On Monday night the first episode of the new series, Sleepy Hollow, aired on Fox. Sleepy Hollow is of course based on the classic story by Washington Irving, but is given a new modern twist. In this version of the story Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is a Revolutionary soldier who is the one responsible for the Headless Horseman losing his noggin in 1781. He suddenly wakes up in 2013 and is puzzled as to how he came to find himself in this future world.
Shortly after waking up he begins to explore and runs into a female lieutenant cop, named Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), who is terrified after watching her partner and mentor beheaded by the Headless Horseman with the mark of a crossbow on his hand. It appears it too has awoken in this new era. From this point the story only becomes more wild, making it difficult for the police captain (Orlando Jones) to believe the tall tale from Ichabod Crane. He considers him a suspect in the murder and orders him to be shipped to a local nut house. Abbie is intrigued by his story and believes he may have the key to who murdered her partner, so she goes to speak with him.
Abbie defies orders and takes Ichabod to the where he first awoke, to look for clues. While there he finds an old Bible that belonged to George Washington and was brought with him from the past. He quotes a marked passage, which seems to be pieced together from Revelation, chapter 6, "And there before me stood a white horse and his rider held a bow. And his name was death. And then a voice like thunder said, "come and see!", a reference to the four horses of the Apocalypse. A clue that this whole occurrence may be tied to the coming of the end times.
While Abbie is with Ichabod, a minister at a nearby church is beheaded by the Horseman, a man who also appears in Ichabod's flashbacks from the 1700s. The police captain is furious that Abbie has disobeyed orders and has Ichabod transported to the psychiatric hospital at once. Despite her skepticism, Abbie goes to see him and decides to give him the benefit of the doubt. While it is a kindness only she is willing to extend, her motive is partly based on the fact that she too experienced something very strange when she was a young girl and was not believed. She shares a story with Ichabod about an encounter she and her sister had while walking through the woods. They saw 4 stark white trees and a demonic looking entity. They both woke up a couple hours later on a curb. As a result her sister went insane.
Scroll to Final Thoughts if you do not want to know the ending
After discussing the matter further, Abbie decides to go to the office of her former partner and look for answers. While looking at a framed picture of herself on a shelf, she notices a key attached to the back of the frame. She quickly looks for any locks the key might fit and comes to a large filing cabinet. An audio tape reveals that between 1712 and 1816 that 100 witches were burned at the stake in Sleepy Hollow. Town records indicate that two different covens integrated into the populace (one good and one evil). They appear to be tied to many unsolved cases of murder and disappearances throughout the east coast. This audio also indicates a connection between her own incident as a young girl and an identical incident with a farmer in 1882 in the same location. The farmer believed the four trees represented the four horses of the Apocalypse, tying in her own experience with Ichabod's. Abbie is now fully convinced that something significant is happening and takes a huge risk to break Ichabod out of the psych ward.
While in the hospital, Ichabod has a vision of his wife Katrina, who is trapped in an alternate universe by an evil power. She confesses to being a witch and claims responsibility for hiding him away all these years through a spell. She then tells him he must find the Headless Horseman's skull, which is hidden in her grave, because only by finding it will he become whole. Abbie arrives and they promptly go to the burial place to remove the skull to keep the Horseman from finding it. Meanwhile, the Horseman is informed of its location by one of Abbie's co-workers, who is clearly involved in some way.
The Headless Horseman show up at the graveyard and fights Abbie and Ichabod in effort to retrieve its skull. As daylight approaches, a slew of police officers show up and begin fighting the Headless Horseman as well. Things get a little wild when the usual axe-wielding Horseman grabs a gun and begins blasting away at the cops. After getting them to back down he rides off to fight another day. Abbie and Ichabod are vindicated as there have now been many witnesses, so this is the set up for next week's episode.
Overall, I would have to say the production for the show was top-notch and that the effort is ambitious. This first episode was action packed and set a nice mood, despite the fact that it takes place in modern times. It's still in keeping with the dark gloomy atmosphere you would expect from this tale, though not quite to the level of Burton's film. The gore was minimal, which is good or bad depending on your preference. Personally, I didn't mind that is was more suggestive than graphic. As for the story, I'm not sure what I think of this direction they are taking it in. It seems like many aspects of the original story and characters has been altered to fit this Biblical Doomsday scenario, which frankly, is a bit of a stretch. The mixing of witchcraft and religion is a little unsettling, but if you accept it as total fantasy, you may be able suspend your disbelief and just enjoy it for what it is. Personally, I am still on the fence as to whether this is going to be something I tune into every week. It doesn't quite feel like the story of Sleepy Hollow I have known, but then again, the Tim Burton film took plenty of liberties as well and I love that movie, so it's not that I can't accept some changes. I will most likely need to see more episodes to form a true opinion, which I plan to do!
Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays on Fox at 9/8c. Visit the website to watch full episodes, video clips, photos & more (fox.com/sleepy-hollow)!