“I think routine is a thing of the past for us,” Ichabod Crane says at the start of last week’s episode, “John Doe.” You can say that again. There’s nothing routine on this show. After all the satisfying mythology-setting of the previous episode, “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” we’re back to another lunatic entry in the season. As I wrote in my previous blog entry, it seems the writers haven’t quite settled on a rhythm yet, whether in terms of tone or narrative. I can’t quite figure out whether this is a good or bad thing.
I mean, let’s take stock of the plot elements they keep trying to cram into one episode:
- the Horseman of Pestilence, throwing its weight around like a Shogun warrior,
- a mysterious disease, possibly apocalyptic in its consequences, that nonetheless prompts only a flailing skeleton crew from the CDC to show up
- the freaking lost colony of Roanoke, which on its own would have made a great episode
- and general time-slip weirdness. (I thought for a moment there that the African American girl that Thomas sees in the woods was a young Abbie, but no — wrong place and wrong time.)
But wait, there’s a better explanation for the latter: it’s actually a mass haunting. Now I get it. I think. (I kind of liked my idea better, that the lost colony was somehow on an island with the survivors of Oceanic 815, but oh well.)
It’s one thing for the writing team to try out different ideas, but I like my world-building rules to be a little more rule-governed though. On the other hand, it’s good to see, however, that they’re not relying on the same structure for each episode; there’s no quick visit to the archives to do some monster-slaying research. You’ll notice that there are less overhead shots of the sleepy Sleepy Hollow, for instance.
Best parts: other than the unconvincing police precinct — why do all the cops look like they just stepped off a catwalk? — is how the supporting characters’ motives are still murky. Whose side is Lieutenant Irving on? Is Morales just slightly jealous that Abbie may be having hot Revolutionary rebound sex, or does he file status reports with his Hessian handlers? (Which reminds me of all the plot elements left in the dust so far: the Hessians, Moloch (aka the Big Pale Naked Demon), Abbie’s sister Jenny, Corbin’s ghost, that Headless dude. Katrina, I could give or take.)
- Scary: The Horseman, materializing Time Bandits-style (or is it The Fisher King-style?) at the foot of the hospital bed.
- Ernest Dickerson!
- I don’t know that we ever got the sense that Mills was a religious person, but her scene inside the chapel leads to a well-written resolution with Crane at the end on the idea of faith in things unseen.
- Their banter wasn’t nearly as funny this time around, but Crane’s puzzled look at the bath puff mirrored my own confusion the first time my wife handed me one.