American Horror Story Chapter Six

So yeah, the twist is indeed in, as well as the shift in focus of the show. Everything has been shifted about. In the interests of openness I have to admit it o a hatred of most of reality TV. I’ll watch travel and eatery shows, or shows about wilderness survival, with experts in them, and  I’ve even seen a couple of episodes of Naked and Afraid, but that got boring pretty fast. I am however really liking this season of AHS, mostly because it’s not focused so much  on the inane dramas between the characters, but on the actual horror of the situation they’re all in.

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The idea that we, and the cast, would be revisiting the Roanoke Nightmare House isn’t the twist though. Sydney, played by my precious cinnamon roll, Cheyenne Jackson, is the creator of the show we just watched in the first five episodes, and his proposal to his television backers is that he should gather together the entire cast, go back to the house, and film the results during the Blood Moon. It turns out that what we were watching for five episodes was a huge hit for Sydney and he wants  to cash in on that, despite what has happened to the cast since then. So ,in chapter six, the show goes completely, full-on meta, and I don’t think what we saw tonight is the last of this season’s surprises.

Now, the show has a tendency to go off focus during the season, as the writers get carried away with their storytelling ideas, and start throwing everything into the plot, just to see if it will stick,or just because they like it. This season, with the exception of a few scenes thrown in just to have some action, or a jump scare, has been kept pretty tightly reined in, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than previous ones. Tonight’s episode was kept ion point, as well, making it easy to understand, despite how complicated the plot has actually become.

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Since their time at Roanoke, Matt and Shelby have divorced. Matt didn’t care for the fame that came to him because of what happened there, that Shelby called the police on his sister, and accused her of killing her husband, Mason. Yes indeed. That was a dick move on Shelby’s part. Yeah, I don’t like Shelby either. The final straw was when Shelby had an affair with the man who played her husband in the reenactments. His name is Dominic. The actress who played Shelby on the show is actually British, and we get to hear Paulson’s accent, as Audrey, which sounds a bit dodgy. She got married to the actor who played Mott in the last episode, and his name is Monohan. And since he’s so much younger than her ,she’s really super-sensitive about that. I thought it was a scam, on his part, but he seems to genuinely be in love with her.

The actress who played Lee became an alcoholic,  just like the original Lee because she was having trouble dealing with being the public face of the real Lee, who has been accused of killing her husband for the insurance money, and custody of her daughter.  (Angela Bassett’s character is named Monet.) Fans of the show started a petition to have Lee charged with murder, her mother in law is suing for custody of Flora, and everyone treats her with nothing but contempt, including Monet.

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But the worst result of the show is Kathy Bates character, Agnes, who played Thomasina The Butcher, in the reenactments. That actress had a complete mental breakdown and started believed herself  to actually be The Butcher, running through  he streets of downtown Hollywood with an ax, before she was captured and hospitalized. Sydney serves her with a restraining order after a ring of animal organs are found on the new set of the show. He is hoping she will show up on set anyway becasue that will make for great drama. My precious baby is a complete asshole in this role.

When one of the crew gets killed on set with a chainsaw, Sydney’s assistant quits and drives off in an angry huff. She encounters what appears to be a The Butcher by the side of  the road, but is attacked by someone in her car, too, and she crashes. The notecard for her states that she was missing for six months before they found her car, and her body was never found.

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The sixth episode is mostly about the setup, as Sydney lies, cajoles, and coerces all the actual people, and the actors who played ,them into staying at the Roanoke house for several weeks, while they film the entire thing with hidden cameras. And you know it’s going to be explosive because while all the characters have their reason for joining the new cast, they all hate each other.

Matt wants nothing to do with Shelby, who thinks that they might be able to reconcile, during the show. He would love nothing more than to beat the snot out ofDominic, because he slept with his wife. The Shelby actress,Audrey,  is deeply insecure about her marriage, and has nothing but contempt for the real Shelby, as being weak and pathetic. The real Lee  hates the real Shelby. The actress who played Lee, Monet,  hates the actual Lee, and the all actors  have contempt for the actual people they portrayed on the show, laughing and joking about them, whenever they leave the room. Also none of the actors believe in any of the stuff that they say happened to them.

