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Sleepy Hollow: “Paradise Lost”

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One thing I can still say for Sleepy Hollow: I’m never quite sure what will happen next. When we left our heroes, Henry had just murdered his boss Moloch, thus (presumably) ending Moloch’s attempt to bring Purgatory to Earth. As final battles go, it was clever, but unsatisfying; Henry’s characterization was too thin (despite Noble’s best efforts) for his reversal to have much impact, and for all that build up of Moloch’s powers to fizzle with a quick magic sword stab just didn’t seem right. We were promised the Apocalypse; we got some lightening, a lot of shadows, and a dead car battery. So I figure, when the show came in 2015, the Moloch threat would still be some kind of issue. Maybe Henry’s actions only delayed the horror; maybe it was part of some final, horrible twist.


That might still be the case (and I’d be very surprised if we’ve seen the last of Henry), but as far as “Paradise Lost” is concerned, Moloch is dead, and the threat that consumed Ichabod and Abbie in the fall is no longer an issue. The episode has its share of demons and historical nods, but it feels curiously at odds with the lumpy, uneven season that preceded it; at times, this plays more like a retooling than a continuation, even if the characters we’re watching are, by and large, the same ones we’ve been watching all along. While it’s gratifying to see the show’s writers making a choice and seeming to stick with it, the shift from “We have to stop the end of the world!” to “We need to do demon clean up, and deal with Abraham, and oh, here’s this grumpy angel with a cool toy” is something of a head-scratcher.

And in the midst of everything, there’s still Katrina, flailing for relevance. Now that Henry is gone to wherever good little bad boys go, there seemed a brief hope that the supposedly powerful witch, Purgatory escapee, and unnecessary corset wearer might get something to do that doesn’t make her seem foolish. Instead, the writers doubled down. Instead of saving her son, Katrina now wants to save Abraham. Y’know, the Headless Horseman. The guy who has been one of the show’s primary antagonists from the beginning. Bad enough that the character has lost his mystique, going from a terrifying spectre of doom to a whiny asshole who got dumped once and still hasn’t moved on; now we have to deal with the possibility that he could be rendered even less scary. Worse, there’s no possible justification of Katrina’s arguments, at least not on this show. Maybe you could have a version of this story where trying to find some good in a damned soul is a noble, true thing. Here, it makes no sense, and confirms what has been obvious for some time now: no one knows what the hell to do with Katrina. Instead of trying to help Ichabod and Abbie on their quest, she hangs out complaining that they need to be nicer to the bad guys.

The best parts of “Paradise Lost” have Ichabod and Abbie trying to figure out where their lives might go, post-Witnessing. It’s a nice, thoughtful exchange that helps to make both characters feel a little more real, and Abbie’s questions to the angel Orion about God and the afterlife serve the same function; you don’t ever want to have fictional characters get too bogged down in introspection, but the occasional acknowledgement of practical concerns helps to add texture, and make these people seem like more than just witty cogs in an perpetually grinding plot machine.

Everything else, though… Well, Hawley and Jenny have some scenes, and I guess that wasn’t utterly terrible, but I’m starting to suspect I’m not nearly as invested in their relationship as the writers seem to expect I should be. That’s not a good sign. Also not a good sign: when the episode’s main villain, the angel Orion who turns out to have some serious renovation plans for the human race, plays like warmed-over Supernatural leftovers. (There’s some nonsense about Abbie being “tempted” by Orion’s badass approach to problem-solving, but he’s such a dull character that he never seems like much of a threat to anyone.) The idea of a Sleepy Hollow full of Purgatory escapees has promise, but what we saw here doesn’t live up to that idea: just a bunch of demon photocopies in robes. Oh, and Irving’s back. They tried to trick us by dropping Orlando Bloom from the opening titles, but there he was.


So I dunno. I still really want this show to get its act together. and I still enjoy watching Ichabod and Abbie wandering around, shooting the breeze. But Katrina is a dead loss, and the show’s monster building, once one of its great strengths, is frustratingly anemic of late. Some spark that drove the first season is missing. I keep hoping that absence is temporary, but episodes like this make it harder to keep hope alive.

Stray observations:

  • Apologies for the lateness of this review.
  • Modern Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve This Week: Well, he’s not huge on organic farming. “I would’ve thought all produce organic by definition.”
  • “How about dinosaurs, you ever seen a dinosaur?” Abbie is the best.

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