Review: Sleepy Hollow 1.04 “The Lesser Key of Solomon”- They’re Hessians! Don’t Mention The War!

WARNING: Ich bin ein der SPOILER!



Another episode, another colonial flashback. That’s how they roll in Sleepy Hollow. You get your choice of two: Colonial flashback or prophetic dream. Maybe they’ll go wild and change it up one day and we’ll get a prophetic dream of a colonial flashback! One can only hope.

For now, we’re treated to a blurry, fish-eye lensed view of Boston Harbor, circa 1773, with a rockin’ tea par-tay in mid-axe swing. It turns out that this historical act of revolutionary vandalism was just a cover for Ichabod and his demon-thwarting compatriots to sneak into a dockside warehouse and nab a super-secret magic weapon tucked into a solid stone designer carry case.

Seems like they should be in like flintlock. Instead, they discover the hard way that the weapon is guarded by Hessians with an allegiance to Death and a pioneering flair for suicide bombing. But before the debris can settle, the screen is filled with romantic, soft-focus shots of the semi-departed Mrs. Crane over the dulcet tones of a sexy Ichabodian voiceover and sad violins. Never has a Previously On exposition been so beautiful, as Ichy utters a hypnotic flight of poetry on rapturous love and heartrending loss that would not be out of place in a Brontë novel or an artsy celebrity tie-in perfume ad.

ByeYolandaIt’s the sort of thing that would make any fangirl go tingly all over and that effect is not lost on Yolanda, the hapless, weepy phone operator at NorthStar to whom Ichabod is pouring out this tale of woe. …while also having her unlock the car doors and teach him to operate the entertainment system.

Not that there’s any time to try out the latter, as asylum sirens blare, warning of the escape of a dangerous mental patient: Abbie’s paranormally paranoid sister, Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood, Nikita & Saving Hope).

While Abbie and Ichabod argue with Captain Irving about who should track down Jenny and why, Jens herself sashays suspiciously into a local dive bar to collect her “things”.Incognito She stops only long enough to exchange a few ominous words with the bartender before dashing off again. Presumably to do fugitive on the lam-ish stuff, …like ya’ do.

Cut to the humble abode of the local music teacher, who apparently moonlights as a demon worshiping, ritual torturing, Hessian super assassin and amateur Hannibal Lecter impersonator. He’s never given a name, so from here out, let’s just refer to him as Hansel Von Baddenpants.

Persuasion On phone instructions from a sinister voice actor, Von Baddenpants and pals scamper off to the dive bar to torture the poor bartender into giving up everything he knows – which, we can safely assume, does not include how to become a recurring player in a series.

Meanwhile, a whole lot of phone calling and file perusing leads Abbie and Ichabod to the trailer trashy doorstep of Jenny’s one-time foster mum; a nightmare in a floral housecoat and rolled down support hose who fairly seethes with contempt for being distracted from her busy schedule of couch potatoing and starving orphaned children. She’s not a willing informant, but Abbie’s threat of bringing down the almighty wrath of Family Services finally pries out intel about a cabin belonging to an unknown friend out by Trout Lake that Jenny frequented back in the day.

Credit where credit is due here, Nicole Beharie is awesome in this scene. It’s one of those that could fly right off the tracks into melodrama, but Beharie keeps it grounded and nails the controlled outrage to perfection. She’s more than ably supported by Tom Mison, who doesn’t say a lot, but hovers with a quiet, guardian angelic grace throughout.

Conveniently enough for our heroes and the show’s running time, there is apparently only one cabin by the whole lake and Abbie uses her mad bad grrl skillz to pick the lock and get inside. It’s worth Lockpickingnoting here just how unapologetically turned on Ichabod looks while watching Abbie lockpick. Were this only on HBO, the following scene would have had a lot less dialogue and a lot more action …particularly on the cabin floor. Instead, a quick once over of the place reveals that the owner – and Jenny’s mystery friend – was none other than Sheriff Clancy!

