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Sleepy Hollow season 2 review

March 25, 2015

Sleepy-Hollow-season-two-castI have been working on this review for awhile now and a lot has happened over that time. After season two concluded things were sort of up in the air for a bit when showrunner Mark Goffman decided to leave for another network. Fortunately, a new showrunner in the form of Clifton Campbell has signed on and Fox has renewed the series for a third season of 18 episodes. So, after this brief update I present my review of season two of Sleepy Hollow. As always with my non-first season reviews, spoilers may be present based upon whether I feel the need to mention them or not.

Sleepy Hollow came out of nowhere when it first premiered two years ago. Being a network series I would have ignored it myself except for one thing. Every reviewer I read, without exception gave it rave, or at least very good, reviews. Since I had never run into this before I decided to give it a look and I was pretty much hooked from the word go. This surprised me even more as, going into it, I really didn’t see a need to retread the Christian apocalypse material that had been previously covered so well by Supernatural but there were two features that worked for me. The first was the chemistry between the two lead characters Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie). A good pairing like this can elevate an otherwise unremarkable series to greatness. My “go to” example here is the classic Wild Wild West series. Without the excellent chemistry between James West and Artemis Gordon I often find myself wondering if the series would have made it past season one. The second thing was that the writing was definitely in the classic pulp style. As should be obvious to most of my readers by now I am a huge fan of pulp literature, especially the hero pulps. Sleepy Hollow has this no apologies for the plot just move the story along attitude that is the hallmark of that style of literature. A great example here is the beginning of the second season. Abbie was left trapped in purgatory as one of the season one cliff hangers. In the more dramatic shows I watch, this would have been fodder for a few episodes but, not Sleepy Hollow. Abbie was back in our world for most of the first episode.

As I mentioned when I first started this blog second seasons are tricky business for any series and the ratings for Sleepy Hollow’s second were not as strong as the first. There are probably a few reasons for that. The first and most obvious to me was bringing in Ichabod’s wife Katrina as a main character. I initially didn’t have a whole lot of problems with the idea, in fact I kind of liked it. That was until it started cutting into the Ichabod/Abbie chemistry I mentioned above. It also seemed like they kind of didn’t know exactly what to do with her character at first. I ultimately did like the way they used her but, the initial steps seemed somewhat indecisive. These two factors ended up being enough to reverse my initial optimism on the idea. Another misstep, and one that I was worried about from the previous season, was the trap of making Ichabod know all the famous figures from his era. From the first season we knew he was working directly for George Washington and we discover in season two that he apprenticed under Ben Franklin and helped Thomas Jefferson with the Declaration of Independence. This is a minor complaint that might be more of a pet peeve on my part but I really wish the writers had avoided it or perhaps introduced some less well known historical personalities.

Even with these two complaints, I still did very much enjoy the second season. The show does take on a more episodic tone at times so, be warned. If you prefer more of a continuing story style of series you may be disappointed with some parts of season two. Being raised on episodic series, I didn’t have a problem with it and, in fact, found it somewhat enjoyable. Given the events at the end of season one, Abbie finds herself with a new captain at the station and I have to say that this was another of the highlights of the season two. Of course Sheriff Reyes has a lot of questions about Abbie’s police work (like why, exactly, does the department need a history consultant?). The Sheriff could have simply been left as foil for Abbie but, instead they allowed her to ultimately be won over to Abbie’s side without her having to reveal everything to her new boss. What I especially liked about this was that they made Abbie really have to work for it as well as it nicely demonstrated her strength of character.

Given the supernatural nature of the series, the non-arc episodes tend to fall into the monster of the week variety but, even these do feature a good bit of character development as well. Also, they still go full throttle on these stories which is enhanced by grabbing some pretty unexpected creatures as well as methods of using them in the story. One such entry is a serial killer from Ichabod’s time that arrives via a fairly unique method that I have only ever seen once before from the previously mentioned Wild Wild West in a plot by recurring villain Miguelito Loveless. They even managed to surprise me with a mythological creature I had never heard of before which is pretty good for just two seasons as Supernatural has only ever surprised me with two such creatures over its ten year run. Did I mention I read a lot of garbage? Anyway, the arc stories are fine as well but, the one that stands out the best for me is the season finale which sends Abbie back to Ichabod’s time (spoiler alert: magic is involved). That last episode was really amazing and is probably my current favorite of the series to date.

Overall the strengths of season two more than make up for the weaknesses and the second season of Sleepy Hollow held up just fine for me. I’ll definitely be looking forward to what the new showrunner has in store for season three.

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