Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Review - Episode 4 - The Lesser Key of Solomon - "Wonder Twin powers...ACTIVATE!"

MEANWHILE in Sleepy Hollow! The new series moves into it's fourth episode, unaware of what dangers the characters will face this week. (And apologizes. I would have had this posted sooner, but for travel and illness.)

And with a name like "The Lesser Key of Solomon", you would be tempted to think this is some Dan Brown pastiche. Oh, no. This show is about witches, death cults, headless ghouls, time jumping heroes, and has a large focus on the struggle of two sisters (Abbie and Jenny). This show owns Dan Brown's lot.

The episode this week takes up following the reverberations of last week. Last week led to Abbie finally facing the truths from her childhood. Her abandoning her sister out of fear. And, the fact she should have, in her heart, spoke out and stood by her sister.

From a barbed wire hospital to
a barbed wire lake cabin...
So Abbie decided to visit her sister in the psychiatric hospital she was being held in, to have things out, and have a teary reunion. Well, with these two it would more likely be psychologically cutting remarks leading up to a potential fist fight. Ah, the Mills.

But, Jenny is gone. She's finally lived out her dream of reenacting a one person version of The Great Escape. As we saw when we first were introduced to her, she was just bidding her time there. Things are afoot now.

"We're sticking to 2 person walk
and talks from now on. Crane?
Stay back two steps."
And they are also afoot with the Sheriff's department (And, I'll say it again. Do we have a sheriff yet?). Irving is on the war path. An escaped mental patient with a violent history is on the loose. Crane talked to her, and now she's gone. He wants her caught immediately. But Abbie asks that he beg off. She thinks her escape ties into the weird events they are looking at, and Jenny could be talked back in safely.

"Oh, I love going to Bar. I believe it's at 1 Way Street."
Abbie asks for some faith on this. And, Irving agrees to 12 hours. Damn you, Irving! ...For being so reasonable. Really, he keeps being this reasonable, I'll just assume he's planning on killing Abbie and Ichabod for the big bad.

MEANWHILE, downtown, Jenny is sneaking around, dressed as the Uni-Bomber. She ends up at Bar. There, she talks to the bartender, who was holding some things for her (her scram bag). (Jenny has contacts.) She tells him things are looking bad, and heads out.

"Aaron, if you don't master this
piece, you won't be joining us at the
recital, for the rest of your life."
And we cut to another new spot, a nicely attended house, where a man is teaching a young fellow piano. It plays very normal, until the man receives a call.

Turns out this fellow is German. Thick accent, blonde hair, etc. And his caller, with a modulated voice, tells him about Jenny's escape.

Squee!!! I think we have German Bad Guys! Witches. Headless Horsemen, Big Horned Demons. Undead John Cho, Dream Spirits, Clancy Brown, AND Evil Germans. This is TV done right.

The mysterious voice says that Jenny likely knows where a mystery items lies. And it wants Piano Man to lead a team to catch her and retrieve the item. And Piano Man just smiles.

"I am going to cut your heart out
with a spoon!" ...Wait! That's Robin
Hood: Prince of Theieves
We cut right back to Bar. There, Piano Man and his team walk in. (Write your own jokes and send them into Reader's Digest.) They immediately go into their Agent Toht shtick. And faster than you can say hasenpfeffer, the torture tools are out of the "Magic Murder Bag".

They get some quick answers then. But then they being the torture, to draw out whatever else he knows. (Of course torture is a dubious tool for intelligence gathering. ..Oh, these silly Hollywood writers, with their Headless Horseman, witches, and torture.)

And that's all for the pre-Opening Credits action. By this point, I'm invested in seeing where all of this is going. And, sadly, the opening is looking the same as last time. So I am just giving up on easter eggs. (Though I will still be secretly watching to catch them if they appear. Shh.) Still, the opening is still a pleasure to watch.

"I'm the hero Sleepy Hollow
Abbie is grilling some bureaucrats for information, but getting nowhere. And Ichabod is digging through Jenny's records. He notes that she has been quite a traveler. Mexico. Guatamala. Somalia. Nepal...Oh my god!!! Is Jenny, Batman?! Does that make Abbie, Commissioner Gordon?