I don’t think this bodes well for non-believers because non-belief won’t save them from what’s happening at Roanoke House.  Like Stephen King’s 1408, what’s happening there isn’t dependent on whether you believe it or not. One of the reasons Shelby, Matt, and Lee survived is because they  simply believed what was happening to them.

Things get off to a rousing start when Lee attacks Shelby, calling her weak and pathetic, just as Audrey does later. Here’s where I have to admit to a certain amount of prejudice towards Shelby myself. As soon as I heard what she did for a living my first thought was that she was a  useless woman, and not someone you want to have in a crisis, but she proved to be okay in that regard. I still don’t like her though.

Later, Matt attacks Dominic and they have a knockdown, drag-out fight, as soon as Dominic steps through the front door. This certainly makes for exciting television for the viewers, but that’s not the point of this episode, because this  isn’t the twist.

It turns out we’re all looking at whatever footage was leftover from a show which never got a chance to air because ,with exception of only one person, the entire cast died.

So we’re really watching final days of everyone involved with the making of My Roanoke Nightmare. And they’re might even be additional twists as the season moves forward.

So yeah,I’m really getting into this. When that note-card appeared onscreen, I got chills. This is awesome!

Geeking Out About: Preacher

Geeking Out About: Preacher

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So, I am loving the Preacher pilot. In the interests of full disclosure, I did read a few of the graphic novels, off and on, back in the day, so I only remember bits and pieces of the books. I wasn’t exactly clear on what powers, if any, Preacher possessed, although I knew  there was a vampire involved in the story-line, and I was aware of the existence of “Arseface” which is what Cassidy, the…

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Geeking Out About: Preacher

So, I am loving the Preacher pilot. In the interests of full disclosure, I did read a few of the graphic novels, off and on, back in the day, so I only remember bits and pieces of the books. I wasn’t exactly clear on what powers, if any, Preacher possessed, although I knew  there was a vampire involved in the story-line, and I was aware of the existence of “Arseface” which is what Cassidy, the vampire, called an unfortunate young man with a shotgun hole in his face. Where the story went and what plot points were involved are lost to time and I have no plans, or time, to re-read the series.

At any rate, I like to avoid the books for TV shows sometimes, because my impression is very different, when I have no idea what’s been changed from the books, or know what’s going to happen to any of the characters. Its one of the reasons why I won’t read The Walking Dead series until the show is long off the air.

But I love this show! This show is totally batshit! Its not as crazy as True Blood, which is in a class all by itself, but Preacher is definitely in the top ten of shows that you cannot watch if you are high on something, or they will mess you up.

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Preacher has, hands down, one of the weirdest openings I have ever encountered for a western. Think Cowboys Vs Aliens.A strange glowing object heads towards Earth, specifically a church in Africa, were the light invades the body of the lone standing person, the Preacher, briefly gives him the superpower to command people’s actions, and then blows him up. (This is probably something like the Angels in Supernatural. If your’e not part of the Angelic bloodlines, you lack the ability to host a being so powerful, and you explode.) This creature, or force,  tries this in several places, always with the result that the inhabited person explodes.

These incidents are eventually investigated by two odd gentlemen who are either alien beings, Angels or MIBs. It is clear they are on the trail of the “Exploding Preacher-Creature”. (Its always churches, and always the preacher.)

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Next we go to Annville, Texas, where Preacher, aka Jesse Custer, is giving one of the most lackluster, non-fiery sermons I have ever heard anyone give (and I’ve been to Catholic church sermons.)  His heart is totally not in it. The handful of parishioners are bored, the air conditioning is broken, he drinks too much, so he’s  hungover, and he forgets his speeches. His organist, a single mother named Emily, is the only one who supports him. He’s considering quitting being a preacher and wonders why he ever came back to this po-dunk town.