(Insert gasp of surprise and amazement here)

Abbie and Ichabod hardly have time to process this before Jenny makes her dramatic entrance, packing heat and a very bad attitude. A tiff recalling a lifetime of bad family Thanksgiving dinners ensues, finallyLesserKey broken up by Ichabod in a valiant attempt to keep the plot from derailing. Jenny explains that she’s been working with Sheriff Clancy for years, globe-trotting to pick up sundry supernatural knick-knacks. Now she’s at the cabin to scoop up the last one, an item he had secreted away in a hidden wall compartment. It turns out to be a sextant that doubles as a Lesser Key of Solomon hiding place slide projector, and as the gang all stare at its one dull “slide” of an 18th century Sleepy Hollow map, the nightmare family holiday metaphor is complete.

They’re rudely interrupted by a Hessian shooting spree wherein Abbie and Jenny fire away like Dualistleads in a Tarrantino film, while Ichabod acquits himself with gentlemanly style, striking a perfect dueling pose with every shot he takes. Unfortunately, they still lose the sextant, but as a consolation prize, they catch the ol’ tune tutor, himself.

The trio wants answers and they want them now. But Von Baddenpants is keeping it zipped. It seems no manner of persuasion will make him open his incredibly thin lips. Until, that is, Ichabod whispers sweet Germanic nothings in his ear, bursting the dam holding back his inner villainous monologue. Off he goes, explaining Every. Single. Detail. Of. His. Cunning. Evil. Plan. Book of Revelations? Check. 72 Demons waiting for hellside pickup? Check. Standard episode reminder of the two witnesses schtick? Check. Legally required reference to the Knights Templar? Check. Smug taunting about how the bad guys are everywhere, watching everything and it’s too late to stop the inevitable? Check, check and check-a-ri-no.

At last, when he has lulled the team into a TMI stupor, he blurts out something Teutonic without benefit of subtitles, makes a crunchy face and dies via cyanide pill. Or possibly just a really rancid Skittle. It’s hard to tell.

MapAmazingly enough, though he yacked on for an eternity, the team still has no idea where the finale is going to go down. Finally, Ichabod hauls out his gift for photographic memorizing and incredibly bad sketch artistry to recreate the map and figure out that the sextant’s been taken to an abandoned church where the stone chest from scene one and its lesser key to Hell have been squirreled.

With no exposition time left to lose, Abbie, Ichabod and Jenny hightail it to the church. No surprise, the remaining two Hessians are way ahead of them and have already opened the portal to Hell via the old baptismal font. Which is really a clever repurposing, if you ask me. Totally beats using old toilet paper rolls as mini planters.

Apparently the portal to Hell is filled with undead Twyla Tharp dancers writhing in a layer of cheap plastic wrap. A vision certain to horrify anyone with traumatic memories of trying to cover a particularly large noodle casserole.

All Hell continues to breakdance loose until Abbie tosses the Book (a.k.a. Lesser Key) of Solomon into the clingy vortex, causing it to suck the dancin’ demons back down into the abyss like Drano unplugging a really bad clog.

Apocalypse averted, Abbie has a heart-to-heart with her sis in the interrogation room, where she apologizes for not joining Jenny in raving about demons in the woods like a nut back when they were kids, sChitChato they could get locked up in adjoining asylum cells. But it’s all good, because she’s going to get Jenny out of the cracker box ASAP and she’s seen the supernatural light and now admits that creatures of the devil are real. Yay! There’s no hugging, but it’s clear progress, as Jenny ends the scene with a bit less murder in her eyes.

All of which is peachy, ’till Ichabod shares other news. Remember the final words Von Baddenpants croaked out before, um, croaking? Well, turns out they were, “Moloch shall rise!”. And who is Moloch, you may ask? According to Ichabod’s edition of “Desciples of Hell for Dummies”, he’s the demon king of child sacrifice. So, great. It’s not like the show is going anywhere disturbing or anything this season.ReadingIsFun

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Got any questions, comments, raves, reservations or revelations about the ep? Let the wide world know in the comments below.

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