Here’s my first review of Sleepy Hollow starting with the season two episode “Kali Yuga.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.
Timing is everything, and well, I have to admit my timing is off on starting these reviews. Because we’ve reached the point in season two where I’m just not happy with what’s going on here. Remember when Sleepy Hollow premiered and everyone said it would soon collapse under the weight of its own ridiculousness? It lasted longer than we all thought, but the collapse is finally here. And I think it all results from poor timing. In other words, why the HELL are we getting an episode focused on Hawley when we really should be focusing on trying to pull to scattered plot back together? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Hawley. In fact, I think he has a lot of potential as a character. But that potential’s been wasted so far and he’s been handled wrong since the moment he was introduced. “Kali Yuga,” this episode featuring his former guardian as the villain, just adds to the problem. And like I said, it all comes down to timing.
It would be reasonable to assume that the theme for this episode is bonds between people. (I mean, the writers even sort of spelled it out with that scene where Crane and Abbie are trapped in the vault and they literally talk about bonds and bonding and alchemic symbols used in bonding. All that jazz) Honestly, I think relationship bonds are an excellent idea to explore. While season one was all about building up the friendship between Crane and Abbie, season two has been all about tearing it down bit by bit. In theory, this would be great because conflict makes the characters and the story stronger. (Who really wants a television show where every episode is just the cast sitting around having a good day and nothing else? It’d get boring after a while). But in practice this season, the writers have just been too focused on too many different ideas and characters to really delve into this problem.
Which brings me back to the Hawley problem. He’s extraneous. As a character, he’s essentially a male version of Jenny (a much hairier version too, I might add). And why would we need another Jenny? She works just fine. Hawley, on the other hand, is just… there, giving them magical objects when needed. Because of that, previous episodes really haven’t given us a lot of info on him. Just a few offhand mentions of treasure hunts he’s done in the past and that’s it. So when we get this episode with Carmilla, his former legal guardian, who claims they are “family,” the whole plot just falls flat. Hawley does a lot of crap to help Carmilla out (albeit mostly unwilling) but we really don’t understand his motivations for doing so. Why do we, the audience, care about Carmilla and Hawley? Why should we be invested in their stories? Hawley says something along the lines of being grateful that Carmilla took him in when he didn’t have anyone else, but the audience has never seen any of that so there’s no emotional resonance at all.
The main question is why aren’t we just focusing on the slightly broken bond between Crane and Abbie instead? I suppose the writers were going for contrast. Look at Crane and Abbie’s friendship that can be fixed with some extra conversation and then compare that to Hawley and Carmilla’s familial relationship which was obviously ruined beyond repair the moment she tried to transform him (literally) into a monster. And my argument here is that the comparison doesn’t work. Hawley is just simply not the character to use for this. The audience isn’t emotionally invested in his character yet. We didn’t know enough about him to. Not like Jenny or Irving or heck, even undead Andy (I miss you John Cho, please come back).
Dramatic reveals about your character’s backstory shouldn’t be saved for when he suddenly robs your archive of important stuff for a person no one’s ever heard of before. That’s just a cheap trick for dramatic tension. Compare this, for example, to the reveal last season that Henry was Ichabod’s son. That worked amazingly well because the audience and Crane already knew about the son. We just didn’t know who it was. Imagine how this episode would have played out differently if we’d already known that Hawley was raised by a not-nice lady who once killed a dude. If the timing was different, it might have been more interesting.
I will say though that the return to explore the strain on Crane and Abbie’s friendship was something I enjoyed. We can’t have people always agreeing with each other 100% of the time. That’s not realistic. So I think it’s great that there’s been some disagreement and tension between them lately. It was a little rushed in this episode (because we spent so much time with the Carmilla monster), but it was nice to see them discuss the issues. And having their reconciliation hit a few bumps first before getting back on track was a good choice by the writers. I will always argue that relationships (familial, friendly, antagonistic, sexual, otherwise) are the heart of any story and Sleepy Hollow might benefit from exploring that main one more.
I may have been disappointed in this episode but I’m not ready to give up on the show yet. There’s an interesting storyline with Irving all ready to develop and I hope that’ll kick things into high gear again, so we can get back to the ridiculousness we all love.
Additional Archive Notes
- So Hawley departs this episode in search of Carmilla. Can’t say I’m sad to see him go. I assume he’ll pop up again by the season finale, so I hope the writer’s have a better role for him by then.
- The actress who played Carmilla, Jaime Murray, also plays Stahma in Defiance, a character who is devilishly sneaky in her own right. Jaime’s great at playing these kinds of characters but it took me a while to recognize her without the white hair and makeup.
- I absolutely LOVED the gang hanging out at the karaoke bar. It’s nice to see the characters having actual lives outside of the save the world from the apocalypse storyline. And ending it all with a duet of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” was an excellent choice. I’m sad that we didn’t get Crane singing “Oops I did it again” though.
- Unanswered questions: What’s up with Irving? He’s got no reflection now so… IS HE A VAMPIRE? (I am only half-joking here) And is Katrina lying about Irving having no connection to Henry anymore? Because that flashback montage thing was like 95% about Henry. (On a side note, the camera work in that scene was just wonderful. Sleepy Hollow is at its best when it’s hella creepy.)
- Slightly disappointed by the lack of an Ocean’s Eleven-type heist. Wasted opportunity!
- Despite how clichéd it is to lock your characters in a room to talk things out, I think I could have watched a whole episode of Crane and Abbie together in the vault. (Best lines of the episode right here: Crane says “I’ll admit I was excited. I may have acted rashly” to which Abbie responds “I’ll put that on your tombstone” in a snarky tone.) Alternative places that would have been fun to see them trapped in: An elevator with typical elevator music, a Japanese-style karaoke room, a dinosaur exhibit in a museum, and a gas station bathroom. Any other suggestions?
So what do you think? Did you love/hate this episode? Do you love/hate this season? Do you love/hate my review? Let me know in the comments!