Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sleepy Hollow 1.01: "Pilot"

“This bible was left with me for a reason. The connections are all around us. You just aren’t willing to accept them.”
- Ichabod Crane

Well the first fall show has arrived. I have to say I’ve been anticipating this one since I saw the pilot preview a few months ago. I know it will sound blasphemous but I think I was looking forward to “Sleepy Hollow” even more than “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. That’s not to say it won’t be awesome because Joss Whedon is behind it, but this was a different type of show and I was not disappointed.

We begin our journey at the battle of Hudson Valley in 1781. Ichabod, though clearly British, is in colonial colors. He fires off a few shots before going to check the hands of several fallen redcoats. A comrade calls to him and we see a looming figure in a mask, with a broad axe. Ichabod fires off a shot but it doesn’t stop the rider. Ultimately, Ichabod lobs the man’s head off after suffering a mortal chest wound himself. They fall to the ground as he passes out, only wake in a cave. He climbs out and emerges in present day Sleepy Hollow. In town, Lieutenant Abbie Mills is having coffee with the sheriff. It seems Abbie is off to Quantico in a week and the sheriff is trying to entice her to stick around due to all the unsolved cases and general weirdness in town. When they finally head out, they get a call to respond to spooked horses at a nearby farm. The little trip ends poorly for the sheriff. He encounters Ichabod’s nemesis and falls to the blade of his axe. Abbie calls for back up and a fellow officer, Andy (played by John Cho), nearly runs over Ichabod (who’s run into the street in his confusion). Abbie confirms he wasn’t the killer but Ichabod does recognize the description of the headless murderer. Abbie orders him to tell her when he last saw the headless hacking machine, to which Ichabod replies “when I cut off his head”. I have to say I think the pilot well shot well. I liked some of the cinematography and the camera work to show transitions from scenes.

Ichabod is moved to an interrogation room for questioning which is rather amusing. I was a little surprised he was using words like “damn” and “hell” but I thought the way he delivered the lines about his backstory, including the mention of serving under General Washington and his wife, Katrina, were very good and believable. He gets sent for a 72-hour psych hold and Abbie convinces the lead detective to let her transport him so she can question him. She doesn’t outright call him crazy but she says a headless horseman is impossible. He goes on a bit of a rant about how if all of the things he’s seeing aren’t real because they’re impossible, then he must really not be in the future with his wife dead for two centuries. On the car ride we get one of my favorite scenes from the previews. Ichabod remarks that a building used to be a livery stables but it’s now a Starbucks. He spies another one and asks how many there are to which Abbie replies “per block?” and he goes “is there a law?” It cracks me up. I like that they’re adding in a lot of humor, even if some of it isn’t intentional. Just the way Tom Mison delivers his dialogue makes some of it amusing. Abbie doesn’t take him to the psych hospital right away, though. She wants to see the cave where he woke up. Oh, and on the car ride we see the local priest (who Ichabod recognizes from his past…creepy).

Ichabod unearths a Bible with the book of Revelation marked telling of the coming of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. We also get a little revisionist history in that Ichabod says Washington gave him a mission to kill a man on the battlefield, but he wasn’t a man. He was Death. And we see the horseman corner said priest. The good father tries to fight him off with some mild magic (flinging chains at him) but the horseman uses his handy axe to cut through and lob off the priest’s head (the camera work switches to the reverend’s point of view as the head is cut off. Creatively done). Abbie brings Ichabod along to respond to the call of the dead priest and she gets into it with the lead detective again for not following orders. Andy warns her off linking herself to Ichabod. Speaking of, after seeing a hawk (which we saw sitting on the Sleepy Hollow sign earlier) he manages to extricate himself from the cop car and finds Katrina’s grave. He’s rather heartbroken to find she was burned for witchcraft.

Abbie still isn’t sure she believes Ichabod’s story and she’s got a reason that she’s not ready to divulge yet. But he does pick up on the fact that something happened to her that made her doubt herself. Apparently she has a change of heart on the drive to the psych ward because she explains that when she was in high school, she and her sister had this weird encounter where they saw four white trees and demonic like voice and being. Her sister, Jenny, has drifted in and out of psych wards since and we know understand why Abbie is trying to leave Sleepy Hollow. She wants to move on and forget her past. Something tells me, she isn’t going to get her wish. She swings by the sheriff’s station and finds a hidden cabinet full of research on the occult and two local covens in the area. It would appear our deceased lawman not only believed Abbie’s story but believed in a lot more. I really am intrigued by the mx of religious connections, historical intrigue and the supernatural aspects. I think all of those elements, combined with the humor, are going to make for a good show.

Ichabod is dreaming and he is pulled into a little pocket of existence by Katrina. She’s been trapped in this dimension by the evil that Abbie saw. She infodumps a bit about the fact she’s part of an ancient order sworn to fight against the evil and that the horseman is after his skull (really buried in Katrina’s grave). And it would appear the priest was actually a member of her coven. Guess that explains the magic he was throwing around. She begs Ichabod to free her and to stop the horseman from achieving his goal. If he doesn’t, the other horsemen will come and the end will begin. Ichabod wakes and Abbie saves him from a sedative thanks to what she’s seen in the sheriff’s secret cabinet. She calls Andy for back up and tells him to meet her at the church. Unbeknownst to her, he seems to be working for the horseman because the headless figure is waiting at Andy’s place and the cop relays the message.

We have a showdown between Ichabod and the horseman over the horseman’s’ head and Andy tries to keep Abbie out of it by knocking her on the head with the trunk of his car. She bites him in return. A couple other cops show up to the party but all they do is get shot at by the horseman. Ichabod manages to hold on to the horseman’s noggin til sunrise (the horseman can’t stand light according to Katrina) and Andy gets arrested. Ichabod imparts the belief that he and Abbie are the two witnesses who are prophesied to guide humanity through the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, they don’t get any answers out of Andy because the same shadowy demon thing Abbie saw when she was younger breaks his neck and slips back into the dimension where Katrina is. This is going to be an interesting premise. I can’t wait to see how they handle the show week-to-week. The pilot felt pretty epic so they’ve got a lot to live up to in week 2.

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