As important as the pilot is for any new show, the subsequent follow-up installments serve an equally essential role. Whereas a good pilot can hook the right audience, it takes a good first batch of episodes to convince them to stay. Play your cards right and you can deliver something as great as The Sopranos’ fifth-episode masterpiece, “College.” On the flip side, a miscalculated or underdeveloped string of stories can lead the series to falter, stall and lose viewers. The road, after all, is littered with the likes of Flash Forward and The Event.
“Blood Money” is an intriguing case. To its credit, the episode does not attempt to equal or top the go-for-broke insanity of the pilot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as trying to reach those heights week-after-week might very well yield a Ryan Murphy-esque exercise in excess. That’s not to say the show has been scrubbed of its colorful edge—from a horrifying/hilarious scene involving resurrected policeman Andy Dunn (John Cho) having his head snapped back into place to a climax that feels straight up Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in its tongue-in-cheek execution (Chekov’s gun powder, anyone?), it’s certainly not devoid of a little crazy.
More importantly, the episode looks to be setting up the general structure of the show for the first season: Ichabod and Abbie investigate and fight a mysterious, malevolent supernatural force, presumably summoned on behalf of the show’s White Devil-looking Big Bad.
The episode begins with several slow-motion shots of Ichabod fleeing in the forest while the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse follow in pursuit. After yet another visit from his beloved Katrina who warns him that “an Army will make way for [the Horsemens’] arrival”—P.S. let’s hope future episodes will make use of Katia Winter’s Katrina behind merely being a vehicle for exposition and spooky prophecies—Crane awakens in his modern-day hotel room. We see he is still trying to adjust to life in our times with hilarious results (see below). Abbie, meanwhile, is embedded in an equally infuriating situation. The two policemen that managed to escape the shoot-out with The Headless Horseman in the previous episode have recanted their testimony, and the late August Corbin’s office has been cleared of all his documented research into the town’s strange incidents. All this comes at the wrong time as the aforementioned Andy, now spouting a pale, undead countenance, is instructed by the mysterious White Devil creature to resurrect a notorious witch from the town’s past.
Co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci return as credited writers once again. Joining them this week, however, is official showrunner Mark Goffman. A prolific writer whose impressive resume includes work on The West Wing, White Collar and Elementary, Goffman comes from a background where characters are more likely to tear each other down with harsh words and banter rather than with a broad-axe. Here Goffman appears to equip himself well with the tone of the show, and it’s easy to imagine that some of Ichabod and Abbie’s spirited exchanges can be traced back to him.
Moreover, one of my minor, yet unvoiced complaints from the pilot was that the fantastic Clancy Brown (the voice of Justice League’s Lex Luthor and SpongeBob Squarepants’ Mr. Krabs) felt severely underutilized as Abbie’s mentor/the Horseman’s first victim, so it was nice to see him brought back (albeit, now strangely clean-shaven) via Abbie’s vision. While Abbie’s reaction to such an occurrence felt strangely cavalier—perhaps an indication that such a thing has happened before? —the scene both provided a nice interaction between the two and helped draw further parallels between her and the also-haunted-by-visions Ichabod. Also, I can’t be the only one who felt a hankering craving after hearing Corbin’s apple pie metaphor, right?
Anyway, next episode promises an appearance from none other than The Sandman. Here’s hoping for a cornucopia of Neil Gaiman references (though I’m not holding my breath).
And now, in what I’m hoping can be a recurring section for these first few episodes—Ichabod’s Hilarious Fish-Out-of-Water Antics of the Week
-Reading prepared post-it notes that instruct him on how to use modern technology.
-Experiencing the wonder that is a donut hole
-Balking at the $4 price of said donut hole and its 14 cents tax (“How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage?!”)
-Discovering movies—specifically, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
-Not realizing that you can now fire a gun more than once without having to reload.