Recap: 'Sleepy Hollow' - 'Awakening' finds the plot the show's been searching for
After the unmitigated disaster that was last week’s plot, I was ready to write the last two episodes of “Sleepy Hollow” off as a loss. Then the last 5 minutes of “Awakening” happened. Now I’m not sure.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Too much was happening too fast this week. If the “Sleepy Hollow” writers wanted to explore the mother/son dynamic between Katrina and Henry, both “Kali Yuga” and “What Lies Beneath” could’ve been scrapped or rearranged. Introducing Solomon Kent earlier in the season would’ve given the show an over-arcing theme that is sadly missing. The slow build of Katrina turning to blood magic, keeping her newfound relationship with Henry a secret, pushing Ichabod away could’ve all been compelling drama…and given audiences a GOOD reason to hate Katrina.
Instead, we get Mrs. Crane’s abrupt heel-turn shoved into a single episode where that’s not even the main focus. “Awakening” spends most of the episode on a Liberty Bell subplot that a) goes nowhere and b) makes no sense. The idea that all the bells cast from the Liberty Bell mold are designed to amplify magic is actually pretty cool. But once Ichabod and Abbie start fretting over the best way to crack the bell to keep all the latent witches in Sleepy Hollow from activating, it falls apart. After all, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was cracked from ringing it too hard. Copper and tin are soft metals guys, just get a sledgehammer.
Not that it should matter. If you recall way back to Season 1, “Sleepy Hollow” supposedly has two active covens already. Good witches and bad witches. And it’s not like adding thousands of new magic users to the pool would necessarily go down the way Katrina and Henry wanted. Anyone under the age of 40 that spontaneously developed telekinesis or pyronetics would think they’re a mutant, not a witch. Choosing to have Ichabod and Abbie suddenly come down as “anti-witch” is bizarre, since Abbie seemed to show an affinity for magic in past episodes. If Ichabod was half the strategist he thinks he is, a bunch of witch allies would’ve been a good thing.
But no. For one reason or another, Ichabod and Katrina go through the most accelerated marital falling out in recent memory; from loving couple to mortal enemies in the span of an evening (Ichabbie shippers rejoice!). Henry is taken out of the equation completely, leaving Mrs. Crane to step into the power vacuum as the resident villain. If this were any other show, I’d be less inclined to give this development a pass. But letting evil blood magic fly is one step closer to Katrina as Pestilence riding her horse into the Apocalypse in tandem with her lover Abraham/Death, so I’ll allow it.
The show also extolls a lot of energy this week trying to reconcile Frank Irving’s subplot with the rest of the cast. Henry’s death frees Irving, causing him to vomit a demon from “Supernatural,” and then everything seems fine. Why the writers felt the need to shoehorn in Abbie dropping a plot bomb about how to undo a gorgon turning a person to stone remains a mystery. The Scooby gang was already equipped with zombie killing bullets that could’ve been Jenny’s last resort.
Seriously, the deus ex machina trope should be used sparingly, not shaken on like ice cream sprinkles at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.
And now, for those last five minutes. Katrina solidifies herself as the new Big Bad™ by casting a huge spell and nearly crushing Ichabod’s trachea, Darth Vader style. Abbie tries to stop the spell and gets sucked into the 18th century with Katrina. This dovetails nicely to the first episode of Season 1 as Abbie almost gets run off the road by a carriage and the camera pans back to reveal the "Village of Sleepy Hollow - Population 1,400" sign. A black lady wearing pants goes over like a lead balloon, and Abbie quickly finds herself in lock-up. Playing the only card she has, Ms. Mills swears she’ll only reveal crucial information that could turn the tide of the Revolutionary War to Ichabod Crane. Hopefully the show will linger on this refreshing role reversal for more than half an episode. Abbie being catapulted back to the 18th century is far more interesting and rife for drama than Ichabod's plight of being a white dude living in the 21st century.
My only real question is how they plan to handle the time travel. Since present-day Ichabod has a photographic memory, will he start remembering meeting Abbie as time is rewritten? Or have the trousers of time split into two streams, where only one will emerge victorious? Or will the show just ignore the conundrum all together?
Betting on Option 3.
Odds & Ends
• Ichabod Crane in a knock-off Home Depot is delightful. His “man out of time” moments continue to be the highlight each episode
• What the hell has the Horseman of Death been up to?
• Anyone else disappointed Abbie didn’t respond to the call of the bell? I was certain she had a predisposition for magic.
• Wait, so Ichabod and Abbie had time to take a list of rare books to the bookseller and SHE had time to research them and Jenny is JUST telling them about Frank? Continuity, who needs it?
• I am endlessly amused by the idea of a pagan-owned bell production company.
• Being buried alive for almost 200 years is no excuse for poor history knowledge, Henry Parrish. Americans never burned witches.
• What do you think the Red Coats think Abbie’s cell phone is?