At the church picnic, Preacher is approached by a little boy who asks him if he will hurt his Dad for him because he’s heard stories that Preacher used to do stuff, and his Dad keeps hurting his Mom, (this is Donnie and Betsy).Preacher witnesses, the boy’s father quietly twisting his wife’s arm at the picnic, but is still reluctant to get involved. He’s got some issues with violence which we will learn about in a little while.

Can I just point out, that as world weary as he seems, Dominic Cooper is till the sexiest Preacher on TV. Cooper is most famous as Howard Stark from the first Captain America movie and being an asshole  in Dracula Untold.

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We meet Cassidy on a plane above Texas. He gets into an altercation with some assassins. We know this because he asks one of them how they keep finding him, before stabbing one of them with a wine bottle, decanting  his blood into a  bottle of whiskey, and then jumping out of the plane, when he realizes he killed the pilot. He lands in an open field with his insides on his  outside, but seems more inconvenienced than in pain. He remedies his condition by attacking one of the nosy cows wandering near him. The next time we see him, he’s intact, and still drinking from what appears to be that same bottle of, I want to say, liquor, but its probably not.

Tulip gets the most explosive entrance. Literally! Played by Ruth Negga, she is getting many laudations for her role here, as she totally inhabits  it. We come upon her fighting for her life, in a car that’s zooming through a cornfield. She encounters two nosy kids after she emerges victoriously from the vehicle, and proceeds to teach them how to make a homemade bazooka, which she uses to blow up some helicopters, that had been following her  This is, without question, one of the most awesome character entrances ever filmed for TV, and I love Tulip already.

Tulip heads out to Annville, where Jesse is still reconsidering his job as a Preacher, but so far, has only mentioned it to Emily. Jesse meets with the local sheriff and counsels his son, Eugene, an unfortunate soul with a gunshot hole in his face, whom Cassidy later renames “Arseface”. He then counsels Betsy, who tells him she’s likes it when Donnie hurts her, but I very much suspect, and so does Jesse, that she is lying. Tulip shows up and hits Jesse up with a job offer but he turns her down , saying that he must follow his faith, and she ain’t it.

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Later that evening ,while contemplating his increasingly complicated present, Jesse gets set upon by Donnie, Betsy’s husband.  To show you what kind of character we are dealing with, Donnie is a Civil War re-enactor, for the losing  side, naturally.

This is where we get into the issue of why Jesse has been trying to avoid violent activity. He initially balks at fighting Donnie but Donnie insists, so Jesse kicks not just his ass, but the asses of his dimwitted friends too, and you can tell he absolutely loves it. Actually it’s the only time in the entire episode that we see Jesse smiling. Not only is he thoroughly  in his  element, but he wears a look of total peace on his face, that is kind of creepy. Of course, Cassidy admires this level of carnage, and the two of them form a bond  that can only be forged through shared ass-kickin’, and jail time.

After Emily bails him out of jail,  Jesse, regretting his actions in the bar (but not too much) , sits in the empty church, contemplating his future, when he is possessed by the alien entity. But he doesn’t explode. Instead he wakes up three days later, feeling refreshed, and tells Emily that he’s changed his mind about leaving the church.

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When one of Jesse’s parishioners, who has been bothering him for days about his travails with his mother, comes to Jesse for advice, Jesse tells the man to open his heart to her and tell her everything.The same advice he’s been giving the man for some time now, but this time it has a different effect. The man travels all the way to Florida to tell his mother what he thinks, and initially you think he might kill her, but he rips his own heart out instead,  and offers it to her.  Jesse’s possession, which he doesn’t really remember, has some unintended side effects, that he does not yet know about. Everything I’ve just recounted  is Jesse’s crazy as shit life when he doesn’t have superpowers. Lord help us, when he figures out he does.

And the MIBs are now on his trail, too…

So, for the rest of the season, I definitely expect wackiness to ensue.

