This is a collective review of the last three episodes of Season 1, of which the last two aired in a double-feature finale this past Monday.
Let’s start with The Vessel, which served to set up the first pillar of trouble and one of the stakes in the fight — thus, in the cliffhanger. What with Ancitif, one of hell’s demons, possessing the Captain’s daughter Macey, we’re right back in Gothic Horror land, right along with the crowning moment of heartwarming when the beloved’s soul “is still in there somewhere.” Never fails. Captain Irving tries everything to protect her, cleverly drawing the demon to the Archives, where he knows Abbie and Ichabod will be given just enough time to lay the trap. But this is something they can’t just cover up: a police officer and a priest are dead, Morales is probably in hospital, and who’s there to tell the truth, except for the Irving family? No-one. And no-one’s going to believe that “Evil” is the answer to that question. And so, the first of the Earth’s protectors is taken into custody, arrested for two murders he didn’t commit.
I really loved The Vessel, because it gave us a lot more time with Captain Irving and his family, as well as more insight into Jenny’s past. We see Captain Irving give up some of that weight resting on his shoulders, stepping away from acting like it’s all about duty and service, and admitting that he wasn’t the father Macey needed, or the husband Cynthia deserved. He thought they were broken after the accident, when really what they needed from him was his support to be strong. He tried to protect them, feeling guilty for not being there to prevent what happened, and so took their agency away. He realises that now, acknowledges that Macey’s strong, that she doesn’t need to be fixed, because she already fixed herself. She didn’t give up on her life: it is what it is now, and she wants her father to see her, not the wheelchair. Irving’s beginning to, and doing what he’s doing is what he always would have done. Evil is making him trade places with Macey the way his guilt probably pushed him to wish after the accident.
We also learn that Jenny wasn’t a troublemaker for the sake of trouble: every time she sensed Ancitif drawing closer, she had herself arrested or committed so she wouldn’t even get close to being able to hurt Abbie. Abbie’s been judging her for her rap sheet all this time, when, really, her little sister was just trying to protect her. That and finally having it out in the open, facilitated by Ichabod, was a powerful reality check for both of them. For Abbie, because it means that Jenny does love her still, despite what happened. And for Jenny, because it means that she can trust Abbie with this kind of information now, that she doesn’t have to close herself off anymore. She can trust Abbie — and Ichabod, and her sister is finally and definitely in her corner now. No doubts, no petty arguments.
The Indispensable Man & Bad Blood
This culminates in the talk they have before Abbie and Ichabod venture into Purgatory to free Katrina. Jenny worries that Abbie is losing sight of herself, that she’s only doing this for Ichabod. It’s a legitimate concern, I myself was fuzzy on why this was a better plan than using the ancient map in the first place, but then I realised: it’s all about free will.
Abbie taught Ichabod that there is always another way, and so he vows that they will forge ahead together, with all the information and no doubts between them. Yes, he lied, but he came clean about it, and if Abbie had said no, it wouldn’t have happened.
Moloch tried to sow the seeds of doubt, of betrayal, tried to drive a wedge between them. Abbie, after being abandoned so many times by people she loved, was vulnerable to that doubt, of course she was. But she’s not opposing the plan with the map because she doesn’t want Ichabod to be happy, but because she’s not losing sight of the bigger picture: what they’re doing, right now, will decide the fate of humanity. She’s more aware of sacrifice than Ichabod is, perhaps, and if the plan has indeed changed, then what they want might be the exact opposite of what’s good for the world. Ichabod’s asking her to trust him in spite of the prophecy — and Abbie’s asking him to trust her that they will get Katrina out of Purgatory, come what may. Just not using the map, if the map turns out to be something Moloch can use against them.
No-one loves you like I do!
