Seven episodes into the season, and Sleepy Hollow continues to impress. Although we should now be accustomed to the sight of the Headless Horseman, it’s a credit to the show that his visage (or lack thereof) is as frightening as ever. Last night’s episode, ”The Midnight Ride,” brought us more of the axe-wielding terror, as we learned of his role in Paul Revere’s famous ride, and Crane and Abbie uncovered an invaluable lesson from the freemasons introduced in episode six.
”The Midnight Ride” opened with a scene many viewers (especially New Englanders) surely recalled from elementary school studies of the Revolutionary War. Paul Revere’s ride is reenacted with a few new twists. In Sleepy Hollow’s version, Revere is initially riding with a couple of cohorts who lose their heads courtesy of the Horseman. As Revere barely escapes, he continues to warn the towns that “The Regulars are coming!” which Crane contends is the authentic version of ”The British are coming!”
Last week’s episode introduced viewers to the order of freemasons who had taken it upon themselves to rid the world of the Horseman and the evil he planned to unleash. Crane began this episode with big plans to meet up with the masons who had more knowledge to share with him. However, the Headless Horseman gets to them first and leaves a meeting house full of headless bodies waiting for Crane and Abbie. In this scene, Crane is enraged at the Horseman who made a bloodbath out of his fellow brothers. Tom Mison could be accused of overacting a bit here, but it’s also fitting of a character that must always seem out of place in contemporary society. These moments, however, are best executed when employed with humor. Crane is at his most authentic when he’s balking at the notion of paying money for bottled water, or when he’s making hilarious attempts to work a Macbook (definitely one of the highlights of this episode).
Things take a fascinating turn when Abbie and Crane learn that the Horseman is in the midst of a desperate search for his skull. The eternally skeptical police captain, Frank Irving (played aptly by Orlando Jones), finally gets the proof he’s been looking for when he takes possession of the skull as evidence and comes face to face with the Horseman himself. This moment will surely prove crucial to the overarching storyline of the series, for Abbie and Crane now have one more believer on their side.
Irving fends off the Horseman and gets the skull to Abbie and Crane, but they find that it is literally impossible to destroy. They’ve also been served their own set of skulls, as the Horseman left them a sign using the heads of Crane’s Freemason brothers, which he turned into lanterns (putting a gory twist on a similar act performed by Paul Revere on his ride).
In the meantime, dead (or undead) officer Andy Brooks continues to haunt the Hollow, although instead of doing the Horseman’s bidding he now seems to be protecting Abbie. It’s difficult to trust a guy whose neck we recently saw bend backwards in an absolutely horrifying way, but he spent this episode warning Abbie of danger and demanding that her ex-boyfriend and fellow cop stay away from her so that he could properly protect her.
Abbie and Crane eventually crack the code to the manuscript created by the masons, which tells them how to capture the Horseman (who cannot be killed because he is death itself). In the episode’s climax, Abbie & Crane get pretty gangsta, luring the Horseman into a sewer where they plan to capture him with the only thing he fears: sunlight. (Abbie came up with the brilliant idea to use UV light so they could capture him during his midnight ride.) The final scene is truly haunting as Crane, Abbie and Frank stand around a falling Horseman who staggers to the ground with a silent (headless) scream. But the episode ends with some serious ambiguity, in part because we know he has been trapped but not destroyed, and we also don’t know what the next move is for Abbie and Crane, the witnesses of Sleepy Hollow.
In addition to being a strong show with capable actors, Sleepy Hollow does something more primetime shows should or could be doing; it utilizes actors of color even when—get this—the role does not necessarily call for it. Three of the main characters— Abbie, Frank, and Abbie’s sister Jenny— could have just as easily been played by white actors. It’s refreshing to see that the folks behind the series went in a different direction, without writing material that draws attention to this. Although it must be said that one of the best moments of the episode came when Abbie and Frank had to break it to Crane that his beloved Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with one of his enslaved women, Sally Hemings. The look of outrage on Crane’s face was priceless, as he attempted to defend Jefferson’s honor. Hopefully we can look forward to more subtle (and not so subtle) quips like this throughout the season.
Favorite Quote of the Episode: ”You can’t kill death, but you can trap him.” (Andy)