Scoop/News

‘Sleepy Hollow’ scoop: Beharie backlash, S4 renewal, and FOX upfronts

Wow, Sleepy Heads, who would have ever thought that there would be a day when fans were frustrated and bewildered by “Sleepy Hollow’s” renewal? Fans have passionately championed this unique supernatural drama from Day One, but they have also been equally critical of the series’ shortcomings. Season 1 was pure magic, so fans held this show to a higher standard. Team Sleepy Hollow has a stellar Twitter presence, so many Sleepy Writers and producers often addressed the fans’ constructive criticisms online.

After putting Abbie Mills in the corner during Season 2’s underwhelming plot choices (As if Abbie would ever want or need Jenny’s sloppy seconds as a love interest? Wasn’t this show about Abbie and Ichabod, not the Crane Family Saga? What happened to Ichabbie’s special partnership? What’s with all the loose ends?) the writers listened to their fans and delivered a spectacular finale that catered to our desires. Ichabod and Abbie were on the same page again for the first time in months. Sleepy Writers rekindled that treasured Ichabbie spark, using Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie’s chemistry to their advantage.

Fans had to make a statement (#AbbieMillsDeservesBetter) in order to get more backstory on the latent half of Team Witness, but it did pay-off by season’s end. Sleepy Writers cut their losses by extinguishing the Henry and Katrina storyline. Sadly, Frank Irving served as collateral damage (we all still miss Orlando Jones). Nonetheless, the Season 2 finale reinstalled some hope in the fans for an Ichabbie-centric Season 3.

Fans are still rattled and enraged by the incomprehensible and shocking Season 3 finale. After months of catering to fans’ desires and teasing Ichabbie’s romantic potential, Abbie gets killed-off. Here is the catch-22: the writers were forced to kill Abbie because Nicole Beharie wanted out, however, many fans are arguing that Beharie wanted out because the writers failed to fulfill her character’s potential.

Leftenant Mills was supposed to be Crane’s equal counterpart from the beginning, but her character kept falling to the wayside. Season 3 was full of problems (an annoying Betsy Ross, weak/ridiculous villains, no iconic Headless Horseman, Ichabbie’s sideline love interests in spite of their repeated adoration for one another), but none compare to Abbie’s fate. All of this brings us to Friday’s news of “Sleepy Hollow’s” renewal, the fans’ backlash at an Abbie-less Season 4, and Dana Walden’s defense of FOX’s decision before today’s upfronts.

FOX’s CEO addressed the matter of Beharie’s departure and their optimism for “Sleepy Hollow’s” future during a conference call with reporters on Monday morning (May 16). TVLine reports, “There were a variety of factors that led to the end of the season […] It was not a decision that we wanted to make initially. We ended up being put in a situation where that was a decision that needed to be made.”

She also defended FOX’s decision to renew the show and believes Crane’s story can continue beyond another season. Walden explained,

“We don’t feel like it has to be the end of the life of the show” … “And while there was backlash [to the Season 4 renewal], there was also a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from fans about the show coming back and about Tom having the ability to be the center of the series and discovering new dynamics and new relationships. It’s a very original premise and we felt like it had greater life in it and that there was no reason to end it.”

Aside from Abbie’s gut-wrenching self-sacrifice, the Season 3 finale revealed that a secret government organization led by Agent Daniel Reynold’s mysterious FBI contact, Jack Walters, wants to recruit Crane. Another supernatural threat is on the horizon and the Nine Sacred Sites will surely play a role in next season’s mythology.

It should also be noted that Deadline claims Season 4 has a 13 episode order. Could this bode well for “Sleepy Hollow’s” future? Will the writers craft a clever, thorough, well-rounded story like they did in Season 1? Yes, we all know Beharie significantly contributed to the magic of that spectacularly brilliant first season. But, Sleepy Writers also nailed it on the storytelling front in general. The narrative was smart, gripping and very carefully planned out. Compared to the last two sub-par seasons in which the writers kept trying to gather their bearings amidst the fans’ constant criticisms.

Hopefully, “Sleepy Hollow” will recapture the creativity of Season 1 and bring back some of the creative minds that departed the series in pursuit of other projects. Let’s face it, this show needs a big time reboot. Abbie’s Eternal Witness Soul might be out there somewhere, waiting to be found, but we all know that “Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane and Jenny Mills will not be the same without Abbie. The show should always maintain a reverence for Abbie. They can’t simply replace her by putting her Eternal Witness Soul in a new body. Many fans are still curious to see the rest of Ichabod’s story unfold, we just hope it gets done correctly.

Thankfully, many members of Team Sleepy are listening to the fans and taking note of their wishes. Robert Orci has been very outspoken on Twitter and is taking all comments to heart (the good and the ugly). Fans are still hurting. Many fans’ initial reactions/feelings have not changed (yours truly’s included). But that does not mean all hope is lost, especially if you still care about Ichabod Crane.

We will have to wait until “Sleepy Hollow’s” 2017 mid-season debut (Fridays at 9 p.m.) to see how this all plays out. Even if Sleepy Writers promise to find a way to make it up to devoted viewers, we can’t help but wonder: How many fans will be back to watch Ichabod Crane embark on a new journey without his “better half”?

How do you feel about Walden’s comments? Do think “Sleepy Hollow” can produce a compelling fourth season? Will you be tuning in? Share your thoughts below and on Twitter (@TalkTVwTiffany).

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