Essentially, this show began  like most shows do, introducing the main characters around whom the storylines will revolve. All of their stories begin separately, but soon, everyone converges in Annville, where the story could go in any direction, really. So far, Seth Rogen, who has really been a huge champion of the show, has remained more or less faithful to the books, at least as far as the character names, and such. Tulip has been race-bent, but its a lovely change because, c’mon! who don”t like Ruth Negga? The creators even managed to choose the other actors to  look, more or less,  like their book versions.

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I like the main characters  so far. Jesse is gloomy but intriguing, Tulip is definitely going to bring the craziness factor, and Cassidy brings a  supernatural wild card element. There’s not a show on TV that can’t be improved by the random addition of a vampire.

I just want to give a shoutout to AMC. AMC (and HBO) has been tearing it up in the series department.   Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Into the Badlands and now Preacher. AMC seems to have an uncanny ability to choose stories and then turn  them into  successful adaptations. Its the network against which all other ones are being compared at this point, with its uncanny ability to hit it out of the park with show after show. (Keep in mind, I have never shouted out to a television network before, not even the Syfy channel.)

I’m looking forward to Preacher joining my roster of  shows.

 

Penny Dreadful : A Blade of Grass

Oh, this episode brought the feels. I definitely needed some tissues during, and afterward, since having dealt with my own mental health issues, this episode held a certain amount of personal relevance to me.

This episode aired at the same time as the Preacher pilot, so I watched this one and DVRed the other, and I’m glad I did. On the surface, this particular episode doesn’t appear to have much plot, but it makes up for it with depth of feeling, and some interesting revelations, as Vanessa goes deep inside herself to find the memories she lost during her years at the Banning Clinic, an asylum for the wealthy, that her parents sent her to, after she blamed herself for Mina’s disappearance.

Eva Green is always at her best when she’s being tortured,  but Rory Kinner tore it up as Pre-John, before he became Frankenstein’s creature. He had me in tears so often during this episode, which is one of the most beautifully written, and we’re only four episodes into the season. I have a new appreciation for this actor and this character (who I hated when he was first introduced).

You have two of the most tragic figures in the show, connecting and commiserating deeply with each other, and it’s heartening to know that this isn’t the only time. They will meet again in the future, and even though they won’t recognize each other, their connection will still be there. They are simply sympathetic souls, who resonate with each other.

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Also contrast John’s manner of dealing with his undead state with Lily’s reaction to the same. They are both dealing with something wholly inexplicable, but for some reason John is the more sympathetic character. To be fair, John led a much more ordinary life than Lily did before she died, and this particular episode has done a lot to make me love this character. He was a good man before he died. Or at least he tried to be.

Lily lived a life of deprivation, and disease, being used by the privileged, being close enough to them to see the things she could never have, and this informs her bitterness. She can’t or won’t let go of that. John led, if not a privileged life, at least an ordinary one, with a wife and child, and a job he cared about. Instead of appreciating her new found circumstances, Lily has decided to seek revenge on her past life. John was in that state at first, but has somehow managed to grow and  move past that stage.

I suppose at some point in the series, I may feel for Lily what I now feel for John.  I can’t stand her now, and I wonder if part of the reason is because she still hasn’t moved past that initial stage (that even John went through), of needing to get revenge on all the people she thinks wronged her. All in all, I wish she were happier. She is not at peace, and she deserves to be, but doesn’t realize it, and I wonder if this is also the reason I don’t like her very much. There’s so much good she could do for the world, and abused girls like her young protege, but her bitterness only prompts her to want to burn everything down.

During Vanessa’s stay at the Banning Clinic, John is the only one to show her any kindness, even when it’s against regulations for him to do so, or to even tell her his name. He grows close to her, feeding her when she refuses, comforting her after her treatments, which she thinks are tortures, and pleading with her to get better.

At one point John tells her that even if she can’t get better, she should fake it anyway, to keep from further torturous treatments. Vanessa has a good argument for why she shouldn’t but I’m in agreement with John. She should fake it til she makes it. In all fairness she does try, but claims she couldn’t counterfeit normality well enough, after Banning makes the decision to perform brain surgery on her.

