Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Review

Jan 26, 2014 No Comments by

Beware, weary traveler…there be spoilers ahead!

Who ever said history was boring?

After a whirlwind first season that introduced a whole new generation to one of the most popular literary pieces of all time, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow was one of the most successful television series of the year.

Some saw the series as simply a device to join other historical time pieces as NBC’s Dracula and CBS’ Elementary.  But once the Sleepy Hollow pilot was released on September 16, 2013, there was little doubt that this was a show that was going to take its audience by storm quickly.

Sleepy Hollow is a show that has a little something for everyone.  Are you a fan of crime-suspense?  Indulge yourself in the mystery of an ax-wielding murderer stalking a town each night.  Do you prefer historical alt-fiction with a dash of comedy?  Well look no further than Mr. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a fellow pulled from his grave and thrust into the world some 200-years after he last remembers it.  Perhaps you appreciate a good love story?  Sleepy Hollow has Crane and his long lost witch-wife AND Crane and his completely bad ass “leftenant” Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie).  But, if you are reading this site, you probably love yourself a good, old fashioned spook show.  The series’ thirteen-episode inaugural season brought us witches, zombies, creatures of the night and of course a very pissed off headless horseman.  Oh yeah, and Moloch—a dark Ammonite god associated with great sacrifices (often of the child variety).

Biblical references, historical twists and comedic coming of age, ahoy!

The season started off with a bang.  We learn of the origins of Crane and his nemesis, the Headless Horseman.  When each of them is struck down by the other in battle, their bloodlines cross on the battle ground and they are forever intertwined—their fates and futures connected to one another.  Thus, when Crane is resurrected, so is The Man without a Head.  Upon its return to our Earth, the Headless Horseman begins his reign of terror rather quickly.

Local sheriff August Corbin (Clancy Brown) is introduced as a compassionate man who loves his sleepy little town (see what I did there?).  When Sheriff Corbin meets the business end of a rather sharp ax, it’s Crane who’s arrested by Corbin’s partner Abbie Mills.  While Crane professes his innocence, Mills is surprised to realize she’s actually starting to believe the gentleman in the ancient britches.  Corbin had been a special part of Mills’ life since adolescence and she and Crane soon find out that Corbin has a rather extensive secret file-room related to all of the mysterious events of Sleepy Hollow.

The police captain of Sleepy Hollow, Frank Irving (Orlando Jones), is not the most excited fellow in town when Mills begins advocating using Crane as a resource in the police department’s crusade to stop the hell-raising Headless Horseman.  Fallen police officer Andy Brooks (John Cho) is brought back to life by dark forces and becomes a henchman for Moloch’s dirty deeds.  Crane uses the help of his beloved wife Katrina, burned at the stake long ago for her role as a witch.  She appears in dream sequences to bestow crucial information in regards to Moloch.  Katrina has been in this gloomy purgatory since her death and she hopes that Crane can release her before it is too late.  In the meantime, Crane shows Abbie proof that the two of them met for a reason—their fates are tied just as closely as Crane’s and the Horseman’s are—and they are the biblical Witnesses to the Apocalypse.  It’s up to them to save mankind from a rather ugly conclusion.

Over the course of the next two episodes, we are introduced to a witch hell-bent on destroying the bloodlines of those who burned her at the stake centuries before and the Sandman, an entity derived from Mohawk Indian folklore that drives several people to suicide.  These two characters in particular are highlights of how far television has come as far as involving horror in primetime slots.  Both are terrifying creations that left a chill in the spine of viewers.  Luckily, we’ve got Ichabod and Abbie fighting for us so both monsters were dissolved rather quickly (or at least sufficiently in a forty-minute time frame).

Abbie has been haunted by a supernatural vision she had as a young teen of a demon pulling an unknown creature from the ground and this intrigues Ichabod, in particular.  We soon learn that Abbie and her twin sister Jenny, who was institutionalized for insisting she actually did see a monster in the woods on that fateful day, were witnesses to Moloch summoning one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Audiences were introduced to Jenny while she was staying at a mental hospital and she soon breaks out before finally joining ranks alongside her sister and Crane.

