at an organic market. How cute.

--"That's what partners are for." Oh, Ichabbie. I have missed you.

--Ichabod still exists in between Katrina's emotion and Abbie's pragmatism. He might have to choose someday.

--Will Ichabod and Katrina get back together? I rather hope not.

--"Our bond cannot be broken. Witnesses represent."

--No, seriously...where is Henry?