The Rundown: “For the Triumph of Evil” rushes into its ‘Monster-of-the-week’ formula, forcing major character development without the time it would usually take to attain it. Still, the effects are cool, and the pacing is ok, so it’s not a completely dull watch.
The third episode of Sleepy Hollow is, unfortunately, a step down from the intro episodes of the season. While the first episode sets up amazing things, and made me excited to see what came next, the show seems too eager to jump into the predictable ‘Monster of the Week’ (MotW) formula that has become a staple of modern television. While transitions from overarching plot to filler episode can usually be made with a certain amount of grace, Sleepy Hollow slaps it on, assuming that their audience has already had enough of the pending apocalypse and a witch war so interestingly set up in the first two episodes.
The monster in this episode is a mysterious creature that is turning residents’ eyes to sand, and making them commit suicide. Each victim seems to have some connection to the spunky Abbie Mills, and seems intent on drawing her out. This eventually leads us to some interesting revelations about her past, and her family, even involving Abbie’s sister, Jenny. It also touches briefly on Ichabod’s historical origins, tying the monster somewhat weakly into his previous associations with the Native Americans that helped the colonists in the Revolutionary War.
The first jarring thing about episode three isn’t really that it’s a MotW formula, but it’s that it’s so out of place from what I had been expecting after the first two. In the first couple episodes, while the lieutenant is convinced of Ichabod’s sincerity, and that he really is from Colonial times, others are not so easily swayed. The hard-ass captain thinks he’s crazy, and in one of the previous episodes had him committed to an asylum. Very little is done to resolve this plot point, apart from ‘he was useful in clearing up those headless murders, so he may be useful’ and it’s something I was looking forward to exploring as part of Ichabod’s struggles to fit in to the modern world.
Instead we go from ‘suspicious character shows up who knows way too much’ to ‘buddy cop movie’ in the matter of a single episode. Whereas an episode before, Ichabod was still considered clinically insane, he is now allowed free access to a police murder scene, and even some access to the body. The cops let him waltz around being British without once questioning why he’s even there. Not only that, but at one point Mills gets angry at her lieutenant for getting in the way of ‘our’ investigation. Now Ichabod is on the force somehow, and no one bats an eye.
While the episode has some glaring problems, there is some cool stuff hidden in it. For one, the glimpse we get into the back story of Lieutenant Mills, and why she so easily accepted Ichabod and his bogus story. We also get a small look into Abbie’s sister, and why they’re not close. It also hints that Jenny may play a larger role in the final conflict against the Horsemen. She knows a lot more than she lets on, and is actually way more fun to watch than Abbie. Abbie has the trust and support of an entire police department, even if some of them think she’s nuts. Jenny, on the other hand, constantly fights to be heard, and has accepted that she’s not getting help from anyone, especially her sister, and so must do thing on her own. That independence, and the resolve to fight against unknowable odds, makes her very engaging, and you root for her.
In the end, the episode has a monster that feels threatening, and some interesting, if a bit forced, revelations about one of the main characters while introducing us to a new one. All of that is a lot to pack into approximately an hour, so you can almost forgive it for being abrupt. That being said, the show’s writers need to be confident that the story they’ve crafted has already captivated an audience, and not be afraid to take the time it takes to let it properly unfold. I’m hoping that as they progress, we’ll get to see more of what got me intrigued by the show in the first place, and that it doesn’t become just another typical MotW experience.
Jeffrey Roth, is an award winning animator, all around badass, and is now writing for your amusement. When not wrestling with the mysteries of the universe, he is watching anything and everything and having opinions on it. ALL THE OPINIONS.