Orlando Jones as Captain Frank Irving, Katia Winter as Katrina Crane, Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane, and Nicole Beharie as Lt. Abbie Mills in the TV Series 'Sleepy Hollow.' Photo Credit: Fox

‘Sleepy Hollow’: Heads Roll in Series Premiere

The new show about murder, witches, and a little thing called the Headless Horseman premiered on on Monday on Fox. While some were unsure how the tale of Sleepy Hollow would fare in modern day, it proved any remaining critics wrong in its debut.

The episode opens in a battle taking place in Hudson Valley, New York in the year 1781. Explosions and gunfire ring through the air. You see a young Ichabod Crane, portrayed by Tom Mison, fighting for his country. Out of nowhere, you see a masked figure riding a white horse come riding in; a hessian soldier.

Quickly, Ichabod turns and shoots the masked figure, and he falls from his horse. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately not. The hessian sits up almost immediately and begins to encroach on Mister Crane.

Ichabod looks down and notices a strange symbol on the soldier’s hand.

That momentary distraction would cost Ichabod greatly.

In the second that he paused to glare at the mysterious man’s hand, the masked man raised his axe and sliced Ichabod across the chest.

I think at this point he effectively knew he was done for. Ichabod falls to his knees, and the masked man raises his axe to finish off the young Mister Crane. However, in one final act of defiance, Ichabod quickly raises his sword and relieves that masked man of his head.

The two simultaneously fall to the ground, presumably dead…or were they?

Now we fast forward to modern day. Ichabod awakens in a deep, dark, and kind of creepy cave buried under mounds of dirt, and surrounded by creepy jars containing various objects, even animals; one of which is a snake. Could this be the work of witches? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

After emerging from the cave, he makes his way to the roadway; something Crane has never seen before. After Crane miraculously survives not one, but two brushes with death by speeding vehicle, he makes his way down the road, revealing a sign that shows him to be on the outskirts of the village of Sleepy Hollow.

Lt. Abbie Mills, played by Nicole Beharie, and her captain August Corbin, played by Clancy Brown, just finished sharing a meal when they receive a call of a disturbance at a local farm.

They immediately head out to the farm, and begin to look around after they receive no answer to a knock on the door. In the background, you can hear the sound of horses panicking.

Captain Corbin heads to the stable to check on the disturbance, and unfortunately finds a lot more than he bargained for. After being warned by Lt. Mills that she has located a weapon on he ground, Corbin heads on the defensive. Pretty soon, panic sets in for Lt. Mills as she finds the owner of the farm with his head unceremoniously removed from his body.

Just then, the horseman reveals himself to Captain Corbin. Before he could properly react, the horseman already had the captain in his sights. On the outside of the barn, we see Abbie starting to approach. Before she is able to open the door to the stable, she sees a burning axe come flying through the splintered wood of the door. Unfortunately, Captain August Corbin had met the business end of the horseman’s axe and was missing his head.

The horseman comes charging through the door, and stops to take a look, well…as much of a look as someone with no head can, rears his horse, and rides off into the night.

Still taken aback by recent events, a shocked Abbie stops to look at her assailant and notices a strange mark on the horseman’s hand, just like the one that Ichabod saw during the Revolutionary War.

Unfortunately, it is then that she turns and sees her partner and his disembodied head. She immediately calls for backup. On his way to the scene, a fellow officer named Andy Dunn, played by John Cho, comes upon a dirty and disheveled Ichabod. While he does not fit the description of Abbie’s assailant, he is still taken into custody.

Locked in a cell, a less than amused Ichabod Crane looks on as Dunn and Mills come into the room. Lt. Mills tells Dunn that Crane is not the man that she saw at the farm.

Abbie described her assailant to Dunn as a man wearing some sort of a military uniform and a red coat with a strange mark on his hand. At this point, the reality of the situation starts to set in with Crane.

Crane asks if the man who attacked her carried a broad axe, and if the mark on his hand was in the shape of a bow. Suddenly baffled by how he would know such details, Abbie asks him “How do you know that?”

Following in normal interrogation style she asks, “Who is he? When is the last time you saw him?” to which Crane responds matter of factly, “When I cut off his head.” Because confessing to murder is always a good idea when you are being held by the cops.

Finally, the question of the hour is upon us…”Who are you?”

We flash shortly forward to Crane being interrogated. He was asked to submit to a polygraph test, and is asked to describe how he got to be where they are now. He explains that he was a professor at Oxford University until he was brought to America to fight the patriots. He explained that the rule of tyranny betrayed the weight of his conscience and that he became a spy for General George Washington.

