Sleepy Hollow: John Doe.

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: The Lesser Key of Solomon.

This week’s episode is not only language history come alive, it’s also a huge step forward in Abbie and Ichabod’s friendship.

105-005-sleepy-hollow-john-doe-watermark-photos-lightbox-tbdWith a mysterious little boy appearing in the woods outside the town, midway between Sleepy Hollow and Roanoke, and releasing a plague, Abbie and Crane really don’t have a lot of time to talk about the whole Witness business at length. This episode is fast-paced, the narrated time is barely longer than two days at most; and the two are constantly on the go.

Except for when Ichabod gets infected and the quarantine team haul him away to a hospital bed. That’s when we see necessity becoming a choice: Ichabod and Abbie have gone through all of this together so far, they’ve rarely been apart since this thing started. As much as his existence troubled Abbie and tilted her life upside down at first, he also supported her and helped her. Being thrown together the way they were, their main conflicts stem from having to work together even though they hardly know each other and, for all they know, might be entirely incompatible personalities. And yet, they have been working together very well — they click. And now, Abbie is faced, for the first time since she came to accept their situation, with being separated from him, possibly losing him. Not just to illness and death, but to Roanoke. She doesn’t want to do this alone — and she doesn’t want to do it without Crane.

Abbie’s been a free agent all her life, after the demon incident. Even working with Corbin, and him knowing her as well as he did, she kept her secrets. Ichabod is the first person she told the entire truth about her and Jenny. Again, that was a difficult situation in which trust was needed in order to save Sleepy Hollow, she was forced to face her fears. But this, the panic on her face when they’re sedating him and the scene at the end, that’s her realising and acknowledging something she doesn’t necessarily have to. It’s a leap of faith, same as the one in the hospital chapel.


Facing the prospect of having to do this alone, Abbie tries something new: she adopts the faith that she’s observed in Ichabod, something he’s adamantly retaining. She’s questioned him about it and he’s reminded her that her head continues to run interference because of her past experience. With Ichabod consigned to a sickbed, she has to do the work of two, and Abbie knows that they complement each other, so that includes placing herself in Crane’s mindset. Desperate situations demand desperate measures.

105-007-sleepy-hollow-john-doe-watermark-photos-lightbox-tbdAnd then, in Crane’s words, she allows her heart to see something her head would rule impossible. Roanoke, everything, was an illusion, a test. But Abbie saw it, she believed it was real. If this had happened three weeks ago, she’d have probably seen what was there all the time — a dead island. But now, she’s this much closer to believing — and accepting that she does.

It’s a landmark of the development of their relationship that Abbie tells Crane that she was afraid that he’d opt to stay in the illusionary Roanoke, even if cursed by the Horseman of Pestilence, in a place closer to the world he knew. She tells him that he belongs in the 21st century, with her; and that statement alone encompasses so many things. It means that Abbie has come to terms with the fact that these things are going to keep happening, because the Apocalypse is real. It means that Abbie is ready to deal with it — but that she wants him by her side when she does. Knowing how difficult it was for her to say that out loud, to not keep her cards quite so close to her chest, Ichabod does just what he knows she needs: he teases a little and suggests they go home.

There’s a wonderful quote from Tom Mison that I wanted to show you as well, about working with Nicole Beharie:

“I think she’s remarkable. If I could work with Nicole for the rest of my career, I’d be quite happy. From the moment that we screen tested together, something just seemed to click. I don’t want to try to get too mystical and indulgent about it, but sometimes there are actors that you just click with, and I think it’s just because you enjoy playing together. Plus, she is a remarkable actress and I’ve admired her work since I saw her in Shame. I thought she was excellent. If you both approach something, and you’re both generous with each other, then that’s when you get good chemistry. I don’t think there’s anything more mystical than that. It’s just that she’s a brilliant actress, and I’m hanging on to her coattails.”

Source: LATF The Magazine

They have great chemistry, and it shows in every scene. Be it the light-hearted stuff, like Crane suspiciously smelling a loofah or fighting with plastic clampshell packaging and Abbie looking on, vaguely amused and vaguely fond of her misfit revolutionary soldier; or be it the dramatic scenes where it’s life or death. Their timing in both is impeccable, and Nicole Beharie carries this show effortlessly. (And Ichabod does look good for 200.)

105-009-sleepy-hollow-john-doe-watermark-photos-lightbox-tbdWe’ve also learnt more about Katrina this time: she’s indeed alive, just trapped in a sort of purgatory that Moloch set up to trap souls and keep them from moving on (more like staggering into the mist). So far, she only ever summoned Ichabod when he was unconscious, but couldn’t reach him for a while — her absence last week was noted by many. What with him being planted so firmly on death’s door, they could also touch. That could be a little tidbit to keep in mind for when the time has come to spring Katrina out of her prison — the walls between the worlds need to weaken, because a nearly dying Ichabod will hardly be capable of getting her out of there if Moloch’s hold is strong as ever.

Something that I as a language scientist absolutely loved: using Middle English as the mysterious language of choice this week. It’s language and cultural history come alive right before us. The major Indo-Germanic languages English, German, French, and Dutch were so close in vocabulary and pronunciation once upon a time, even syntax, it’s amazing to see what stayed the same and what shifted. If only we could have used this episode as audio material in lectures when I studied this field of Linguistics two years ago, it’d have been a little more fun than the few examples we got… Anyway, I’ll be over here, squeeing over dead languages.

Next: The Sin Eater — note: Sleepy Hollow will return to your screens on November 4, 2013.

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