Sleepy Hollow: The Complete Second Season
I enjoyed the first season of Sleepy Hollow. Its abbreviated length — 13 episodes — allowed its blend of adventure, horror, mystery, and even humor to feel like it was building to something significant.
Sleepy Hollow: The Complete Second Season tries the same approach, but I didn’t like it as much. It could no longer feel as fresh, obviously, so the appeal of the new and unusual was gone, with higher expectations taking its place. But part of the problem is that it kept separating its cast, meaning that the camaraderie of the ensemble was lost.
At the end of season one, Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) was in purgatory; Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) was buried alive; Crane’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) had been rescued but was taken prisoner by the Headless Horseman (Neil Jackson, a character who in domestication ruined the “big bad” of season one); and police captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) was in prison. Much of that is reset by episode two, by the way, in non-compelling ways. Abbie’s sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) is also now a regular, although not in every episode.
Then there’s Henry Parrish. Previously, he was a somewhat tortured helper of Crane and Mills, with a cursed ability. Now, he’s been revealed as Crane’s son (a plot point that lies flat on the screen, since although it’s frequently mentioned, it’s not emotionally played to) as well as the Horseman of War (although since the actor is older, it’s a mental control of a suit of armor, a setup that removes tension from the conflict). By leaving him on his own to talk to demons, a lot of dramatic potential is wasted, since he’s so good at what he does but needs interaction with more characters.
We get to see more of Crane and Mills paired up, the high point of the show, but I didn’t care for the mysteries of the individual episodes very much. Previously, I had a real sense of suspense and danger; this season feels more like marking time between the high point revelations, which aren’t as exciting. Crane seems not that bothered that his beloved wife, whose love was a motivating factor throughout season one, is in the hands of their despised enemy, for the purpose of some scheme that the writers forget to get back to often enough.
I’m not sure I know exactly what happened to the show, since many of the elements should have been more interesting than they wound up being, such as a new department captain (Sakina Jaffrey) not being as supportive of Mills’ activities as Irving previously was. Also new is Matt Barr as Nick Hawley, a hunter of artifacts who only cares about their financial value, not their supernatural abilities. (Although, as a Hellcats fan, he’ll always be Dan Patch to me.) Instead of an intriguing, conflicted assistant, he winds up serving as plot device explainer and random love interest.
So as not to be a downer, one of the high points of the season for me was “The Weeping Lady”, a romance about a vengeful ghost that drowns its victims. Unfortunately, it marked the departure of Caroline, a character I would have liked to have seen more of. (She was the history reenactment buff who made new clothes for Crane using period cloth and techniques.) “Pittura Infamante” is another stand-alone episode, about a possessed painting and with a focus on Crane and Katrina. Meanwhile, “Deliverance” opens with a scene about voting, which is amusing, although the episode itself features a mystical pregnancy, and those never go well.
The theme of this season is parenting, and perhaps that’s why I didn’t care for it as much — I’d rather see the characters interact as adults instead of everyone being driven by having a baby or losing a child or their parents. That includes the Mills showpiece “Mama”, exploring what happened to the sisters’ mother in the asylum. I did like the two-part season finale, which reverses the usual setup by sending Abbie back in time to meet Crane (and the wonderful Timothy Busfield as Benjamin Franklin). It ends with some major changes with ramifications I’m curious to see play out in the next season.
The Blu-ray set has the 18 episodes of the season (expanded from the originally planned 13) on four discs with the following smattering of special features:
- “A Salute to Sleepyheads” (14 minutes) looks at the fandom, including visits to the San Diego Comic-Con, the quasi-official podcast, and various shippings
- “Mysteries & Mythology: The Secrets of Season Two” (25 minutes) points out some of the details and highlights from the season in a way that enhances understanding of the episodes
- “Monsters & Mayhem: The Creatures of Season Two” (13 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like, about the mystical bad guys and the makeup required for them
- “Hollow History” (10 minutes) examines the flashbacks and references made in the show
- Commentary on “Mama”, episode 9, with executive producer Mark Goffman and Nicole Beharie
- Commentary on “The Akeda”, episode 11, with executive producer Mark Goffman and Tom Mison
- Commentary on “Tempus Fugit”, the season finale, with executive producer Mark Goffman and Tom Mison
- Deleted Scenes — 18, for a total of 15 1/2 minutes
- Gag reel (4 minutes)
For a chance from many sets, I enjoyed listening to all three episode commentaries, and they gave me new appreciation for those working on the show. Sleepy Hollow returns Thursday, October 1, at 9/8c on Fox. This season three promises to get back to more of what I liked originally, so I have good hopes. (The studio provided a review copy.)