The "You Don't Want To
Touch That Nerve?" Look
Ichabod is wondering what she's been doing. She can go anywhere in the world, but keeps coming to a hometown she seems to not care for. So he asks about their parents. Which is something Abbie isn't thrilled about getting tossed her way.

She finally explains. Their dad ran off early on. Then their mom became institutionalized. That led to them going into foster services.

Ichabod suggests they visit the last foster home Jenny was placed in, where she stayed the longest.

MEANWHILE, at a truck stop, Jenny is checking her scram bag out. She has papers, passports, money, and a picture of her sister. Also some guns, which she checks out. And she's off. But to where?

"I think he got the point." -- Oh!
That German humor!
MEANWHILE, back at Bar, again, the sheriff's office, with Irving and Abbie's Ex, are investigating a crime scene. The scene of the bartenders rather brutal murder and decapitation. They found his body impaled on the wall.

I should also say that this is the third outing for Abbie's Ex, and, finally, he isn't coming off bad to me. And that's fine by me. I'd rather his character not be one-dimensional.

The sheriff's office does some cop work. They find his head, and Irving sees clearly that, unlike with the Horseman, the wound wasn't cauterized. So it's clearly not the same killer. With that and the markings, Irving sees that it's a matter of torture and murder.

Irving wants everything off radio, just cell phones. He doesn't want this or their discoveries getting out, or around the sheriff's office. He says he's worried about more killings, and wants this case cracked quickly.

Abbie meets the woman who last took care of her sister. She finds a pretty lousy person, who treats the kids she takes in like garbage (minimal effort), while buying herself new sports cars. After threatening to bring the woman legal trouble, Abbie gets her to admit Jenny used to say she would visit a cabin near Trout Lake.

"This is completely legal, Crane. It's
in the Articles of Confederation."
So Abbie and Ichabod head up to the area and find the likely cabin. They find it locked, and Abbie unveils an unknown skill, lock picking.

Ichabod: "Spoilers!"
Inside they look around, see a painting of the Revolutionary War, and a picture of Clancy Brown with Jenny. (Not in that way!) She seems to have known the sheriff, and been taken under his wing, much like Abbie was once.

And then...Reunion time!

"Girls, girls. There's plenty of me to go around." And then, they turned their guns on him.

Neither is willing to lower their gun. And they start arguing about what is going on, drawing on their past history. Ichabod has to step in as a somewhat neutral arbiter.

As surprised as Abbie is to learn that Jenny knew the sheriff, Jenny is surprised that he never told Abbie the truth. (She notes he was full of secrets.) Jenny, for years now, has been acting to grab rare objects and information that Clancy Brown needed for his secret files. She's kind of like Jack! (...from Friday the 13th the Series...Just go read those reviews.)

The last time the sheriff and Jenny talked, just the night before his death, he acted scared. He was afraid his death was coming. That Death was coming for him. (And the Headless Horseman is Death.) So he wanted her to come to the cabin and retrieve an item, to keep hidden away.

...and if you rub it, a magical
surveyor will appear.
And so she reveals a hidden panel (What is this? The Bat?) (And Clancy Brown does like his secrets, operatives, and hidden doors...Oh! Is he...No, that's stupid.). Out of it she pulls a box with a sextant in it.

Ichabod pulls away the cloth that was on the sextant and sees markings he knows well.

And, flashback time. (Get your hard liquor ready.)

"Abbie? When you put
it like that, I don't
believe me."
He begins telling them of the events of the Boston Tea Party. But, Jenny interrupts, finding this a bit much, for some reason. Abbie recaps it succinctly.
"Revolutionary soldier. Wife put a spell on him. Wakes up two centuries later. Now he's here."
I expect to see this at the start of the show soon enough. (And I expect a nice 5 second recap for Abbie to.)

And you thought people were eager for the latest iPhone.
Ichabod goes back into his flashback.

The events of the Boston Tea Party were staged, to give cover for his operations in service of General Washington.

Alright! So Ichabod staged the Boston Tea Party. (And it's for George BFF far as drinking game go, how much can I medically suggest you drink? ...Enjoy yourself, folks!)

"Anyone else get the feeling we're
going to get left out of the
history books?"
Apparently, he worked with Sam Adams (Have another bottle ready?) and set the events in motion. The rabble rousers knocked the tea around and Ichabod led a team into the storehouses to recover a pivotal item. An item that Washington feared would give the British the means to win the war.

