Episode Title: "John Doe"
Writer: Melissa Blake
Director: Ernest Dickerson
Previously on "Sleepy Hollow":
For about the first 40 minutes of “John Doe,” I was really enjoying this episode of “Sleepy Hollow.” Sure, the Outbreak plot has been done many times before. But until we learned the supernatural origin of the plague, the premise of bringing a young boy named Thomas (Matthew Lintz) to the present with a virulent disease as his plus-one seemed like a very clever riff on the old trope.
I could live with the reveal that the plague was tied to another one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But the explanation provided for Thomas and the other visitors to our time was just about the weakest possible rationale for the entire episode. It was so bad that it soured an otherwise decent episode for me.
There are full spoilers ahead for “John Doe,” so if you missed last night’s episode of “Sleepy Hollow,” then perhaps you should skip this review or else Sherlock… I mean, Ichabod will cut the plastic.
One of my favorite aspects of “Sleepy Hollow” has been the man-out-of-time humor that surrounds Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison). However, the jokes in this episode weren’t very funny or sharp. Moving Ichabod into Corbin’s old cabin has possibilities, but it’s literally housekeeping at this point.
After Thomas shows up in the present, only Ichabod can communicate with him due to his knowledge of Middle English. The plague carried by Thomas subsequently spreads to the people who had treated him and even to Ichabod himself before the end.
Prior to being laid out by the plague, Ichabod and his new partner, Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) stumbled upon the solution to one of the great American mysteries: the lost colony of Roanoke. Tying Roanoke into “Sleepy Hollow’s” mythology was an exciting way to introduce that American legend into this show. And it was a very strong reveal to see the entire colony of Roanoke still alive on the outskirts of Sleepy Hollow.
Well, I say “alive.” Actually, they’re all dead. Ichabod’s “he was dead all along” was perhaps the biggest groan worthy line of this series to date. Prior to that reveal, I had been thinking about how and why the colonists were still alive and I was hoping for an intriguing answer. That wasn’t it. That was just dull and boring.
I don’t have a problem with Abbie getting the inspiration for the solution after praying for guidance. But that was just too easy. The most deadly outbreak in recent memory and it’s solved by dunking Ichabod and Thomas in the colony’s water supply?! That’s definitely not a good dramatic choice.
Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) remains a problematic character on this show because he seems to exist only to serve the whims of the plot. Previously, Irving decided to keep Ichabod around… just because. In this episode, when Abbie needed an obstacle in her path, so the writers used Irving to keep her from immediately moving Ichabod and Thomas. And just a few screen minutes later, Irving is conveniently willing to listen to Abbie and provide support to sneak Ichabod and Thomas out of the hospital. That’s a pretty big flip flop that was not earned by anything that we saw.
The one character who is already on my nerves is Abbie’s ex, Luke Morales (Nicholas Gonzalez); who is openly suspicious of Ichabod’s presence in Sleepy Hollow. As far as creating conflict, there’s nothing wrong with someone knocking holes through Ichabod’s unconvincing cover story. I just find Gonzalez’s performance to be grating and Luke is coming off as an annoying stock character.
So far, “Sleepy Hollow” hasn’t been able to seal the deal with a truly great episode of television. Every television show goes through growing pains. But my patience is wearing a little thin for this one.