Amidst the mystery of the horsemen and learning their roles in the fate of mankind, Crane and the Mills sisters are forced to fend off several obstacles that Moloch throws at the small town.  A young boy from the long lost Roanoke Colony brings with him a terrible illness that could cripple humanity.  Crane and Abbie unlock the secrets of Roanoke along with the colony’s location, and bring the sick child back to Roanoke in time for him and his village to be cured of the disease brought upon them by the horseman, Pestilence.

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Probably my favorite character of the show is a man named Henry Parrish, also known as The Sin Eater, played by John Noble.  He’s a personable gentleman with a great burden on his shoulders.  He’s reluctant to use his powers for fear of the wrong person taking advantage of him.  When Crane is kidnapped by Freemasons who believe killing him will destroy the Headless Horseman because of their connected bloodlines, Abbie pursues the help of a quiet older man who has the ability to take on the sins of a man (in this case, the bloodline of the horseman).  While the Headless Horseman stalks Sleepy Hollow in search of his head, the Sin Eater manages to sever Crane’s blood ties to the creature and thus Ichabod and Abbie can go about capturing the elusive headless monster.

When the horseman is finally captured using magic and science, in this case artificial light to cripple the horseman just long enough to bind him in chains, Crane interrogates him and soon discovers that the horseman’s real identity is that of a man named Abraham.  Abraham just so happens to be Katrina’s ex-fiancé and one of Crane’s former best friends who was turned into the horseman by Moloch.  Before the Horseman can be killed or many more answers can be uncovered, Moloch infiltrates the chamber where Crane and Abbie are keeping the Headless Horseman and he is gone again, out of Crane’s grasp to cause more carnage in the town.

As the season wraps up, we learn that Katrina gave birth to a boy fathered by Ichabod.  Crane never knew Katrina was pregnant so, as if the series needed even more reason to leave episodes dangling on cliff-hangers, Ichabod becomes driven to find out the fate of his only child.  Enlisting the help of Henry Parrish, Crane is sent to purgatory to ask Katrina about their son, Jeremy.  It’s determined that he had magical ways of his own and was buried alive, with his heart rate slowed almost to a complete stop by a band of well-meaning witches in order to keep him safe throughout the years.

This doesn’t sit very well with Ichabod but the chance to let his son rest comfortably comes when Crane, Mills and Parrish are pitted face to face with the Golem, a monstrous creature created by Jeremy to give him the protection he longs for, considering he is without father.  Played by horror icon Derek Mears (Friday the 13th 2009), the Golem is an imposing character that ends up killing a group of unsavory witches before it meets its own demise at the hands of Ichabod.

Remember Captain Irving?  Don’t think he gets out of season 1 unscathed!  A minion of Moloch returns to Sleepy Hollow just in time to demand George Washington’s Bible from Irving.  The Bible is an instrumental part in the war against Moloch, so naturally, Moloch wants it for himself.  Crane and Mills have gone through great lengths to hide the Bible and Irving is sure to know where it is.  A spirit-jumping demon named Ancitif threatens the well-being of Irving’s daughter, Macey, unless the captain cooperates and brings the Bible to Moloch.  Thus, leading up to one of the most jaw-dropping season finales in recent memory.

A two-hour season finale sees Ichabod and Abbie discover a map to purgatory created by George Washington, who himself was reanimated some four days after his actual death.  Yep, we’re talking about zombie George Washington here.  Washington’s actual burial site was moved during his reanimation in order to keep secret his and his map’s whereabouts.

The map’s origins are found in Washington’s Bible, hence the reason why Moloch is so intent on Irving delivering it to him.  With the help of Henry Parrish once again, Crane and Mills discover the true burial site of Washington.  Andy Brooks, the former officer who was killed by Moloch only to be brought back as a soldier in Moloch’s war against humanity, is in a race against time with Crane and Mills to locate the map.  Brooks catches up with Crane, Mills, and Parrish in Washington’s tomb just in time to be trapped in the tomb while our three heroes escape with the map in hand.

