This past Friday the third season of Sleepy Hollow came to a close, and I thought I would share my thoughts on it, since it is one of the many shows I follow. I’m planning to do more write-ups on the full seasons of the shows I’m watching as they come to a close, so I can give a fuller review of my thoughts, as I don’t really have time to do episodic reviews (and honestly I feel like those have a limited value in a way because you can’t judge how they fit into the larger picture until later). If this sounds interesting to you (or not), please leave a comment and let me know.
I should also note that there will be some pretty massive SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t caught up on the show and want things to remain a surprise, don’t keep reading.
Anyway, I’m going to write on the different primary aspects of this season, as I see them, and what I thought worked and what didn’t. So, onwards and upwards!
Season Three of Sleepy Hollow saw a shift from a primarily Christian mythology featuring Heaven, Hell, and the Occult to a mixed bag of mythologies that primarily featured Greek and Sumerian mythology. The main villain for most of the season was Pandora who summoned monsters to attack Sleepy Hollow through her infamous box.
I found that Shannyn Sossamon was a great casting choice for Pandora, and I think she played a compelling villain and one that was pretty well defined and complex. This to me was a plus, but on the other hand I wasn’t entirely sure why the writers decided to shift mythologies, scrapping the Christian background, as well as the headless horseman, to go in this new direction.
I think this set-up could have worked, especially if Season Two had involved branching out into exploring more mythologies. After all, America is the “melting pot” so having different cultures and ideologies presented would be both a cool and accurate thing to do. However, after establishing the Christian mythology for two seasons, switching to something new felt jarring in a sense. It felt detached from what I had come to expect of the show, both in terms of its mythology and how it related to the Revolutionary War storyline. Having the British tap into devilish magic made a certain amount of sense, but having them also using the magic of other cultures felt a little strained to me.
As I said, I think expanding to take in the myths of other cultures wasn’t a bad idea, but I think it could’ve been executed a bit better, and if it had been tackled more strongly in the earlier seasons I think I would’ve bought into it more.
I really thought that Betsy would find her way into the modern day world. I thought that having a “female Crane” would be really fun. I also thought she might be a fun add for future seasons. Obviously the ratings for this show haven’t been great, so maybe they didn’t want to add another character, but it could’ve been fun. Ultimately she ended up remaining only in flashback scenes until the very end of the season when she shows up in the Catacombs, a sort of alternate dimension, and while the way her arc pans out makes sense, I think not bringing her up to present times was a missed opportunity.
I also wasn’t sure when Betsy and Crane’s relationship took place or why this was the first time we’d heard about her. For two seasons all we heard about was his love for Katrina, but in this season we barely heard mention of Katrina at all, and almost all of Crane’s ruminating was on Betsy. For one thing, I feel like we should’ve at least heard of Betsy before this season, if she was such a big part of Washington’s operations and so meaningful to Crane.
For another, we definitely should’ve heard more about Katrina than we did. She was the love of Crane’s life, but she turned evil and tried to kill him and Abbie. I think focusing on Betsy through the lens of regret (since he obviously picked the wrong woman to fall in love with!) might have been a better way to approach the character and could have explained why he hadn’t really thought much of Betsy until more recently.
FBI Agents Daniel Reynolds and Sophia Foster:
So I really liked these two characters largely because I found the actors appealing, but I didn’t think they added too much to the plot overall. I’m guessing the idea was to introduce them with the idea that they might have a bigger role in Season Four, but they seemed to clutter things a little bit in this season. The crew already had four members who worked pretty well in Crane, Abbie, Jenny, and Joe, and then Pandora joins the team for a little while, which made sense given her story arc, so having two more members felt like a lot.
As I said, I think bringing Betsy into the present might’ve been a better way to expand the team. It would’ve been really fun and only added in one new primary cast member instead of two to keep things a bit more manageable.
So, the whole Abbie dying thing…I have many thoughts about this.
As I mentioned the show didn’t have the best ratings. Since Season One it’s been on steady decline. Anyway, it’s quite possible that Season Three is the final season for the show, and if that’s the case, I think that the final episode of the season was a really great farewell episode. Having the episode focused on Abbie and her death and sacrifice allowed the writers to bring back or reference a lot of past things, which was very touching as a fan of the show. If this is the end, then I thought that was a solid swan song.
However, if there is a fourth season, I find this decision problematic. To me the appeal of Sleepy Hollow is that it’s a supernatural procedural, essentially. And in all of the buddy cop procedurals, you don’t get rid of one of your main leads…unless you’re Law and Order: SVU. The strength of shows like Castle, Bones, or Elementary is the chemistry between the leads and the ongoing growth of their relationship, whether or not it’s romantic. And the synergy between Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie was the biggest strength of the show.
It’s possible that Beharie wanted to leave the show or that the writers wanted to try to do something shocking since the show is likely on the chopping block, but I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to move forward. With so much of the show built around the chemistry of the two leads, I have to imagine some people are going to be turned off by this decision, and if the show does get renewed, I’m not sure that there is going to be much of a ratings boost. The only thing I could see helping is if the casting team is able to bring on a well-known actress to fill the void who might be able to draw in a new audience.
All of that being said, here are some thoughts on where Season Four could go:
As I alluded to before, I think that Agents Reynolds and Foster were brought on because it appears as though Crane is going to be working with the government to fight evil and having some friendly faces on his side will be a help. No doubt there will also be some bad people working in the government, so he’ll need some insiders he can trust.
It’s also possible that Sophia Foster will serve as the Abbie Mills replacement. We already had an episode this season where Crane works with Foster, and they had fairly good chemistry. I think Jessica Camacho is a very appealing actress, so she could be a good replacement, but in terms of drawing in new audience members, I don’t think she’d help much. It’s also possible that Foster and Reynolds were added simply to bolster the cast as Joe Corbin died as well, and Crane’s partner will be someone new.
As I mentioned, bringing in a new big name might be the only way to generate some hype for the show. It’s possible that actress would be Crane’s new partner from the FBI or it’s possible that actress could portray the new witness (or the witness could be an FBI agent…I guess those aren’t mutually exclusive things).
I also assume that Jenny and her father will have some ongoing subplot where they grow to know each other and help Crane with his missions. Given Crane’s interaction with the father in the finale, I’d also assume that these two be able to help Crane investigate potential in-government threats, as they are both outsiders.
While I think there were areas for improvement, I enjoyed watching Sleepy Hollow this season, as I have in the past, largely because Mison and Beharie carried the show so well. If it returns for a fourth season, I will certainly keep watching, if mostly out of curiosity to see where they go, but I think if they want to succeed they will need a good replacement for Beharie, and that will be tough to do given that she had three seasons worth of history with Mison.