Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 2, Episode 1 – “The Pirates of Orion” – Race to Save Spock

Orion_pirate_ship-Enterprise_faceoff

    “The Pirates of Orion” was a good episode. There were stakes with the race against time to get the drugs to save Spock as well as dealing with a pretty awesome threat in the Orions, where there isn’t an easy answer. I’ll get into more of what I mean deeper into the review.

   The episode was directed by Bill Reed and written by Howard Weinstein.

   The story involves a virus infecting Spock and a race to get the drugs when the ship that was transporting the drugs to the Enterprise gets robbed by Orion Pirates forcing Kirk into a faceoff against the Orion Captain and negotiating under dangerous circumstances.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is great! I like the fact that the one who saves others (Spock) has to be saved and that the Federation has to deal with a species that is neutral but acts like pirates.

The Orions – The Orions are a cunning foe and are willing to kill themselves so that Orion nuetrality will not be broken. They nearly succeed too with both a superweapon and the Captain trying to poison himself.

Doctor McCoy – McCoy’s humanity comes out in this as we see him beat himself up as he can’t find a way to save Spock without the drugs. He is kind to Spock the entire time and doesn’t joke around sarcastically with him until he is healed.

Captain Kirk – Kirk is great in this! We see how far he is willing to go to save his friend and he has to think fast when dealing with the Orion captain and the threat. This is a Kirk episode and it works…we see how lost he is without Spock in this.

Okay: The Freighter – The Freighter crew is just kind of there. They only exist to send out the emergency call to the Federation when the Orions attack them. There are only there for the plot and don’t really feel like characters, they aren’t bad though.

The Cons: Pacing – Pacing was kind of slow, especially at the beginning. That is one thing that could have easily been fixed with more time with our heroes rather than the Freighter.

    This was an enjoyable episode I’d recommend! The Orion ship has a great design, and they were good threat to face! Spock having a limited amount of time before he dies also raised the stakes so it keeps the story moving forward and characters are always making choices.

Final Score: 9 / 10

“Sleep Hollow” Season 2 Retrospect – A Mixed Experience With a Potential Future Still

This is War Sleepy Hollow

      “Sleepy Hollow” season 2 was a mixed experience and now that Season 3 is a go it’s time to give my thoughts fully on the season and what I see as the best and worst futures for the show. First, the reason the show was a mixed experience was due to the inconsistency of the episodes in narrative structure (didn’t know if the show wanted to be an arc or episodic show), dropped narratives and it’s inability to handle minor characters.

     What made Season 1 work was it’s arc heaviness. Moloch was trying to come back into the world, the Headless Horseman was a threat and Ichabod was trying to reach Katrina. This was the main focus of Season 1 and it never got away from that really, which made it very strong. This show had elements of that but felt like it was playing with a lot of ideas. Henry Parish (The Horseman of War) actually succeeds in bringing Moloch into the world and the first half is good about tying all that together, but in the second half they do a whole bunch of one off episodes that try to tie in Hawley’s adopted Mom and others that just felt like filler, even if they were enjoyable. This made the show feel lost up until the very end when they focused on the core relationships of Team Sleepy Hollow and their relationships to Katrina and Henry, giving us a very entertaining last two episodes that captured at least some of what made Season 1 great.

     Another issue, tied to the inconsistent narrative of arc and single episodes was the dropped narratives. At one point Abraham the Headless Horseman says he will wait and not kill anyone until Katrina can find a cure to his curse, this is never brought up again. There is now an angel named Orion running around who wants to cause destruction, he is never brought up again. Also the Reyes arc with the police department and her relationship with the supernatural is never fully dealt with either, or her relationship to Detective Irving. This really hurt the overall feel of the show as these are important characters and relationships. Season 3 has the potential to solve some of these issues.

    The final issue of the problems I had with this season were how minor characters were handled. Katrina had no motivation until the very end when Henry wants to start a Coven with her, after that she goes bad and wants to bring him back to life. Henry also didn’t have any motivation after he killed Moloch and his plans for World Domination didn’t feel fully fleshed out. There is no need to bring up Hawley, I hated the character and how contrived he felt. Benjamin Franklin also felt the same way at times, until the Finale. Before the Finale he was the McGuffin for everything this season. They also didn’t know what to do with Abraham the Headless Horseman, which is a shame given how important he is to the lore of the show as a Horseman of the Apocalypse. But even given these issues, there is promise in what they got right.

