The Headless Horseman in SLEEPY HOLLOW - Season 1 - "The Midnight Ride" | ©2013 Fox/Brownie Harris
The Headless Horseman in SLEEPY HOLLOW – Season 1 – “The Midnight Ride” | ©2013 Fox/Brownie Harris

Stars: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, John Cho, Nicholas Gonzalez
Heather V. Ragnier, series created by Phillip Iscove & Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Len Wiseman
Doug Aarniokoski
Fox, Mondays @ 9 PM
Original Airdate:
November 11, 2013

Orlando Jones has been on hand as SLEEPY HOLLOW’s police captain Frank Irving from the start, but since the pilot, he’s been given little to do. This changes with “The Midnight Ride,” which sees Irving go from deadpan skeptic to unhappy believer and affords Jones the opportunity to hold the screen, a task he accomplishes admirably. The episode also delivers a plot twist that’s surprising and gratifying, as it portends a major escalation in stories to come.

When the Horseman slaughters four of the contemporary Freemasons and uses their heads for lanterns, Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) feel it’s high time they turned the tables.

Meanwhile, Irving has taken the skull to a Fish and Wildlife lab – he doesn’t want any of his regular people to know  about this – where the technician can’t find any DNA markers or much of anything else that makes sense on the supposedly human remains. While Irving is still there, the Horseman invades the lab and kills the technician. Irving escapes with his life – and the skull – but he’s shaken to the core. He returns to Abbie and Ichabod, telling them what happened, and that he now knows the truth. He had been hoping it was all a lie.

Ichabod attempts to destroy the Horseman’s skull by every means available. It doesn’t work. The originals of Masonic texts about how to fight the Horseman are at a museum in London, but copies have been scanned in online.

Outside, Abbie encounters the undead Andy (John Cho), who says he can take a message to the Horseman, but he wants to protect Abbie. She doesn’t know what to believe.

Ichabod tries to access the copies online. Ichabod proves not to be compatible with the laptop computer, to say nothing of the porn site he accidentally visits. Fortunately, Abbie prints out the text and Ichabod finds the word “Cicero” engraved on the back of the skull’s teeth. This is the cipher key that allows Ichabod to decode the text.

The text explains that, as the Horseman is Death, he cannot be killed, only trapped. Since the Horseman only rides at night, the moon must be made into the sun. Only a witch can do this – well, only a witch could do it back in Ichabod’s day, but modern technology has given us UV lights. Ichabod, Abbie and Irving lure the Horseman into a set of tunnels, where they trap him in a circle of UV light and bind the Headless One with chains. Death is now their captive.

The fact that, seven episodes in, SLEEPY HOLLOW has our heroes capturing the Horseman means the stakes are amping up much more quickly than they do on most shows this early on. We can’t tell where it may go from here, but it seems highly likely that changes will come – while the Horseman will no doubt free himself before long, this signals a whole new set of challenges.

It’s great to see the character of Captain Irving become a more integral part of the story. Jones is given time in the scene where he’s trapped in the lab with the Horseman to fully register every emotion Irving is going through at this combination of revelation and threat, and he does a brilliant job of it.

“The Midnight Ride” has a lot of lovely grace notes as well, including a scene where Abbie and Ichabod gently commiserate on the fact that they cannot open their lives to other people because of the secrets they cannot share. This is at once very sweet and endearing and indicative of the notion that these two are not destined for romantic entanglement. The tone here is very much one of a solid friendship – it’s what bromance tries to be and often fails to achieve.

There’s also the intriguing element of Andy and where his loyalties really lie. Again, SLEEPY HOLLOW manages a delicate dance here, allowing the character to have humor but remain fundamentally creepy.

“The Midnight Ride” adopts Paul Revere’s famous jaunt to the series mythology, with Ichabod correcting a tour guide that the cry was really, “The Regulars are coming.” The stuff with the laptop is funny, but arguably even funnier is Abbie and Irving telling Ichabod that there’s DNA proof that Thomas Jefferson (known to Ichabod, who believes the Founding Father was a faithful husband to his wife) fathered children with slave Sally Hemings – and, worse, that Jefferson took Ichabod’s words and claimed them as his own.

In other words, SLEEPY HOLLOW continues to grow, thrive and shine.


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Related: Exclusive Interview with SLEEPY HOLLOW star Katia Winter

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