Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sleepy Hollow 3x16 Review: "Dawn’s Early Light" (Half Conceals, Half Discloses) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Dawn’s Early Light"
Original Airdate: March 25, 2016

Before we begin, I’d like to thank Hope for filling in for me last week while I traipsed around New York City and failed to win Hamilton tickets. She did a wonderful job!

A few elements of this week’s episode bounce off of what happened last week, mostly things involving Pandora and her relationship with The Hidden One as well as her delicately neutral standing with the Witnesses. However, “Dawn’s Early Light” is primarily focused on some classic Sleepy Hollow-patented “Twistory.” In a twist on that twistory, though, Ichabod  usually the narrator and primary source of historical information  wasn’t present for the American Revolution-era supernatural escapades in question. He has to piece together the clues and events just like the others, since it involves the crossing of the Delaware and George Washington hadn’t invited him on that.

“No, no, Crane,” I imagine Washington saying. “Let there be one historically important event in which you didn’t take part. The way history revolves around you is getting kind of ridiculous, my good man. Take a break.”


We all knew the American flag would eventually have to play a part in this season’s plot, since Betsy Ross was introduced and if the show wanted to avoid any flag connections they probably would have used literally any other American Revolution-era heroine for this role. Especially since the “character” of Betsy Ross being an infatuated and persistent young woman from whom Ichabod hid inside broom closets had already been established. There were plenty others to choose from, including women who genuinely did fight in the war disguised as men, or other women who were pretty darn impressive, if a little lesser-known than Betsy. Adding battles and spycraft to Betsy Ross’s established history in order to make her seem more important didn’t stop us (or the characters themselves, who referred to her as “the flag woman”) from still mostly associating her with the flag, so to use Betsy Ross in the show and then not make the flag a critical device would be highly unusual.

Anyway, the reason why the flag comes up in the first place is as follows: Pandora visits Ichabod (though she was looking for Abbie; I suspect favoritism) and tells him she’s on the side of the Witnesses now, since the Hidden One’s capricious nature is wearing thin and she wants out. It’s about time, Pandora. Note: I really hope Pandora’s the one to kill/trap/stop the Hidden One in the end. She deserves a little payback for everything he’s done to her, and while I know that it’s a tradition that the main heroes stop the Big Bad, I think it’d be far more satisfying if Pandora was the one to do it.

In order to do anything to the Hidden One, though, Pandora needs her box back... and said box cannot be restored or regenerated just anywhere. It has to be done where it was created: in the Catacombs. When Ichabod approaches Abbie with this information, she’s wary at first but understands that stopping the Hidden One is their first priority. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to get into the Catacombs without Pandora’s Tree of Fear — until, of course, a Crane Flashback™ leads the team on a journey through historical assumptions and fuzzy logic and to Betsy Ross’s gold-stitched American Flag, likened to the lyre strung with gold thread that had opened the door to the underworld for Orpheus in mythology.

You remember that little not-at-all-romantic parallel between Orpheus/Eurydice and Ichabod/Abbie, right? Well, it’s back.

The quest for the flag leads the Witnesses to a museum and a Hamilton reference, but not to the actual flag because the one hanging in the museum is a fake. Bizarrely, touching the fake flag awakens the Eternal Soldier: a zombie soldier ordered to guard the thing with fire and door-smashing abilities. How do caretakers of the museum clean if, every time they waft a duster in the flag’s direction, an unholy monster borne of tar and witchcraft comes out and throws a fireball at them? That’s the real mystery, here.

They do get pictures of the fake flag, which is great because the fake flag is a clue leading Team Witness to the national anthem, and even though I’ve mocked the blurred history a bit in this episode I have to say that I’m really happy Sleepy Hollow is starting to touch on things like the flag and the national anthem. These are so prominent in American history and our perception of how history has happened  glorified, fictionalized, and twisted in our minds, even without the addition of magical voyages to parallel realms  that the writers needed to use them eventually. The fact that we got some twistory without Ichabod absurdly being at the center of it all was a bonus, too.

