Sleepy Hollow: A Show of Infinite Jest.

 "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?"(Hamlet, V.i)

Skulls abound in the most recent episode of Sleepy Hollow, "The Midnight Ride".  Do I think the writers were trying to make a direct connection to  Shakespeare's famous play, Hamlet?  No, but there is something to the allusion between the impermanence of life and the "vile effects of death" that thematically run through each episode of Sleepy Hollow.

Hamlet is perhaps the most famous of Shakespeare's plays, and it's protagonist struggles with the loss of loved ones and the ghosts that haunt his conscience as he strives to find his place in the world.  

You could say the same of Ichabod Crane.  Albeit his ghosts are of the more tangible variety.  I thought this a most humorous episode but there was a poignancy behind Ichabod's pain when he discovered the loss of his Mason brothers.  He looked truly shocked and once more a connection he felt to his past was taken from him.  

Hamlet is a tale of revenge and is steeped in bitterness and treachery.  I don't think Ichabod has reached that nadir yet but there are times when his loneliness seems to take him to a place where the "undiscovered country" of death is preferable to his current state and "to sleep, per chance to dream" is a thematic device where Crane most often finds his connection to Katrina.  He best be careful because that sleep of death is a bourn from whom "no traveler returns."

I think the writers will continue to dance around Crane's struggle with death, loss and loneliness but the show seems too lighthearted to go too far with it.  Yes, Wyman and Abrams steer the same ship here as they did with Fringe and we all know Fringe wasn't afraid to go dark but methinks it won't happen here. 

Hamlet's most fearsome opponent was his own conscience and sense of guilt.  In contrast, Crane's most fearsome opponent is a being that harbors neither of those emotions.  Yet, as we see in the picture above, the Horseman is also beset with loss.  Like Hamlet and Crane he is incomplete.  Unlike either, he is completely inhuman.  I wonder if, while staring at the fake skull meant to lure him, he got the joke.  Probably not, being death incarnate probably leaves one without a sense of humor.

Too bad, the humor that Yorick embodied is what Hamlet found most endearing and the humor on display as Ichaod and Abbie sought to destroy the Horseman's head was probably the funniest part of the show.

From explosives, to acid to sledgehammers the skull of our headless friend was well nigh indestructible.  Thankfully our heroes learned one does not defeat the Horseman by crushing his skull but by trapping him and "transforming the moon into the sun."

As that entertaining tableau of incessant skull pounding proceeded, I was reminded how difficult it was to defeat the Terminator.  (In fact, the Terminator skull is reminiscent of the Horseman's skull.)     Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese tried everything they could think of to stop their own avatar of death.  Only theirs was born of the future while the Horesman is a denizen of the past.  Yet, the evil that each monster carries with him is timeless and is comfortable in any era.

Will we see more of the contemplation of life and loss?  I have no doubt.  Crane will continue to be torn between two worlds and I will keep looking for these thematic cues.  I think we can take heart that it won't be overbearing and Sleepy Hollow to become a dreary dirge.  They're having too much fun!

Okay, now for some odds and ends.

This week's bird sighting was both funny and grim.  There's nothing wrong with a little dark humor.  Squawk!

I counted at least three paintings or images of George Washington in the background of some scenes.  I wonder if that is portentuous.

Here's another favorite device of Abrams and Wyman the "No Crossing" signal.  It was quite prevalent in Fringe and it usually was emblematic of the dangers of crossing between universes.  Here, perhaps it is a warning for Abbie not to rekindle her old romance but it could have more deeper significance as we go on.

I'm sure I've left out plenty.  What else did anybody else catch?  Next week's episode looks great.  How can they possibly keep Death in chains?  Will Moloch come to the Horseman's rescue?  If so,  will he hold his own hostage in exchange?  Who will it be?  (Did they say Jenny will be out soon?  Uh-oh!!!)



  1. Hi Dave,
    OK that episode had to be the most fun so far and definitely the highest head count. Action packed and so much humor which was a welcome relief after last weeks’ mostly serious exposition outing.

    Nice job on the Hamlet comparisons. Loneliness was definitely a theme. We did get that little exchange about Abby’s loneliness when Ich asks about Luke. She’s shelved her love life, given her witness status. Abby also made a remark about being excluded from the no-girls-allowed Masons. And well , Katrina might as well be in a nunnery, a creepy demonic shadow world nunnery.

    I need to go back and rewatch for details. I literally burst out laughing when that bird in the lab got beheaded, knowing how the bird symbolism is always on your radar. In the John Doe episode I brought up the point about recurring water imagery, boy did we get a lot of water talk this week. Why is there bottled water? Why does it cost so much? Team tap water, but it may have arsenic in it. It is still unclear if any of this is going anywhere, but I maintain there is something in the Sleepy Hollow water. Perhaps that something is what kept Death and Ichy preserved for resurrection for 200+ years. Fountain of Youth? Witchy curse? Who knows.

    Yay for Irving being in on the crazy! Nice moves there ducking the axe and paper mache skills too!

