'Sleepy Hollow' producer previews new monsters, gives season 2 scoop
War is coming to Sleepy Hollow. And he bought a new outfit for the occasion.
As you’ll see from the following exclusive sketches, Fox’s delightfully insane supernatural drama is planning a second season that’ll be bigger (18 episodes, as opposed to last year’s 13), badder, and most definitely more terrifying. EW chatted with Sleepy executive producer Roberto Orci about some of the beasts who’ll be spooking Ichabod and Abbie this year—including a beefed-up Moloch, a creepy take on the Pied Piper, and a mysterious being known as the Kindred—as well as some burning questions about the season more generally. (And yes, that means Crane and Mills’ romantic status.)
EW: Is it fair to say that season two will be scarier than season one?
ROBERTO ORCI: I think that is fair to say—but without losing its humor. Some of the best humor comes out of being scared.
Season one ended with everyone in peril—Ichabod is buried alive, Abbie is stuck in purgatory, Jenny might be dead. How do you pick up those threads for the premiere?
We pick up two years later… No, I’m kidding. We’re not going to cheat that way. We actually come in right there—we have Abbie stuck in purgatory in a dollhouse from her childhood, which becomes a kickoff point for finding out more about Abbie and Jenny’s family, particularly their mother. We obviously have Crane buried in the same pine box in which Henry Parrish, played by John Noble, spent a couple of centuries after he was buried by Katrina’s coven. And Frank Irving is committed to Tarrytown for the murders of another police officer and Father Bolan, who we all know were killed by the demonically possessed version of his daughter. So we come in very much with everyone where they were, and they can’t really help each other until they figure out a way out. Which some of them do, and maybe some of them don’t.
Expectations for the show this season—I’m not sure what they were like last year, but the show sort of became a sleeper hit.
I apologize for that terrible pun.
I love puns. I love puns!
So what’s the mood like on set now, since the show blew up in a way you maybe weren’t expecting?
Well look, you can never expect or predict that something’s going to be well-received. You hope and you pray, but you’re not in it to lose, so you hope that’s the outcome. So we were pleasantly surprised. But we were also bullish about the fact that we, we all love the show. This isn’t some gig that we just took on because we had nothing better to do. How does it affect expectations? Well, we feel like a returning team who’s had a win, and the trick is not to overthink it, and to keep doing more of what was working instead of saying, “Well, now that the microscope is on us, we have to do things we’ve never tried before.” We want to do things you’ve never seen, but they have to flow holistically from what we were doing. If you were liking last season and you wanted [us] to continue what we were doing, that’s our plan.
Is there anything you did in season one you’re not planning to do in season 2?
Um… nothing specifically that was ruled out. But we just got to think about things more. We got to make room and expand certain things. Let’s just go through some of the arcs: For example, Abbie and Crane in a way have switched places. Abbie was sort of unwilling [to accept] the fact that she’s potentially a biblical witness. This year, she she’s gung ho to get ahead of evil. Unfortunately, getting ahead of evil also means potentially—
—killing Crane’s son.
Defeating Henry Parrish, which is Crane’s son. And so suddenly there’s a hesitation introduced to his mission. Abbie and Jenny had a rough start last season. Now they’re a little bit united—they’re still going to go through their ups and downs, but now their goals are the same. And in solving their personal dynamics, they get to spend some time figuring out a lot more about their mother, and why they ended up where they ended up. Irving, meanwhile, is continuing to want to protect his daughter, and part of that is potentially being tempted by Henry Parrish. Henry Parrish is like the best evil characters. He continues the theme that we started in season one, which is that evil doesn’t operate by showing up in your living room and blowing up your house. Evil operates by tempting you to do the wrong thing, by turning neighbor against neighbor, by making regular people do evil. The horsemen of the apocalypse themselves, as we established, are people who then end up magically personifying sort of these roles. In the case of the Headless Horseman, it was a man who was in love with Katrina, and his quest to win her back continues on in season two.
