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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Six Reasons Why "Sleepy Hollow," Episode 7 Was the Show's Best Yet ("Midnight Ride")

I rarely want to watch a TV show twice. Unlike movies, some of which I will watch over and over, TV is largely disposable, unless it's something like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Even rarer still is an episode of TV that is SO good I want to watch it again immediately.

Yet Monday's episode of "Sleepy Hollow" was just such an episode. "The Midnight Ride" highlighted everything that is so enjoyable about the series as a whole and immediately became the best episode of the series' brief history to date. Here's why:

Now I have a shotgun. Ho, Ho, Ho.
1) The Horseman is back!
"The Midnight Ride" featured the triumphant and kick-ass return of the Headless Horseman. In my last blog, I talked about how smart it was to keep the Horseman in reserve, as featuring him every week would quickly prove tiresome. After teasing his return for two episodes, "Sleepy Hollow" showcased just what a fantastic villain the Horseman really is. He used automatic weapons, threw his axe at a main character and -- in addition to taking several heads -- later used them as makeshift Jack O' Lanterns. He was intimidating, violent and scary as hell. I loved every moment he was on screen.

2) The humor was better than ever
Every episode of "Sleepy Hollow" has featured some stand-out touches of humor, most of them based around Ichabod Crane's adjustment to the 21st Century. But this episode, in addition to being both scary and exciting, was also laugh-out-loud funny. Ichabod's confrontation with a museum guide discussing Paul Revere's "Midnight Ride" was the highlight, with the 18th Century former soldier ranting, "He didn't shout 'The British Were Coming.' As we were all subjects  of the Crown, that wouldn't have been very helpful, would it?" Yet there were also terrific exchanges about the relative difficulty of getting to London, "That's a three month journey by sea" and his first accidental encounter with Internet porn. The conversation about Thomas Jefferson was also excellent, as was Ichabod's conclusion: "You never really know people, do you?"

3) John Cho returns
Dead Man Walking and Shining Flashlight
This episode featured two villains. While the Horseman was riding once more, John Cho's dead Officer Brooks was also back. In addition to frightening Detective Morales, "You'll have to choose a side," he also confronted Abbie Mills. What makes Cho's character great is his reluctant nature and the audience's inability to assess his true loyalties. He makes it very clear he doesn't want to work for the bad guys, but feels compelled to do so. He even justifies himself that he's trying to "save Abbie." Figuring out exactly what he's up to and why is an ongoing mystery, and one I hope we don't solve quickly.

Have severed head, will travel.
4) Captain Irving finally clues in
From the show's beginning, the writers have played it coy with Orlando Jones' Captain Irving. One minute he's insisting that none of this is possible and the next he's approving some crazy scheme by Abbie and Ichabod. I've always been secretly convinced Irving knows damn well what's going on, he just didn't want to admit it. But that guess turned out to be wrong. After dismissing the existence of the Headless Horseman, Irving later comes face-to-face with the Hessian cavalry officer -- and in the process becomes a believer. That changes some of the nature of the show, and undoubtedly will make Irving a more integral part of what's going on.

5) The Midnight Ride

Aside from the Headless Horseman and the names, "Sleepy Hollow" has little in common with the short story that inspired it. So it's nice to see an homage to "The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow" included in an episode. Ichabod's final ride against the Horseman was directly drawn from Washington Irving's story and even if it only lasted a couple minutes, it was still awesome.
"It's not my head, but I'll take it anyway."

6) The Ending

The showdown between Ichabod, Abbie and the Headless Horseman was expertly done. How do you defeat Death itself? The show wisely doesn't offer up a solution to the problem, but instead focuses on a way around it. The finale, which involved the Horseman trying to reclaim his head, was tense, funny and dramatic. Exactly like the show itself.

Shameless plug: If you like "Sleepy Hollow," check out my novels, which feature the Headless Horseman in an entirely new mythology.


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