“Sleepy Hollow” 11/12/2015: Berserk du Soleil

Norse Berserkers!

Meet your obscure monsters of the week: the Cult of Curly Joe.

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Our Heroes fought a wild ‘n’ wispy wasp woman; Pandora escaped inside her creepy blue Hellmouth tree; and we learned all this season’s previous monsters just barely had a meaningless connection with each other, kind of like a bunch of James Bond villains supposedly belonging to the same criminal organization but never lending each other a hand, so their secret evil fraternity doesn’t mean much to them or to viewers.

On tonight’s new episode, “The Art of War”: an ancient threat emerges from Scandinavia; Jenny has superpowers; Crane quotes Sun Tzu and touts the virtues of horsehair fishing lines; Abbie shows her mad chess skillz; “fan favorite” Joe Corbin has his first kiss; the Great-Big Bad behind our two Big Bads makes his grand entrance; and Betsy Ross, Action Spy, is off this week, probably on special flashback assignment or something.

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

…this week’s AD&D Monster Manual selection: berserkers! At least one of the three is played by monster-master Derek Mears, who suited up as Moloch and quite a few other creepy-crawlies. As Sleepy Hollow tells it, the berserkers are fierce Norse warriors who fight relentlessly and savagely, whose wounds heal instantly, who can track their prey by smell, and who don’t have an ounce of hair between them. Head henchman Augustus Nevins (Bill Irwin), anxious to retrieve the Shard of Anubis, journeys to Pandora’s presently unoccupied cave and summons them forth from Pandora’s abandoned box with a spell he had lying around the house. He gives them the spoor of the Shard, then sits back and waits for his new bloodhounds to do his searching for him. Because even among evil cabals, delegation is an important job skill.

Unfortunately the Shard’s power resided not within its shell, which is basically an ugly jewelry box, but within the object it contained: a red binding stone. Those are popular magic items in all the best fantasy RPGs, but here they’re containers for great powers, like Marvel’s Infinity Gems except no one thinks to use them as accessories. Last week Jenny inadvertently opened the Shard, absorbed the binding stone into her palm, and woke up in the middle of the night with nightmares that presaged her new talents. If she stops thinking and lets loose, she has super-speed, super-hearing, super-strength that livens up her kickboxing practice with Joe the tackle dummy, and blackouts in which she appears to be awaiting orders from a master and bellows non sequiturs like “BEHOLD MY GLORY, FOR I AM COMING!”. That last power proves to be the least useful in battle.

Thus does Super-Jenny become the target of this three-monster circus troupe. The first encounter goes poorly as Our Heroes learn they can’t be wounded for long through normal means. Jenny initiates a round of super-stabbing that startles the berserkers long enough for everyone to retreat into the sewers, then head off to the archives (not yet torn down for Progress) for some deep monster research. Crane is naturally the first to recognize them and recall their one weakness: mistletoe, like ye olde Celtic druids once used for magic and weapon-coating and such. While Jenny stays in hiding at their trusty underground Masonic cell with big sis Abbie, Crane and Joe go after these predators with crossbows and tainted bolts. Joe is the much lousier shot of the two, but even when they both score, the mistletoe is useless against them. Thankfully the berserkers don’t know modern traditions and have no idea they’re now obligated by Christmas law to kiss the person next to them.

The dudes retreat again, and Crane has to rethink their strategy. Normal berserkers are imbued with the Power of Odin, but this trio doesn’t share their weakness and therefore came from a different stock. Crane needs to obtain a copy of the precise spell Nevins used to summon them, but it means breaking into his lair, which is under heavy surveillance by Abbie’s coworkers over at the FBI. If Crane is caught breaking in by the feds, he’ll become an inmate instead of an America citizen. If Crane doesn’t break in, the berserkers eventually succeed in killing someone and/or everyone. Can Crane find a way to fight the forces of evil without getting trapped in an FBI stakeout?

Luck is on his side once again. Abbie’s boss Agent Reynolds (Lance Gross) is out of town, traveling all the way to Washington DC to interrupt a kids’ birthday party and speak for thirty seconds to his unnamed boss — special guest Michael O’Keefe, best known in our household as Jackie’s husband Fred from TV’s Roseanne. While he’s out, Reynolds puts Agent Abbie in charge of all the operations, because apparently anyone more qualified than her has already either died or moved out of Sleepy Hollow. Within minutes she’s abusing her temporary power, ordering the crew surveilling Nevins’ place to go on a wild goose chase anywhere but there. Since no consequences arise from this ploy, I can only assume the agents turned off all their bugs and wires before they left, which is of course what you’d totally expect from diligent officers assigned to a high-priority 24/7 operation.

