[Ed. Note: Carmen Petaccio is a writer from New York City. He blogs regularly at bpofd.com and loves Sleepy Hollow.]
Nebraska is a modest movie that modestly exceeds the modest goals it sets its modest self. It neither aspires to the Greek Tragedy heights of About Schmidt nor settles for the treacle-fart lows of The Descendants; this is both its subtle strength and subtler limitation. [Ed. Note: Wait, what is going on?!] What the movie does do immodestly excellently, maybe more so than any other Alexander Payne movie, is integrate those somehow specifically “American” injections of the surreal into its story. (And I’m talking here about scenes in which that from-left-field weirdness javelins into the narrative proper, where you’re first removed from the artifice of the story for a second before being plunged twice deeper back in [scenes along the lines of Election's bee sting or About Schmidt's jacuzzi sequence or Nebraska's flash the tombstone moment].) (Though I’m not sure why they feel particularly “American” to me, outside of the obvious setting, they just do.) This movie did those types of scenes so well. Like the mugging scene, like the search for the dentures. So well. There was a glaring lack of sword fights though, which brings us to: [Ed. Note: Phew!]
INTERROGATION TIME. So, Ichabod and Abbie and Captain OJ have captured The Headless Horseman in a hexed panopticon of tanning bed lights. To celebrate, Abbie demonstrates how to fist-bump for Ichabod and it is even more of a delight than you’d expect. Despite Obama’s closet Republican austerity measures, The Sleepy Hollow Police Department has already installed a full surveillance system, two-way mirror, and Dell in the hexed panopticon, which for some reason was designed by Thomas Jefferson. (“A product, no doubt, of his years trying to reason with the French.”) To interrogate the Horseman, our team decides to split up. Ichabod and Abbie head in one direction to recruit Voldemort interpreter Zombie John Cho, while OJ heads in the other to recruit Abbie’s sister’s eyebrows.
Two hunters are hunting in the Sleepy Hollow woods. They’re having a swell time hunting when The Headless Horseman’s stoned horse gallops into their cross hairs, so the one hunter who’s a Hessian murders his friend and pets the mane of the stoned zombie horse. (Shh, shh, good horsie.) Back at SHPD, OJ hard-sells Jenny on demon fighting for ten minutes, so she’s in. Back in the secret underground tunnel system, Icks and Abs search Zombie John Cho’s bachelor pad pile of boxes and tarps, finding only classic literature. (Discussing books on network TV may be the most preposterous thing this show has ever done. [cc: @kafka]) ZJC sneaks spookily up, and Abbie pets his pus-filled hand wound until he agrees to interpret Voldemort for them. “Confronting death is a darkness that will haunt you forever,” he says. “Cool!” says Ichabod. “This way, eh, ah, actually this way!” (Lesson: tunnels are confusing, even for handsome geniuses with eidetic memory.)
OJ and Jenny investigate an antique store robbery for one second and figure out that Hessians have stolen the pog slammer that can remove the Masonic hex from Thomas Jefferson’s panopticon. They leave the antique store owner to die in his panic room and rush to stop the Hessians from deactivating the power grid. (Feel free to revisit the past two sentences I just wrote at this time, they’re way better on the second go.) While this is happening, Zombie JC is interpreting The Horseman’s Voldemort via tar eyes. Ichabod taunts Headless (Ichabod is three 5-hours deep alpha-bro mode this entire episode), knocking a locket from his red coat. This prompts a flashback where we learn that Ichabod (obviously) broke up Katrina’s engagement to his best friend Abraham at a zither jewelry party or something. CAN YOU BLAME HER?!
At the Sleepy Hollow power station, OJ and Jenny don their Splinter Cell gear to battle the Hessians. OJ disarms one and delivers a flawless inverted sleeper hold. Jenny effs up another, but even her dual pistols aren’t enough for the Hessians…until the SHPD riot squad emerges from the shadows, surrounding the Hessians! (WHAT ARE THE TAX RATES IN THIS TOWN?) Then they find a broken Samsung Galaxy and the power plant explodes, freeing the Horseman from his UV prison.
Ichabod can’t figure out why the Headless is, like, totally obsessed with him. Neither can we, until a telling flashback reveals that Ichabod straight up told Abraham that Katrina dug him (Ichabod)! They have a v. sweet sword fight in which Abraham fells Ichabod, but he (Abraham) gets musket shot by Hessians before he can deliver the fatal poke. Abraham gives Ichabod the “LEAVE ME” speech from everything ever. We flashback to the present, where Ichabod says, “I’m in control,” as he stares fiery serial killer eyes at Headless.
The teams reunite. Unbeknownst to them, Zombie John Cho has smuggled the hex-removing pog slammer into the panopticon in his decomposing stomach fanny pack. He whispers Voldemort to it, granting the rescue demons full access to the tunnels. So while Abbie and Jenny and OJ blast the infiltrating demons with shotguns, making them explode into (really pretty sick-looking) demon dust, Ichabod stays with Headless, who immediately rips off his chains and challenges Ichabod to another v sweet sword fight, which leads Ichabod to deduce via leg sweep memory that Pre-Headless was actually Abraham with a head tattoo and a Bane mask who was resurrected into Headless by Molester Tree Demon. You know!
Like before, the Headless Horseman Formerly Known As Abraham fells Ichabod, prepares for the fatal poke. Before he does though, a bunch of demons gang tackle him, and burst into demon dust. All better?
Back at HQ, Abbie and Ichabod hash everything out. Power returns to Sleepy Hollow. They decide they need Katrina, and, for a moment, things seem kinda all better.
Did you think things seemed kinda all better? Did the surrealism in this episode strike you as “particularly American”? Was Sleepy Hollow S01E08 Nebraska-good or The Fifth Estate-bad? What’d ya think, #Sleepyheads?