Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Ichabod got to flashback to his regrets with Freemasons while Abbie and Jenny dragged a Sin Eater out of retirement.
This week, let’s serve up some flashback right outta the gate! “The Regulars are coming,” Paul Revere gallops in calling out (which, incidentally, would be a great name for a punk album). Hey look, it’s our old pal Death riding to spoil everything! You know it’s him because of his bald-spot arrow tattoo thingy and mask-whatsis (and no, you don’t need to correct me on terminology because thingy and whatsis are technical terms. Back off, man. I’m a scientist).
“Paul, they’re here!” shouts Paul Revere’s companion, an unnamed sorta cute curly-haired glasses-wearing guy who will probably soon turn up in slash fics as Ichabod Crane’s One True Love even if they never meet. Whoops, Curly Four-Eyes just got his head lopped off. *cries* Cue the whump/angst scenarios! Then Paul Revere totally out-rides Death, because he’s a silversmith badass.
Abbie shows up with stacks of TP and plastic jugs of water at Ichabod’s cabin retreat, because the onset of the apocalypse is a good time to go value-shopping. Ichabod’s horrified you can’t just drink water from the tap or the lake. Also, he’s vulnerable because his blood tie with the horseman is severed (Wait, what? Didn’t they want that because — okie doke, just go with it). Anyway, Abbie grumps she can’t go to the Freemason strategizing session about the soon-to-arrive Headless Horseman, because No Chicks Allowed, and they part ways.
I can see why Abbie broke up with Morales; dude cannot take a hint.
He paws at her and follows her at a jog when she gives him eight kinds of brush-offs, including mentioning Jenny’s being released next week to move in with her (good news for all of us rooting for more storylines for the sisters Mills!) When he pulls the “we used to be friends!” gambit they schedule coffee, even though he hates her new British fated BFF. “Temper your expectations, please,” she admonishes him when he gets overly excited about Pity Coffee.
Suddenly it’s night — the darkness shifts in this show are always SUPER SUDDEN! Morales finds John Cho, AKA Andy Brooks, down a dark alley. But isn’t he supposed to be dead? “Rumors of my demise have been…pretty much true,” Officer Andy admits. Oh my god, we need John Cho on this show every week.
“Stay away from Abbie,” Dead Officer Andy warns, because only he can protect her (hahaha, oh my side!). He grabs Morales, giving us some shaky disoriented shots like just touching Dead Officer Andy has semi-transported Morales to the netherworld. “Time’s coming soon to pick a side, DOA warns. “I trust you’ll make the right decisions.”
Ichabod’s formal and yet sassy voicemail message to Abbie is a thing of true beauty; the show should share more of these online (HINT FREAKING HINT). He’s also not okay with the Freemasons shutting her out because of her gender, so she should head over to join him at the planning session. “I am, most respectfully, Ichabod Crane,” he concludes, which is how I’ll be ending all my voicemail messages from this day forward.
At the Freemason’s chi-chi clubhouse, Ichabod finds no one to greet him. He draws a sword in caution; Abbie, arriving outside, spots the Horseman in another room. Crap, all the Freemasons have been beheaded! Every time I think Ichabod’s made more friends (where are you now, Yolanda?), I swear! Abbie joins him just in time for them to watch the Horseman rearing back on his horse outside, because The Headless Horseman is nothing if not terribly fond of dramatic exits.
Time for the Actualfax credits (the exposition-heavy intro came earlier, of course. Both are good times to refresh your supplies of seltzer water and M&Ms).
Back at the bloodied crime scene, Frank Irving advises, “Let’s make sure the perp isn’t headless,” in their reports. Oh, you skeptical Captain! Hey, here’s a fun question. Now that Corbin’s buried, is a new Sherriff ever going to be elected in Sleepy Hollow? Are there dorks out there campaigning for an emergency election, blissfully unaware that electoral process has been superseded by narrative exigency? Those poor saps.
“The Masons have been involved in a sacred war between good and evil,” Ichabod explains to Irving (cripes, I bet any actual Masons watching this show are hugging each other like overexcited chimps at these lines). “Cult ritual suicide” has to be the working theory, Irving declares; as long as he doesn’t have proof of the Headless Horseman besides all those cauterized head wounds, they have to use other explanations.
Ichabod frantically searches the overturned library until he finds a key text. Nerts, its crucial pages are missing; the Headless Horseman hates knowledge! Ichabod vows if he dies, the Horseman’s coming with him, and subtly slips in an exchange with Abbie to remind us all of the merged bloodlines/entwined immortalities/Sin Eater stuff that went down last week.
Abbie wants in on this vendetta to avenge Sherriff Corbin. Say, what’s that conveniently placed portrait of George Washington doing slashed as though beheaded in the corner? Ichabod realizes the Horseman was here looking for his skull! Of course he assumed he would find it in Freemason Clubhouse, since everyone and their brother knows the Masons hoard secrets and artifacts for the side of good (*pictures Masons wriggling with delight*).
