Last year, I put “Sleepy Hollow” on my year-end Best Of 2013 list. And I stand by it. (Mostly because such arbitrary lists are snapshots in time and therefore immune to retroactive analysis, but still!) It was a bonkers show in the best way, owning up to its own silliness but also giving us two central characters in Ichabod Crane/Abbie Mills with such charm and chemistry that they sold the entire endeavor. A combination of monster-of-the-week procedural, alternate history hypotheses, and a disarming amount of humor, “Sleepy Hollow” was the best surprise of last year’s crop of shows.
The show aired its final season one episodes soon after that list went up, and then went silent for nearly ten months. The thirteen-episode inaugural season put the pedal to the narrative medal, and while that’s a commendable choice, it’s not one that necessarily guarantees actual success. But all the pieces fell into place, especially with its final reveal that John Noble’s sin-eater was in fact the son of Ichabod and Ichabod’s purgatory-inhabiting wife Katrina. It made no sense, but it gave the show another much-needed dose of emotional realism. Rather than make this apocalyptic tale about the end of the world, this choice made “Sleepy Hollow” a tale about a fractured family trying to put the pieces back together under enormously strained circumstances. Perfect. All the elements were there for the show to take The Leap in season two.
So why has season two been such a slog?