He explains to the officers what transpired when he came face to face with the would-be headless horseman for the very first time; from cutting off his head to ending up in a triage being cared for by his wife, Katrina.

After the police explain to him that the events that he is recounting happened over 250 years ago, the new Captain, Frank Irving, who is portrayed by Orlando Jones, orders Crane to be committed to a psychiatric facility for a 72 hour psych hold. Still searching for answers about what she had seen the night before, she asks the Captain if she can interrogate the suspect prior to his transfer, to which he abruptly refuses. After some carefully played out pleading, he agrees to let her transport him to the psychiatric facility so that she may speak to him during his transport exclusively.

Ichabod and Lt. Mills do not exactly get off to a brilliant start. You see, Ichabod lived in a time where race relations were quite different than they are today. He makes a few comments that leave Abbie less than pleased; however, Ichabod explains that he meant no disrespect, and that in  his day he had been a abolitionist.

Neither one of them truly trust each other, but somewhere deep inside, they realize that they are each other’s greatest hope in unraveling the secrets behind the mystery that is taking over Sleepy Hollow.

Abbie tells Crane that they are going to head back to the cave where Ichabod says that he awakened. He makes a quick quip that she is defying direct orders. She responds by saying that it’s a good thing that no one would believe him.

While exploring the cave, Crane comes across a bible that was buried with him deep inside the cave. Upon inspection, he notices that here is a particular passage highlighted in the bible. It is in the book of Revelations.

And there before me stood a white horse, and its rider held a bow, and his name was Death. Then a voice like thunder said ‘Come and see me.’”

This speaks of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now this will make for an interesting twist.

Crane recalls for Abbie a conversation that he had with George Washington in which he said that the revolution wasn’t just a war for the future of the country; it would determine the fate of every man, woman and child on earth.

He continues by explaining that Washington had given him one mission; to kills a mercenary on the battlefield only recognizable by a mark on his hand; a bow. Abbie immediately calls this entire thing crazy, to which Crane replies that it does not make this any less real. He stresses that the Bible was left with him for a reason, and that the connections were all around them, she just wasn’t ready to believe them. The Horseman had returned to Sleepy Hollow to finish what he started 250 years ago.

Now, we see that the sun is starting to set in Sleepy Hollow, and the Horseman is out on the hunt. He is searching for a Priest that Ichabod had laid eyes on earlier in the day. The priest is carrying a shovel, presumably to retrieve something he means to hide from the Horseman. After a short, yet ineffective fight on behalf of the man of God, the Horseman made short work of him by relieving him of his head.

Finally on their way to the facility as they had been ordered earlier in the day, Ichabod and Abbie come across the crime scene of the Priest’s brutal beheading.

While Captain Irving is investigating, Abbie walks up and states the comparison between what happened to Captain Corbin and what happened to the newly beheaded Priest. Irving turns to see Ichabod and immediately wonders what he is doing at the crime scene. Abbie explains that Ichabod has been in her custody the entire time, and that he cannot possibly be the murderer.

She pleads with Captain Irving o hear her out, and that Ichabod may be the one thing they need to catch the real culprit; however, Irving wants nothing to do with her explanation. He informs her that if she does not take him to the padded cell as he ordered, she would be suspended until further notice.

Dunn tries to convince her that she is making a mistake and to walk away from this one. The look on her face tells me that she knows in her heart that there is something going on here that she just cannot see quite yet.

When Abbie next sees Ichabod, he is following a bird through the graveyard. He explains to her that the bird had led him to this spot. Upon further inspection, he finds that the grave the bird brought him to was the grave of his wife Katrina, where he finds that she had been burnt for witchcraft in 1782.

She explains to him that she doesn’t have the luxury of giving him the benefit of the doubt in this investigation. She is getting ready to leave Sleepy Hollow, and that Irving can ruin her career. He can’t believe that she is leaving Sleepy Hollow. He tells her that she can’t leave; their fates are intertwined now, and running away isn’t going to change that.

Still in denial, she finally escorts him to the psychiatric facility as she had been ordered.

When they get to the psychiatric facility and Mills is left alone with Crane. She explains to him in detail what happened to her in her past that she refused to explain to him at the crime scene.

She said that back in High School, her and her sister were walking home, and then all of a sudden 4 white trees appeared before them, and there was someone near. They could not tell if it was a person or not. The next thing they knew, they blacked out and woke up on the side of the road. She said that everyone thought that they were crazy, and eventually her sister started to believe them. She continues by explaining that her sister has been in and out of facilities like the one that Ichabod is currently confined to.