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During this ordeal, Dr. Seward has been trying mightily to awaken Vanessa, who has gone into some kind of fugue state, and Seward can’t rouse her, not even by burning her with a cigarette, which is definitely not something in the psychiatry manuals. I left this episode with the strong impression that psychiatrists, and psychologists, were mostly just experimenting on their patients, back then.

When John describes what Banning’s patients are like, after they’ve had bits and pieces of their brains cut out, you realize  those doctors had no fucking clue what they were doing. All of it was trial and error, and as bad as such places are now they’re still  a damn sight better  than  they were then, because you only had two alternatives, then. You had a choice between places like Bedlam, experimenting on the poor, and the more upscale “clinics”, where you were also experimented on, but they were slightly cleaner, with better food.

Since Seward can’t rouse her from her state, she says that Vanessa has no choice but to finish what she started. She has to keep moving forward, (a mantra of special relevance to me because its my personal one.) I liken mental trauma to walking through fire. Sometimes you have no choice but to walk through the fire, to deal with your issues, to confront them and get past them, because turning back, (retreating to one’s mental state before the trauma),  isn’t an option, and that’s Seward’s advice to Vanessa.

Keep moving forward!

At first Vanessa refuses to eat and John has to force feed her. Something he does as compassionately as he can, and when she asks him whether its night or day, he always asks which she would prefer, and then accedes to her decision, whichever one it is. The most touching moments are when John gives her a blanket after one of her sessions with Dr. Banning, when he knows he’s not supposed to, and when he visits her on Christmas day, to put a bit of makeup on her, brush her hair, and read to her one of his favorite books, just to remind her what its like to feel human and civilized again.

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Eventually he reaches the revelation that his attachment to her is too great and he  intends to quit his job. After her surgery, she will become nothing more than one of Dr. Banning’s “broken things”, and he couldn’t  bear to see her in that state, as that is his primary job – taking care of Banning’s broken people. His last day will be the day of her surgery and that his face will be the last one she sees, because there should be someone present who loves her. (Side note: My mother just underwent her first surgery several days ago and that was my thought just before the doctors took her away. So you can imagine this declaration had quite an effect on me.) Even Dr. Seward relaxes her guard to  Vanessa., telling her she will not leave her, that she will stay  until the end.

They are not the only two pledging their devotion to Vanessa. Contrast John’s and Seward’s love, and acts of compassion, to that of Satan’s and Dracula’s, who both visit Vanessa through the body of the orderly. They both declare their love for her and that she is to be theirs, and then  proceed to cajole, seduce, and threaten her into deciding between the two of them, but she refuses. In this world’s mythology, it turns out that Lucifer and Dracula are brothers. Dracula presides over the physical realm of Earth and wants Vanessa’s flesh and blood, while Satan presides over the spiritual realm and desires Vanessa’s soul. (I think this is an interesting mythological turn.)

The sheer irony of all this is that, while Vanessa turns to God as her salvation, (and I suppose one would, if one is convinced Satan exists), she has only to look at the examples of the people who love her. She believes herself to be evil because of the sins she feels she’s committed, she has a handful of spiritual superpowers, and two of the world’s worst creatures are in love with her. What she fails to notice is that there are good people who love her too, but she doesn’t seem to allow their love to inform her character. Seward, Murray, Ethan, Lyle and John are devoted to her, and stand by her, when they really don’t have to, but Vanessa’s guilt about her past sins won’t allow her to just accept that love and compassion. Her sins are a sign to her that she doesn’t deserve love.

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In a way, Seward’s assessment of Vanessa is correct. It ultimately doesn’t matter if Satan or Dracula is real, if Vanessa believes that’s true, she needs to find better ways of coping with her reality other than guilt and withdrawal. At the foundation of her “madness” is the belief that she is cursed because of what she thinks she did  to Mina. It’s the first incident she mentions to Seward when they began their sessions, and its where Vanessa thinks all her troubles began. No, her behavior towards Mina didn’t cause Satan’s and Dracula’s interest in her, but she can’t deal with any of her other traumas  until she’s handled the  first sin she thinks she committed, and refused to let go of, her betrayal of her best friend, Mina.

