Bad Girls Do It Well: Sleepy Hollow “The Lesser Key of Solomon” Review
“The Lesser Key of Solomon” picks up right where the last episode left off. Jenny has escaped from the ward and now Abbie and Crane are on the case. However, it ends up being about more than returning Miss Jenny to the psych hospital. After a few twists and more than enough gun fire, what Abbie and Ichabod are up against becomes clearer than ever.
We open with a flashback of Ichabod on a mission for George Washington steeped in set-ups and supernatural objects. According to Crane the Boston Tea Party was a construct to distract everyone from Washington’s primary goal: acquiring The Lesser Key of Solomon, a book of dark magic. This series may not always be historically accurate, but it has so far been quite successful in utilizing narrative twists to flesh out the mythology of the universe. This take on the Boston Tea Party was perhaps the best re-imagining since the pilot dropped Washington’s true nature.
Before we learn more about the book and the parties who were after it, that flashback rolls into a montage of Katrina. Ichabod speaks rather poetically about their love, but keeping with the show’s sense of humor, we find that Ichabod is sharing details of his great romance with an operator at North Star. In turn for her assistance with unlocking the car (does Abbie lock him in wherever they go?) and figuring out the entertainment system, he offers her some love advice. As that conversation ends, Abbie beckons him (a.k.a. “Crane!”) so they can begin locating and retrieving Sleepy Hollow’s resident Sarah Connor. This episode revealed the underlying motivations of a couple characters hanging about in the shadows, and Jenny was one of them. As Abbie and Ichabod begin their search, they uncover that the escapee was not what anyone thought. Jenny has been traveling the world, piling on a list of offenses and receiving specialized weapons and fight training.
When the duo moves from the books to leads on Jenny’s last known whereabouts, we are given her history with foster homes. Jenny definitely had a more turbulent teenhood, but she wasn’t as alone as we thought. August Corbin had been helping Jenny and on his behalf she traveled the world to find the sextant, a celestial navigation tool that, when used correctly, revealed a map of Sleepy Hollow. On that map? Where the readers could find The Lesser Key of Solomon. Jenny and August’s relationship was quite a surprise, but it provided a sufficient explanation for her skill, knowledge, and increasing relevance. It also gave us fodder for an emotional investment in a character who is dead, but is significant to a lead’s development.
After a rough visit with one of Jenny’s former foster parents, the witnesses make their way to August Corbin’s deep woods cabin where they draw guns with a hiding Jenny. Before they enter we are treated to a seemingly insignificant scene, but nonetheless remains a gift that keeps on giving. Since the pilot we’ve seen Crane hint at a bias towards bending the rules. As the pair breaks into the cabin, Ichabod gets quite excited about the idea of Abbie being a cop with criminal experience. The gentlemanly side of Ichabod is enjoyable, but the surface of the mischievous side has just been scratched. Perhaps a dig is in order? Seeing Ichabod be Ichabad would only add to his character appeal.
At the cabin, the three try to figure out what the sextant does, and in the process the girls get into a few spats. These moments, where Abbie and Jenny work out their emotional baggage and Ichabod shows another dimension of his personality, were the best of the episode. The sibling issues could have been glossed over. Ichabod could have also cowered in the corner while the women threw venom. Instead, the sisters were at each other’s necks and Ichabod was up to his in aggravation over their inability to focus.
Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood were spectacular in their scenes together. The interactions between the characters felt so natural and real you may have experienced second hand tension. They also helped us see two women exist in forms they are rarely afforded on television: emotional fighters. The idea of a “strong female character” is not always approached responsibly. More often than not we get very flat cut outs who shoot guns or people who never let anyone or anything hurt them. That’s not how strong manifests in the real world. Strength stems from altering experiences and is a result of several emotions working in conjunction. Both aspects were explored throughout the episode allowing the women to expand beyond a trope. Bonus points: After three episodes of failing the Bechdel test, Sleepy Hollow finally passed with flying colors.
In the midst of the girls working out their differences, the episode’s bad guys – the Hessians – decided to show up and start a gun fight. Jenny and Abbie fought fire with fire, and even Ichabod got in on some handgun action. They managed to capture one of the Hessians, but the others got away with sextant. The three wasted no time, however, interrogating the captive. During their conversation we learn that the Hessians are working with the demon in the mirror. Ichabod later tells us it’s named Moloch. The captive ends up killing himself with a cyanide capsule, but our heroes get enough out of him to locate the book and the other Hessians. Once there, and around a giant pool of bobbing demons, Abbie, Ichabod and Jenny stop the ritual that would raise 72 hellions.
This episode did quite a few things well, particularly its reveals. Character twists are fun until they start presenting in the storyline as random characters we didn’t know existed, or even worse, have no significant meaning to the storyline prior to the reveal. Here they successfully avoided playing the “anything can happen!” game with peripheral characters. The final fight was a truly good time as each character had an opportunity to get their hands a little dirty, though in the end it would be Abbie’s quick thinking and quirking eyebrow that saved the day.
Abbie’s final moments with Jenny at the station was the icing on the episode cake, and it should be noted how well this relationship was handled developmentally in only 42 minutes. We were finally given some meat to Ichabod’s love storyline and we got to see him at the height of his knowledge game while working in his element. Overall “The Lesser Key of Solomon” may not have had as many scary monsters, but it nailed it in the meaningful storytelling department.
Here are some questions that arose while watching:
- What other characters might know more than they are letting on?
- Did the Mills sisters spend enough time addressing their issues?
- Could the two witnesses be Abbie and Jenny instead of Abbie and Ichabod?
- Have we spent enough time on Ichabod and Katrina to believe in the love he professed for her?
Share your answers and other thoughts in the comment section below. Catch Sleepy Hollow Mondays at 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.