Gotham really heats up this week as Azrael is unleashed onto the City causing everyone within his purview to scramble to try to avoid or try to end his rampage. There is Professor Strange covering his tracks, Tabitha planning her departure, and Gordon trying to take down Azrael before he can do any more harm. It’s a race to beat the clock in this week’s action packed hour.
It’s hard to regard Sleepy Hollow’s second season as anything other than a disappointment. While it never crossed the threshold into being a bad show, what was once the most loopy and good-humored offering on broadcast television transformed into something that was frequently a chore to watch. There was no major single flaw in the series, but multiple bad decisions that were allowed to fester and detract from the things the show did well. Irving’s constantly wavering allegiances and relevance, the introduction of a character no one particularly liked in Hawley, a Moloch plan that lacked the complexity of earlier efforts, and pushing Katrina down a flight of misguided plots—all of these gave the feeling that Sleepy Hollow no longer had a steady hand behind the wheel, and raised doubts that it could be what it was.
The overarching Sleepy Hollow narrative has been treading water since the events of “The Akeda,” the show unable to find a hook in the wake of Moloch’s death. For the past few episodes events have gone through a series of monsters of the week, the characters as adrift as the writers as they spend their time asking some fairly meta questions about what their place in the world is. It hasn’t been a bad stretch of episodes—in fact, on balance the show’s felt more entertaining than it did in the first half of the season—but a sense of direction has been keenly missed. “Spellcaster” takes steps to remedy that deficit, setting things in motion for the final trio of season two episodes.
It’s a rare show that can inspire fits of giggles simply by reading an episode description, and “The Kindred” certainly meets that bill: “Ichabod Crane concocts a daring plan to rescue his wife from the Headless Horseman by resurrecting a Frankenstein-like monster created by Benjamin Franklin.” It’s a sentence that reads like a pitch for a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knockoff, rejected for being too absurd. And yet, not only does Sleepy Hollow embrace this idea for a story, they do so in a manner that makes the action plausible in the universe and turns it into fist-pumping excitement.
After the events of “The Midnight Ride” where Ichabod (Tom Mison), Abbie (Nicole Beharie), and Captain Irving (Orlando Jones) capture and neutralize the Headless Horseman, it seems his threat is over for a while. This isn’t the case as the Horseman’s probing reveal Ichabod’s deepest fears and yet another dark secret from his past. “Necromancer” also explores the idea of free will vs. destiny using the undead cop Andy Brooks (John Cho) and Ichabod’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) as case studies. Writers Mark Hoffman and Phillip Iscove use both Ichabod and the Horseman’s past to create conflict in this episode while also giving it real thematic resonance. There is also a nice B-plot involving Jenny Mills (Lyndie Greenwood) and Irving as they work together to prevent the Hessians from rescuing the Headless Horseman. Even though it isn’t as humorous as previous episodes, “Necromancer” has a tight plot with only one possible hole in it near the end as well as strong character and thematic development.