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Sleepy Hollow, Ep. 2.04, “Go Where I Send Thee…”: Play it again, and again, and again

Sleepy Hollow, Ep. 2.04, “Go Where I Send Thee…”: Play it again, and again, and again

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Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 4, “Go Where I Send Thee…”
Written by Damian Kindler
Directed by Doug Aarniokoski
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on Fox

After a few weeks that were heavy on constructing the season’s arc, “Go Where I Send Thee…” is a more conventional—if such a term can ever be applied to this show—episode of Sleepy Hollow. The larger issue of Moloch’s grand scheme gives way to a monster-of-the-week approach, with the antagonist introduced and resolved by the end of the hour. There’s no sign of Katrina, Jenny, or Reyes; Moloch and the monstrous incarnations of the Horsemen are only alluded to or seen in visions; and Ichabod and Abbie’s conversation dwells more on cars and instruments than it does the foundation of their friendship. And encouragingly, this move doesn’t make the episode any less resonant or entertaining, a testament to how solid the Sleepy Hollow machine remains against all odds.

In an odd coincidence, this episode marks two weeks in a row where there are clear parallels to another supernaturally charged network drama, NBC’s Grimm. “Root Of All Evil” followed Grimm’s lead by adding magic coins that warp the owner’s perceptions (with far better results than that disastrous arc) and now “Go Where I Send Thee…” raids German fairy tales for story ideas. The tale in question is that of a Pied Piper, reimagined here as a Revolutionary War assassin who sold his soul to Moloch for power and is now taking eternal vengeance on a family that betrayed him. Grimm’s take on this myth was an underwhelming one, but Sleepy Hollow improves on that by distancing itself from too many details and sticking with the central haunting image: one man, leading an innocent child to an uncertain fate.

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Befitting the Piper’s demonic nature, sound plays a key role as his weapons are a hypnotic bone flute and a sonic staff that leaves opponents clutching their heads in pain. These are fun, but what’s more compelling are the visuals of the episode. The early Piper displays a speed cutting through British soldiers evocative of an Assassin’s Creed III combo, and the demon Piper has a cadaverous character design that’s kept in just the right amount of shadow. Entire scenes take on an otherworldly shade thanks to some simple choices: an extreme close-up on Abbie’s face and overexposed lighting turns her trance state into a claustrophobia, where the viewer is right alongside Ichabod, wanting to snap her out of it.

The absence of most of the main cast outside of Ichabod and Abbie both ensures we get lots of quality time with our heroes—an early driving lesson is a comedic highlight—and allows the episodic narrative to breathe outside of Moloch’s grand plan. The reveal of the Piper’s true motivation and what role the missing girl’s mother played in her disappearance make for highly effective gut-punches, largely because they keep the scale small. It’s one family member making a hard decision to preserve the rest, and Ichabod and Abbie still bear fresh scars from similar decisions. Abbie in particular gets the best beats of the sequence, both in her ability to talk the hysterical mother down and also her getting the coup de grace on the Piper. (Trumping Ichabod and his fencing, no less, in another mark of their perfect partnership.)

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“Go Where I Send Thee” also sees the return of Matt Barr’s freelance treasure hunter Hawley, whose mercenary nature and smug attitude continue to grind against the more principled Ichabod. He remains in the early Han Solo mold—at one point reiterating the dismissal of hokey religions and ancient weapons—and even when faced with reality is quick to pass the buck back to our heroes: “I’m deeply uninterested in hunting that thing down.” It would be an easy move to turn him into a reluctant hero, but Sleepy Hollow continues to have him fall in line with Ichabod’s low expectations, particularly his statement that more apocalypses mean more relics. While we can assume he’ll eventually be a full-time member of the Scooby Gang, it’s refreshing the writers don’t feel the need to speed that process along.

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The episode’s main nod to the series’ big picture comes with Irving, still languishing in the asylum but now aware of Henry’s position against him. While the narrative continues to struggle to justify Irving’s continued presence on the show, Orlando Jones is particularly good as he realizes just how much of an advantage Henry has over him, both legally (family finances) and spiritually (his soul unintentionally signed away in blood). And if Henry’s smooth words aren’t enough to jar him, a Biblical vision that depicts him serving as a soldier in Armageddon goes a long way to emphasize that he may well be past the point of salvation.

This vision fits into the episode’s well-executed visuals with its post-apocalyptic take on Sleepy Hollow, but more importantly it reintroduces ambiguity to the Irving character. The pilot episode gave the impression Irving might be aware of the demonic presence and may even be on its side, a move the writers swiftly backed away from in lieu of the disapproving yet grudgingly accepting commanding officer. This left him without initial shading that his family history hasn’t managed to fill in, and now there are a lot of questions to ask about where this possible future leads. Is he fighting for the good guys or against them? Is War’s raised sword a salute to his champion or the issuance of a final challenge? And is this vision of a shattered Sleepy Hollow a trick or a premonition?

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Most importantly, the question remains what Irving will do about it. Central to “Go Where I Send Thee…” is the notion of making a bad decision for a higher purpose, and certainly Irving now finds himself faced with the opportunity to make more than a few of those.

Other thoughts:

  • This Week In Ominous John Noble Arts and Crafts: Henry is (of course) the mysterious buyer for the bone flute, only to smash it up with a mortar and pestle and taste the resulting powder. It’s safe to assume he’s not going to use that only to create snow for his model city.
  • This Week In Ichabod Hates Ben Franklin: Ichabod curses him for inventing the odometer when it exposes that Jenny has been giving him driving lessons without Abbie’s consent.
  • The passage Henry quotes to Irving: Ezekiel 18:4. “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Commence speculation as to deeper meaning.
  • Ichabod apparently spent the Second Continental Congress trying to avoid the affections of Betsy Ross. “Adams found me hiding in a broom closet.”
  • “How challenging must it be to guide the power of 300 horses with only one’s foot.”
  • “You play the flute?” “I’d like to see you carry a cello onto the battlefield.” Sleepy Hollow musical episode! The gods demand it.