Sleepy Hollow: ‘What Lies Beneath’ – Review

Sleepy Hollow, like Gotham, rose from the ashes of last week’s miss to find a palpable hit in “What Lies Beneath.” Let’s be honest: these days, the show’s quality is in direct proportion to how little screen-time is given over to Katrina and to the Crane’s utterly disinteresting marital drama. This week, we were blessed with only a brief scene at the end, affirming Katrina’s realignment with her son and her move more definitively to the darkside. And all I can say about that is good riddance.

Indeed, while the show has proven that romance with anyone other than Abbie is a tiresome prospect for Ichabod, not so much the other way around, it turns out. Enter Abbie’s new love-interest, a reporter named Calvin Riggs (Sharif Atkins) who starts poking around Sleepy Hollow after a couple of city workman get trapped underground under very mysterious circumstances. He challenges Abbie’s “propaganda face” when she serves him up some placatory BS he knows better than to swallow. (Turns out his brother is also one of the people trapped underground, but one senses he’d be riding her pretty hard whether he was personally connected to the case or not)

He ends up being invited into Abbie and Ichabod’s case on a limited basis as an “embedded” reporter. Ichabod even absconds his $7000 camera at one point to use in their battle against the light-phobic “reavers” they find themselves in conflict with. Although he and Abbie have a different kind of chemistry than do she and Ichabod, the potential is there and it is not insignificant. There is always something compelling, narratively, about an attraction between two people who are always going to be at odds professionally, which reporters and police officers typically are.

While trying to solve the case and rescue the trapped workman, Abbie and Ichabod encounter a vault containing a holographic projection of the memory of Thomas Jefferson, played by Steven Weber. I will admit, this development required an especially strong ability to suspend disbelief. However these days, I’ll basically forgive Sleepy Hollow almost any of its wacky contrivances as long as it does not bore me. And this did not bore me, particularly when Ichabod could not help running his hand through the light projection in amazement, to Jefferson’s understandable chagrin.

Incidentally the vault also contains every scrap of information the founding fathers had managed to cobble together about the prophesized Witnesses and their role in the Apocalypse. At first it seems like a dream come true, but of course, it would also make life far too easy for our protagonists, and we simply cannot have that!

In the end, Abbie and Ichabod must make a choice about whether to save the workman or the vault, as they cannot save both. Abbie, bless her, does not even take a moment to second guess herself before she agrees to let the library burn for the sake of saving the men. Ichabod is quickly brought to her side and concedes they have the internet. They can do without Jefferson’s library.

This episode also found Frank enlisting the help of Jenny to allegedly retrieve his wedding ring from police custody. Here we finally get the real scoop on the state of his soul, his resurrection and what his deal is with Henry. Turns out his soul does belong to the Prince of Darkness after all; he’s been using a charm to override Henry’s power over him, but it is temporary and fading. He’s trying to put his affairs in order before he must succumb fully to the darkside again.

I don’t know how I feel about Frank’s storyline this season. While I am still invested in him as a character, and I still think he has interesting romantic possibilities with Jenny, I have found his story arc nebulous and somewhat scattered. I will confess, however, that what his role will be in the finale and beyond has remained deeply unpredictable and in some ways, that is to Sleepy Hollow’s credit.

Although it is often disparaged, predictability is sometimes a mark of good writing, in that it shows a believable sequence of events playing out in a realistic way. Plot developments that feel completely out of left-field to the audience often mean you failed in your set-up, somewhere along the way. The flip side, of course, is that too much sign-posting can make the story boring. Striking the right balance is difficult, and sign-posting without giving everything away upfront is a laudable achievement.

I feel like a great deal has been set up for Frank and for better or worse, I still have no clue where it is ultimately going. I just hope there is a satisfying pay-off coming down the pipe and that it does not culminate in his permanent death. I wouldn’t quit the show over it, but I would be highly resentful.

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