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Sleepy Hollow: “Blood Moon” (2013)

After wondering how the Sleepy Hollow writers would top the insanity of the pilot, I’m pleased to report that the second episode is even better. Its lunatic premise out of the way, the writers settle for a more relaxed (well, barely) police procedural episode. The headless horseman makes a brief cameo appearance in the prologue, along with his fellow Nazgul-like comrades, but now the episode features your stereotypical witch about to be burned at the stake but not before she utters a curse on the audience and their descendants. (Not sure why witch-burners always seem to forget to bring a gag or something; seriously, a little planning goes a long way.)

There’s nothing wrong with this shopworn bit of plotting; it works because Sleepy Hollow is pretty stubborn about not taking itself seriously. The humor is even more in evidence in “Blood Moon,” both broad and deadpan. There’s a good bit of editing in the beginning, as Irving and Mills discuss Crane’s sanity; cut to Crane wrestling helplessly with the hair dryer and the shower. This piece of slapstick is topped by a reanimated Dunn, flailing about and seeing himself in the mirror.

But the humor is also wonderfully understated: take the scene when an unwitting victim asks Dunn what happened to his neck. Or when Crane says, with an absolute straight face and a perfect sense of timing, “Evil has found a new home… in Sleepy Hollow.” The writers have also found a crisp rhythm in Crane and Mills’ conversations with each other; it gets so that I look forward to the scenes with them in the cruiser.

Best part of all is that John Cho and Clancy Brown are back, despite their decapitations the week before. Cho’s role as a reluctant Renfield is promising comic relief, though he really needs to be a little more menacing. And most satisfying of all is Brown’s return as a paternal spirit guide to Mills, which reminds me of how Washington Irving (not Orlando Jones, but the real-life one) wrote about Sleepy Hollow:

“[Sleepy Hollow] still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air.”

Mills’ visions are her own for now, but we realize that she is not alone, when we see her sister for the first time.

So does this all add up to great television? Well, not yet. The monsters of the week get way more backstory on Grimm than this episode’s witch — the result, I think, of trying to cram way too much stuff in 40-odd minutes — and there’s still an awful lot of ridiculous exposition on the fly. But we’ll see.

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Random observations:

  • The production design is very good, but the lighting is phenomenal, from the spectacular chase scene at the start, to the boy’s house.
  • Any significance to Crane’s motel room number being 222?
  • Okay, it’s all well and good to have these phantom mentors flit in and out from time to time, but a Katrina Warns Ichabod In A Dream / Corbin Gives Mills A Little Hint structure would be pretty bad.
  • “How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage?” Hilarious.

 

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