Finally, the time has come. At the start of “Go Where I Send Thee,” Crane is learning to drive, wielding the “power of three hundred horses” with just his foot. The anticipation is great, with Lt. Mills carefully explaining to him each step, reassuring him of its simplicity. Crane is nervous — maybe he won’t be able to do conquer the four-wheeled steed? Except, you know, he already knows how to drive, because of course he does. Lt. Mills discovers this as Crane drifts their police-issued SUV through a parking lot, he Vin Diesel, she Michelle Rodriguez. But Fast and Furious: 2 Sleepy 2 Hollow can’t last forever, and, as with all things in life, the fun comes to an end thanks to an alert on Lt. Mills’ cell.
Building on last week’s episode, which amped up the show’s depiction of realistic violence in a scene that showed an up-close explosion of a shopkeep, the show veers into somehow even darker territory: child abduction. It’s child abduction that relates to the Pied Piper, a centuries-old fairy tale, but still: the catalyst for this week’s action is a little girl disappearing from her home.
But what, exactly, happened? The daughter of Maggie Lancaster — who happens to be the caseworker who saved the young Lt. Mills from Tarrytown — went missing on the night of her tenth birthday. When Lt. Mills is interviewing the mother, she says, “My family is cursed,” but is vague about what exactly that means. Because this is Sleepy Hollow, she means exactly what she says: The Lancaster Family is cursed. When Lt. Mills and Crane investigate the woods on the Lancaster property, they come upon a bone flute that, when played by Crane, hypnotizes Lt. Mills. It belongs to the Pied Piper, and suddenly Crane knows exactly how the family is cursed.
As the story goes, in 1778 the Lancaster family was forced to host the British Red Coats when they were passing through town. A few of them were getting too handsy with a daughter of the household, so the father, Daniel Lancaster, hired the Pied Piper — at the time known to be a skilled, flute-wielding, hyper-fast mercenary — to kill all of them. Lancaster killed the Piper once he completed his task, but, since then, the Pied Piper, who sold his soul to Moloch, has reappeared every generation, murdering Lancaster girls on their tenth birthday. There’s no particular reason given for this, other than that the bones of ten year olds are the best bones for making his flutes. He’s apparently got a whole arsenal of them, with each bone creating a distinct tone that affects its victims in unique ways. Bravo to Sleepy Hollow for taking child abduction and murder to a new level of creepiness.
When Lt. Mills and Crane reenter the woods, using a cell phone recording of the flute’s tune to hypnotize Lt. Mills into walking toward wherever the Piper is hanging out, the two come upon Hawley, the foxy antique hunter from last week. He came into the woods searching for the bone flute and ran into the Pied Piper, who nearly killed him. How Hawley exactly knew about the flute, we still don’t know. The three of them eventually find the Pied Piper’s den, all full of skinned woodland creatures and cobwebs, obviously, and get their asses beaten while managing to somehow save the young abducted girl. They return her to her mother, only to make another grim discovery about the curse: If the Pied Piper doesn’t successfully take a ten-year-old girl, he will take all of the kids of the youngest Lancaster generation.
This puts the Lancaster mother in an awful dilemma: kill one kid, or kill them all. (Crane incorrectly later refers to it as a Hobson’s choice. Boo, writers of Sleepy Hollow.) She, like most mothers probably would, decides to kill the one and takes her daughter out to the woods almost as soon as she was returned. Crane and Lt. Mills, now equipped with fancy, glow-in-the-dark noise canceling earbuds, make their way out to the cabin in the woods to kill the Pied Piper, who looks like a normal man with a pale, vaguely arachnid face. It’s not exactly a pulse-pounding fight — the special effects used to make the Piper appear super-fast are kind of awful — but it comes to a satisfying conclusion, thanks to Lt. Mills spearing the dude through the chest as she whispers, “No more children.”
Once the main mystery of the episode is resolved, a few overarching plot points are advanced.
Hawley, having helped save the girl only in exchange for the Pied Piper’s flute, falls further into ambiguous good-bad territory when we see him selling the broken flute to a man who delivers it, of course, to Henry Parrish. Parrish grinds up half a bone in a mortar and pestle, tastes it, and mutters to himself, “It’s perfect.” Somehow John Noble just keeps bringing a new flavor of insane to this character who could so easily be a cartoon, especially in his too-few scenes with Orlando Jones’ Captain Irving.
Irving confronts Parrish about the truth of his identity after, while reading the Bible, Irving has visions of himself murdering Sleepy Hollow cops as the town burns down around him. Parrish, upon hearing this, doesn’t seem too surprised. And that’s consistent with his character: aside from momentary psychotic outbursts, Parrish is just so excellently blase about both being insane and causing the apocalypse. It’s like, just this thing he is doing, and that’s great. If only he were doing more of it. It’s not doing the show any favors to have Parrish appear only as a framing device, as if to remind viewers that, yes, there is something bigger happening. This is not just CSI: Sleepy Hollow, but it’s starting to look like it.
This seems to be the way the episodes are going this season, and it’s growing a little tiresome. It even seems, sometimes, as if the episodes were filmed in a nonspecific order, with these non-mystery moments edited in throughout. It’s hurting the pacing of the show, if only because the show, in its first season, was much less reliant on the procedural format. Back then, it was a supernatural mystery whose format served the story. Now, the opposite seems to be true. Hell, at least Sheriff Reyes wasn’t in this week’s episode at all, and she doesn’t seem to be relevant to next week, either. Neither does Katrina. And you know, that’s ultimately fine. As the season progresses, the show needs to decide which aspect its going to prioritize. As of right now, it’s toeing the line too finely, and it’s not doing the show any favors.