Well that was simply awful.
Not that there weren’t amusing moments, but they were almost entirely contained to a brief montage of Ichabod (Tom Mison) learning how to use the modern conveniences like desk lamps, indoor plumbing, a coffee machine, and by extension, Post-it Notes. If it wasn’t for this too-short bit of whimsy, there would be absolutely nothing about this episode that would make me want to watch next week.
Kurtzman and Orci (and this week’s co-conspirator Mark Goffman) hamstring this show with a horribly clumsy opening dream sequence where we get that 70s Rape Van Art version of the Four Horsemen I mentioned last week, followed immediately by the most ineptly-written info-dump for new viewers that I’ve seen on a network show in recent memory. There’s a quick reset of the status quo as the officers who last episode witnessed the Headless Horseman recant their testimony so everyone can still treat Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) like she might be crazy.
Speaking of resets, John Cho‘s traitorous Officer Andy Dunn is back in a move swiped from the Christopher Walken angel movie The Prophecy (only without any of the wit and style of the underrated horror classic). I might not have complained about that too loudly and praised the use of practical effects for his broken-necked reawakening in the morgue if the effect weren’t so poorly done.
The rest of the episode is spent trying to stop a witch (Monique Ganderton) from coming back to life. Well, not really. She’s already sort of come back to life, but she might be more ghost than witch and she’s all burnt up, since, you know, she’s a witch and that’s what happened to witches, you know. So to get unburnt skin or bones or something she needs the ashes of the ancestors of the dude who burnt her up. Which she gets, because our heroes are useless.
The episode is so poorly managed that our bad witch, Serilda of Abaddon (really? Serilda? Of Abaddon?), has to be disposed of quickly because the rest of the show was spent setting her up as a threat, establishing that Mills had a boyfriend but things are weird between them since she dumped him to go join the FBI but then didn’t go, trying to make John Cho seem threatening, and introducing us to the most ridiculous records room in television history (it’s seriously in the basement, but has windows, all the “records” are stacked around with clean white sheets draped over them — even the multiple candelabras with candles that are situated around the room — and it has a huge obvious door to a “secret” underground tunnel connecting the building to the Police Headquarters across the street). Not to mention the obligatory historical flashback to Ichabod encountering Serilda 250 years earlier, when she burnt her victims to death in exactly the same we she’s doing today, despite already having skin back in the day.
Luckily, the secret tunnel connecting the Police Headquarters and the Baroque Records Room is also loaded up with 250 year old crates of gunpowder, cast iron stairs and railings, and the bones of burnt witches. So, when we run out of actual run time for the episode, all Ichabod and Mills have to do is toss a torch – a literal torch – into a box of gunpowder and then duck, blowing our newly-fleshed witch into smithereens. And not-creepy John Cho with his wrinkled up neck and decaying face slip away unnoticed. Because our heroes are useless.
Then, to drive home how clichéd and empty of ideas this week’s episode is, we not only get Mr. Krabs returning to give Mills dream advice – another huge waste of Clancy Brown‘s talent – but we also see Mills’ sister back in her asylum cell going into full-on Sarah Connor Mode, right down to the strenuous exercise, pretending to take her meds, and mentally preparing for the apocalyptic fight to come. And if that didn’t quench your thirst for clichés and outright thievery from better works, it turns out Ichabod’s Good Witch wife, Katrina (Katia Winter) is trapped “between worlds” so Ichabod figures that she can probably be saved and brought to modern Sleepy Hollow somehow.
So yeah, a brief bit of humor before the first commercial break really doesn’t hold up to the tsunami of crap that made up the rest of the episode. Next week introduces the Sandman as a creepy mouthless monster that shows a hint of promise, but we’ll have to wait and see just how they start working fairy tale creatures into the narrative fabric of the show. If their use of witches this week is any indication, it won’t end well. Or start well. Or do well in the middle.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.