He says that she is battling demons. She says that she can relate to him, because when he showed up everyone in the town thought that he was crazy, and she knew what that felt like.

I think this is the turning point in the episode. Abbie is finally starting to see that Ichabod is not crazy and that his intentions may very well be true, and he is starting to see the side of her that is trying to unravel a mystery that started so many years ago for her and her sister.

Things start to get interesting once Abbie leaves and Ichabod turns in for the evening.

We then see Abbie entering into Corbin’s office. She is searching for anything that may help her put together the pieces of the intensely mysterious situation. She comes across a good number of files that detail all sorts of occult matters. She finds a recording that goes into detail about 2 different witch covens that were embedded into the populous; one representing good, the other evil.

He believed that these cases correlate to the same thing Abbie and her sister had encountered. He says that he wants to tell Abbie what he has found, but he doesn’t quite know how.

I don’t know who to trust anymore. The closer I get to this, the closer something is getting to me.” Corbin says on tape.

It is at that moment that Irving finds Abbie in the office, and immediately asks her what she is doing. She tells him that she is looking through some old case files in the hopes of finding something that may help her with her investigation into Corbin’s murder; however, that she had found nothing, which we all know, is not true.

He backhandedly tells her to back off by asking her to let them do their job, and to go home and get some rest. She leaves without incident.

The look on Irving’s face tells me that he is entirely too wrapped up into this to not be much deeper involved than he is admitting to.

Now, we flash forward to Ichabod.

When we see him next, he is obviously in some sort of an alternate reality; possibly as dream world. The sun is shining brightly, and the bird he had seen in the graveyard flies past the end of his bed; presumably to lead him to where he needs to be.

In the mirror, he sees the image of his wife Katrina; the wind blowing through her hair and donning a black dress. She explains to him that this is the only way in which she can reach him. She says that she has been trying to lead him in the right direction.

He asks her about the gravestone, to which she explains that her body was never buried in that grave. She reveals to him that the gravesite is the true location of the Horseman’s skull. She explains that it has been guarded though time by one of her coven; which we come to find out is the recently beheaded priest.

She explains that they are part of an ancient order sworn to fight the darkness that hides in Sleepy Hollow. She explains that when he beheaded the Horseman, their bloodlines merged, and that they were bound by blood.

She told Ichabod that they buried him in the cave to protect him. Before she can finish their explanation, we hear an eerie sound coming from behind Ichabod. She explains to him that the evil that currently controls the Horseman has found him and that they haven’t the time to continue their conversation. She tells him that should the Horseman find his skull that he will become whole again, then the other 3 will follow him and it will begin; the beginning of the end. She tells him that he must keep the Horseman from finding  his skull.

Remember that light is his weakness. He can’t survive the sunrise.” Katrina pleads.

She begs him to find her and free her from the place she is bound. He doesn’t understand what it is he is to do. She tells him that all the answers are in Washington’s bible; that he is the first witness.

Wait…the first? Uh oh, I think this means more for Abbie than she is ready to imagine dealing with.

Before the evil can take hold of Ichabod, he awakens from his dream, and is safely returned to the confines of his cell. Well, as safe as one can be for someone who is being physically restrained and about to be injected with a sedative.

Just before the doctor can give him the shot, Abbie walks into the room and orders her to stop. She states that she is taking him back into her custody. The doctor argues that Crane is not fit to be moved. Lt. Mills orders that the doctor and her staff stand down and allow her to do her job, ushering Ichabod out of the room.

The two of them proceed down the hallway rather quickly, and for good reason.

Walk fast. We have about 1 minute until she realizes that the court order is actually a practice sheet from my Academy exam.” Abbie explains as they rush down the hallway.

Ichabod tells her that he knows what it is that the Horseman seeks.

As they speed down the street, police lights on and everything, she explains to him that Corbin had all hundreds of case files stored in a cabinet that related to the incident at hand. She then hands him a map of the Hudson Valley that was charted in 1776. The signature at the bottom of the chart is that of George Washington.

He tells her that he has laid eyes on the map before. He explains that General Washington used to survey all the field sketches for battle. Slowly, but surely, the two of them begin to put together the pieces of this intricate puzzle. Abbie is finally starting to come to terms that what they are going through is not part of any fairytale, but is actually quite real.

