It’s been a long, long hiatus.
After obsessing over this fun new show last fall, I’d kind of forgotten all about it. It’s been nine months since the end of season one aired, and that’s a long time to wait for a cliffhanger to be resolved.
Luckily, it took approximately 0.1 seconds into the “previously on Sleepy Hollow” for me to remember how great this show is. It’s not the most serious show, or the most emotionally devastating show, or a show designed to make you really think. But if you want a diverse, fast-paced supernatural adventure genre show with lots of emotion and fantastic character moments in the mix, then it’s basically the best thing on television right now.
And I’m so glad that it’s back.
Last week, a New York Times article made quite a stir when it said, among other racist things, that Nicole Beharie’s Abbie Mills is the sidekick to Ichabod Crane. Only racist stereotype blinders could convince somebody that Abbie isn’t at least equal protagonist in the show to Ichabod, if not the main protagonist all by herself. She’s the emotional center of the show, the character that brings all the others together, the character whose relationships drive the plot. She does at least half of the problem solving and at least half of the rescuing, and she’s generally the one who knows how to tackle things while Ichabod provides the confused time-traveller comic relief.
And she’s supposedly a sidekick? Please. She’s the protagonist. A black female protagonist in a successful supernatural genre show. A black female policewoman who’s incredibly good at her job and also tasked with saving the world from demons and apocalypses.
Even if the rest of the show wasn’t insanely fun, that’d be pretty darn fantastic in itself.
But luckily, the rest of the show is fun and twisty and addictive, as this first episode back proved. The episode’s first ten minutes were a potential misstep, since I doubt I was the only person incredibly confused by the apparent year jump and left wondering whether I’d missed something, but once it got going, it leapt straight back into the amazing characters, atmospheric creepiness, plot twists and epic Ichabod/Abbie hugs that made me fall in love with the first season of the show.
It’s awesome to note that (almost) every character rescued themselves from their life-threatening cliffhanger predicaments. Every protagonist (minus one) brings skills and knowledge to the table. Ichabod can figure out a way to escape from his own coffin. Jenny can fight off her captors and drive her own damn getaway car. And even Abbie, who does need outside help to escape purgatory, can figure out Molock’s plan, find a way to contact Ichabod, tell the difference between the fake and the real Ichabod, and cut off the imposter’s head without the slightest hesitation.
That’s some unflinching badass right there.
Unsurprisingly, the only exception was Katrina. Despite being the only character with powers, and despite being the character who should know the most about the horseman and Molock, she is absolutely useless. She doesn’t try to escape. She doesn’t try to gather useful information. She doesn’t seem to be building any sort of plan. She just pouts and insists that the villain will “never get away with this!!”, playing the perfect wispy damsel until her husband appears to rescue her.
It’s like she’s the living embodiment of every negative trope of female characters in genre fiction, as though the writers have shoved all those expectations into one person to get them out of the way. And although I’d otherwise assume the show intended to subvert the stereotypes of the damsel in the floaty dress, they’ve made no moves towards that so far.
Even the characters seem to realize how extraneous she is to the plot. Ichabod escapes from the coffin, runs to help Jenny, desperately fights to save Abbie, and then comments at the end, almost as an aside, that he should probably work towards saving his wife.
I can’t quite believe I’m suggesting this, but she really needs to be killed off. Or to turn evil. Or even to be conveniently forgotten, because I don’t think many viewers would even notice. She adds absolutely nothing to the show, not emotionally, not in terms of character, not through her powers, and hardly through plot. She’s little more than a floaty white dress at this point. And Abbie and Jenny prove that this isn’t because the writers don’t know how to write female characters in genre fiction. They definitely do know how to write compelling, layered, badass women. They just don’t know how to write Katrina. And if that’s the case, she either needs to change or go.
But Katrina aside, this looks like it’s going to be a great new season of Sleepy Hollow. Great characters, great plot, and most importantly, great fun. I can’t wait to see what happens next week.