    Yay for creepy undead stalker Andy Brooks returning to ward off nosey Ex-beau Luke! I had no idea John Cho would be appearing on the show for this many episodes, it’s a treat. As for Luke’s blondie (secret Hessian) partner, did I spy him perking up his ears at news of Headless for a brief second?

    So does it make sense that Death’s skull is so indestructible (insert hilarious montage) since his neck clearly wasn’t?

    Can’t wait for next week! -Lynne

    1. Hi Lynne,

      I totally agree with you in that this was indeed a fun episode. I wished I touched more on that in my blog post. I meant to! Unfortunately, the Hamlet angle brought out the Gloomy Gus in me. It was very fun and once again Tom Mison shone brightly.

      Speaking of gloomy even Abagail was in a good mood. I almost forgot about Jenny because Abbie was so much fun to watch too.

      Right, Abbie had her loneliness issues too and I'm glad you pointed out her objection to being excluded from the Masons. Good thing she didn't attend that little meeting in advance. Hopefully they didn't get rid of the Rutledge character. James Frain is always welcome.

      Hmmm, a fountain of youth? Perhaps, that certainly makes it more of an intriguing angle to watch for. I love how Ichy always points out how dysfunctional today's society is. I hope they return to the baseball imagery too. Make him a Red Sox fan because they were originally known as the Pilgrims.

      I'm glad Irving is part of the Scooby Gang but I'm afraid that his estranged family (first mention this episode) may be leveraged against him. Total bonus point for seeing Cho again too. You'd think he'd be too busy with his Hollywood career. Looks like he'll back for more too.

      Yeah, you can't kill death but you can behead him? I guess he won't be going to any day games at Fenway either.

      Next week should be good and hopefully Noble will be back.

      Go Squawks! I mean, Sox!

    2. Hi Dave,

      Ha Ha, but Headless did make an appearance at Busch Stadium during the World Series! Of course, we Bostonians do not easily forget, mowing down minutemen with an axe is not gonna fly. Banned for eternity from Fenway, including night games. (I kind of like these FOX marketing stunts, like when the Observers would show up at football games. I would love to see Headless spar with the Minutemen at Gillette.)

      I agree, James Frain is always welcome. I hope his head wasn't among the lanterns.

      So I rewatched the episode. In addition to the mentions of the midnight ride and sunset coming there were clocks in MANY scenes. Time is apparently running out?

      There seems to be a variety of religious symbolism peppered into the background of the show. Last week there was cross in the graveyard with a Star of David on it, right before Ich was tranqed. This week the camera focuses on a crown and cross motif in the architecture above a doorway just before Luke comes out to find Andy in the alley.

      This last one was a little bit of a chuckler for me. In the scene where Abby is shooing Ich out of the museum there is a display with a red fish on the wall behind them. I know it probably wasn't a herring, but still, it struck me as funny on a show full of mysteries. The title of the display was something to do with the Cape Fear Indians, I guess the show probably filmed in an actual museum in the Carolinas.

      That's it for me this episode. I'll be watching late tonight because of football. -Lynne

      PS. AWESOME that you are also going to blog Almost Human as well!!!

    3. I looked up the Cape Fear Indians right after the show, they're extinct! Another lost tribe like the Roanoke people? Glad you caught that too.

      It looks like many, many religions are going to be drawn from. Last night, spoiler alert, we had Druids and ancient Thracians. Good stuff. Looks like time will be of the essence too. I hope they keep throwing stuff in so we can catch it.

      Yeah, I'm going to blog on AH. I have so much to write and so little time. But I've started something and I'll have it out soon. Last night's AH was much better than the Pilot and a terrific lead in to Sleepy which pretty much rocked the house itself!

  2. Indeed this episode was the most fun yet. I actually laughed out loud several times. The Ichabod actor is quite deft with the humor for a serious guy! The water issue was great.

    And yes that is one of the Tennant/Hamlet images I was thinking of when I saw your photo... I think you are right about the death and guilt issues in Sleepy Hollow, and the little history lessons that are tossed in are interesting. I wonder if they will touch on any Canadian points? The US and Canadian histories share a few points, particularly with the French Canadians.

    As for the no crossing thing, I don't know but it seems to me Ichabod's wife - and those she is with - are in another universe of sorts. Maybe it is referring to that?

    I'm looking forward to a new episode! (I have to hurry up and finish S. to be able to keep up with all this! lol...)

    1. I love Ichabod's nervous ticks. He seems to be mulling things over and his body moves this way and that plus his facial expressions are priceless. He reminds me of Johnny Lee Miller and his Sherlock Holmes on "Elementary". Do you watch that? I'd love to see Tom" Mison's take on Sherlock.

      The Americans tried and failed to invade Canada during the Revolutionary War. Maybe there can be an historical tie in that way.

      Yes, maybe the "No Crossing" was referring to the Dream or Mirror world we often see in this show. Which, come to think of it, we haven't seen lately. Hopefully Moloch and Katrina will return for this episode. Oh, and John Noble too!

      The pressure is on Ingrid, we now have Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human to follow. And I have to blog on both. Aargh!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts