“Sleepy Hollow” 9/30/2013 (spoilers): Dreams Along the Mohawk

Sandman, Ro'henkrontyes, Sleepy Hollow

The other six Endless cannot save you now!

The third episode of Fox’s runaway Monday night sensation, Sleepy Hollow, contains no Horseman, no witches, no Katrina or her Phantom Zone, no Clancy Brown flashbacks, and very little mysterious demon except in flashback. Thankfully it’s not exactly sixty minutes of dead air. “For the Triumph of Evil” is the first time Our Heroes must face a mythical creature who’s not overtly taking orders from the Big Bad. And yet…this otherworldly stalker nicknamed “the Sandman” holds connections to both Ichabod and Abbie, while appearing visually indebted to Pan’s Labyrinth and half the characters Doug Jones has ever played.

For those who missed out, my attempt to streamline the basic events follows after this courtesy spoiler alert for the sake of time-shifted viewers.

The story of one mouthless, eyeless, sand-flinging monster, then:

In the above photo is Ro’kenhrontyes, whom we’re told is an eighteenth-century dream demon from the folklore of the Mohawk Nation. According to his legend, Ro’kenhrontyes surfaces in the dreams of those who would dare turn a blind eye to the truth and menaces them for their refusal to confess. While he’s punishing them in the dreamworld, their eyes are either covered by white-sand cataracts or turned into white sand, depending on whether or not you’re in the main cast. When they awaken, they’re driven suicidal because of dream persecution. Yes, he has long fingers and his dream invasions lead to fatalities, but Ro’kenhrontyes is otherwise not a Freddy Krueger ripoff, despite the gravelly promos that consider their tangentially similar methods a selling point.

Ro’kenhrontyes was drawn to our world by the events of a decade past, the previously seen flashback wherein young Abbie and her sister Jenny saw the white demon lurking in the woods. Another 5% of that tale is fleshed out tonight: somehow after the sighting, Abbie fell asleep for four days, while Jenny…hung out and did unspecified stuff. Of all the searchers out and about, a rancher named Gillespie found the girls first and became a local hero. Like Abbie, he never told anyone he briefly saw the demon. Unlike Abbie and Gillespie, Jenny did and was institutionalized accordingly, then released into the wild, then re-institutionalized after stealing four grand in survival gear to prepare for the End of Days (her exact words to the authorities). Any semblance of sisterhood died when Abbie threw Jenny under the bus to save her own selfish hide.

Years later, Jenny recounted the tale to her therapist, Dr. Vega, who made the mistake of believing Jenny without telling anyone. Thus was the wrath of Ro’kenhrontyes invoked. Eventually, years after the incident, while discounting the billions of other cover-ups in the world that might need exposing. Apparently Ro’kenhrontyes keeps his own timetable, or perhaps he decided Dr. Vega’s addition to the white-demon-sighting conspiracy was one liar over his limit.

Either way: he haunts her dreams; her eyes go opaque; she climbs up a tall building and demands to speak to Abbie, who was warned by a vision that something was up with this doctor she’s never met. Dr. Vega warns Abbie her time is coming, jumps, and lands on a car that’s not quite pillowy enough to save her.

Thus are Abbie and Ichabod drawn into the case. Ichabod insists on interrogating Jenny, but she and Abbie mutually refuse to see each other. Says an insistent Ichabod of the emotional wounds that are interfering with their efforts, “What time doesn’t change, death will.” And Ichabod would rather have more time than more death. Too bad she provides little useful info, though he does try to convince her that she’s not alone in witnessing the impossible.

One brief scene, obligatory for premise purposes, sees Ichabod and Abbie hitting the books in Sheriff Corbin’s library, whereupon they discuss the entry about the Ro’kenhrontyes in one of their Monster Manuals. As luck would have it, Ichabod knows the story. In his American Revolution days, he worked alongside many Mohawks who worked for the good guys as spies against the Redcoats. His time among them was enough to make him a Mohawk expert and friend. At some point Captain Irving interrupts them to reveal that he’s discovered their use of the armory as a getaway for their X-Files researching…and he’s disturbingly cool with it. Blasé about it, even, as if Ichabod were basically a full-time deputy on the books with a high-level all-access pass to official police business. No more sneaking back and forth through last week’s underground tunnel, then, which is just as well since I can’t imagine the explosion that destroyed the exploding witch left the tunnel very usable and non-collapsed…which begs the question of how they entered the usually guarded armory this week in the first place. But Irving offers to arrange authorization and fetch them keys to it, so now the questions are moot.

…where was I? Oh, yeah, vengeful Ro’kenhrontyes. Like any competent crime drama, our duly empowered buddy-cops run out to interview and/or protect likely victim #2, Gillespie the rancher. Alas, Ro’kenhrontyes is faster and already has another suicide scene ready and waiting for them, with much flimsier-looking white-sand contacts and pretty much the same message: Abbie’s turn is coming soon. In case she’d mistakenly begun to feel safe for a moment. To stave off dreams and prolong their lives a few extra minutes, Abbie introduces Ichabod to the wonders of foul-tasting energy drinks, surely more powerful than his precious coffee. One wonders how many lives might’ve been saved from Freddy Krueger if only Red Bull had been an ’80s thing.

Ichabod’s next bright idea: consult a Mohawk shaman. Fortunately Abbie knows a guy who’s a Mohawk. His name is Duncan and he runs a used-car lot called Geronimotors. His slogan: “Tomahawking prices since 2008!” And really, aren’t all Mohawks shamans, deep down inside? At first Duncan feigns outrage, then relents when he sees they’re really, really, really, really serious. So yeah, okay, they got him: he knows shaman-fu.

(I’d love to know if the showrunners ran the script by an actual Mohawk focus group. I’m guessing no.)

Duncan escorts them into the back; feeds them a magic sleepy-time tea; has his shaman’s assistants (which he naturally has) tie them down; and stings them with scorpions. This peculiar ritual propels them instantly into the dreamworld without either killing them or being nullified altogether by the energy drinks they chugged the scene before.

Naturally a series of hallucinatory images lead up to their showdown with Ro’kenhrontyes, whom Abbie defeats by telling the truth to him about seeing the white demon way back when. The truth turns the Sandman into the Glassman, which Abbie shatters with a dream chair. Because now, of course, he has no power over her, the truth has set her free, some kind of metaphor about transparency, and so on.

One minor hitch after saving the day: when they return to the mental ward for a sisterly reunion at last…Jenny’s escaped through the ceiling.

To be continued!

* * * * *

If you missed a previous episode of Sleepy Hollow, the last few episodes can be watched online at Fox’s official site, or MCC recaps are listed below for handy reference. Enjoy!

9/16/2013: “Pilot
9/23/2013: “Blood Moon

What do you, The Viewers at Home, think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: