SLEEPY HOLLOW has spent most of its fall run justifying why I can’t make room for it on my soon-to-be published, year-end top 10 list.
That’s a damn shame.
The last hour of its first season, which aired all the way back in January, was one of this year’s strongest hours on all of television. Its cliffhanger was the true definition of a nail-biter, and episodes one and two of the new season followed up on it nicely.
Fast forward nine weeks, and I just don’t know what to make of anything that has come since.
Last night, the supernatural drama killed off one of its most beloved characters that it sidelined weeks ago for no good reason, while letting an unsalvageable damsel-in-distress live to see another day. Frank Irving dies, but Katrina Crane lives on? Come on now! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the writers want different things than the fans. If you need evidence of that, look no further than Maureen Ryan’s thorough interview with Mark Goffman. He masterfully avoids answering any question about Katrina, a character Maureen feels has plagued much of the show’s momentum.
I read every recap and review of “The Akeda” that I could find last night, trying to make sense of a finale I came out of feeling, well, hollow. I should have been more frustrated – angered even – but these last few episodes have forced me to curb my enthusiasm for a show I fell hard for last year. The powers that be have done more than expand upon the world of SLEEPY HOLLOW in season two; they’ve more or less stripped away the parts that worked so well. Sure, the show has been bogged down by the threat of Moloch’s rise, but the season’s issues stretch so far beyond that.
Rather than build upon everything that was working for the show as season one drew to a close (the inclusion of John Noble, the increased presence of Lyndie Greenwood, letting Orlando Jones in on all the fun his costars were having), season two found the writers building upon an ensemble that was already big enough, all the while delaying characterization to build upon a contrived plot. I think I can speak for the majority of Sleepyheads when I say that our love for the show didn’t build from the plot.
It has never *once* been about the plot.
SLEEPY HOLLOW was a great show because it had great characters. The immeasurable chemistry between Tom Mison and Nichole Beharie was just the icing on the cake. The reason Moloch more or less failed as the big bad was because he wasn’t on screen enough; he was spoken of, but almost never present. The reason Hawley hasn’t worked out isn’t any fault of his promising portrayer, but that the show became so entangled in messily plotting season two that it had no time to develop him beyond feeling like a contrivance standing in the way of precious ‘Ichabbie’ screen time. His inclusion didn’t leave much room for Lyndie Greenwood as Abbie’s sister, Jenny, which would force her off-screen for weeks at a time despite a possible romantic connection made known in “The Weeping Lady.” Don’t even get me started on the total non-need of a new precinct captain unaware of the supernatural elements plaguing her town.
In “The Akeda,” Henry killed Moloch with the sword of Methuselah realizing he was never more than a pawn in the demon king’s apocalyptic scheme. The kill indicated the conclusion of a season-and-a-half-long threat, and possibly the end of Henry’s reign as a bad guy. Perhaps that’s for the best, and will allow the show to bury away the troubles it has had before it’s too late to win back the love and adoration of a fan base. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that Goffman & Co. are unaware of the changes that need to be made to ensure the last few episodes of season two are better than the near-dozen that came before them.
SLEEPY HOLLOW returns Monday, January 5 on Fox (Global in Canada)