Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sleepy Hollow finally scares up a good monster.

Illustration for article titled Sleepy Hollow finally scares up a good monster.

Four episodes into the season, and Sleepy Hollow has finally given us a monster worth remembering: the Abyzou, aka “The Tooth Fairy,” a twisted, crab-walking beastie that sucks the life force out of children after they’ve lost a tooth. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Abyzou is also invisible to grown-ups—and if you guessed that would be used to very creepy effect in “The Sisters Mills,” then give yourself a shiny silver dollar. The Tooth Fairy isn’t the best creature our heroes have squared off against, but it is legitimately unsettling to look at, and the fact that it targets kids gives it an extra screw turn of nastiness. The fact that the episode stacks the deck by not having any kids actually die is really only noticeable in retrospect. Besides, this is a fun show, and scary or not, fun shows usually don’t kill kids.

Another reason the Abyzou works well is that it takes some thinking on Ichabod, Abbie, and Jenny’s part to defeat it. The first, most obvious solution—silver—doesn’t work like they’d hope, and Ichabod has to parse through his memories of the last time he encountered the creature in order to figure out that silver nitrate will make it visible long enough to kill. The two step process, in addition to filling up the running time, helps to make the creature more consequential than it actually is. Basic stuff, arguably, but it’s the level the show should be at every week, and it’s enjoyable to watch it play out here.

For the most part, “The Sister Mills” continues the upward trend we saw in last week’s episode, leaning even harder than before into the delightful chemistry of Ichabod and Abbie, and finding time for Jenny and Abbie to work through some family drama. The reveal that Jenny has known about their father all this time is one which seems inevitable in retrospect, and helps to fill in more of both characters; Jenny is the secretive one, and Abbie is the responsible one. (Okay, this isn’t new information, but it’s good to see it informing their behavior.) Using Jessica and Saffron’s plight as a way to remind us how strong the bond is because the Mills women was an obvious but effective way to reinforce their relationship.

Apart from those three, the episode also had Joe Corbin making another appearance, first alerting Abbie to the Abyzou’s attack, and then helping to keep watch over the house (although he then disappears when trouble hits, which feels like an awkward lapse—maybe I missed something?). The character remains a somewhat awkward addition to the show, less because of anything specifically objectionable than because it’s so clear the writers are positioning him to be a regular despite not having much immediate relevance. But he lacks Hawley’s unconvincing attitude and and over-bearing presence, so maybe he’ll work out.

Also returning: Betsy Ross, whose appearance is relative minimal. She remains unconvincing, and the show’s efforts to push her as some kind of surrogate Katrina are just weird in this context—Zoe Corinth is a more likable figure, and having Ichabod flirt with a woman in present day is infinitely preferable to strained fantasies from his past life. Ross’s personal connection to the Tooth Fairy case from Ichabod’s past was largely irrelevant (Paul Revere’s presence alone would’ve been enough) and his fantasy of her at the dentist’s office was, while cute, a bit much. In general, while Mison’s performance remains thoroughly endearing, his goofiness is bordering on camp—it’s all too easy to imagine a future version of the series with him playing pure comic relief.

But that’s in the future. As for right now, “The Sister Mills” was pretty much everything you might want from an entry of the show. Pandora showed up to taunt Abbie in the hospital (okay, it was a bit much that Abbie got knocked out of the fight so easily and thoroughly, but the fact that she’s the only one to talk to Pandora so far is interesting), and reveal some backstory which may prove useful in the future. The inspired lunacy of the first season remains absent, but in its place, there’s a genial genre series with likable leads and the occasional nasty monster, and there are worse things to be.


Stray observations

  • Modern Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve This Week: He’s going to take the citizenship test soon, and he’s not happy having to memorize the “compendium of solipsisms” which serve as our history. “Welcome to America,” Abbie tells him.
  • The writers aren’t straining too hard to find excuses to get Abbie pulled into a supernatural case, but it was nice this week for the source to come from outside her FBI work.
  • The scene of Ichabod trying to appeal to Saffron was funny, but just on the border of a bit much. (That said, the punchline was great: “You have a rather sadistic sense of humor, don’t you.”)
  • “I’m adorable.” -Ichabod