OK, I was prepared to be an individualist.
For all I’ve read, for all I’ve seen, I was dead set on keeping an open mind and not letting myself be influenced by the fact that people say that the second season has… *cough* its weaknesses.
Well, as an individualist, I still see the weaknesses. Drats.
7 episodes in, I already regret that I haven’t written an intermediate review before, because to me, this season, as far as I see it, is already divided in 2 different parts.
OK, so I’ll just divide my review and take that into account.
Part 1, or “The strange foresight of Spirit”: Episode 1-5
In my last review, which treated the second half of the first season, I was missing filler episodes and backgrounds, and funnily, in the first episodes of season 2, I am getting what I’ve been looking for.
Some more information on purgatory in the first (and up until now most brilliant) episode of the season, and then a few filler episode that allow me to catch my breath and learn a little more about characters and the world that Sleepy Hollow is set in.
I’m actually somewhat glad for this – again, I’m probably at odds with most of the fandom – but the little respite is actually a welcome thing, and it helps me to get a better feeling for the world that they are trying to build.
Or so I hoped.
I’m not sure the filler episode is doing what filler episodes actually should do – build up the world and the framespace for bigger events to come. I detect a few minor inconsistencies, and also ideas where I think it should have been detailed a bit better.
The series continues with its huge list of things that are connected to the actual main characters (Ichabod’s wannabe love, Katrina’s circle, the hints towards Jenny’s and Abbie’s mother, the son of Joe Corbin’s); and while this is always good for personal drama, I am feeling this is moving a bit too fast. I would have actually liked to see – if you make it a monster-of-the-day-thing – a little more episodes like “Go, where I send thee”, where (although, granted, Ichabod has crossed this in the past, but lightly only..) the actual monster is not intimately connected to the main characters.
Because there’s only so often you can do that and keep things realistic. I have a feeling this is blowing off steam too quickly. All the great things we could have done… The potential of the weeping lady as something more of a long-term-thing… the possibility of Moloch/Henry building up an army of those that are, by willingness (Weeping lady) or circumstance (Joe Corbin’s son) opposed to the witnesses…
There have been hints of that in the first season with Andy, but now I see little of that.
Still, in these first episodes there was definitely more light than shadow.
Things I liked:
- The first episode – although I do think one could have spent some more time in getting all the characters out of their respective predicaments, it was realistically done and the plot was driven and interesting. Lots of Ichabbie and I really liked the purgatory scenes.
- John Noble as Henry. Nuff said
- Hawley: I know he’s not so much of a fandom favourite, and while I do share the feeling he’s kind of taking over the role of Jenny (a dynamic which I don’t like), as a character and in his interaction with the rest of the crowd I really do like him. He has sass, he is sceptic, he refuses to just jump the “save the world”-bandwagon, in short, he has a bit of an Han Solo quality to him. The rogue pirate, not such a bad heart, but not easy to get to at all.
- The deal between Henry and Irving. In the last episodes I’m getting the feeling that the writers don’t really know what to do with that (we will see later on), but the original idea of Henry making himself Irving’s lawyer is gold, in fact. We’ll see how this continues
- Abbie and Ichabod dynamics – never gets old.
Things I didn’t like:
- Missed opportunities – see above, there’s lots of things that one could have dragged out more to draw more on it. Not a problem yet, but I see at some point in time the show running out of blasts from the past to use to keep tension up. If this is really “planned for 5 (or was it 7) seasons” in a Babylon-5-planned-for-5-seasons-way, then, well, it’s blowing off its steam a little too fast for my taste.
- Jenny and Irving getting pushed to the sidelines. I like Hawley (see things I like) but I don’t like him “replacing the gang”.
- Abraham – the horseman isn’t only vanishing, I have no idea at all what he’s up to these days. How does he fit with Moloch? How does he fit with Henry? How is that tying into apocalypse? How does he interact with Katrina? We don’t really see any of it…
Part 2 or “I really wish I didn’t have to say this”: Episodes 5-7
OK, I took a break after Episode 7 to regain my steam. I would have so loved to be wrong.
But especially episodes 6 and 7 (and in parts 5) made me really understand why some people were so angry about the development of the season.
Like I said in the beginning – I was prepared to be open minded. It’s a reflex of mine; if something or someone is really hated upon, I usually tend to take the opposite position, just because receiving an almost irrational amount of opposition makes me think that that person/thing is probably unfairly judged.
So when it came to Katrina who – if one’s connection to the fandom is mainly reading tumblr – is viciously disliked, I was all prepared to find out the storyline about her isn’t quite that bad.
OK, I’ll give up and rant to my heart’s desire before have a go at rationality:
What`s up with that? Seriously. Demon baby is your introduction to have Katrina get into the team witness? You can’t be serious.
