“Sleepy Hollow” recap: “Pittura Infamante”

When I started today’s Sleepy Hollow tweet, I wrote:

I wrote it partly in jest, but little did I know that I’d actually feel like I needed a mainline to Jesus during the episode. If I’m being honest, “Pittura Infamante” was a passable episode. Some would even say it was a good one. But I’d only be able to say it was a good one if this was a show that was always about Ichabod and Katrina. This is a show that’s supposed to be about Ichabod and Abbie.

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Before anyone says, “But are you just a mad shipper?” don’t go there. This anger has gone beyond anything as small as shipping wars. This is literally about a show that has been turned upside down and inside out to become The Crane Family Power Hour. I didn’t sign up for The Crane Family Power Hour. I signed up for Sleepy Hollow. Unfortunately, I only got one-half of that show tonight, thanks to Abbie, Jenny, Irving, and a special appearance by Cynthia.

A quick-and-dirty recap of the episode is this: In an effort to find themselves in the new terms of their relationship, Katrina and Ichabod go on a date night to the local historical society. However, they come into contact with a murderer who’s stuck inside a painting and is devouring anyone who touches it.
Before I really launch into my tirade about this episode, let me just state that Michelle Trachtenberg, whom I will always love for playing Harriet in Harriet the Spy, was fine as Abigail Adams. Nothing to write home about. She did her job.

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Now to the anger. I am trying to figure out how or why Mark Goffman thought making Katrina a main character without giving her any definition was a good idea. Maybe he thought she was developed, but Katrina has been a dark spot on the show beginning in S1. As a showrunner, I’m sure his job is tough, and I’m sure he’s having his own woes fielding all of this criticism. But, he is the showrunner as well as a writer on the show and although he didn’t write this episode, he is the one that okayed this season’s arc. I sincerely want to know why he thought the character of Katrina was ready for primetime television.

 

Katrina has done nothing but irritate, and that’s on a good day. On a bad day, she’s ineffectual, annoying, whispery, and sucks the life out of the storyline, taking Abbie’s rightful position as Ichabod’s other half (Witness-wise). I think this episode was trying to balance things out by having Abbie rely on Jenny for Witness help just like Ichabod was relying on Katrina, but that’d only be justified if Katrina was likeable and developed. She doesn’t even have to be nice to be likeable; Henry’s a horrible human being and he’s liked by a lot of people. Ditto with Abraham, who now has a sizable following.

This particular episode, putting Katrina in the usual Abbie spot was a big “ruh-roh” moment. Of course, Katrina can contribute to cases, but she’s a secondary character and she’s supposed to remain in her lane. On Law and Order, you never see Briscoe and Green split up to work on other people’s cases. You never see Briscoe bring the medical examiner –a secondary character- on as a temporary detective. It’s always Briscoe and Green.

Or, a more contemporary example is Gus and Shawn from Psych. Save for a few episodes, Gus and Shawn are never apart when they’re solving crimes. And even in the few episodes that Gus is taking the lead on a crime (or teams up with Lassiter), Shawn somehow manages to show up and take his rightful place at Gus’ side. Never does Shawn or Gus get the “secondary character” treatment. The same goes for Ichabod and Abbie. We should never see Abbie get redirected to the background as a sacrifice to Katrina’s lack of character. As soon as I realized that’s what was happening, I got really annoyed.

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This is not to say that I don’t want Katrina to get some kind of character. Goodness knows she needs it. But not at the expense of Abbie. No, ma’am. What I did like from this episode was Katrina and Ichabod bonding over being out of their time periods. That was cool, and if there more moments like that between them, then I’d be a little bit happier. If a portion of an episode (or several) focused on Katrina coming to terms with 2015, the treatment of her coven towards us, and her making her own conclusions that don’t involve Abraham or jerking Ichabod and Abbie around, that’d be even better. Of course, seeing her do some more magic would be great. But character development at the expense of underwriting another’s is not cool at all.

I am glad, though, that Orlando Jones got his Shakespeare on and gave us some drama that we’ve been missing for a while now. He really brought it back to the realistic level that kept viewers watching in S1. In fact, that’s really what this whole season’s been missing. Everything about S1 was fantastical, but it was also rooted in something so realistic that it the craziness charming and somehow, relatable. This season, nothing’s relatable. Katrina’s “plans” and her slowing the action down to a snail’s pace, Abbie being shut out, the existence of Hawley make no sense at all.

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SIGH. That’s about all I have to say on this. I wrote earlier on COLOR and my Twitter that I’m expecting some “restructuring” now that Fox is holding meetings about getting Sleepy Hollow back on track. I’d say some restructuring, in whatever capacity, is necessary, because otherwise, Sleepy Hollow is going to become a breakout hit that gets cancelled.

The plan should be simple enough, since the fans have loudly said that they don’t like Katrina. Get rid of her or completely rewrite the character to give Katia Winter something better to do (that is, if she doesn’t want to take the opportunity to get out while she can, since I’m sure she’s probably tired of negative hashtags and reviews about her character). Get rid of or rewrite Hawley. He might be able to be salvaged, since it’s still an early game for him. Keep Ichabod and Abbie together solving crimes with prime helpers (Jenny, Irving) backing them up. Most importantly, Sleepy Hollow needs to get back to the fun it used to revel in, because if the bad blood between fans and the writing room gets stronger, there won’t be anyone coming back to see the changes S3 has in store (if it even gets renewed).

What did you think of this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Brownie Harris/FOX

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