The Promise and Potential Problems of a Season 3

   First, I want to go into the problems. The problems is this show could become something like “Supernatural” a show that is wholly “Supernatural” and has no arc or direction (“Supernatural” really should have ended at Season 5), this could lead to it being a Monster of the Week type show which would only hurt it as with it we’ll only see character arcs retread and the Apocalypse will keep getting pushed into the future, which will hurt the lore and potential mythology of the show. They could also bring back Hawley, Katrina and Henry which would be wrong, their stories are done. When a character is gone, let them stay gone so our core cast can develop as people. No contrived writing, which is what I see happen when a show becomes too episodic and doesn’t have an arc to reel it in.

     The promise of “Sleepy Hollow” is in it’s Finale. What was the thing that Abbie’s ancestor warned about? She implies their mission as Witnesses isn’t done, which means there is a bigger bad out there. They could go the Devil route, which would be cliche but would work and from there have our heroes be pushed to their limits and have things change in “Sleepy Hollow.” For now Sleepy Hollow the town is static even if our characters have changed. Eventually it has to go the way of “Buffy” and destroy the town or change it in a radical way to show that the Supernatural can change this world. Changing the world will force our characters to change and that core cast is the reason I watch the show beyond the Mythology Arc. Jenny, Abbie, Ichabod and Irving were big reasons I kept coming back. I want to see their stories and the story of Ichabod and Abbie as Witnesses finished. If the writers milk it, I will eventually stop watching. I want a show that has an ending, which means bringing about the Apocalypse and giving our witnesses a role in dealing with the implied bigger badder villain out there. That is the promise of Sleepy Hollow.

Final Score of Season 2: 8.3 / 10. Potential to be great again.

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 14 – “Kali Yuga” – Trying to Get Back on Track

Sleepy Hollow Kali Yuga    “Sleepy Hollow” is trying to get back on track again, it really is…and it does do some great things this episode! Almost no Katrina, Hawley leaves and we get sometime with Jenny as a major player. This is what I like about “Sleepy Hollow” when it focuses on the Millses (who tend avoid stupid good unlike Ichabod) and of course Ichabod growing a little.

“Kali Yuga” was directed by Doug Aarniokoski and written by Sam Chalsen and Nelson Greaves with the story by Heather Regnier.

The premise is that Hawley plans to steal something for the Knox estate to bring his Godmother back to mortal since she was turned into a monster. Irving is also dealing with his relationship with his wife and being brought back to life and Abbie and Ichabod work through distrust. These are the main plot elements of the episode.

The Pros: Jaime Murray – Jaime Murray (H.G. Wells of “Warehouse 13”) Is in this as Hawley’s Godmother and is the main baddie. In the end she isn’t given much complexity sadly, but Murray elevates a very standard monster of the week who is trying to turn other and Hawley into what she is with the power of Kali (The Hindu Goddess Kali is always the villain in shows like this, I’d like to see that change). She is good, even if her character is weak and sadly one-dimensional power hungry. She deserved better after her masterful role as H.G. Wells in “Warehouse 13.”

Ichabod and Abbie – There is some conflict here! It’s contrived but it’s trying to develop their relationship at least. Ichabod finds Orion’s charm and calls Abbie out and after working things out they work there way out of Knox’s vault that Hawley put them in to save their life. They also do Karaoke, and it’s awesome. Ichabod still has issues with accountability and is way too stupid good in regards to Henry but he can still make that choice.

Jenny Mills – Still don’t get why she likes Hawley, but she does get development, even if it’s just her losing Hawley as he runs off to go take out his Godmother. She is the one driving the story for a lot of it, though she gets a lot of stupid good in the process due to her attachment to Hawley and not stopping him when she had the chance earlier in the episode and preventing the Godmother’s plan of turning others into monsters from happening.

Hawley leaves – I hate Hawley, this is a pro. He is a useless character who lends nothing but contrived drama. Finally he’s gone.

Okay: Detective Irving – The writers don’t really know what to do with him yet, which is a shame as Orlando Jones is amazingly talented. He visits Katrina and we get the implication she’s evil out of it (which would explain her inaction with the Horseman of Death”) but it’s mostly lags. He also doesn’t have a shadow, what this means is another unanswered question, Katrina was mostly there to look evil and hint at her maybe joining with Henry or Abraham I think.

The Cons: Dialogue – A lot of the dialogue felt contrived and not that well written and it was only the chemistry and talent of the actors carrying the scene. Specifically the scene where Ichabod and Abbie were trapped and the leadup to it with the discovery of the pendant.

