As FOX’s sophomore supernatural hit Sleepy Hollow breaks for midseason, it seems to have taken the “hollow” part of its moniker to heart. The show that surprised and charmed millions of viewers in the fall of 2013 with its combination of solid character work, whimsy and genuinely creepy lore — cinched by the chemistry of leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison — has lost its soul in its second year, becoming a rote, tiresome exploration of Crane family pathos.
Looking at an interview with TVLine, it appears that executive producer Mark Goffman may have no idea why that’s a problem. “One of the things I think we’ve looked at over the course of the season is what a really difficult position Katrina’s been in,” he says, going on to talk about how “this season is really about family, redemption and duty versus family.”
By “family” he must mean “the Cranes,” not the back-burnered Mills sisters and the harrowing history that was contained to one episode and then dropped. If he spent a lot of time thinking about Katrina’s position, he must’ve forgotten Abbie’s…thereby losing the series’ through-line. Because the foundation of season one Sleepy Hollow was a strong, female police lieutenant in a small town being thrust into an otherworldly situation and a partnership with a man from the past. Viewers saw that relationship from the very beginning, unlike the purported star-crossed love of Katrina and Ichabod, which largely played out before the first episode and is only parsed out in flashbacks over the course of a season and a half. Retroactive investment in a true love or a marriage is a lot harder to foster than the tangible thread of a friendship and mission we see from its inception. ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland made a similar mistake, packaging Alice and her genie lover as root-for before we even had a chance to care about who they were as individuals.
People tuned into Sleepy Hollow last year in for Abbie and Crane teaming up to fight demonic crime. Katrina and Crane’s epic reunion and the fate of their whack-a-doodle son were far lower on the list. Those issues were key, sure, but not worthy of taking over the entire canvas like they have this year. Certainly not at the expense of Abbie and Crane’s partnership, Abbie’s journey as a character and her relationships with her sister and her police captain. And definitely not to position Katrina as heroine in Abbie’s stead.