Written by Liz Dircks
Bones Sleepy Hollow Crossover PLOT SUMMARY:
The mystery of a set of Revolutionary-era remains found near Washington D.C. turns into a Halloween threat on the village of Sleepy Hollow, as two powerhouse pairs join forces to bring a killer to justice and the undead to heel.
FOX’s announcement last summer that Bones and Sleepy Hollow would get a Halloween crossover elicited some . . . reactions from yours truly. We’re talking copious head-scratching and good ol’ nerd indignation at the image of two tonally-dissonant shows existing in the same universe. Would veteran show Bones boost relative newcomer Sleepy Hollow’s ratings with this shark-jumping premise? Did someone pitch this idea to FOX on the basis that #HollowBones would be a spooooooky hashtag? But most importantly, would the plot be solid enough to work?
The answers: a little, probably, and yes. It was also super-weird.
Full disclosure: this was my first episode of Bones, so commercial breaks were spent frantically skimming the show’s Wikipedia page. “The Resurrection in the Remains” was not tailored to me, so I couldn’t tell you if, say, Brennan makes a habit of commenting on the joys of post-professional intimacy to complete strangers. But even if parts of this crossover pushed the limits of suspension of disbelief, the leads stayed true to themselves, which is really all I can ask. This story was primarily about throwing two wildly different working relationships into one pot, stirring occasionally, and hoping the result didn’t leave a bad taste in viewers’ mouths.
Bones half opens in a derelict church with the double-whammy of a decomposing corpse and a coffin containing the skeletal remains of an 18th-century British army officer with — gasp! — his head missing. But the Headless Horseman is currently off-duty, and we find out later the bones belong to General William Howe, (seen in Season 3, Episode 2 of Sleepy Hollow) being, in Ichabod’s words, a “blackguard.” But the real case focuses on the fresher corpse, a young med student whose fascination with the afterlife led her to a series of poor choices resulting in her death — and resurrection. And death again, because hey, this is still the forensic drama portion, okay?
The longer I watched, the more I realized Bones sort of had roles in place to ease the transition. One such role was Dr. Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), resident conspiracy theorist at the Jeffersonian Institute, who makes IchAbbie feel slightly more welcome than the hyper-rational Brennan. Brennan quickly finds herself at odds with Ichabod who, despite his arcane politeness and cheeky eyebrows, is shifty at best and too knowledgable about magic. Their partnership is reluctant on her end until Ichabod plays his trump card: a missive from George Washington that General Howe’s remains be interred in Sleepy Hollow. Unfortunately, relinquishing this letter means Brennan’s team is able to identify Ichabod as the letter’s scribe. Ichabod’s explanation? He inherited his handwriting from his ancestor, also named Ichabod Crane. Shhhh, just go with it. In the end, General Howe’s bones are en route to Sleepy Hollow and the foursome enjoy one of the most awkward bar scenes I’ve ever watched.
It’s hard to fully defend this crossover’s existence when Sleepy Hollow’s “Dead Men Tell No Tales” would’ve sufficed as a rousing episode on its own. Big-bad Pandora brings Howe’s remains back to life to lay waste to Ichabod, but really, why not make the whole town collateral damage just for the fun of it? While we’re treated to the most adorable costumed bowling sequence (Nicole Beharie is a perfect Beyonce), Howe recruits the Draugr, a group of zombie soldiers based in Nordic folklore that can only be stopped by mythical Greek fire. Crazy, yes, but well within the show’s tendency to play fast and loose with history and mythology (though some crazy may have rubbed off on Bones — since when is candlelight from an LCD screen the same as actual candlelight?!). With help from Jenny and Joe and some sweet flamethrowers, the Witnesses live to Witness another day.
The elephant in the room was trying to make dark magic and monsters seem plausible without disrupting Bones’s unquestionable foundation in reality. Amazingly, just when I thought Booth and Brennan were about to stumble upon something otherworldly, they’d conjure up an explanation that didn’t exemplify reason so much as defy it. Their main action in the second hour involves exploring a secret Greek-fire-spewing tomb, where Ichabod and Brennan are briefly trapped. Team Sleepy Hollow deals with killer tombs every day ending in a “y,” but Brennan is more concerned about the unprecedented discovery they’re all tarnishing. (Nobody tell her Booth defiled part of it with a spray of bullets.) To be fair, if the two shows had to go their separate ways in the end, this was the way to do it without ruffling things up.
The crossover saw its strength in switching up the character dynamics and putting them under the microscope. Ichabod and Brennan highlight dual sides of the learned intellectual archetype: Ichabod is poetic and open-minded in his logic, while Brennan refuses to fathom any explanation that isn’t steeped in peer-reviewed evidence. This was fascinating to watch but lacked the more organic feel of Booth’s scenes with Abbie. Abbie learns that Booth and August Corbin, her dead mentor, knew each other, and Corbin mentioned her the last time they spoke. Despite a passive-aggressive jab at her authority issues, the two have a heartfelt moment, a glimpse of what this story could have been. Meanwhile, I’ll lie awake at night wondering how Booth recalled obscure details about a woman he’d never met from a man who’s been dead for two seasons.
Crossovers appear to be rare nowadays outside of the Marvel franchise, so while this was a valiant effort by FOX to churn up some pumpkin-spiced spirit, it won’t likely be a memorable one. Honestly, the scariest thing about these episodes was seeing a well-lit Ichabod and Abbie. Give shadows and gloom, or give me death! But if it convinced anyone to get in on the glorious camp that is Sleepy Hollow, you’ll find no one more grateful than myself.
RATING: 6 OUT OF 10