A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
As What’cha Reading’s #1 Sleepyhead (let’s face it, we’re all Sleepyheads, but only one of us can be the staff Miss Caroline complete with drinking bohea from a Ben Franklin mug), I started writing scene-by-scene episode recaps a few weeks back. I’m telling you right now, this is not one of those recaps—mostly because I have feels that cannot be contained in that format. But yeah, there are spoilers here so if you haven’t seen “Paradise Lost” yet, you probably want to read something else.
Chuck and I had wondered (and I know we’re not alone on this) exactly how the Sleepy writers were going to pick up from the mid-season finale. I mean, Henry turned on his master Moloch and killed him, and in the process of the epic battle, Captain Irving got killed. How do you top that? How do you even move on from what seemed to be a series ending rather than a midseason finale cliffhanger? I know, I know, we should never have doubted. It’s the Sleepy Hollow writers, they always have a trick up their sleeve. Or in this case, several.
The show starts off with Crane and Abbie functioning in an ordinary world, free of evil. Abbie, predictably, is doing better at this than Crane, but then again she’s not 250 years out of her lifetime like he is. “Without an apocalypse, what is my place in the world?” he asks. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to wonder for long because it’s Sleepy Hollow and of course there are still going to be demons and “creepy-crawlies” and apparently angels with badass boomerang halo blades. In a move that had me wondering for a split second if I was watching Constantine, an angel named Orion comes to earth and lands in a barn. (Apparently barns are like angel-magnets, at least according to what I’ve learned on television this year.) Also, Abbie channeled Zed a bit and asked Orion about the hereafter. But that’s mostly where the similarities end, because nowhere in Constantine have a seen an angel that has an axe to grind with the Headless Horseman (see what I did there?). Although I do have to wonder, when are people going to learn to stop trusting angels with black wings?
One of the best things about “Paradise Lost” as an episode is that it gave us some time with practically all the major characters who are left. (I say “practically” because when the hell do we get some time with Reyes? Irving escaped and was killed on her watch, and nothing? Let us at least see two minutes of her putting out that fire!) Abbie spends a fair amount of time with Orion, freeing up Ichabod so that we can see how the Cranes’ marriage is holding up. (Hint: not well. Katrina’s guilt over how Abraham has ended up and subsequent desire to transform him back is understandably putting a strain on the relationship.) Hawley and Jenny, while looking for a way to track the demons Abbie and Crane spotted in the barn, have a bit of a heart to heart and Hawley actually admits that he shouldn’t have let Jenny go. (The moment is of course ruined when something Jenny says gives Hawley an idea about how to activate the demon tracker, but better something than nothing.) We even get glimpses of Abraham the man instead of Headless, the avatar of death. Writer M. Raven Metzner has done a good job at giving the major characters each an interesting and integral part of the overall storyline. This isn’t an easy task with such a large ensemble and is much appreciated in the season of #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter.
Ideally, just as a midseason finale ends with a cliffhanger to leave the fans wanting more, the midseason premiere serves as a springboard: a jumpstart for the last half of the season. “Paradise Lost” does this in spades. We’ve got new mysteries to solve (who are these new demons going to be serving? Can Abraham actually be reformed?), a new villain (because you know Orion isn’t going to be so easily vanquished), a new catchphrase (#WitnessRepresent should be trending now if there is any justice in the universe), and of course, in the last two minutes we got one of those trademark Sleepy twists: the return of an old friend (and because I’m trying for balance and needed another parenthesis here, Oh Captain, My Captain). Of course the episode left me with a slew of questions. What’s the cost of Irving’s return? Is he dead, is he alive, is he the Third Horseman? And where is Henry? If Irving can come back and Headless can escape Purgatory, surely the Horseman of War can as well? And if Hawley’s admitting that he screwed up with Jenny, does that mean he’s going to stop flirting with Abbie? And even though the Cranes have decided to take their marriage one step at a time, if Abbie’s free, is Ichabod going to finally wake up and realize that she’s his best friend and partner far more than Katrina is? So many questions that I have no idea how they’re going to wrap them all up in five more episodes, because it’s an 18 episode season and this week is already episode 12.
That is how you do a midseason premiere, folks. Give the fans what they want, but leave them with a million questions. Sleepy Hollow is doin’ it rite. Witness represent.