SLEEPY HOLLOW Season 2, Episode 16 'What Lies Beneath'

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A bunch of engineers surveying a sewer discover a sealed-off area containing a sturdy manhole cover circumscribed with mysterious markings. Between them they have evidently never seen a single horror film in their lives, else they would be well aware that ominous openings are usually sealed shut and hidden from the outside world for a very good reason, and that opening them never, ever ends well for anyone involved. Lo and behold, no sooner is the cover opened when – cue jump scare – something reaches out, grabs them and yanks them into the subterranean black hole.

Upon investigating the underground disappearances, Ichabod and Abbie discover the Fenestella, a reference library collating the Founding Fathers’ accumulated knowledge of the supernatural and the various ways of combating it, which is exactly the kind of thing that would have been really really useful to have access to before Moloch the Demon Lord of Purgatory almost kicked off the End of Days by unleashing armies of hellspawn upon an unsuspecting and unprepared world. Oh, and it’s presided over by Thomas Jefferson in the form of some projected ghost/ hologram type thing defined as a mix of science and magic, a combination often used in speculative fiction to justify the existence of something that doesn’t obey the established laws of either.

The tunnels surrounding it are guarded by what were once George Washington’s secret forces, but their magically-induced immortality combined with two hundred years of dormancy in the dank dark tunnels have turned them into shrieking, feral, cannibalistic, almost-human creatures with call-of-the-wild body mods who appear out of nowhere to swarm in packs and leave devastation in their wake. And the name of these creatures? Reavers. Yes, seriously. Maybe they just forgot how to be men. Unfortunately, the power source for the library is in the middle of the reavers’ nest, and so our two heroes have to make a choice between preserving this vast and irreplaceable resource, or saving the workmen by destroying the place, also preventing other innocent townsfolk from stumbling down there and ending up as extremely rare steaks. It won’t come as the slightest surprise which they choose, nor will the ease with which the decision is made, but anyway, it must be observed that Ichabod and Abbie have been doing pretty well so far without access to a secret bunker crammed with enough knowledge to render every mystery they subsequently encounter utterly inert.

The investigation is complicated by a nosy journalist who is also the brother of one of the missing workmen and refuses to accept Abbie’s explaining away of what’s going on, instead deciding to press the point in a relentless attempt to expose the Truth. While you could argue that efforts to expose official cover ups should generally be applauded, it’s not entirely clear how he thinks he’s helping to save his brother by continually getting in the way of the people trying to find him. At the very least, he could have made some kind of effort to be slightly less obnoxiously irritating. He grants a perspective not often seen in the show, that of the town’s ordinary people who happen to live in what until recently was the battleground for Armageddon. While everyday people are often caught up in each weekly supernatural chaos, we’ve hardly ever experienced the what the general populace make of the regular violent deaths, odd occurrences and general pandemonium for which a rational explanation is consistently lacking.

The mystery of Irving continues to grow, compounded last week by his seeming to be in alliance with Henry. Despite his death rendering his soul now Henry’s to command, Irving is still able to fight against the evil side growing within him, even though it’s a losing battle. The poignancy comes not from the fact that for all intents and proposes he is slowly dying while being torturously aware of each piece of himself slipping away, but from his determination to do all he can to help his family and friends while he is still able, and in the process perhaps mitigate some of the destruction that will doubtless be unleashed in his name once the darkness completely consumes him. With only the traditional two-part finale remaining, there is a lot is about to happen, and quickly.


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