Crane breaks in using a stylish lockpick set Abbie loans to him. He uncovers the spell using pencil-rubbing on a deeply grooved, old-school notepad, which Nevins used to write out the entire spell longhand (maybe he memorizes better that way, or just didn’t feel like lugging a 900-page grimoire off to the Pandora-Cave) and tore off the top page before he left. On Crane’s way out he runs afoul of someone we’ve met but he hasn’t: Nevins’ henchwoman Sophie Foster (a returning Jessica Camacho). Crane smooth-talks his way out of getting shot, but not before she accuses him of being a British bassist or possibly Dr. Strange.

Back at the archives, Crane can concentrate long enough to confirm Nevins’ version of the spell was derived from Snorri Sturluson’s 13th-century Ynglinga saga. Somehow using this 100% Norse source material translates into the berserkers not being Odin-powered, which means mistletoe is as useless against them as it is against me. That means Our Heroes have to come up with a battle plan in lieu of a supernatural quick fix, which would be quite a radical change of pace for them.

Plan B: turn the berserkers against each other! For most people that would be explanation enough, but Crane feels we might not get the concept and proceeds to provide an example via flashback — not with Betsy Ross, but with legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone, about whom we haven’t heard any new flashbacks since the middle of season two. Once upon a time Boone (Robin Strasds) tricked some British and Hessian soldiers into turning on each other, and both sides shot each other a whole bunch. Boone is hailed as a wartime mastermind. Our Heroes decide they should totally do that with Our Monsters.

Part of the plan involves taking blood samples from Super-Jenny, which Joe eagerly volunteers to do because it involves touching. Taking romantic advice from Crane, Joe escalates the shared moment into their first kiss, getting that inevitable scene over with at long last. Abbie, Crane, and Joe Liability execute rest of the plan goes like so:

1. Go out to some part of Sleepy Hollow’s infinite remote forest.
2. Smash a vial of Jenny’s super-blood on the ground.
3. Use complicated mountain-climbing equipment to hide up above in the trees, rather than just climbing them or hiding behind said trees.
4. Wait for the berserkers to smell Jenny’s Anubis-spiked blood and come a-runnin’.
5. Rappel from the treetops down to the ground behind them, where none of them are looking because they’re not the observant kind of beast warrior.
6. Sneak up on these seemingly deaf super-soldiers and smash another vial of Jenny’s blood on each of their backs.
7. Step away, wait for their sense of super-smell to overpower their sense of sight and misidentify each other as prey. Watch them tear each other apart.
8. Step in and stab the lone, wounded survivor through the heart, hopefully with a magic sword so it sticks.

The day is saved! Until Nevins and Sophie step into frame from literally nowhere. Nevins demands they turn over Jenny or else he’ll shoot Joe in the head. Abbie and Crane have a lot of trouble deciding. Then rescue comes from slightly-less-nowhere when Sophie shoots Joe. I mean Nevins. Sophie shoots Nevins. Sorry! Pardon my, uh, typo.

That’s right: Everything You Know About Sophie Foster Is WRONG! She’s not a greedy relic hunter after all; she’s Agent Sophie Foster, FBI, on a longtime undercover sting under orders from Agent Reynolds himself as part of his “inner circle”. Abbie had no idea that Sophie was on their side, or that her boss/ex-boyfriend had an “inner circle”. Abbie now has questions.

Abbie, Crane, and Joe Hostage return to the Masonic cell, only to find Jenny gone, the lock broken from the inside, and a series of runic scrawls carved into the cavern’s columns. Possessed by the power once again, Jenny makes her way to Pandora’s lair, sticks her hands into its sinister pool, and summons Pandora forth from her evil tree portal.

This time Pandora’s brought a guest: Spartacus Peter Mensah (from the world of Spartacus) as a menacing, hooded figure wearing rotting gloves and carrying a wicked sickle.

If I’m not mistaken…Anubis has arrived.

Next week: the fall finale. To be continued!

Sleepy Hollow!

Until then, please enjoy this shot of Abbie busting right through Crane’s Philidor defense. That almost sounds like a romantic metaphor…

* * * * *

If you missed any previous episodes of Sleepy Hollow, you can see what’s available online at Fox’s official site, or check out MCC’s own ongoing recaps. Visit our recap checklists for season one and season two, or this season’s recaps linked below for handy reference. Enjoy!

10/1/2015: “I, Witness
10/8/2015: “Whispers in the Dark
10/15/2015: “Blood and Fear
10/22/2015: “The Sisters Mills
10/29/2015: “Dead Men Tell No Tales
11/5/2015: “This Red Lady from Caribee

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