SLEEPY HOLLOW 2.01 ‘This Is War’ Review

Sleepy Hollow 201

Sleepy Hollow Season 2 Episode 1

Episode Title: “This Is War”

Writer: Mark Goffman

Director: Ken Olin

Previously on “Sleepy Hollow”

Episode 1.13 “Bad Blood”

Heading into “Sleepy Hollow” Season 2, I have two of the same questions that I had last year at this time: Is this really a series that can run for seven years? That was the very optimistic prediction at the end of the pilot episode. And why is Orlando Jones on this show if they aren’t going to use him?

But I have far fewer problems with “Sleepy Hollow” than I did a year ago. This is a show that never should have worked as well it does, but it is really entertaining. The opening 15 minutes of “This Is War” were disorienting as the story cut to Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) one year after the events of the first season finale. For a few minutes, I was actually wondering if someone mixed up the episode order.

Those 15 minutes had pretty much everything that “Sleepy Hollow” excels at: Crane’s humorous responses to modern customs and great action sequences with the Headless Horseman. But the highpoint was the introduction of Timothy Busfield as Benjamin Franklin in the flashbacks and Crane’s very obvious distaste for the man. Busfield was hilarious and he gave Ben Franklin more personality in those scenes than George Washington has ever received on this show.

Crane’s eternal annoyance with Franklin and his legacy even made a very amusing recurring gag throughout the episode. I also loved the setup of Jeremy (John Noble) — Crane’s son and the Horseman of War — as Abbie and Crane’s prisoner. Noble is such a fantastic villain that it’s just a joy to watch him under any circumstances.

Eventually the reveal came that Jeremy had set up the entire scenario to trick Crane and Abbie into locating the key to Purgatory for him before he returned them to their respective prisons in this world and in Purgatory. The rest of the episode was largely about Crane and Abbie finding their way back to each other. And I have to say that I think the chemistry between Beharie and Mison has greatly improved. This was also the first time that I really bought into Abbie and Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) as sisters during their eventual reunion. I’m glad that Jenny is still around on this show, although I still suspect that “Sleepy Hollow” will put her on the chopping block before the end of the season.

Jenny actually gets a lot of solo heroine moments in this episode as she engineers her own escape from the Hessians. The biggest weakness in this episode is the way that it took shortcuts to reunite Crane and Jenny. Although I also find the Hessians to be very cartoonish and non-threatening villains. Not every adversary has to have the screen presence of John Noble, but I’ve seen Power Rangers villains with more charisma than these personality-free bad guys.

Meanwhile, Katrina Crane (Katia Winter) remained a prisoner of the Headless Horseman, whose shirtless moment may have been unintentionally funny. Headless even finds a way to appear to Katrina as his mortal identity, Abraham Van Brunt (Neil Jackson). That does go a long way towards giving the Horseman some personality, but the whole point of the Headless Horseman was that he doesn’t have a head. Every time he speaks, Headless becomes less and less threatening.

Over in Purgatory, Abbie has one last encounter with Dead Andy Dunn (John Cho) before he goes off to find his “Selfie” in the hereafter. I expect that show to have a very short (after)life, but prove me wrong, ABC! And in short order, Crane and Abbie are reunited before staging a daring escape from Purgatory.

For all of the buildup to how dangerous the key to Purgatory was, it feels like there should have been some sort of consequence for Crane and Abbie getting out of Purgatory alive. But it’s hard to complain when “Sleepy Hollow” was so solid throughout the episode. This isn’t a perfect show, but it has become a very fun series to watch.