(And I am not even going to get into the complexities -- historic, political, or social -- of the events of the Boston Tea Party.)

Like the sheriff, Washington kept his secrets. The people going in didn't know what they were taking, just what it was in. But when they went in, the head of the troop told Ichabod that Washington ordered him to have Ichabod hold back at a safe distance. (Hmm. Wonder why the concern? ...Oh! That's right, BFF's.)

But it was a good thing, as the troop meet this...

"...Birthday, Henrich Hohen! Happy Birthday, to me!"

A Hessian mercenary. A Hessian mercenary with a bomb.

And, BOOM!

Everyone, but Ichabod, is dead. But he finds the item he was sent to recover. A stone chest covered in markings like those found on the cloth around the sextant.

The Ark really does pop up in the funniest of places.
Now, I never noted it with the pilot. But let's mention Hessians now, for some reason.

The Hessians, during the American Revolution, were a mercenary force hired by the British government to be deployed in the Americas, against the colonial forces. About 30,000 Hessians were sent for services during the years of the Revolution. Their services proved to cheaper to buy then to impress and grow forces within the British Empire. They paid German princes, in places like Hesse-Kassel (where the forces name is derived), for units to act under British military control. Under the British, they would serve in different battlefields, and even for a time in England itself.

They weren't always told what they were being sent to do, and many were surprised they were being sent to fight colonist. And some did desert.

Most history buffs will most likely recall the Hessians from their defeat at the hands of George Washington (Ichabod's friend) at the Battle of Trenton.

Anyway, Ichabod then explains the sextant. Washington, being a skilled surveyor/cartographer, would scout battlefields, and survey them. He would then often use trick sextants to convey maps of weapons hidden on battlefields.

"Damn! This one only shows Ben Franklin's favorite brothels."

"No one expects the Germans...
I feel like we've forgotten something in all of these revelations...Oh! The Germans!

Hey! Hands off. This is a TV show,
not a 1st Person Shooter.
As the trio try to understand the map, they are attacked! The Germans come at them from multiple sides, pinning them down. Abbie takes a moment to give Ichabod a gun, again. (Maybe he'll make better use this time.)

While they've got the trio pinned down, one of the Germans runs in and grabs the sextant. And then the Germans begin a retreat.

"Miss Mill. How nice to make your
But Jenny catches the last man out. Piano Man. They tie him up and start pressing him for answers. Who is he? What's in the chest? Who does he work for? But he's not answering.

Jenny wants to "soften up a bit". Abbie, isn't having that. And Ichabod walks over and checks out his chest...for a tattoo!

And if you remember the pilot, you'll recall this was the tattoo that was on the back of the head of the not yet headless Horseman. The Mark of Reinhessen. (Curiously, the first things you'll find in Google about Reinhessen is that it's a wine region in Germany. -- I take this as tacit approval of this show's drinking game.) Ichabod also makes mention of "Shadow Warriors" and "5th Battalion". (Maybe this is a specific subgroup of Hessian forces that were the really dangerous creepy ones.)

Some day he'll regret putting that
on the back of his head...after he
finds his head.
Piano Man is a Hessian...which, for this show means more than being from Hesse-Kassel. (But in your heads, it mean that.) Hessians, here in the show, are fascinated by ancient artifacts, magic, and dark powers. (They come off kind similarly to the way Nazi's get written in similar stories. Always looking for magic trinkets. -- Of course there's a world of difference between Nazis and Hessians.)

Ichabod talks to Piano Man in German, and he's impressed. (I am assuming this is a centuries old derivation of the language, which may be preferred still among this cult of Hessians. But, with his eidetic memory, maybe he's spent time updating his language skills. --Rosetta Stone language tapes joke here.)

Piano Man lays out all out:
Due to Nakatomi Corporation's legacy of greed around the...
Wait, I may be thinking of Hans Gruber there.

