The sprawling grounds of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Cemetery provided the ideal atmosphere for a screening of Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” Monday night, part of an attention-grabbing For Your Consideration campaign that saw gangs of Headless Horsemen descend on media outlets throughout the city to “terrorize” staffers with photo ops and sweet treats.
Stars Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) and Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills) were joined by executive producers Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman, Heather Kadin and Mark Goffman for a Q&A at the cemetery’s towering Masonic Lodge, and while they kept things pretty cryptic inside the crypt, the team behind one of last season’s rare success stories was happy to drop some hints about season two on the red carpet.
When asked to sum up the season-two premiere in three words, the dapper Mison bashfully admitted, “All I can think of are swear words!”
Ever the loyal partner, Beharie cautioned, “You can’t do that, your mom would be really upset with you.”
“She’d be furious,” Mison agreed, before settling on the suitably enigmatic descriptor of “trust.”
Beharie offered one hint — “explosive” — and one piece of sound advice: “Buckle up.”
For fans who were left on the edge of their seats by January’s season-one finale, Mison had some words of reassurance: “The great thing is, the second season starts exactly at the moment the finale left off, so all of the pace that’s been building up through the last 13 episodes, it’s just straight in. We’re hitting the ground running, so there’s no time for Ichabod or Abbie to sit back and consider what’s happened.”
Just as well, since the twist-laden finale left Ichabod buried alive while his wife, Katrina (Katia Winter), was handed over to the Headless Horseman by the couple’s scorned son, Jeremy (John Noble) — who revealed himself to be the second Horseman of the Apocalypse, War.
Abbie, meanwhile, was left trapped in Purgatory and at the mercy of the demonic Moloch, and Beharie told Variety that the skeptical police lieutenant will struggle with her “creepy” new surroundings in season two.
She’s “a little terrified — Purgatory is challenging, that’s the whole idea,” she pointed out. “Every story you hear about it is that it’s going to try you and challenge you and play with your mind. It’s interesting how she deals with it.”
Season two is set to expand the town of Sleepy Hollow with new characters, but Beharie promised that the 18-episode second year will also feature “more family stuff for everyone — you’ll see where (Abbie) comes from and why she’s a Witness as well.”
Executive producer Mark Goffman agreed, “There’s a big surprise in the premiere that (Abbie) comes to in Purgatory, and that’s going to play out throughout the entire season. We’re really going to get to understand her past a lot more. (We’ll see more of) the family dynamic as they try to understand her role as a Witness; what exactly happened to (Abbie and her sister, Jenny); how you become a Witness; and what that really means. She takes it very seriously.”
Speaking of new characters, the executive producers had nothing but praise for Timothy Busfield’s portrayal of season-two addition Benjamin Franklin.
“When we saw him come out in the makeup and the whole getup, it was thrilling to me — he was such a fantastic Franklin,” Len Wiseman enthused. “It was eerie, he really did impress us. We were running around showing the photo to everybody on set.”
Goffman concurred, “We wanted to come up with a Franklin that had never really been portrayed before on television, and this one has a level of irreverence and brilliance and smarts — his relationship with Crane is going to be something that’s memorable and a lot of fun to watch. This is a person who was responsible for so much of the founding of our country and so many inventions that we take for granted; there’s many seasons worth of stories to unwind in how he played a role in the Revolution and his relationship with Crane.”
Another new face this season comes in the form of Matt Barr, who will play a bounty hunter in the troubled town. “He’s doing a five-to-seven episode arc. We had to open up the town since we’re doing more episodes, and he’s going to be an antiquities dealer who Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) used to go to for help finding things,” Heather Kadin teased.
Roberto Orci added, “He’s one of the people who knows a little bit of the things that are happening in this world, so he’s someone with whom they can share some of the things you can’t talk to anyone else about.” Expect sparks to fly between Barr’s Nick Hawley and both Mills sisters.
Beloved “Fringe” alum John Noble has been promoted to series regular status for season two, so fans can expect to see plenty of Henry Parrish (a.k.a. Jeremy Crane a.k.a. War) in upcoming episodes.
“He doesn’t just suddenly take off his mask and (go) running around with claws — he’s actually still part of the town and part of the fabric of what’s going on. He’s integrating into the town, so he’s a delicious, gigantic bomb waiting to go off,” Orci noted.
“Obviously Ichabod and Abbie knows what’s going on, but they don’t know what his greater plan is, which is a big drive,” Kadin said.
“They can’t tell everybody what he’s up to so it’s almost like, ‘I’m looking at the devil right over there but I can’t tell you!'” Orci agreed.
Despite their initial separation, Kadin promised that Ichabod and Abbie’s bond is as strong as ever in season two: “I think they both know from last season that they have to do it together, so they’ll do whatever they have to do to get back together and stay together and fight evil.”
Still, Orci noted, the pair will have something of a role reversal this season. “Now Crane knows his son is a villain and that’s tough to deal with, but (Abbie’s) not related to (Jeremy). So she’s now aware that she’s got to fight however she can to do what she has to. They may not always agree, even though they’re joined at the hip.”
And then there’s Ichabod’s relationship with Katrina, who — as Mison joked — has “run off with her ex” after finally being freed from Purgatory.
“They still have a lot of obstacles between them, and he’s now been a season in the new world and she’s yet to see it all, so there’s gonna be some growing pains as they go,” Orci said. “There’s still barriers between them and they have to overcome them before they’re really free.”
The producers conceded that guilt will be a motivating factor for Ichabod when season two opens.
“He feels like he has failed,” Wiseman observed. “Did he save Katrina? Sort of, but now she’s trapped and Abbie’s in Purgatory, so he does feel responsible — there’s the weight of that now, the sense of failure.”
Goffman agreed, “I think the first season was very much about figuring out the sins of the past and how he got to where he is, and now it’s about really embracing that. His wife is now out of Purgatory, his son — who he never knew — he wants a chance to see if there’s any redemption there, so we’re dealing with family bonds and the idea of redemption and hope, and that’s a really interesting area for him to explore.”
As for whether the producers feel any pressure to replicate the success of the first season — one of the few genuine breakout hits of the year — Orci remained fairly serene, telling Variety, “The pressure for us is just to make sure that the characters continue being authentic. When we’re in the room thinking this stuff up, the characters have taken on a life of their own, partly because of the great cast that we have and all of us collaborating … It’s been very natural — it’s like we’re fans, and when you think of it that way it starts to become less pressure … it’s like, the train is moving, let’s just make sure it doesn’t go off the rails.”