You've got to admire a series that spends six episodes establishing a formula -- then uses its seventh outing to turn that formula on its head. (Head puns in these recaps: always intended.)
At first, "The Midnight Ride" seemed to have everything we've come to expect from Sleepy over the course of its short life: a new twist on an old American story, several scenes of skillfully deployed fish-out-of-water humor, a slightly irritating tendency to keep reminding us about things we already know. (Seriously, the next time a character gratuitously reiterates the show's premise, I'm going to start tossing boxes of tea into the harbor.)
Partway through the hour, though, things started to get a little more interesting. Another series would have kept Irving in the dark about the imminent apocalypse, allowing him to maintain his status as the Hollow's skeptical voice of authority; not Sleepy, which showed the captain the light and had him officially join Ich and Ab's mini Scooby Gang before the episode's final commercial break. Another show would have stuck with the "monster of the week" format for weeks, if not months or whole seasons. Sleepy, however, seems as though it's already abandoned that structure, choosing instead to barrel toward its first finale in full serialization mode. It's a ballsy move, one that proves again why Sleepy is fall's most surprising new series -- as well as one of the season's best.
I only wish we could have had a little more time with Mr. Rutledge and his stony-faced Masons before they were cruelly beheaded by our old pal No-Noggin. The gentlemen are murdered, naturally, right before they can deliver some crucial information about how to stop Headless. And when it rains in Sleepy Hollow, it really pours: After weeks of laying low, the Horseman has abruptly decided to go after his stolen skull. Once he gets it back, he'll be able to summon the other three Horseman... thus bringing about the End of Days. Given that Dads has received a full season order, we can only assume his dastardly plan is already working.
NEXT: The night's most gruesome visual