Upon seeing daylight again, Mills convinces Crane to burn the map they just risked their lives for after citing the prophecy that one witness will betray the other for selfish reasons, in this case the saving of Katrina from purgatory.  Crane reluctantly burns the map but it’s best to remember that Crane has a picture perfect memory and is able to recreate drawings, documents and visions with little effort.

When Parrish tells Ichabod and Abbie that the Horseman of War is coming that very night, during an eclipse, Crane puts his photo memory to the test and recreates the map to purgatory.  Crane and Mills travel to the other realm together while Parrish nervously waits in our world. Crane and Mills end up finding Katrina in a church where she reveals that she cannot be taken out of purgatory without another soul taking her place.  Selflessly, Abbie Mills stays while Ichabod and Katrina return to our world to put an end to the Horseman of War before it’s too late.

The body-jumping demon Ancitif wreaks havoc on the Irving home when it jumps into the body of Captain Irving’s daughter Macey.  A possessed Macey kills a preacher and threatens the lives of the Irving family.  The spirit of Ancitif is washed from Macey’s soul before the Captain’s family is destroyed and without the threat of supernatural horror, someone must answer for the deaths of a preacher and two officers (who were killed by Ancitif during its soul-jumping adventure).  Irving confesses to the murders to protect his daughter and the last we see of him, he is being hauled into custody in hand cuffs.

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Upon Katrina and Ichabod’s return to our world, the most shocking sequence of events of the season comes when Parrish reveals his true identity—he is Jeremy.  Fuck yes, you heard me right.  Parish is Jeremy, the son of Ichabod and Katrina.  Moloch pulled him from his eternal coffin thirteen years earlier (this is what Jenny and Abbie witnessed as teens!) to be the Horseman of War.  Thus, as any evil son would do, he allows the Horseman of Death to carry away an unconscious Katrina and he FUCKING BURIES HIS FATHER IN THE COFFIN HE HIMSELF WAS BURIED IN FOR CENTURIES!  The season ends with Crane screaming for his life as the coffin is closed, leaving Abbie stuck in purgatory and Jeremy roaming Sleepy Hollow alongside his fellow horsemen.

Created by Underworld head honcho Len Wiseman and two extremely talented writers in Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Sleepy Hollow obliterated the ratings early on during its season but a combined seven weeks of breaks in between new episodes throughout the season may have splashed some cold water on the series’ momentum.  I, for one, along with my girlfriend, absolutely loved the entire season.  But now we’re forced to deal with an almost unheard of NINE MONTH hiatus until season two, which returns this fall.

What works best for the show is the fantastic chemistry between Mison and Beharie as the show runners.  Both characters have drawn rave reviews and quite the following.  The alternative history lessons and special effects are another reason this show is so damned addicting.  Wiseman knows how to keep an audience engrossed and the writing never lacks suspense and wit.

The biggest thing that really sucked about this show was all of the damn breaks.  A two week break to accommodate the World Series, a one week break randomly thrown in there and then an outrageous four-week hiatus in December took a lot of wind the show’s sails for a lot of casual viewers.  For us die hard Sleepy fans, it just gave us boring Monday nights and even more angst when we found out we’d have to wait nearly three full trimesters before season two ramps up.

Overall, Sleepy Hollow was one of the best shows on television during its inaugural season and with so many cliffhangers to carry us through this treacherous break, there’s little doubt season two will be any less jaw dropping and mesmerizing.

Movies & TV, TV Reviews

About the author

Justin Hamelin hails from Waukegan, Illinois- home of Ray Bradbury. He has published a collection of short horror stories and has been featured in Sanitarium Magazine, among other publications. He runs a blog, Mangled Matters, and also regularly contributes to the Women In Horror Month websites and movement. When he isn't writing horror, he can be found collecting books or watching horror movies at his home with his wife and three black cats. Justin has been a RavMon contributor since 2011.
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