Also – she’s supposed to be a powerful witch. Coven leader for a while. Looking at the way she interacted in the past, she had this beautiful, ethereal, knowing quality to her, a radiant confidence that made her role not only believable but actually great. I really liked her initial scenes with Ichabod in the first season, both in the past and in purgatory; the wise witch woman came across splendidly. I was looking forward to having some of that, but heavens, where is that Katrina now…? Yes, she’s lost her certainty with all the mess with Henry, but still, I miss that quality about her. She’s supposed to have grit, isn’t she? Well, I don’t see it.
Also, if I have to see another episode that ends with Henry apologizing to Moloch for his failure and then doing some new alchimagic thingy or other that’ll bring on the next bad of the season I’ll scream. Or fall asleep. Or both.
Come on… even if it is that way, to pull the same storytelling trick three times in a row in three subsequent episodes is either a running gag or bad setting. I tend to the second, because it doesn’t feel like a gag.
Also: What’s up with Abraham??? Again?? We see him once or twice enraged when Katrina is missing, but only when it’s convenient for the story, and in the mean time, what does he do? Also, as long as she is with him, what does he do? Does he try playing house in that enchanted cabin? All good and well, but we don’t see any of it. How does Katrina cope in that? Who has which plan? Guys, you’re missing out on great plots here.
Also: Irving??? Jenny??? Where the hell are they…?
Enough of a rant. Attempt at rationality.
If one takes back a step and looks at it, the season has a lot of really potentially good ideas.
- Katrina and her conflicts: I understand that Katrina isn’t liked so much because she gets in the way of the stellar dynamics between Ichabod and Abbie, but still, from a pure story teller’s point of view, one could do great things with her.
- Katrina the witch: With all that she obviously knows about the apocalypse, life, magic, the fabric of the world and much more, Katrina could be a valuable asset to “Team Witness”. Like Ichabod and his teachings by Benjamin Franklin, her spells and sorceries could bring a new level to the conflicts. Being a magic lover I could think of many plots that would only be possible by adding magic also on the side of the Witness team, and Katrina could be the door to that.
- Katrina and Ichabod (and Abbie): Man, there’s conflict potential. Obviously Ichabod is very, very steady in his affections (and this fits the character) but equally obviously there is something about Abbie that is hard to ignore for him. I am actually – again probably opposing most of the fandom – much in favor of the scene where he sides with Katrina instead of Abbie when the vote comes down once; but not as a standalone thing, but as a bigger thing to be explored. Torn loyalties is a big topic here, and at some point in time these personal issues would have to be explored and resolved. There is lots of potential for character development that can go every which way.
- Katrina and Abraham: Again, actually not such a bad idea. I actually liked the thing of giving the headless horseman a face (not necessarily in a literal sense of the word, although I do understand that it’s easier for acting, so I will even forgive them the little trick of the “head seeing necklace”….). His interaction could bring up lots of interesting questions. What are his motivations beyond Katrina? Can a horseman be redeemed (interesting question also in view of Henry!!)? What makes a person evil?
- Katrina and Ichabod and Henry: The Crane Family Drama…there could be lots of interesting questions here as well. Katrina and Ichabod being (initially?) obviously on the good side, having a son like Henry is quite obviously conflict potential. Does one stay on the good side? Are loyalties to blood stronger? Can he be redeemed? The questions are skimmed, but… well..
- Magic as a force of god or devil: This is one of the things that I haven’t fully understood yet. What is the source of magic in this world? Nature? God? Devil? All of it in little bits and pieces? Is what Henry does comparable to what Katrina does? Does the use of magic make one evil, ultimately, as some of the things we see (the Four who Speak as One being part of the Sisterhood of the radiant heart, and still not being very nice when we finally meet them…) seem to suggest? Also: Is magic a gift or a learning or both?
- The pact between Irving and Henry: Glorious turn of events in the first place. Someone as steadfast and strong as Irving (who definitely has more grit than Andy) involuntarily in the clutches of the Horseman… nice potential.
Funnily, the series explores none of that… really… at this point. This is the starting point, and it’s already partly obsolete at the end of season 7 (Katrina leaving from Abraham seemingly “just like that”, Irving vanishing off-screen, the Crane Family Drama being static as can be…). The feeling sticks that things are run over before they are actually given a life; situations that one could explore and draw interest and character development from just pop up and vanish again within one episode.
It feels a bit random, and I’ve said it before, several times, that I think this story is moving to fast and passing on development and storyline for cheap shocking at some point in time. It was there in season 1, but not that bad, but here it becomes really grating.
There is a great set of characters that really, really stands out in the way of individuality as opposed to most other things I’ve seen, a very promising setting that is incredibly original. The framework is all there, but it feels a little as if the authors are somewhat helpless as to what to do with it.
Well. I’m only seven episodes in. I may be unfair at this point.
I’ll keep on watching and tell you if it turns better or not.
For now, so long, I remain