Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 7
There are times when I both love and hate fandom, especially in the age of social media. I love that social media has allowed fans to connect and form a community where you can INSTANTLY react to things or even watch “together” via Twitter (what I would have given for that in the days of Alias, where I didn’t know a single other soul who watched it). I love that the sense of community also gives the fans a sense of ownership in a show because we are SO invested in our shows. What I HATE is when that sense of ownership then transitions into fan entitlement when the story is not going in the direction they want or think it should go…especially when it goes from a healthy dialogue about a show’s issues to openly demanding things from individuals working on a show.
This weekend, while Sage and I were basking in the glow of Paul McGann at Long Island Who, this very thing happened in the Sleepy Hollow fandom. Because of my ridiculous schedule and work overload I had yet to get to this post until Sunday Night and I now feel like I can’t talk about “Deliverance” without addressing what went down over the weekend. Before yesterday, I had been pretty blissfully unaware of the growing unrest in the fandom (with “Deliverance” being the final straw apparently), mainly because I only go in the Tumblr tag to search for gifs for these very recaps. I was incredibly dismayed by what I saw on both Tumblr and Twitter last night, not because fans don’t have the right to express their opinions, but because the opinions then turned into personal attacks on writer Raven Metzner. And before you yell at me saying that he WASN’T being attacked…I’ll touch on his reaction later.
Has this season of Sleepy Hollow been perfect so far? Absolutely not. Frank Irving needs to be sprung from the Looney Bin POST HASTE as his presence on the show is sorely missed, being the Walter Skinner to Ichabod and Abbie’s Mulder and Scully. While we got a lot of Jenny in the first three episodes, there has been a Jenny shaped hole in the subsequent three. I HATE that the writers are seemingly building a love triangle between Abbie, Jenny and Hawley because I feel like it’s a cheap plot device and I want the show to be better than that. Am I frustrated that it feels like Matt Barr’s Hawley seems to get screen time at the expense of Lyndie Greenwood and Orlando Jones? Absolutely. Am I annoyed that we’re supposed to believe that Katrina is an all-powerful witch yet she continues to not unleash her powers and is constant need of saving? Of course. Am I frustrated with Ichabod and Katrina’s insistence that Henry can be saved despite all evidence to the contrary? Sure. The opinions expressed in the #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter tag are not entirely wrong. Where the fandom IS going wrong is thinking that they are OWED things, especially when we don’t have the full picture of the arc for the season. We are NOT the ones making the show, and honestly the creators are not required to bow to fan demands. Bowing to fan demands only ends in disaster, as we’ve seen on shows like Glee, where Ryan Murphy clearly based his stories and characterizations on the Ship or Fan Favorite of the Month on the internets.
While Katrina may not be a fan favorite, fans cannot forget the fact that Katia Winter has been the 4th billed member of the cast, after Team Witness and Irving, ever since the pilot. She is a principle cast member, not a recurring character. Katrina deserves to have her story told too and telling her story does NOT mean the writers are pushing an agenda or favoring one cast member over another. It just so happens we are in the thick of a Katrina heavy arc right now (now whether or not that arc is GOOD is a different story). Stories rotate and different characters emerge and come to the forefront as far as “importance” over the course of a season. There is absolutely no way to give every cast member equal prominence in an episode and make them all fully realized characters.
Personally, I don’t feel that Abbie is being marginalized as a character. She is still a strong presence in every episode. She’s the voice of reason AND the voice for the audience in regards to the Crane family drama right now. I DO think that things between her and Ichabod are going to come to a head regarding to his blind hope in Henry. I WANT to believe it will and I am willing to be patient in that regard. I don’t think Sleepy Hollow does ANYTHING unintentionally and I believe that all of these little conflicts between Abbie and Ichabod could even be part of Moloch’s plan to divide the witnesses. Abbie and Ichabod’s faith in EACH OTHER has been the one unshakable thing of the series, and personally, I think it would be an interesting dynamic to discover. Abbie is NOT blindly going along with Ichabod’s desire to save Henry…she’s made that much VERY clear (also let’s all applaud Nicole Beharie’s FACE in every scene where they talk about saving Henry. It’s glorious). If she were being marginalized, she would just be going along with whatever Ichabod says without offering an opinion or fighting back. But she DOES fight back and that’s important. What is also important to note is that Abbie carries around a LOT of guilt as far as abandoning someone SHE loves and not believing in them. Abbie gave up on her sister when she should not have, and I think that’s WHY she’s giving Ichabod the tiniest bit of leeway to at least explore it. Her agency has not been removed…in fact, I feel Abbie’s agency has gotten STRONGER though this whole story.
