SLEEPY HOLLOW Season 2, Episode 14 'Kali Yuga'

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Sleepy Hollow continues its aimless drifting with, for some reason, an episode centred on Hawley. While few other than some sighing fangirls would argue that the rugged prettyboy has been in dire need of a day in the limelight, he’s been given one whether we like it or not. After an introductory scene in a karaoke bar (during which Ichabod considers opting for Meghan Trainor, involuntarily conjuring a frankly terrifying image of him singing all about that bass, ‘bout dat bass), things kick off with the arrival of Hawley’s godmother Carmilla (Jaime Murray; Defiance, Warehouse 13), the woman who took him in as an adolescent and introduced him to a life of crime. Quite how someone who looks about 18 months older than him could have ever been his legal guardian is explained by her having had an unpleasant encounter with a Thuggee death cult who transformed her into a vetala, a corpse-possessing spirit from Hindu mythology reinterpreted here as kind of ninja snake demon. The representation bears some similarity to the naga, serpentine monstrosities from the lowest level of the Hindu underworld, and one of the higher levels is named Vitala. So there’s that.

To be released from this pseudo-undead state she needs to steal a magical statue of Kali, although the story appears to be confusing the apocalyptic demon Kali (after whose era of chaos the episode is titled), with his far better known namesake, the four-armed scimitar-wielding goddess of eternity who is violent and fierce but also ultimately benevolent. Next time, guys, spend a little more time skimming Wikipedia, ‘kay? The statue is held in the private vault of collector Theodore Knox, a descendent (of course) of a Colonial artillery general after whom a certain fortified army base is named, for no other reason than a weak joke in this making them kinda, sorta, and in a roundabout way but not really, planning to rob Fort Knox.

Although heist plots are at their best when driven by the lively fun of best laid schemes ganging aft agley and requiring a frantically improvised backup, the episode’s disposable plotting gives us little more than a sudden but inevitable betrayal to precipitate this. Kali Yuga appropriately means “Age of Strife,” and the events force the heroes to address their various issues with one another that have been glossed over in the name of concision, chiefly Abbie’s trusting of the homicidal angel Orion and Ichabod’s unquestioning faith in Katrina in spite of her flip-flopping loyalties that have been getting increasingly frustrating for protagonist and viewer alike. Although, with all that the pair of them have been through together it really shouldn’t take being locked in a vault that transforms into a Death Star trash compactor to provide them with adequate motivation to voice their misgivings.

Other disappointing moments include what is possibly the weakest puzzle since that knights and knaves logic riddle made famous by Labyrinth and Doctor Who’s Pyramids of Mars, and the Thuggee cultists being so heavily derivative of those from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that all we’re missing is repeated chanting of “Kali ma! Kali ma! Kali ma!” during sinister scenes lit by flaming torchlight.

Reconciliation also comes between Hawley and Jenny resolving their relationship that’s been a bit shaky for as long as the writers deemed it interesting (which has been at least a coupe of episodes). The issue presented is whether Hawley’s loyalties ultimately lie with the woman who was, in fairness, there for him when nobody else was, or the people who have apparently become a makeshift family to him, something that has been in no way conveyed in the show so far. 

Aside from the grand larceny shenanigans and poorly-researched Eastern mysticism, there is still the mystery of Irving to deal with. Minor issues such as what he has become, what happened to him and why/how the hell he is alive, which in one of a few brief appearances, Katrina attempts to ascertain. After a candlelight ritual and some flashbacks of Irving’s moments when most under the influence of magical forces, she is unable to determine exactly what happened, but is still able to deduce he is free of the influence of Henry. However, Katrina appears to once again be motivated by the apparent potential for Henry’s redemption, which is another lingering plotline no closer to being resolved, while someone with the abilities of a sin eater requiring external salvation in the first place is an irony yet to be picked up upon. The implication appears to be that whatever she says on the subject of her son cannot be entirely trusted, but we can’t know anything for sure until he actually reappears, and regardless of how that will occur, an immediate question will be what exactly he’s been doing for the last two months.

While addressing the residual discord between characters was a necessary occurrence to allow the series to actually progress from its current stagnation, the ease with which everyone comes together again doesn’t actually make for especially engaging viewing. If there was as much effort made in consistently developing the characters and plot as there was to titling the episodes with obscure historical, philosophical and mythological references, the show’s current state might be far more coherent than the narrative mess it’s been hanging in.

 

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