[This is a review of Sleepy Hollow season 3, episode 1. There will be SPOILERS.]
"This is exactly how you remember it, right?" Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) asks Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), while standing inside a garish theme restaurant called Colonial Times. The smirk on her face as she looks at the horror on his tells us that FOX's Sleepy Hollow is back and in fine form. The charm of this historic supernatural horror series has been in the relationship between its two leads, and in its humor.
For the season 3 premiere, the action jumps forward nine months, but rather than show up with a baby in tow, our "Leftenant" has gone ahead and gotten herself a shiny new job with the FBI. And her new digs aren't the only thing that's changed about Sleepy Hollow.
The premiere is a soft reboot of sorts, acting as a great jumping on point for anyone interested in giving the series a shot. Even Crane tried to make this point by pointing out that their first tribulation is over (that was seasons one and two for you and me). Now it's all about their second. There are seven tribulations total, so at this rate we're looking at a 14-season run!
All you need to know for this year, though, is that Ichabod Crane is absolutely that: Ichabod Crane -- man out of colonial times trapped in the here and now -- and he fights the forces of evil with Abbie Mills and her sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood). There were some other people, including a wife and son for Crane and a boss for Mills, but they're all dead or gone now, so really it's about moving forward. In fact, Crane and the Mills are the only regular characters from last year left.
This week we are introduced to two of the four new regular castmembers. In a flashback, we saw Crane interacting with Betsy Ross (Nikki Reed), who was apparently much more than just the "flag lady," and Shannyn Sossamon's nebulous take on Pandora -- yes, THAT Pandora.
Sleepy Hollow is at it's best when it's subverting history, taking words and phrases and even historical figures and mashing them into something new. The Headless Horseman becoming one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was inspired. Here we're introduced to Pandora and her box, which apparently becomes the final resting place of said Horseman, as well as a new twist on Ross.
So far, Ross has been relegated to a rather brief flashback sequence. After the disappointing story arc they came up with for Crane's wife Katrina (Katia Winter) over the past two seasons, here's hoping they bring Ross quickly into the here and now. If she's staying in the past and a series regular, we must be looking at a lot of flashbacks.
Even when it's giving us a monster-of-the-week, as we got this week, Hollow manages to find a way to still subvert our expectations and offer a fun twist. The monster this week was a red devil that's drawn to gunpowder and gunfire, and it's a creature that wreaked havoc on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War as well. Suddenly the concept of "redcoats" takes on a whole different meaning.
But the writers didn't stop there, also offering a new explanation for the phrase attributed to the Battle of Bunker Hill, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." In this case, the red devil monster feeds on fear, and when it's doing so it's eyes turn white. It is only then that it can be shot and killed. Otherwise it is virtually invulnerable. And so, once again, history has been perverted by Sleepy Hollow, or perhaps the true supernatural history of this nation is being revealed and all history books are lies.
It was fun seeing our monster-fighting trio together again, and Mison continues to be a revelation in the role of Crane. And while we're as disappointed as Abbie that we didn't get to experience his first time on an airplane, it was okay because we got to see him bonding in prison. Apparently his waxing poetic with a man named Jesus was not only tolerated but embraced, as the two formed a rather tight bond in just five days.
There was definitely some melodrama on the show, with over-the-top music and dramatic silent stares back and forth after every dire statement about the doom and gloom of the future, and the notion that no matter how hard they might want to, they can't escape their destiny.
It's something Crane and Jenny are more than willing to do, as they're kind of tetherless otherwise. Crane has no real skillset of value in the modern world, and Jenny is a former psychiatric patient whose main skills are those of the illegal variety. This is a world where they don't quite feel like they fit in.
And then there's Abbie. After Crane decided he needed some "me time" following the loss of his family, she got her own life back on track and wound up where she'd always dreamed of being: the FBI. She made it clear that she hoped their defeat of Moloch meant it was all over and she didn't have to be a Witness anymore. But the expectations of the network and the ratings gods demanded that she face off against monsters again.
Doesn't she know that there's a pretty successful precedent on FOX for FBI agents fighting monsters? Scully and Mulder are even coming back to do it again. You know, an X-Files / Sleepy Hollow crossover would make a whole lot more sense than this Bones crossover we have coming up. Supernatural series meets drama? Is David Boreanaz' Booth going to vamp out and reveal he's been Angel this whole time? Maybe this will work out after all! Is Sarah Michelle Gellar available right now?
Sleepy Hollow continues next Thursday with 'Whispers in the Dark' @9pm on FOX. Check out a preview below: