Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sleepy Hollow: Down The Rabbit Hole.

This blog's faithful reader, Lynne aka "Duckyislost" commented in our last blog entry that Abbie Mills is "further down the rabbit hole" than Dana Scully was in her iteration for the X-Files. Lynne, you don't know how close you came!

Fox TV just released a promo poster for the return of Sleepy Hollow once the World Series is over.  (And Boston wins.) In it, we have our two main protagonists in Ichabod Crane and "Leftenant" Abbie Mills and down the rabbit hole they look.

There has been some chatter already on the internet that the two maybe looking into a grave but I think not.  It is too rough hewn and obviously rounded with rocks much like a well.  (What do you think of that Lynne?)  Let's hope for our two heroes this isn't a dry well.

The above image is evocative on many fronts.  Starting with the allusion to Alice and her Wonderland.  (Hmm, trying to subconsciously lure some of the "Once Upon A Time audience?)  Will our heroes, fated to be witnesses, travel down that rabbit hole?  What awaits them there?

The poster is colored in greys and greens, something that is very Gothic in nature and is thematic to the mood of Sleepy Hollow.  The sky is grey behind Ichy and Abbie which foretells stormy weather or at least gloomy times to come.  Note how the moss ends at the rim of the rocks that defines our "well".  It's as if it forms the border where life ends and things of a more maligmant nature begins.

The trees behind Crane and Mills are also lifeless as they have no leaves.  What's the name of that show where they say, "Winter is coming"?  Indeed it is and the walkers beyond the wall, at least for this show, are closer than our heroes know.

Let's take a look at Ichabod's posture.  Note how he is closer to the hole entrance than Abbie.  Ever the detective, he strains for a closer look and is willing to take the risk by getting closer to the entrance.  In contrast, Abbie is a bit more guarded in her posture.  She stands a bit further from the hole and with gun drawn she exhibits a temperament that is more cautious than her partner.

I'm not sure what that stone structure is behind the two.  It stands above and behind them and certainly adds to the perspective of the scene.  Something that adds depth to the tableau and a vanishing point of sorts. Could it be an ancient altar?  When I think of altars I think of Indiana Jones and when I think of that series I think of the Well of Souls from "The  Last Crusade".  Is that what Crane and Mills are staring into?

I think it is a bit clever that the two are looking down at us, the viewing audience, and in turn we are looking back up at them.  Are we further along the adventure and Mills and Crane?  It's a bit chilling to think that we are somehow trapped inside the well or portal/doorway to another place or time.  The way this show is going our personal journey may be a purgatory of sorts, or worse, or own personal hell.  (In a storytelling sense of course!)  It's fun that is poster make us part of the fable.

Let's hope our intrepid duo can get to us in time and save us from our doom.  At least until the next episode that is!

Your thoughts on this poster.  Did I miss something hidden?  Pity I couldn't find a hi-res image but I will keep looking!

Spontaneous update!  I was just about to close this piece when I took one last look at the Well.  My mind flashed to a similar image.

What do you think? 

(And don't say, "Of what?" Tell me I don't need to explain the above image.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sleepy Hollow - The Boy Must Live

As many of you  that read this blog know I am infinitely curious as to where a certain show gets it's inspiration.  This past episode of Sleepy Hollow was a bit of a smorgasbord when it came to finding the spark that led to the illumination for the "John Doe" story.

Take the story of "Thomas" from the lost tribe of Roanoke.  A boy snatched out of time and thrust into an unknown world where he depends on the kindness of others to survive yet holds the secret to everyone's survival.  Shades of the Observer boy, Michael, from the now classic, Fringe.

 Or how about Abbie's test of faith?  Yes, it is reminiscent of Walter's own struggles with God but I think Abbie's labors are more closely tied with those of agent Dana Scully from the equally classic X-Files.

Scully was often the voice of faith and it was sorely tested.  How many times did the man of science, Mulder, question Scully's faith?  Now with Ichabod Crane we have a man that relies on faith born of his circumstance that is often appealing to Abbie's reason in order to question her skepticism.  Like a good TV character, Abbie sought out God and looked for a sign.  (She got one, more on that later.)

Did anyone else get an "E.T." vibe from this past episode?  Do you suppose the child Thomas was the named after the actor, Henry Thomas, of E.T. fame?

The  scene where Thomas is isolated from the rest due to his mysterious illness is almost dead on from E.T..  Lots of plastic curtains, medical equipment and a boy struggling to survive.

While we're at it, take a closer look at the above image.  It shows Ichabod speaking to the boy via a TV  monitor.  It's quite similar to the theme of the show where the principles are speaking to each other across dimensions, from beyond the grave or simply through a mirror.  I hope they meant this scene that way!

Let's back to Abbie's test of faith and how it was tied into the rest of the episode.

Land of Goshen we finally have a Katrina sighting!  For someone that is fourth in the opening credits she's had very little screen time. 

It seems Ichabod could communicate with Katrina once he came close to death himself.  Kat tells Ichy she is being held in a purgatory of sorts that is ruled over by Moloch.  This storyline runs parallel to the storyline of the Roanoke "survivors".

As we are to find out later, the good people of Roanoke are living in a ghost world that Thomas abruptly came separated from.

So let me get to my conundrum.  Am I to understand that the Apocalyptic rider of Pestilence forced Thomas from his ghost world in order to gain access to ours?

How does this jive with the purgatory world of Katrina lorded over by Moloch?  Are they seperate planes of existence?  Why doesn't Moloch deliver the Pestilence rider? He holds dominion over the Headless Horseman right?  Or are they just in league with each other but operating separately?  Thanks to Ichabod's explanation, we find that the Roanoke people are really dead.  Are they in Purgatory or a different plane of Purgatory?

Abbie's appeal to God for a sign led her to the baptismal healing powers of water.   So is the purgatory of the Roanoke spirits different from Moloch's?  Does Moloch's purgatory exist outside that of God's dominion?  When the water of the well was used to "save" Thomas the town vanished.  Were they released from God's purgatory to find their reward thanks to Abbie or do they still exist there but are now separated from the world of the living?  If it's the former, I hope so.  It seems so since the Pestilence rider vanished once Thomas was healed.

I'm not sure I've explained my conundrum fully.  Perhaps you the readers can provide more insight into the duality of these two after-life's.  Hmmm, if Crane was close to death why was he allowed into Katrina's purgatory? Was it her magical influence over him.  Did that influence trump Moloch's or did he allow it?

Ugh, enough, you people give me your thoughts.  I feel like a snake chasing it's own tail!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sleepy Hollow - For The Birds?

Lest you think I had a problem with this episode because of the blog title, please allow me to disabuse you of that notion.

I liked it quite a bit.

In fact, I thought it the best episode of the season since the pilot.  It was tighter, well directed and the dynamic of the characters was such that they were actually allowed to breath and grow together.

Yes, there was a freak of the week but it was steeped in Old Testament mythology.  A mythology that was also intertwined in mythical Americana.  We know there was a Boston Tea Party but did you know it was just a cover to capture an ancient biblical super weapon?

This is the type of depth of plot that I look for in a series.  Not the slap dash monster of the week that is easily vanquished in 50 minutes.  There is a richness to appreciate in the storyline when obscure and well know historical facts are turned on their heads and thrown at us in a new way.  The audience is tantalized by this "new " look at historical facts and we giddily accept there may be some truth to these new revelations.

For another example, take a look at the new information presented to us about the Hessians.   We know them as mercenaries employed by the British in the American Revolutionary war to fight the Colonists.  We now know they are part of an ancient society dedicated to the resurrection of Moloch and his demonic minions. 


Those guys just went from bad to worse!

(Prediction time, the Hessian pictured above is our Headless Horseman to be.)

 As to why this blog post was titled, "For The Birds"?

We see our modern day Hessian, Gunther, giving piano lessons to an unsuspecting youth.  Gulp!  Didn't Crane say that at the end of the episode that Moloch was the Demon God of child sacrifice?  Do you suppose the lessons are a pipeline for demonic sacrifice?

Take a look at the print behind Gunther, a crow like sitting atop a venerable road sign of the European type.  Rather spooky I'd say.

In our next image we have the classic American eagle posted along the frame of the Sheriff's cabin.   

It seems we have a duality of meaning attached to out feathered friends.  The grim crow connected to the Hessians and the patriotic eagle related to our heroes.

We even get an auditory reference to birds as we hear wings fluttering when the surviving Hessians enter the decepit Dutch church.

So why birds, what do they mean?

To me they can suggest a couple of things.  Birds were often associated in ancient or Biblical times as messengers or harbingers of doom.  That certainly fits with the thematic take on the Hessians.

Birds also suggest flight or the freedom of flight and that fits in nicely with the theme of our heroic demon fighters and the Revolutionary War.

When I wrote about the TV show Fringe, I took a close look at all the visual imagery.  Some I chased down a rabbit hole that led to nowhere and the others were quite meaningful.  This hasn't been the only episode of Sleepy Hollow to use the imagery of birds but that doesn't mean there is something to it all.

I will submit to you all that it did have special meaning for this particular episode. 

Take Abagail's sister Jenny pictured above.  Wasn't she once institutionally caged like a bird only to be granted the freedom of her wings thanks to her sister? 

Why not?  I like it!

(Another aside, Lyndie Greenwood in great as Jenny.  Can't you picture her in the lead role of Abbie instead of Nicole Beharie.  In fact, reverse them, I think it works a lot better.)

In closing, I'm glad the "Blurry Man" now has a name, "Moloch".  As stated before, "The Demon God of child sacrifice."  That doesn't bode well especially when previews suggest we get a child-out-of-time in the next episode.  If you are a Fringe fan, shades of "Inner Child".

See you next week!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Call 911 0n 0-8-4?

So what happened on the last episode of Agents of SHIELD?

Not much.

I think it is pretty much a collection of pretty white people fighting like a Scooby Gang every week and beating the bad guy.  Seriously, I think the first three letters of SHIELD stands for Super Hot Individuals.  Now we find out out that even the bad guys are hot.  Did you see that cleavage shot from actress Leonor Varela?

Yup, I got it in case you missed it.  I can imagine all the mothers out there thinking, "Damn, I thought the 8 o'clock hour would be safe viewing for Jr."  Now she may have to worry about her husband.

Look, I like SHIELD I just don't think it is blog-worthy every week.  (Unless they make Leonor a recurring character.)  If you want a kick ass show with more adult themes (not the Leonor kind) see "Arrow".  Yes it can be a vanilla in it's casting but it has a lot more depth than SHIELD.   If you appreciate more minority inclusion see "Sleepy Hollow" they are doing a great job over there.

The only thing I can think of that is worth following every week is the mystery behind Agent Coulson's miraculous recovery.  This week's clue came from Camilla Reyes (Leonor again) when she said, "You look good.  Too good."

Yep, he's an automaton, clone or some sort of Visionary thing.  This I'll follow.

So I will be setting my Google search for Leonor Varela appearances every week and I'll keep watching the show.  Just don't expect a blog on it all the time

Oh look who it is!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sleepy Hollow - Enter The Sandman

Sleepy Hollow took a step back in the right direction with Monday night's episode "For The Triumph of Evil" but I'm still not convinced it knows where it is going.  A case in point being another freak of the week episode. 

To further drive home that point Abbie once again made it clear that seven years of this are ahead of them.  Really?  Seven years of one demon at a time?  What kind of army is this?  Who's in charge?

If it is our mirror demon buddy, then he has a lot to learn about evil hordes.  Is this really what the writers have in store for us?  At least Katrina wasn't around to drop cryptic clues.  And speaking of the absent Katrina, Katia Winter who portrays Katrina has now been demoted to fourth place in the new, new opening.

I liked the new opening.  It was stylistically cool, neatly paced and very informative.  Too bad the "previously on Sleepy Hollow" bit told us the same thing just seconds later.

So before I turn this into another b*tch fest about what I didn't like, let's talk about the good stuff.

The Sandman himself was very well conceived and it also had roots in American Indian mythology as, "Ro' kenhrontyes".  Well played.  The Producers said they would dig deep into mythology and they succeeded here.  The Sandman reminded me of the "Pale Man" of Pan's Labyrinth fame.  A ghoul with a capital G. 

His power was also well adapted to the story.  It seems if you deny your past or someone you love or trusted then your betrayal has earthly consequences that first plays out in a dream. Turning a blind eye does not serve you well and Abbie's denial of her sister's childhood claims finally came back to haunt her.

(During that final fight with the Sandman when Crane lost his arm to the sand I thought he was going to draw out the ancient Indian symbol in it to ward off the demon.  A missed opportunity there.)

If there is another thing that Sleepy Hollow does well it is the inclusion of minorities.  The American Indian got representation in this episode and theirs is a culture rich in mysticism, faith in their forebears and a healthy respect of nature.  There is much to be mined here.

I thought Tom Mison did an excellent job expressing his pain when he learned of the fate of the Mohawks.  He was stunned.  They were the model of what was to be the structure of their newborn nation.  How could such a rich culture be just cast away?

Anyone that reads this blog can tell you I am a big fan of symbolism.  The mirror makes it return to Sleepy Hollow and I always find this an effective device.  Mirrors are literally and figuratively a reflection of our selves.  They are evocative of portals and they often expose a side of us we would rather not see.

To have demons pass through them or invoke them as dark reflections of our past is always bonus time for me.  (It must be the Fringe fanatic in me.)

Doors are good too!

Especially the kind of door that beckons you in a dream state.  Red doors are especially forbidding as their mythology goes all the way back to the Old Testament.  Fans of the TV show, "Being Human" know what kind of importance doors can pllay.

Once again, Sleepy Hollow used the Dream State as a device.  Some may find this tiresome but I don't think it's worn out it's welcome yet.  It better not, it seems the only way Katrina can communicate with Crane.  Dreams are rich in symbolism and their use should provide a worthy mechanism for this show.  Hopefully other culture's dream lore will find a way into this show.

 Anyone else get an X-Files vibe when the car rolled into the scene?  Mulder and Scully were always arriving at the scene in a car, especially after a commercial break.  To have the car enter upside down was a treat.  Not subverting but inverting our expectations!

 Are we to understand that everything hangs in the balance with our two main characters?

 The "Batcave" of Ichabod and Abbie is a treasure trove of clues and symbology.  I wonder ifit will remain static or will new things be sprinkled in every week?  I think I saw a Raven and definitely a bust of George Washington.  Was there a mirror or is that just asking demons to walk in

 Here's a gripe to close out this post.  How the heck did Irving find the Batcave so quickly?  I think we all can assume he knows more than he is letting on.  The sign gag was funny but seeing the ex-boyfriend was "ugh" worthy.

So, like I said, a step in the right direction.  Richer mythology, funny gags, cool symbolism and minority inclusion.  Just lose the freak of the week thing! 

(Unless it is the Headless Horseman, I love that guy.  Can't wait till he gets his head back!)