Three demons walk into a bar(n) and try to restart the apocalypse, but a dark-winged angel who looks like a male model throws a wrench into their plans.
That’s not really a joke because the laughs are sparse in this first-of-the-year episode of “Sleepy Hollow,” the Fox supernatural sci-fi buddy cop drama that picks up where it left off in December with the death of Super Baddie Moloch.
There’s no way that epic showdown spelled the end of evil in this little burg, and that turns out to be a good thing for Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) because what in the world will they do with themselves if they’re not saving the world? What will they Witness?
In the six weeks that have passed with nary a hint of doomsday, Abbie and Ichabod have been wringing their hands and going through repeated existential crises. Will Ichabod have to get a real job and start worrying about things like mortgages and retirement funds? Will Abbie need to revisit her questionable career choices and consider finding a husband? Perish the thoughts.
Fortunately, Ichabbie doesn’t have to do any of those mundane things because they still have "holy"/unholy battles to fight. Whew!
At least our heroes are self-aware enough to admit that they need the threat of Armageddon to give direction to their lives. Fans might find fault with this episode, dubbed “Paradise Lost,” because it’s never that much fun to see strong characters climb up into their heads and flail about. Reinvention as a theme gets flogged nearly to death in this hour.
But even viewers who aren’t so enamored with the introspection in “Paradise Lost” will have to like this episode, though, if for one reason only: Frank Irving!!! The former top cop was “dead” for a mercifully short time, having fallen after killing the Horseman of War.
It’s too early to tell what state he’s in, and ever the man of faith, his first words in a convenience store he’s stumbled into are, “Is this heaven or hell?” Neither, the clerk says, it's Sleepy Hollow. From the initial looks of it, Frank's worse for the wear. But he’s back, hopefully restoring a pivotal and principle player to the A-Team.
On to the nitty gritty of “Paradise Lost,” which introduces the heroes to an evangelistic angel named Orion and Crane to the farm-to-table movement. (Abbie sees non-GMOs but Crane can only notice the rot that smells like brimstone. And he has a very different definition for grapple than a grape-apple hybrid).
The Good Guys awake after the toe-to-toe with Moloch at the four trees to find that they’re all physically intact. Except Frank, that is. Henry Parish (John Noble) used the sword of Methuselah on Moloch, turning his daddy demon in a puddle of molten lava. He could’ve sacrificed his mother, the ineffectual witch Katrina (Katia Winter) or Crane, but he chose to cut the ties that bind him to the Horrid King.
Where is Henry now? He may be absent, but he looms large over everything, including any potential chaos in town. And anyone who thinks he’s gone soft – ahem, Katrina – may be sorely mistaken. Just a prediction.
A month and a half melt away, with Crane and Abbie sleepwalking through their post-End of Days research and wondering why they haven’t had an evil resurgence. Crane and Katrina are on a marital break, with the witch spending all her time “spying” and “gathering intelligence” with the Headless Horseman (aka Abraham Van Brunt).
If you look for trouble, you may well find it, so the saying goes. Crane and Abbie, desperate for some action, do just that at the purveyor of exotic fruit, Wilcox Farms. That’s where they see the three demons in an outbuilding trying to conjure up a new leader. Grappling ensues.
A black-clad angel named Orion (Max Brown) flies into this fight, making quick work of one demon while the other two escape. He tells Ichabbie that he’s been freed from purgatory by Moloch’s death and that the Headless Horseman is set to become the next uber-villain.
He knows all about the Witnesses, and his crazy doe eyes somehow speak to Abbie. She’s buying what he’s selling, and he gifts her a glowy charm. Hmmmm.
Orion wants to destroy Abraham right away, but he’ll have to go through Katrina first. He’s fine with that. In fact, he has a bull’s eye on her anyway because she’s “wicked,” and needs to be “culled,” but this will inevitably cause a wrinkle in his budding relationship with Ichabbie.
The smokin' hot angel: Is he a force for good, or is he Lucifer? After all, he can’t even answer Abbie’s questions about God. The seeds of suspicion are sewn.
Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood), meanwhile, seems to be the only A-Team member to get her groove back. She’s flirting with a hunky bartender, rocking big hair, a leather mini and what Nick Hawley derisively describes as stripper shoes, when she’s once again pulled back into the fray. She does manage to slip in a few digs to Hawley (Matt Barr) about his commitment issues, but just say the words “ancient artifact” and she’s putty for the cause.
Orion, as it turns out, appears on the scene just before lots of large-scale disasters like plagues and wars, Crane finds out from some historic texts he hasn’t already memorized. The ethereal one is a zealot who wants to steal the Headless Horseman’s power for himself and use it to “cleanse humanity” and reinvent the world as a paradise (of his own design).
Cue Katrina to free Abraham so he won’t fall to Orion’s magic circle killing blade. But the two meet in a steel-centric battle, and Orion uses his boomerang thingie on Headless, apparently killing him. The Witnesses realize they could be stirring up much more trouble with handsome angel, though, and Abbie turns on Orion. She uses that “enemy of my enemy” rationale, keeping him from a massive power grab. She's obviously snapped out of her angel crush.
Ichabbie rip out the angel's blade and destroy it, freeing the demon-with-nine-plus-lives Abraham as long as he promises not to off anyone. Um, OK.
Upshot of the kerfuffle: Those two demons who escaped purgatory along with Orion: dead. Headless: dead then alive. Orion: alive and aloft and miffed.
Henry is still MIA, and there’s no way to tell if Orion and three demons were the only beings to escape purgatory since Moloch kicked. So Ichabbie’s jobs are cemented for the foreseeable future.
Crane’s marriage is “sideways,” and Katrina is trying to revive the man in Abraham, separating him from the Horseman of Death. He’s agreed to be good during the attempted humanity transplant, but who believes that?
Best thing to come out of this head trip? Crane saying to Abbie in their traditional end-of-hour coda: “No matter what obstacles we face or how many disagreements we have, our bond cannot be broken.”
Witnesses represent, indeed.