'Sleepy Hollow' recap: Ichabod and Abbie versus Murder House

Murder houses, right? You think they’re just going to envelop you in existential horror, maybe a teenage Japanese ghost or something. And then WHAM they send an Evil Treebeard lurching towards you, intent on stabbing you to death with its barky appendages. That’s what happened on tonight’s Sleepy Hollow anyway. During the episode, our supernatural investigators found themselves facing off against said murder house, and said Evil Treebeard, en route to learning another morsel of Show Mythology. Learned last week: The Horseman is actually Katrina's former betrothed, and Ichabod's former BFF. Learned this week: Katrina gave birth to a son 200+ years ago, whose whereabouts are CURRENTLY UNKNOWN.

Due respect to the writers dreaming up bleeding vines and Hellspawned tree men, but I’ve gotta say — with each new adventure Ichabod and Abbie (I’m calling them “Ichabbie” from now on, if that’s cool with everyone) go on, I grow less interested in the larger (and ever-expanding) mythology of the show. It was honestly enough just to have Headless Horsemen and albino woods demons! To be dealing with rogue witches, dream assassins, and tree men just feels a tad excessive, even on a show whose excess is part and parcel of the experience.

Point is: The pilot alerted us to the imminent destruction of the world, brought on by the reunion of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. And since then, even acknowledging that Ichabbie has been forced to deal with some heavy shit… it feels like the show has been mostly spinning its wheels. Or maybe more dangerous, adding a new wheel every week that’s spinning off in its own direction. I’d watch Tom Mison and Nicole Baharie do anything on this show. Just their conversational back-and-forth, completely detached from anything supernatural, would be enough to get me to tune in every week. They’re charming! But there are only so many procedural plot lines I care to join them on, however closely related to the bigger Sleepy Hollow plot they may be. Ichabod’s got a son! One presumes that the boy is somehow “lost in the nether realm” like his wife, and not morbidly 200 years dead as logic would dictate. But we’ll get back to that one in two weeks, probably after an encounter with an Upstate New York-branded genie.

Of course, I’m complaining about the inconsequentiality of an Evil Treebeard when at least 10 minutes of the episode followed Orlando Jones’ family problems with two people we’d never met before. His ex-wife showed up with their daughter, Macy, who Orlando Jones (Wikipedia tells me his name is “Captain Frank Irving,” though I can’t be sure) had been neglecting due to all the shit that’s going down in his precinct. “What could possibly be such a challenge in Sleepy Hollow?” his ex-wife asked. Hahahahaha OH WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, LADY. The ultimatum she delivers suggests that Macy is in for some wacky/spooky ride-alongs with dad in the near future!

I’m realizing a lot of the above sounds like criticism, and I guess it is, but it’s also coming from a place of abiding love and enthusiasm. Sleepy Hollow could be the network version of American Horror Story if only it wasn’t so focused on its case-of-the-week structure and opened the fun shades a little more. A sense of playfulness sparkles around the edges of this show, just waiting to be fully explored.

Image: FOX