Katrina is able to see who the Headless Horseman truly is once again, and they get to flesh out their history. He gets to continue to pursue her as a love interest, and then the question is, is she really being tempted by this man slash god of evil, or is she potentially using his affections to find out more? Same with Henry Parrish—evil sometimes, the way they operate is to be very under the radar. So now Henry Parrish is a man living in the town, sitting among us as he pushes things in place to destroy the town. Entering all this is a new sheriff, who unlike Irving is not privy to the fact that Sleepy Hollow is a centerpiece of supernatural activity. That really complicates Abbie and Ichabod’s journey.
Can you tell me about another new character—Nick Hawley, the bounty hunter?
Nick Hawley is an antiquities dealer in the way that Indiana Jones was. But our guy’s a little bit more of a mercenary. He’s been around the world uncovering artifacts, and he’s not a particularly superstitious person. He does it for the money—more of a Han Solo, I guess, than an Indiana Jones. He’s not aware that these things may be real or have real powers. It’s only when he encounters Abbie and Crane that he starts to understand wow, these things that I’ve been selling for money actually may be bullets that can be fired one way or another in terms of good and evil and the end of the world. And so he becomes sort of an interest for Abbie, and potentially an irritant for Crane.
He sounds a little bit like Jenny—in season one, she talked about traveling around the world for the antiques shop.
Correct. In fact, he comes about in the story because he knew Jenny; their travels intersected back in the day, and that’s exactly how they find this man. Jenny knows a guy, as we say.
In the sketches we’ve got, Moloch has a new, scarier look. Can you say anything about that?
Well, Moloch, as evil as he was in season one, he’s been a little bit frustrated with his access to the real world. I think part of the reason you’re seeing some nice new sketches for him is he wants to look his best in case he manages to set foot completely into our world. That is his goal. And that is part of what’s going to be going on through the season. Can he really get an apartment in Sleepy Hollow and really raise havoc?
Abbie and Crane will also have a new weapon to fight Headless in the Kindred.
Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. The Kindred is a character generated from the knowledge of how the Headless Horseman operates. You could say he is a mirror version of the Headless Horseman—he has a lot of the [same] skills, but is manipulated into fighting for the side of Abbie and Crane. It’s great when you have a big bad who can help you, but also you can’t control some things when you unleash them.
There are two more horsemen of the apocalypse; do you have any plans to bring them into the story this year?
Well, certainly they have plans to get into the story. How fast we get to them is up for grabs. We’ve got definitive plans up through about episode 11, and one of the great things about having a plan is as it unfolds, you get to test audience’s reactions. If you have a solid enough plan and you have a good team, you can call an audible midway through the season and see what you need. But it turns out we might have enough story. Certainly we’re going to tease their arrival; when they arrive is still a state secret.
So many fans are rooting for Abbie and Crane to get together romantically. Does that seem like something that could happen this year?
There’s nothing like another good-looking guy arriving in the mix to suddenly make people realize how they really feel about each other. Katrina, by the way—her goal, obviously, is to do all she can not only to escape the clutches of the Headless Horseman, but also to see if she can reunite her family. That is Crane’s goal as well. Despite Henry Parrish’s anger, maybe there’s a way to reach their son. Abbie is not a homewrecker. I think as long as Crane and Katrina are seeking to keep their family together, and as long as they’re in love—barring her coming under some evil spell—I think she would try to respect that relationship. Any great romance hopefully is preceded by a wonderful friendship, and we want to make sure we explore every element of that. But again, the fun part about having a plan is you can deviate from it, or you can be surprised by something that comes about naturally.
We’ve danced around this, but I should ask point-blank if Jenny is alive.
Well, certainly she’s hanging on by a thread when we leave her at the end of last season. It’d be great if she could just be taken to a doctor. Instead, she is picked up by a secret society, and it’s not clear whether they’re going to be able to save her life. But it’s certainly their goal. And whether it’s their goal to save her for good or evil, you’ll have to watch.
And finally—tell me about season two’s historical aspect. Ben Franklin is going to be on the show this year, right?
Exactly. Ben Franklin has a bigger role than we ever imagined. Some of his inventions, some of his discoveries, which you can read about in history, actually prove to be things that have a dual purpose—some of which will be necessary if we’re ever going to save Abbie, and if Crane is ever going to reunite with Katrina.
So magical bifocals?
Could be, could be!
Sleepy Hollow returns Monday, Sept. 22 on Fox.