Piano Man does finally explains what the episode's McGuffin is. It's a doorway. It's a tool to bring 72 demons from Hell, to torment the humanity. Jenny recognizes the concept. It's the Lesser Key of Solomon that everyone is after. It's a book that tells how to summon spirits and demons. These 72. 72 demons that King Solomon (of mining fame) defeated and banished. Sounds like a cool book. But it was lost (Along with a certain Ark, and the Temple, etc.). Then it was found by the Knights Templar. Then it must have passed into Hessian hands.

You ever want to know what they put in piano?
MEANWHILE, Irving discovers Piano Man's house. And, in checking it out, finds his little workshop in the basement.

Piano Man explains that his group stayed after the Revolution. They waited for the days to come when they could act. And they blended into the culture and became like us. (Though, I'd note he's got an accent that kind of makes him stand out.) They work in cells. No one knows anyone else. They are just called to act, and do.

The Reinhessen, part of the evil plot. Got it.

"And now let me spoil the finale
of Agents of SHIELD  for you."
Also Piano Man makes it clear that they are growing more powerful. And they know who all of them are. Abbie. Jenny. Ichabod. The big bad told him and the rest of the baddies. The big bad is in all of them and is watching them.

Piano Man gets almost rhapsodic now. He tells them that the big bad has a grand design and it's only getting stronger. It wants them to understand and witness what it is going to do.

He then says, in German,
"Moloch shall rise."
And he bites down on a cyanide capsule, because...German.

"...apparently it is't available for renting for
marriages, baptisms, and demonic summonings."
Abbie wants to call in the police. Jenny doesn't want to trust anyone. Ichabod gives another option. Luckily they have Ichabod's perfect memory. So they reconstruct the map, to try and catch up with the other Hessians.

But the Hessians have already found the site of the book, an old church. It looks to be in quite a state of disuse. It's dark and dank, with a nice light effect coming though the open arched windows along the wall.

One of the Hessians seems to taste an odd bit of wall in the church and knows the book is behind the wall. Lucky for him, he's right, and they remove the book.

As Abbie, Ichabod, and Jenny race to the church, Ichabod asks about Jenny's training with weapons. She tells him that she went down to Mexico and took out a drug lord, and then was in South Sudan taking on a warlord that was stealing food and women.

Finally someone who gets leaving
home travelling to the other side of
the world alone to fight a war.
It impresses Ichabod, as she's a freedom fighter of sorts, going to where people need help. And that's what got Ichabod drawn into his predicament, of operating for George Washington. Of course, when a newish secondary character connects with a main character, I can't help but expect the secondary character to die. (Not that I see Jenny as secondary. But she is, for the time, a guest star.) I am a pessimist. Show me an interesting new character, and I expect see the see them exit the stage too soon.

Back at the church, the Hessians are preparing the book for use. They do some blood magic to start the process, one cutting his hand and spilling it over the book. This draws the words out of the pages. Then he reads the summoning spell.

It's a nice bit of ritual. And creates a creepy vibe easily, particularly with the quiet ominous music in the background.

Damn you, fracking!
After declaring this was in "Moloch's name", the baptismal fountain in the back bursts into flame and the water bubbles. (Though the spell may have transmuted the water into a dimensional barrier, or something.) The "water" spills out of the fountain. And as it spreads out and forms the shape of a pentagon,with fiery sides. (Man, the pentagon just gets bad press, first witchcraft, next the US Military.  -- What? )

Call me crazy. But I have a wild idea
for a TARDIS console room redesign.

The two Hessians watch as the summoning begins.

"Bob? I swear if this is another group of teenagers
accidentally summoning us, I will not be held
And if this was a proper Lovecraftian story, they would be about to get eaten by what's coming out of this portal.

But, they are milling about, so maybe they know they are screwed and are peacefully awaiting their fate. I love a good death cult (in fiction).

While the Hessians ogle the demonic rising, the Mills sisters move around them to take them by surprise. Abbie tries arresting them. And they throw their knife at her in response.

Oddly, this is also how she reacts
to people who tell her she should
watch Vampire Diaries.
So a firefight ensues...that quickly turns into a fistfight. While Abbie fights one of them. Jenny deal with one who is trying to force her into the portal. Is this her end? Will she end up in some hellish dimension? Is she gone so soon. And where the hell is Ichabod, to give the good guys a numeric advantage?

He comes running in out of nowhere to tackle the guy on Jenny. Wow. That kind of answers all those questions.

