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Woah, what a ride.

Seriously, what a ride!

Yep, I finished the first season of Sleepy Hollow, and it truly has me baffled. That’s a way to go for a season finale.

But let’s take back a step and start from the beginning.

I know I’m tremendously late to jump on the bandwagon, and I’m pretty sure I will regret this, but on the other hand, better late than never.

Whoever said that the first season of Sleepy Hollow is a glorious thing was right. Although… although a thing or two worries me as well. I will get to that in a moment.

But first let me get rolling.

Spoilers, of course. You haven’t seen season 1, you probably don’t want to read this.

The Plot

First things first: Sleepy Hollow has a lot of really great ideas.

While the idea of someone out of their time being trapped in the modern world has been done before (Kate and Leopold, Doctor Who (which basically does nothing but draw on that idea ), diverse episodes of Star Trek and Babylon 5 to just name a few…) I’ve never seen it done quite as convincingly before. Or as consequently.

I like the mythology concept, the strong biblical nuances, that in this story, for some reason, feel more accurate than in other stories that draw heavily on biblical motives (such as for example National Treasure, although that’s probably a bad example for anything, but it’s the first thing that springs to mind , Buffy, or Supernatural ). It’s not zealous, but I feel it’s done with a little more effort and respect for religious concepts than the previously mentioned, and that in my book is a thumbs up.

Also the idea of making the headless horseman a rider of the apocalypse – cool thinking and storytelling there. The whole “hell comes to sleepy hollow” does have notions of Sunnydale, but well, I don’t mind, and the motives that Sleepy Hollow is using are really kind of new to me. So that’s good.

The idea of mixing the war of independence with the supernatural is really ludicrous, innovative and nice, creating an American kind of mythology without having to draw on any European precedent too much. I would like to see a little more connection with the American natives mythology (there was one hint at it, but it pretty much disappeared into the void again…), but I appreciate that the mysterious stuff is this time not coming from stuffy old Europe (and that’s a european girl talking…)

And then the pace. Oh heavens. I’ve heard the goal was to stay away as much as possible from filler episodes, (and the only filler episode I could think about is the one on Roanoke) and if that was the intention, kudos, you’ve done it. The pace is as fast as I’ve ever seen for a season 1 of any series and it leaves barely any time to breath. Way to get me hooked, folks.

But here’s unfortunately, also the grain of salt in my otherwise enthusiastic review. As much as I love the plot, as much as I appreciate the ideas the writers have thrown in, to me the pace feels a bit off at times. I’ll try to explain what I mean:

The authors are moving incredibly fast when it comes to revealing the secrets of the protagonists. The whole plot around the two Mills girls and what they saw in the woods – it was a great arc, I’ll admit, but that was such a pivotal thing for both their characters and their relationship and it’s now all in the open. End of season 1. Same for Jenny’s being obsessed with a demon. All of these things are fine in their own right, but my worry is a little – how do you go on? I see only three possibilities. One is that we continue on and on to reveal the terror of the Mills’ girls’ past (which will grow old at some point in time). Two could be that the focus moves to the personal dramas of other protagonists (which would take away spotlight from the Mills girls as a whole, which would be a shame). And three is – change the way of storytelling from revealing evil things from the past towards something else. (I hope it’s three, and I hope it’s good…)

Same with Henry. I loved the sin eater concept and his “maybe I am an angel” attitude; and I would have loved to see him some more in that role before he switches sides; but I’ve barely come to appreciate him and *bam* he’s evil. That blow would have hit harder if it had come later, I guess…

Andy is another example of someone of whom I would have liked to see more before he met his first demise… would have given him more three dimensional qualities; learning about him in parallel to him already being a creepy zombie kind of took a little fun out of it…

(I don’t mind one of those examples, but with Henry, Andy and Corbin that was a little too much for my taste).

Now for the next thing I’ll probably get stoned by half the fandom but here goes: I miss a few filler episodes. Not necessarily for breathing room, but because I feel that the rules of the world, the mythology behind it, the worldbuilding as such suffers from the pace. How does the limbo work? What are the rules? How is it connected with angels, demons, god, devil? Katrina being there would have been the perfect way to introduce this more, but I’m still pretty much in the dark there. How does she contact Ichabod? The sin eater concept – is there one? Are there many? How does the concept work? I would have liked a few more episodes on that before you take away that concept from my hands again, although I suspect we will learn more of Henry’s gift in season 2. As for witchcraft in general, I guess season 2 will help a little more as well, but well.

I think you get my drift.

Maybe it’s me having basically binge watched the series – that’s quite possible. But it feels a little like the pace of a movie being pushed into a series; and while a movie pace is fast and enjoyable and exciting, it sometimes lacks the depth I love about series watching.

But it’s only season 1. There’s still lots of room for more.

Phew. Having gotten that off my chest, I can get to the really great stuff:

The characters

Seriously, I have rarely seen such a great ensemble of threedimensional, interesting characters, loveable, yet with lots of rough edges. Their interplay is glorious, and quite seriously, I could spend a whole episode just watching them sort out the various issues that they have between them… They are truly the best thing about the show and I will give each and everyone here the credit that is due.