Only after she’s dealt with that can she move forward to her other problems. That guilt is a noose hanging round her neck. Dark forces can always tug on that rope to gain control over her, as we saw last season with the witches, and not dealing with it makes her fight for self-control that much harder.

Which is why she declares, after Seward has managed to awaken her, that not only does she know the name of the second demon pursing her, that none of this is over.

Next week, we’ll find out what the other characters are doing, and Vanessa’s journey continues. I’m missing Lyle, so its time to have him turn up and shine a little light after such intense episodes.

Sleepy Hollow : One Life

In the last episode of Sleepy Hollow, Pandora unleashed her evil boyfriend from Hell or  limbo or whatever, and Abbie sacrificed herself, saving Jenny’s life by going through  the a portal to close it and  taking a much needed artifact with her. Good news: Abbie is still alive. Bad news: No one knows where she is, except maybe the bad guys..

I really enjoyed the return of Sleepy Hollow. I almost missed it because I hadn’t programmed my DVR to record all my shows. I did enjoy this episode but the enjoyment was bittersweet. There was no Abbie and all the characters are hurting and missing her.

Ichabod is having motorcycle escape adventures without Abbie and that’s just all kinds of wrong, (but still kinda sexy). He, Jenny and the Joe are gathering the artifacts they think they need to communicate or save Abbie, wherever she may be.

Danny is fretting over her disappearance, too. He blames Ichabod. He’s been having Ichabod spied on by Sophie Foster. I’ve decided I really like her, not least because she got broken in on  the  supernatural/occult  front and held her own. Foster has to talk Danny down from his witchhunt on Crane and deal with a mirror wraith that’s trying to kill her and Ichabod, which he inadvertently summoned in a desperate  attempt to reach Abbie.

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Jenny and Joe finally kiss. I’m for this particular pairing and the show has had some fun teasing us about it. I just kept wanting the two of them to just KISS ALREADY! Sheesh! The two of them have been running around gathering up artifacts, too. Joe gets beat up again, but he also gets to come to Jenny’s rescue. Jenny gets to show her love for her sister and her vulnerable side. She doesn’t have to be a “strong, black woman”, 24/7.

There are some flashbacks to Crane’s adventures n the past, with Betsy Ross, witnessing the capture and hanging of Nathan Hale, but I didn’t pay closer attention to this part, so I got nothing.

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Crane’s life is a little sadder, a little duller, without Abbie there to tease him about being him. He misses her. (We all do.) Plus he needs someone to be there to teach him how to use a microwave. I don’t know why its funny to see him walking around Abbie’s  house in his stockinged feet. Did they do that in Colonial times? Walk around the house barefoot?

Foster and Danny have history. I like the way she talks to Danny. She doesn’t actually treat him like he’s her boss or supervisor and I generally like her attitude. She had a little trouble mentally dealing with supernatural but she caught on quickly and came through in the clutch, helping to defeat the monster.

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According to Jenny’s psychic map reading,  there’s going to be a Hell of a lot more monsters in the future as there seems to be some kind of grand convergence in the monster-world, thanks to Pandora’s summoning. Okay, that’s some suitably evil stuff to do. Bad Girl! Pandora’s boyfirend is being a pissy, little snot though, and he’s unlikable, but I guess that’s a feature, not a bug.

At the end of the episode, we find Abbie waking up on the ground in some sunlit cave in the middle of gob-knows-where. I hadn’t really thought she was dead. No one else acts as if she is. They all seem pretty hopeful that Abbie is okay.

This wasn’t actually a great episode. It was just okay. I think I just missed these characters and I’m glad to see them all again.

Now I’ve got one show to watch every night of the week. I can’t possibly do recaps for all of them but I can do these shorter reviews, highlighting my thoughts about the episodes. The show Second Chance comes on right after Sleepy Hollow but I don’t think Sleepy Hollow is going to save it. You know how I know this. I turned the channel, anyway. I will continue to do this until whatever follows Sleepy hollow is a much better show.