We now see the Horseman’s white steed with glowing red eyes waiting by the edge of the water. Slowly, the Horseman’s figure begins to emerge from the water. He makes his way out of the lake and towards his steed.

At the same time, Abbie and Ichabod speed towards the church. She attempts to call in Andy as backup. As can be expected, he argues with her citing that Ichabod is not a reliable source; however, she begs him to believe her. Eventually, he agrees to call it in.

When Dunn arrives at his home, he notices that his door had been forcibly opened, and the doorknob is barely hanging on. Upon entering the residence, he notices that someone has broken into his arsenal. He looks around the house to find no one. Well, that is until the Horseman made himself known.

This time, instead of brandishing his broad axe, the Horseman held a gun in his hand. Dunn proceeds to tell the Horseman that he knows where it is.

Wait…what? So Dunn is in on this whole thing too? Maybe Corbin was on to something. Sometimes, people are not always what they appear to be.

Ichabod and Abbie arrive at the gravesite and begin to dig. He finally uncovers the skull of the Horseman. Queue the Horseman, complete with newly brandished gun. He begins to shoot at Abbie and Ichabod, both of which have ran for cover.

The Horseman comes upon the grave where Ichabod is hiding with the skull. Just as he points his weapon at him and is about to fire, the Abbie shoots the Horseman multiple times, distracting him just long enough to emerge from the grave unharmed. He then uses the shovel to fight off the Horseman’s advances.

Just then, Dunn drives up behind Abbie. She tells him that she needs a rifle from his trunk, and she asks where the backup is. He tells her that he doesn’t know and that he called it in.

Just as the trunk opens and Abbie is out of sight, Dunn uses his pistol to knock her unconscious. Somehow I knew he wasn’t playing for the right team.

Ichabod and the Horseman continue their battle, which has now spilled into the street.

Just as the Horseman reaches for the gun on the ground, another police vehicle pulls up, and two officers emerge from the vehicle with guns drawn. The officer orders him to drop the weapon and put his hands on his…oh…wait…

Before the Horseman can make another move, his shoulder starts to sizzle. He turns to notice that the sun is beginning to rise overhead. He then turns back to the officers and opens fire on them; the bullets shredding through their vehicle. With that, the horseman would ride off into the sunset, with the gun still in his hand. This is quite the change from his burning hot broad axe.

As more police begin to arrive on the scene, Abbie and Ichabod share a knowing glance. They both realize that what they have been through is quite real, and that they are going to have to work together.

Later that day, back at the police station Abbie and Captain Irving are talking. He is obviously upset, but tells her that there is nothing he can do about it because 2 other officers corroborated her story, and that there is a lot of press looking for answers that he doesn’t have. Then, he brings up the fact that she is due to transfer to Quantico next week.

She looks back at him and says, “Not anymore. I think this is where I am supposed to be.”

The captain finally concedes that Ichabod is needed in order to get to the bottom of this, and tells them both to go get him something he can use.

After the Captain walks away, Ichabod tells her that there is something she should know. He tells her that in his dream, Katrina referred to him as the first witness. He explains that the Book of Revelations speaks of two witnesses who are brought together for a seven year period to defend humanity from the forces of hell. He continues that the battle is prophesied to ordain the fate of the world on judgment day.

Before they are able to interrogate Dunn, he is visited by a demonic figure with a thundering voice. The demon tells him that he has failed his mission, and Dunn pleads for another chance.

Just as Ichabod and Abbie turn the corner, the demon breaks his neck sending his head flying backwards. When they look up, they can both see the demonic figure heading back into the mirror into the world that Ichabod had been transferred to when he met with Katrina.

Before the demon disappeared, he rushed the mirror, cracking it.

This series is going to be a most interesting one. They have put a brand new twist on a story told so long ago by Washington Irving.

Sleepy Hollow has a decent balance of drama, action, and comedic banter throughout. The comedic banter almost reminds me of the chemistry between Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson in the series Elementary.

Each episode has the feel of its own feature length movie. I think that is the beauty of the style brought forth by director Len Wiseman, who is responsible for the Underworld franchise.

I, for one, am very impressed with the way that the story was put together. I feel as if they have assembled a strong cast that shares a very unique chemistry, especially that between Lt. Mills and Ichabod Crane.

I can tell you one thing for sure. This is going to be a series that I will be intensely following in the weeks to come.

Here is a preview of the next episode, entitled ‘Blood Moon.’

Make sure to check back with us next week as we take a closer look at Episode 2.

Sleepy Hollow airs on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. on Fox.

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