Sleepy Hollow, Season 1, Episode 7: “The Midnight Ride”
Written by Heather V. Regnier
Directed by Doug Aarnioski
Airs Mondays at 9pm ET on Fox
Sleepy Hollow‘s biggest strength as a show is taking risks, and it takes some pretty big ones in this episode which change the outlook of the show from here on out. “The Midnight Ride” has a fast moving plot that weaves in elements from both the past and present to create a compelling clash between Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and the Horseman of Death (Richard Cetrone). At times, the characters feel like ciphers in the workings of the story, but Heather Regnier injects plenty of humor into Ichabod’s dialogue and starts to make Sleepy Hollow policemen Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) and Luke Morales (Nicholas Gonzalez) more three dimensional presences on the show. This character growth and the chemistry between Ichabod and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) along with their shared struggles adds humanity to an episode that can sometimes resemble the television equivalent of an object retrieval quest.
“The Midnight Ride” seamlessly integrates Paul Revere’s famous ride into the bigger war against the Horseman. The flashback to the actual ride is less than thrilling even with a couple brutal killings, but this opening scene is the key to the rest of the episode. Regnier treats the episode like a puzzle and connects historical events with Ichabod, Abbie, and Irving’s activities in the present. She even integrates recurring characters like the presumed dead policeman Andy Brooks (John Cho) to create an entertaining and complex storyline. But “The Midnight Ride” isn’t all plot. There are some overarching themes, like the conflict between the modern and traditional, which are important in the conflict against the Horseman. This theme also finds its way into bits of dialogue, like an extended conversation between Abbie, Ichabod, and Irving about Thomas Jefferson’s stance on slavery and his affair with his own slave Sally Hemming.
Along with having an interesting plot and recurring themes, “The Midnight Ride” finally brings the underutilized police captain Frank Irving to the forefront. The resident skeptic of the show, Irving finally sees the Horseman and becomes a bigger ally of Ichabod and Abbie. However, his journey from non-believer to battling the Horseman is just as rocky as Abbie’s was earlier. He even tells her that he wished the Headless Horseman was just a big hoax. Having Irving on their side will make it easier for Abbie and Ichabod to fight the Horseman, but with several calls from the FBI and DA, the Sleepy Hollow Police Department could have bigger problems in their future. Morales also gets more to do than sneer at Ichabod and act shifty in this episode. He is also confronted with the reality of the supernatural occurrences around him while simultaneously trying to be “friends” with Abbie. Morales is less important to the plot than Irving, but he is still trapped in the neutral zone between the forces of good and the Horseman which adds an extra layer of depth to this previously flat character.
“The Midnight Ride” still has a few weakness, but they are mostly technical and don’t have to do with the plot or characters. A couple of the chase scenes lack potency and rely too heavily on quick cuts instead of slowly building suspense. Also, a running gag with Ichabod complaining about water costing money is overused. But this episode is full of fish out of water humor. Every line that comes out of Ichabod’s mouth when he and Abbie visit a history museum is pure hilarity and helps cement their growing friendship. “The Midnight Ride” is a good episode of Sleepy Hollow because it develops minor characters, has an entertaining plot that combines history and a showdown with the Headless Horseman, and continues to keep the tone weird and fun.