Sleepy Hollow Episode Review: For the Triumph of Evil

It may be a while before Sleepy Hollow fully finds its feet, but if its latest episode is any indication then it has the makings of a true classic.

I’ll admit that I was a little worried after last week’s episode. After an intriguing premier, I was disappointed that the second episode was trite, predictable, and more than a little silly. Perhaps Sleepy Hollow‘s strength lies more with its core story than with its filler.

The show grabbed my waning attention back early with an opening dream sequence that manages to be that rare thing: actually legitimately frightening. And this week’s monster – the Sandman – has a much better design than the demon in the woods (who I’m sorry to say looks like a reject from a Sunday school pamphlet). I was glad to see Jahnee Wallace back as young Abbie. I must admit that my fascination with this show lies much more in Abbie’s psyche than in the mythology, so the glimpses into Abbie’s childhood were much appreciated.

As were the present-day ramifications of her childhood actions. Abbie’s guilt over abandoning her sister is perfectly-written and perfectly-acted. The show even touches on the sad social stigma that could make a girl so afraid of being labeled “insane” that she would deny her own experiences. (Although I don’t want to give the show too much credit on this front, since the episode still followed the popular ableist narrative which centers on proving that the protagonist is “not crazy.”)

Another place where the show lost me was in its appropriation of Native American culture to exotify its monster of the week. Inserting a few self-aware asides doesn’t change the fact that they played the “helpful ethnic shaman” trope almost beat-for-beat, right down to the dream-state-inducing tea.

But my gripes with the episode are mostly overshadowed by Lyndie Greenwood as Jenny Mills. She absolutely stole the show. I can really appreciate that the writers went to the effort of making both sisters believable characters instead of just making Jenny into a prop for Abbie’s guilt. And her escape from the mental institution at the end of the episode promises that her role will continue to expand. I hope we get to see her play off her sister soon. Nicole Beharie and Greenwood in a scene together would be a real show-stopper.

And while the sisters were the highlight of the episode for me, I have to pay special mention to Orlando Jones as Captain Irving. This character has kept me guessing, oscillating between supporting Abbie and censuring her. But this episode made his role a little clearer. He is firmly in Abbie’s camp, but instead of jumping in with two feet he prefers to balance the supernatural with a healthy dose of practicality. I’m interested to see if he evolves past what seems to be the “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation he has going on with the weirdness of Sleepy Hollow.

The early episode of Sleepy Hollow‘s premier season have set up some interesting plot threads and some even-more-interesting character dynamics. Here’s hoping they don’t let the former consume the latter.

Author: Christina Kim

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