This week’s fourth episode, “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” is definitely not a lesser ‘Sleepy Hollow’ episode. In fact, it’s one of the better ones. Considering my past three reviews from the pilot to “Blood Moon” to “Triumph of Evil,” all detailed my GREAT disappointment in the action blockbuster pacing that favored cool effects over plot explication and character development. Basically, it felt like ‘Transformers’ with a supernatural bent. Luckily, the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ gods answered my pleas with a resoundingly solid episode. I loved this episode. 80% of the pacing proved spot on while continuing the Crane-Abbie (Crabbie) relationship through non-verbal cues and incredibly awesome staging. So, what happened this week and what exactly did I enjoy?
This week, Abbie reunites with her insane asylum sister. Turns out the sister isn’t insane or twisted. Far from it. Like Linda Hamilton a la ‘Terminator 2,’ she’s a believer who stockpiles weapons and insane military combat styles while literally waiting for Armaggedon. It turns out Sheriff Corbin ALSO served as HER father figure and mentor. Because she believed unreservedly in the quirky and the weird (like a Diesel version of ‘X-Files’’ Moulder), he sent her abroad to uncover artifacts. Along her journeys, she joined any anti-abuse mission, gaining more skills and more ‘passion. Unsurprisingly, she and Ichabod bond over their mutual “embrace life’s passions” mentality while Abbie slowly becomes the ‘boring, responsible’ sister (you know Sweet Valley High’s Liz Wakefield). Ichabod’s visit catalyzes Jenny’s desire to fulfill Corbin’s request that she unearth a hidden artifact from his cabin. Of course, once she breaks out, modern-day occult Hessian soldiers who follow the white demon god, track her, steal the artifact, use it to uncover one of Solomon’s books that would release 72 demons from Hell. Unsurprisingly, Abbie, her sister and Ichabod destroy the artifact, prevent the demon release, kill the soldiers and save the day.
This episode impressed me on multiple levels. First, concerning pacing this proved the SMOOTHEST episode with excellent flow and explicatory dialogue. While the opening transition from Ichabod’s past to his On-Star-locked-in-the-car present felt rough, I can overlook it. Everything else rocked. I’m glad they finally linked the weekly baddies to an overarching baddie, Moloch. Basically, he wants to unleash hell on earth (like Buffy’s The Master) and has earthly servants (like Abbie’s chum, played by John Cho, and German soldiers) who assist. However, they still didn’t explain why he fixates on ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or why he kills anyone who saw him but didn’t believe in him. They still don’t tell us what happened to the headless horseman or the missing police car. Considering Abbie and Ichabod beat the baddies each week, why does Moloch still try? Also, if they’re witnesses aren’t they just supposed to watch and … LIVE?
Next, I loved the introduction of Jenny. The writers did a great job with her character. And, Lyndie Greenwood interacts well with Nicole B. I feared her character might distract from the ‘Crabbie’ relationship. After all, she has more in common with Ich-meister than Abbie herself. Instead, she added to the dynamic. As an African-American, I always grow fearful when multiple African-Americans exist as it typically means one will die. But, these three work well together, so I wouldn’t mind seeing her in the cast full-time.
Finally, speaking of the key two, I LOVED what director Paul A. Edwards (‘Hawaii 5-0,’ ‘Human Target,’ ‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Lost’) accomplished visually. Unlike R.O., he emphasized human interaction above special effects. He truly understood the characters better than their creators and did a great job fleshing out the relationship through amazing staging and covert non-verbal cues. Now, Ichabod uses a look to break Abbie as opposed to killing her with verbose charismatic witticisms. Plus, whenever Abbie starts to implode, Ichabod uses his body as a physical shield between Abbie’s anger and herself. I loved when Abbie confronted her sister’s foster mother. After the woman mouths off, Ichabod casually steps between the two. I loved the subtle framing of his headless shoulders before Abbie’s frame. Also, Edwards incorporated more non-verbal cues indicating Ichabod’s period behavior. Now, he lets Abbie enter first and he shoots one-handed, fencing-style. The actors settled even further into their characters. Dare I say it, we saw *gasp* facial expressions on both the leads. We finally see Mison break through Ichabod’s exterior to freak out when their captured soldier suicides. We also see the continuation of Mison’s amazingly devilish charm. The layers of expressions he pushed into one sentence imagining the troubles he and Abbie could cause. Whenever Ichabod formed Abbie’s wall, we don’t see her become angry we feel. However, in the end we start to see emotions as she offers to become her sister’s conservator.
Ohmigosh. Seriously, Paul Edwards, I am SO in love with you. Hell, they should bring Edwards back again and let him direct ALL the episodes. As you can tell this week proved the best episode ever. While I could’ve used a better transition from the tea party to Ichabod seducing another contemporary woman with his stories and a better transition from Abbie’s moment with her sister at the end to more crime-fighting with her friend. This was a great episode. I hope ‘Sleepy Hollow’ keeps it up.