Sleepy Hollow has returned to form. After a dip last week, the third episode, “For the Triumph of Evil,” was entertaining, bringing back everything that made its pilot successful: a great villain, an engaging plot, and some well placed humor.
“For the Triumph of Evil” begins with a dream sequence. Now, these can be very overdone, but for this episode, as a good segment of it happens in dreams, it is well crafted. Lieutenant Abbie Mills is brought down to the police station where she is witnessing an interrogation. Her 250 year old partner, Ichabod Crane, is interrogating her younger self. When Abbie barges into the interview room she is locked in and the two have disappeared. Now a new foe, a member of the band of evil beings who are continually being sent to wreak havoc in Sleepy Hollow, awaits her. This time it’s a tall drink of water with chalk white skin, black hollow eye sockets, a bald head, and no mouth. He’s an ancient Mohawk legend: the Sandman.
Trouble with the Sandman is he’s targeting those who have sinned against Abbie’s sister, Jenny. First it’s Jenny’s psychoanalyst who gets a visit then the man who found the two Mills’ sisters years ago when they first saw the horned demon in the woods. The major problem is when the Sandman comes to visit you it’s in your dreams (A Nightmare on Elm Street anyone?), and once awake you just can’t see the point of living anymore. Unfortunately for Abbie, he’s coming for her.
The Sandman is a faceless nightmare monster. And, of course, he’s terrific. Although not overly terrifying, for a show airing on Fox at 9pm, he’s disarming and creepily reminiscent of creatures from Pan’s Labyrinth. His deceased victims’ eyes, once popped, contain sand. Whether meant to or not, The Sandman has elements of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kruger and not just from entering their dreams. He holds all the power because of fear. Abbie is afraid of what she saw that time in the woods so long ago. She’s so afraid she sold her sister out by not telling anyone what evil she saw. Fear has a way of biting us in the rear end, but Abbie must face her fear and not let it control her or succumb to Freddy. Oh, I mean the Sandman. Both evil villains exist because their victims believe in them. The moment one stops, the dream monster has no power.
Sleepy Hollow’s third episode poses a great human dilemma that most of us, if we’re really honest, don’t want to hear. The triumph of evil is when good people do nothing. Although this statement takes on a biblical “end of days” feel in Sleepy Hollow, it is still relevant to all our lives. It is what people who want to do terrible things, either on a global scale or in your neighborhood, need to survive. The apathy of others fuels their power. Facing them head on takes courage. Is this something those of us good people are lacking? Maybe. For there is greater fear when you have more to lose.
“For the Triumph of Evil” also addresses the concept of guilt associated with the things we do in life and it coming back to haunt us. Guilt is like the albatross from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It hangs over you, dragging you down until you can barely lift your head to see the light of day. How to remove it is everyone’s own riddle, but if you’ve lived long enough, you have something weighing on you. It’s the price of being human and something those carrying too much in Sleepy Hollow have to come to terms with when they face the Sandman.
In all, “For the Triumph of Evil” was what one wants out of Sleepy Hollow. It was creepy, a little scary (but not too much), and heavily plot driven. The playing of Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes didn’t hurt either. One element perhaps going under the radar is the humor. Now its not rip-roaring laughter, how could it be? It’s a horror show. But the speed of dialogue and wit of Crane, as well as his continued struggles in a world 250 years ahead, is still surprisingly fresh.