Ichabod gets in a knife vs. hand axe fight, and he gets his daily exercise. Abbie grabs the book, and tries to decide what to do. And the free Hessian grabs Jenny and points a gun at her head,  demanding the book.

"Who writes a book of spells without
a table of contents?"
So Abbie agrees to the demand, and gives up the the portal. This surprises the Hessians, allowing Ichabod to kick his opponent into the portal to, and for Jenny to get the gun, and shoot her opponent.

Suffice to say this all really does nothing to improve a summoning spells outcome. And the portal collapses in on itself.

And the old church, is just an old church again.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, but I think I dropped my keys in the portal. I don't suppose we could..."

With the looming, well immediate -- today, threat gone, Jenny agrees to hand herself into the authorities. She waits in the interrogation room, as Abbie returns. Abbie takes off her cuffs, and they talk.

Abbie tries to explain that she and Ichabod are some prophesied duo meant to face the coming evil. Jenny can buy this. But she's annoyed that Abbie is the one chosen to fight, while Jenny has been doing the training and work.

Abbie wants to make things right now. She wants Jenny to know that she does respect her. She knows she was wrong. And now she wants to right things.

Abbie also has a plan to get Jenny out. Abbie becomes Jenny's conservator, and this can help make the state more willing to see Jenny released. In less than 6 months she could be out. And then they could team up, which Abbie really wants to do.

Still, Jenny needs time to forgive Abbie.

Outside, Ichabod tells Abbie that he's figured out who the big bad of the show is, based on what Piano Man said, and on sources, like Paradise Lost. It's name is Moloch.

Some people may say Moloch is painted from behind to seem
mysterious. I say it's to show off how ripped his back is. How vain.

A kid out of time (that isn't Gary Coleman)! The plague takes the Hollow! And Ichabod discovers man flu! Cue up Outbreak, people!

This was a fun episode. Jenny finally gets to come into her own as a character. Her and Abbie finally get some face time. We've learned a lot more about the threat faced. And the story kept you engage the whole time. The effort they are putting into this season shows. The music, lighting, character work, and baddie visuals come together so nicely.

Though I wonder what they are doing on Irving's end. The suspect they want is tied up and dead at Clancy Brown's cabin. Will we have to deal with this?


I'll be honest, once Jenny teamed up with Abbie and Ichabod, and got along somewhat well with them, I was waiting for her to get killed off. I was just waiting for one of those pull the rug out and have her shot/stabbed/pulled into another dimension moments. Instead, we will be getting Abbie/Jenny, done the road. And that is brilliant.

But being a pessimist. I am still waiting for something to happen to her.


Also, we know the big bad's name now. Moloch. And that's great. A bit revealed. We also are aware of Hessian activities. A little more revealed. But we are in the dark about the voice on the phone to Piano Man. A mystery to solve! The show seems to be handling the give and take of information well so far.

And I guess from now on I'll have to just call it Moloch.


But I am curious. When Jenny talked to Crane in the previous episode, she acted like she knew there was no hope. But now we know she was working with Clancy Brown. I wonder if that part of her earlier conversation with Crane was just her covering, or if it is truer to how she sees this panning out.


Also, almost no man out of time shtick this week! Abbie quickly pantomimes how to ready a gun when they are in the firefight. But it was quick, it felt honest and not forced, and didn't distract. The writers are doing a good job not bludgeoning us. There is more interesting stuff to see and deal with in a show like this.


I do feel a need to note all my jokes about Germans. First, it is easy to do, due to history and Germany being somewhere we still envision as predominately a White Christian people (but they are an evolving and more diversified people than that). I hate stereotyping people, but I like the cliche villain stereotype of bad sports movies, Disney sports movies, the movie Victory (We should all know that movie.), and in movies with Alan Rickman in them.

Also Henning Wehn is hilarious.


Also. The British were willing to use a tool to release a...flock (Is that right?)...of demons? To hold the Americas? I hope we will be seeing that they were being duped. Or, this alternate Earth Britain is full of nasty buggers. ...EVIL BRITS!!! Squee!


And this show can get to you. You keep looking for people to reveal secret motives or allegiances. Just looking for some odd look. Trouble is, everyone can be read that way. Even Ichabod Crane.

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