As Sage just said to me (since we’re essentially writing this piece together over gChat), we may not like Abbie having to save Katrina all the time. The thing is that it’s not about Katrina really…Abbie has her own reasons for reacting to this situation in the way that she is. Both Raven Metzner and Len Wiseman stressed at this year’s New York Comic Con that the theme of just how far parents will go to protect their children is THE theme of the season. Abbie’s mother died to protect her daughters, and we’re seeing that paralleled in the Crane family right now…and I think Abbie’s motives are driven by the fact of her seeing her childhood played out right before her eyes. I firmly believe that we are going to see the fruits of this struggle in episode nine, which is called “Mama” (an episode which I get to recap, YAY!).
While we were at Long Island Who, the lovely Deb Stanish said that she refuses to judge an entire Steven Moffat season of Doctor Who until she has seen the big picture from the premiere to the finale. I feel the same way about Sleepy Hollow. Season Two is 18 episodes, meaning we’re just over a third of the way through the season. Season One was thirteen episodes, meaning that at this point last year we were more than halfway done. That’s a big difference, and I do think the extended order of episodes HAS messed with the pacing a bit. Last year at NYCC, when I questioned Len Wiseman about how the storytelling was structured by a 13 episode season, he said that it forced them to take a “kitchen sink” approach, meaning that there were no filler episodes. While I do welcome the extra episodes of Tom Mison’s face, I DO wonder if the extra episodes have thrown a wrench into things. While it is possibly one of my favorite episodes of the season, the Pied Piper episode was DEFINITE filler as far as the impending apocalypse and I don’t think the episode would have existed at all within the confines of season one. Second seasons are also NOTORIOUSLY “growing pains” seasons. They can be seasons where attempts to expand the universe fail as they stray from the characters we fell in love with in the first season (See Also: Lost introducing the Tailies in Season Two). They can be seasons where the whole storyline can be smashed to pieces thanks to being over ambitious (See also: the Post Super Bowl Season of Alias. Also John Noble’s very own Fringe). And they can be seasons where the wheels come off entirely and the show never recovers, proving that really it should have been a one season event (Heroes). Lost recovered eventually, and I can only hope that Sleepy Hollow does too.
So what should the fans do now? After my initial viewing of “Deliverance” a week ago, I chose “We must have faith” for the title of my recap and I think the choice could not be more apt given the feelings of the fandom. We HAVE to have faith in the bigger picture for the season and we HAVE to remember our place in the whole ecosystem of the Sleepy Hollow world. Yes, the fans are important, but the powers that be have no responsibility to tell the story that the most vocal parts of the fandom want to hear. I think it’s important to continue to express opinions, but in a respectful manner. That means engaging both fellow fans AND creators of the show thoughtfully. I must admit I pitied Raven last night as I scrolled though his timeline. Did he handle the fan engagement well? No, of course he didn’t. He’s a human being too and (sorry to speak for you, Raven, if you happen to read this. Also, please call Community‘s Andy Bobrow and ask him about the time he called Jeff and Annie fans Pathological. It’s a fun story.) he was feeling attacked. Naturally, he lashed out. It’s a perfectly normal reaction, especially when his work was being called into question (just ask Sage how *I* react when I feel that way) and he was called everything from a hack to someone who wrote from the perspective of the “white male gaze”. The conversation was productive for NO ONE. Not the fans and not for Raven and it only led to hurt feelings and resentment, which is no fun for anyone. And after all, isn’t fandom SUPPOSED to be fun?
Our regularly structured recaps will return next week. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, and I look forward to discussion in the comments. Keep it respectful, as I know everyone’s feels are running high. We want our site to be a safe space for ALL perspectives!
(Also the outrage in regards to what they did to Nicole’s flawless face on the cover of the Sleepy Hollow magazine. TOTALLY on board with that. #NicoleBehariesFACEdeservesbetter)