Villain Kali – I get Kali is the destroyer but can we stop going with that cliche in fiction? It’s like having demons as only bad or Hades always be the villain. We’re so obsessed with dichotomy and we get cliche storytelling in the process rather than creative takes on mythological beings who in their mythos are more complex than they are given credit for.

This episode is trying to get on track again, we see lots more of Jenny, Abbie and Ichabod and maybe something being done with Katrina and explaining Detective Irving? I’m not going to pass judgement yet as the season is not over, but I’m worried given how the last few episodes that didn’t involve Orion went.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10. Potential. What will they do with it?

Sleepy Hollow – Season 2, Episode 12 – “Paradise Lost” – The Angel of Death

Sleepy Hollow Paradise Lost

“Sleepy Hollow” returns and at this point I’m not sure what to think about it. Suffice to say, I was impressed with most of the character beats this episode though, which I think is something “Sleepy Hollow” has always excelled at. Now the question is if they know what they’re doing since they ended part of the reason for the show’s existence last episode (preventing Moloch’s Apocalypse). I like the new character introduced though, and I’ll get into him later in the review.

“Paradise Lost” was directed by Russell Fine and written by M. Raven Metzner.

The premise of the episode is that we pick up where we left off. Henry Parish, the Horseman of War is missing and the Apocalypse has been averted. We skip forward 6 weeks to see that Katrina and the Headless Horseman Abraham are developing their relationship as she tries to save him and a new character arrives, Orion who was trapped in purgatory and is hunting down demons like Ichabod and Abbie. But all is not as it appears to be as we soon learn he holds other purposes for his vendetta against the Horseman of Death.

The Pros: Jenny Mills – She has a small role in this as helping find the demons and where they are located as well as organizing a night on the town, which is all wasted as we have Nick Hawley arrive and try to get back with her. I hate that this guy is still around on the show.

Ichabod Crane – Ichabod is great again as usual as Abbie is trying to help him integrate into a world where he no longer has to be a hunter. We see that hunting is his escape from not having to deal with his relationship with Katrina who is spending lots of time with Abraham and they both realize that they need to redefine their relationship in the end when Katrina saving Abraham is shown to be the right thing when Orion wants only destruction of all evil in humanity by any means necessary. He grows a lot in this episode.

Abbie Mills – Abbie is taken in by Orion when he appears and he gives her a charm in which she can use to call on him. They are both soldiers who have lost people to the war against Evil but Abbie soon learns that she is no zealot and works with Ichabod to save Abraham when she learns of Orion’s plans.

Orion – This angel is awesome and I hope we see more of him. He is the Angel of Death and whenever a city was destroyed in the past for being “sinful” he was the angel to do it. This is why he was locked in purgatory. He loses his weapon but is still a threat as gunshots and spirit weapons had no effect on him. Can’t wait to see where they take this character and explore Angels. Angels were one of the few good things about “Supernatural” and “Sleepy Hollow” generally has better writers.

Abraham / The Headless Horseman / The Horseman of Death – This guy is still just as prideful and angry, but like Illidan in Warcraft III he seems to genuinely love Katrina so much so that he will wait until she finds a way to make him human again and no longer the Horseman of Death. This shows depth but I still hope he stays bad, just like Henry Parish. War and Death are the best parts of this show since Moloch was shown to be a waste and I hope they aren’t wasted in turn. Also it was great that he killed Orion the first time around and almost did so again. This guy is someone you don’t mess with in a fight.

Okay: Katrina Crane – Katrina isn’t bad in this and we can see that guilt motivates her relationship with Abraham. She actually had a little depth this episode but I don’t really consider her good and she and Ichabod are still a bit naive when it comes to the Horsemen.

Detective Irving – Is alive? Maybe it was from Death’s power being released when Orion’s weapon got destroyed. Curious where this will go. I’m glad he’s back but that was sudden. God, Moloch was useless as a baddie.

The Cons: Nick Hawley – Guy is like nails on the chalkboard in every scene he is in. Can one of the demons or creatures out there just kill him already? He lends nothing to the script and is a contrived romantic interest.

This was a good start, and I’m hoping we see things get big again. I would not mine seeing more Heavenly Hosts and the Devil and have them go “Supernatural” in “Sleepy Hollow” fashion. I just don’t want them bogged down in Monster of the Week and trying to redeem everyone. Part of what makes Henry Parish and Abraham great is that they are complex villains, but still villains. If that is lost I doubt I will watch onward. This show needs good antagonists of which they are.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solid start.