A bit more investigation and another reference to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and the Witnesses eventually get Betsy Ross’s original, golden-threaded, magical flag. In the process, Daniel Reynolds is inducted into the Sleepy Hollow Club for People Who Know What Goes Bump In the Night, and the Eternal Soldier is defeated by Jenny and Joe using liquid nitrogen and a sledgehammer, respectively. Basing his reasoning off the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Ichabod takes the flag out at “dawn’s early light” and lets the sun’s rays glint off the golden thread, revealing a very sparkly path to the Catacombs.


Early on in the episode, the estranged Mills patriarch, Ezra, shows up to gift his girls with a photo album and a stroll down memory lane. Jenny is very surly about it and makes a sarcastic remark about Ezra leaving their mother behind, which elicits this response on why Ezra and Lori failed as a couple: "A relationship can survive most anything, except secrets." This single line is dropped at the start of the episode, and it wasn’t until I re-watched in order to write this review that I realized how important it was and how it pertained not just to the Mills backstory, but relationships in the present-day of the show.

See, “Dawn’s Early Light” features two relationships that are destined to be doomed by secrets. The first, between Pandora and her god-husband, is already on its way out because Pandora kept her knowledge of the Emblem of Thura’s location from The Hidden One and he did not react well. (Honestly, though, Hidden One’s retaliation against Pandora for keeping secrets really didn’t seem all that different from the awful way he treats her normally.) The second relationship that has a secret brewing between its two occupants is the one developing between Abbie and Daniel Reynolds.

Abbie thinks that Danny knowing about her side job as a warrior against the supernatural means they have no secrets between them, and that she can finally try and make a romance during the apocalypse work (casual reminder that Abbie has never had an on-screen kiss in three seasons, and her last romantic prospect was in season one). Poor Abbie, because we all know that Danny’s been spying on her and Ichabod for shifty FBI boss Walters and I am one hundred percent certain that she’s not going to be happy when she finds out.

This isn’t going to end well. It might end slightly better than the Pandora/Hidden One breakup, which I imagine might result in a few deaths and destruction of property, but still...

Other Things:
  • I’m slightly confused by Jenny’s attitude toward Ezra in this episode. She seemed mostly okay with him after meeting a few episodes ago.
  • The Hidden One likens Pandora to a “house pet” and almost drowns her, then he later seems surprised by her leaving his side and joining the Witnesses? For real, dude?
  • “Take good care of my daughter.” I think Ezra Mills ships it.
  • “You once allied yourself with [Pandora]” “To save you!” So Abbie’s totes okay with a Pandora alliance if Ichabod’s in trouble. Noted.
  • Abbie sounds hilariously bored as she talks about yet another way in which American history crossed paths with the mystical.
  • Man, Katrina’s coven was awful. They bespelled a demon to protect the flag, but didn’t add in anything to allow the Eternal Soldier to recognize intent, or even if it’s the real flag? Shoddy witchmanship, ladies.
  • Aaaand why was Abbie researching the Orpheus/Eurydice myth after returning from the Catacombs?
  • History is just loaded with Freemasons, huh? How does a secret society remain secret when absolutely everyone is a member?
  • The way Danny said "He created FIRE!" made me giggle. He’s so confused! It’s adorable! Aw, Danny, welcome to Sleepy Hollow.
  • “[Abbie and Ichabod] are stronger because they love each other.” Pandora ships it.
  • I really loved the scene between Sophie and Danny, two normal people talking about being normal people in the middle of the Sleepy Hollow madness.
  • “The best we can do is adapt to those turns we never see coming.” Like your BFF/Witness partner finally getting a boyfriend? Or your ex from the 1700s breaking up with you via letter. Whatever, flashback.
  • “Are you ready to go back, Lieutenant?” (Abbie winces, then smirks.) “Let’s go.”
  • Oh, hey, also, this is the second time this week I’ve written something along these lines in a review but seriously: Abbie! Do not date your boss!


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