No-one’s quite undead like you either, Andy. (Oh, John Cho, the costumes they put you into on this show.) Anyway: the decision they ultimately made, going into Purgatory, was made not just because Ichabod wanted to be reunited with his wife, it was because she was their only chance of stopping the Horseman of War — and because Abbie is done running away. She’s not doing this for Ichabod’s selfish desires, she’s doing this for herself, and for Jenny, to fight back against Moloch for what he did to them 13 years ago. This whole episode was about both Witnesses trying to keep each other sane, about preventing the other’s judgement clouding over. And they succeeded. Abbie’s not being delivered by a friend who turned against her, and Ichabod isn’t doing this for his own gain. There are no secrets between them, no bad blood. They made this decision their own, not letting Moloch push them into fighting. Discord ain’t happening here: only accord. Moloch needs the map? They’ll bloody well use it to outsmart him, then.
Leaving Abbie in Purgatory is as huge a sacrifice to Ichabod as leaving Katrina there to rot would have been. They have several powerful scenes between them in this season finale. First, the one where Ichabod burns the old map, revealing that Abbie’s friendship and trust mean more than his conscience can allow to disregard, no matter how much he wants Katrina back. And then, in Purgatory. We get a reaction shot of Katrina precisely because that’s what we’ve not been getting a lot of all season: after Jenny, Katrina is only the second time we see someone’s focalised outside take on Abbie and Ichabod’s relationship. We’ve only know our reactions to it, and Jenny’s. So what we see now is Katrina looking at them and seeing exactly how much the two Witnesses have come to mean to each other.
The power of this bond is obvious, and it’s also obvious how much Ichabod is hurting. He’s getting Katrina back, if only temporarily, but he’s got to leave Abbie in danger, in Moloch’s realm. When he and Katrina are repeating the incantation, all Ichabod can look at is Abbie, standing strong and steadfast and ready to push past her fear and do what she’s come to do. She’s at peace with this decision — she wasn’t asking for permission — but Ichabod isn’t. He can’t risk the lives of billions for another day with his wife, and risking Abbie’s life is absolutely out of the question. Except it’s not his decision to make.
“I’ll come back for you.”
Abbie once saved his soul, and he can’t be the one to condemn her to sacrifice hers for the world. The fact that they remembered each other to get through Temptation on the way to Purgatory reveals so much about their relationship and their bond. As much as he growls, Ichabod is part of this world now, this crazy 21st century. He wants a new phone, he hates hipsters, and he adores Leftenant Abbie Mills. They recognise each other by fist bump, too.
“I married a witch. How… cool.”
What’s also cool is that they find their son, Jeremy. See, I had a feeling that his story wasn’t over yet, and that his powers were strong enough to fight the Death Hex. What I didn’t anticipate was that Moloch would dig him up and adopt him — and then turn him into the Horseman of War. It seems that the Crane family has a habit of pissing people off and then turning them into riders of the Apocalypse. First van Brunt, now their own son. Bad blood, literally. Now that the second seal is broken, the fates of all five protagonists is uncertain: Jenny, upside down and bleeding in her car after an encounter with the Horseman of Death. Ichabod, buried in the earth in his son’s place. Katrina, taken by the Horseman of Death, now finally belonging to Abraham. Abbie, trapped in a deceptively “safe” childhood memory, the dollhouse, together with her and Jenny’s memories of the day they first saw Moloch, raising Jeremy from the soil. Irving, in jail. How are they going to dig themselves out of this one, I wonder?
Next: Sleepy Hollow will return in Season 2. And boy, am I looking forward to it. This first season was almost a masterpiece in well-written Gothic drama with comedic elements, as well as some well-placed gore and blood and guts. The characters are shockingly well-rounded, except perhaps for Katrina, who’s been taking a backseat the first season, but will undoubtedly get more to do in Season 2. (I just hope that witchcraft and motherhood won’t remain her two only defining characteristics.) The show is a great example of how depicting real diversity works in television, and how “strong female protagonist” itself is not a trope that can be used as shorthand or a plot shortcut. Playing with Gothic horror means playing with fear — and these characters show us that it’s ok to be scared, and that courage is knowing your own fear, and owning it; and that each of us is strong enough to push past being a victim, and to get our own back, even if it takes a while to come to terms with something.
Sleepy Hollow shows us the importance of trust: between spouses, between friends, between soul mates, between sisters, between colleagues, between parents and their children. And each and every single one of these relationships are equally important, because they’re all based in being human and being able to love.
Next on Sleepy Hollow: This Is War.