Abbie Mills:

A wonderful main character, an interesting mixture of a guarded, but warm heart. She’s got a tough shell, that one, lots of courage, and yet, much of that is the sort of bravado that hides quite a lot underneath. It’s glorious to see her slipping more deeply into the rollercoaster ride that is Sleepy Hollow. She deals with it in true Abbian way, marching forward in a mixture of righteousness, stubbornness and plain, old courage, taking the strange role fate has cast in her direction pretty much in her stride, just because she quickly realizes that she doesn’t really have a choice. And yet, in her interactions with the people she cares about (Jenny above all, but also Ichabod of course, as well as Corbin and to a lesser extent Andy Brooks) there we see another side of her – fiercely protective, terrified at times, vulnerable more often than she would have it, and yet, she’s never dominated by that. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

That’s Nelson Mandela. But that’s clearly also the story of Abbie in Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod Crane:

I may have mentioned before that Tom Mison is eye candy, but to reduce him to that would really mean doing him a vast injustice. Because Ichabod Crane, fish-out-of-the-water; guy-distinctively-not-in-his-own-time is great in his own right. I have mentioned is body language before, and that’s really something he has down to an art; a portrayal of a man of that era, especially in contrast with the so much more relaxed, so much more informal time he’s landed in. He deals well, despite all things, but every time I do have the feeling he’s doing quite a little too well to be real, he sorts out some confused rant, messes up some social convention or just plain and simple shows how much remembers what he lost and how much that hurts, and then I’m on track again. He’s desperately trying to hold it together, and I can see some notion of “let’s keep going, because if I stop I may realize what actually is going on”. I wonder what happens as soon as he has to stop for some reason…

I’ve heard saying that Crane and Abbie are magical when together on the screen, and I absolutely second, third and fourth that (although that is probably not proper English) – the chemistry and interaction is amazing and among the best things I’ve seen on TV in a while…

I also like how he slowly opens up to others of that time, and still, Abbie seems to remain his anchor. Oh, and on the same note, I like that it’s platonic (for now?). A good, deep, true friendship trumps a shabby romance any day.

Jenny Mills:

The slightly-more-mad, slightly-more-ruthless, slightly-more-generally-pissed Mills sister. I can clearly see the shared family traits – the loyalty, the courage, the capability to do what it takes. And the smart talking. Oh the banter between the Mills’ sisters is just glorious. I love her sarcasm and attitude, the way she hides her good qualities under all that snark and badass anger. She’s just as much in over her head as Abby is, and she deals differently, and yet just as well. More of the type “lone wolf” than her sister, more outside than inside the system, but still. She’ll do what Abbie can’t or won’t, and we can all be glad she’s there.

I’d like to see more on screen with her and Ichabod; I think there’s potential for fun in abundance.

Also – good interaction with Irving…. I wonder what will come of that.

 

Frank Irving

Number two in the ranking of righteousness composed of Ichabod-Frank-Abbie-Jenny; and somehow a missing part in the chemistry. I wonder what will happen now that he’s probably out of the game, but he is a great and likeable character, with still a lot of potential to develop. I love the way he interacts with his family, and I was honestly surprised at how quickly he took to believing Abbie and Ichabod without question about all the strange things going on in Sleepy Hollow.

Almost a bit too quick to believe, at first glance, but all in all it fits and everyone can be glad he is around. He provides the sceptic voice of reason at times, and he should have his “oh no I have to ask, but I really, really rather wouldn’t”-look patented. More of that, and drag him deeper into witness business!

Macey

Seriously, I am running out of superlatives here, but whoever cooked up the character of Macey deserves an award. A totally non-victim handicapped little girl; proud and strong and at peace with herself, embracing life, just a kid but hard to scare (you will forgive the quote…)Please, please more of her. Please make her move to Sleepy Hollow, for whatever reason, and give us more.

Henry Parish

Wow, what a surprise. Wow, what an incredible creep. All the credits to John Noble, he totally, absolutely, utterly had me fooled. What a transformation in the final minutes of the season finale. Maybe one should have seen it coming (but I usually suck at plot divination), but I most certainly didn’t…

I loved him when he was a sin eater (actually, would have liked to see more of him – but more on that later), totally bought into “I do what I do because I can’t help it and I kind of hate it and it has made me a very strange man” and loved the cold cruelty and burning rage when he revealed himself to his parents. Superb acting.

Katrina Crane

Etheral and layered, a woman of secrets. I cannot help but feel that there is quite a lot that she kept from her dear husband, and her motive of just protecting him rings a bit thin to me. For now, she felt a little as being the plot giver, showing up when information was needed, but I have no clear view on her yet when she’s not locked away in limbo and fearing for her husband.

The scenes in the past show her to be proud, quite a minx actually. A self-conscious, independent and proud woman, with all the good and the bad that it entails.

I loved the moment of girlish joy when she was free from limbo (picking up the earth – hah, witches are magicians of the earth – “is this really real?”), and I look forward to season two (yes, I’ve read indications that it’s worse and she gets the worst of it, but I do try to keep an open mind!). She’s fighting an uphill battle, to be sure. To come between the dynamic duo of Abbie and Ichabod will be a challenge to say the least.

We will see.

All in all (because one is expected to provide a summary, I guess): I look forward to season 2, to learn about mysteries old and new (Abraham, Henry, Katrina, more of the Mills Girls, lots on Irving and please, please, Macey!), and I add my plea to that of so many others:

Having watched season 1, having seen the potential…

Please, give us season 3

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