Though Ichabod and Abbie have agreed they must find the head before the HH does and destroy it, Captain Irving is not okay with them planning to destroy evidence. Ichabod offers sympathy that Irving had to call one victim’s widow, and reminds him that “The Horseman will kill every night; you’ll have to make that call over and over again,” if Irving doesn’t help Ichabod and Abbie defeat him. He reluctantly agrees to go fetch the head from the lab he sent it to and tells them to wait there, he totally won’t be gone long!
Irving meets up his wacky lab pal, Paul, a funster scientist who is so eager to take off his headphones talk about all the fruitless tests he’s been running on the head that he seems just made to die and have me lament the madcap observations and scientific antics that could have been! It’s as though the thing’s been “scrubbed of any sign of life,” he tells Irving, who only wants a box to tote the head back to HQ.
The Horseman stalks in and immediately offs Paul with his automatic. STILL DON’T BELIEVE IN THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN, CAPTAIN IRVING? Irving quickly grabs the Head in a Jar, firing at his adversary with his pistol, and hiding behind cabinets and counters to prolong the scene long enough to yell, “I got you, you headless son of a bitch!”
He fires at steam pipes that distract the horseman so Irving can escape. Soon Irving books it outside, and though it’s a fun horror/chase moment, my favorite bit was him driving off with the Head in a Jar riding shotgun in his car.
At the station, Irving tells Abbie and Ichabod the surveillance cameras cut out, leaving no evidence of the Horseman.
“He murdered Paul in front of me,” Irving says, stunned (god damn it, fandom, I want Frank Irving and Paul the Enthusiastic Lab Guy meeting for sushi lunches and taking in a game of the Sleepy Hollow AAA league baseball team complete with nachos; the friendship that could have been! *weeps*).
“You wanted proof,” Abbie tells him. “Honestly? I wanted it to be a lie.” Poor Frank Irving. “Well, we got him,” Abbie says of the head. “Now let’s destroy it,” Ichabod says, just barely refraining from wringing his hands in glee.
“How rare to stare into the face of Death,” Ichabod muses poetically before he and Abbie head to the underground tunnels to take turns hacking away at the Head/sledgehammer-ing it /dipping it in acid (Nicole Beharie is so cute that she even looks adorable in hazmat gear).
But not even blowing the head up will take! Time to try the industrial car compactor in Tarrytown that Abbie promises can “turn an SUV into an ice cube.” Cripes, I would pay good money to see ALL THE SUVS turned into ice cubes! *dreams*
As soon as Abbie and Ichabod head outside, however, they spot four lanterns lit in a carport. Ichabod is startled, and tells Abbie of Paul Revere’s lantern system. “One if by land, two if by sea,” Abbie recites (and does that make all those folks who were peeved she didn’t automatically know about the Lost Colony of Roanoke better? Abbie remembers her Longfellow, okay?). “Word may have gotten around,” she adds when Ichabod’s surprised she’s heard of it.
Ichabod runs to find the lanterns are…made from the heads of his Freemason pals. “The Masons believe their minds are akin to a temple,” he says heavily when Abbie wonders why the Horseman did this. When he realizes the Horseman lined their heads in silver like Paul Revere did the lanterns (my goodness, when did the Horseman have the time? Yes, he’s a supernatural entity, but I prefer to think of him as super-crafty and super-organized), Ichabod remembers something important from his past.
Cue Historical Flashback/Revisionist Founding Fathers Fighting Demons/Overly Complicated Exposition time! *clappy hands* When Ichabod guarded the safe house where Samuel Adams and John Hancock were hiding (because of course he did!), he saw someone deliver secret information marked with “a demonic heptagram, a star within a star”. “The Devil’s Trap,” Abbie chimes in. “I’ve seen it too.” Of course she has.
All this supernatural/historical mash-up business just goes to show that Paul Revere wasn’t chased by a mercenary but “Death itself.” Yes, we know this from the opening; catch up, Ichabod and Abbie! The information in the documents Ichabod glimpsed must have been what the Freemasons wanted to share with him. Thus the Headless Horseman must have some secret weakness they can exploit!
Gosh, it seems the Headless Horseman really likes leaving Ichabod and Abbie clues in this ep. First he gave his hand away with that neck-slashing at George Washington’s portrait; now he’s using Paul Revere’s trademark skills to clue Ichabod into remembering the symbol on those long-ago documents. Maybe the HH, AKA Death, like any serial killer mastermind, just wants someone to appreciate his work.
“This might be your happy place,” Abbie tells Ichabod when they arrive at the Tarrytown Museum of Colonial History. Sure, it would be if the docents didn’t tell the visiting elementary students such BALD-FACED UNTRUTHS! Ichabod follows a tour to heckle the guide and correct his claim that Revere yelled, “The British are coming!” rather than, as we can feel smug about because the opening reminded us, “The Regulars are coming.”
Abbie bustles in to interrupt Ichabod railing against the complete lie that Revere was a dentist; she explains Ichabod’s her cousin who forgot to take his meds. “I’m the only one among you who doesn’t require medication!” Ichabod bawls out before Abbie hauls him away. *taps chin* I think I have my next cocktail-party opening gambit!
Though the manuscript they need to see is in London (everything historically significant is so conveniently preserved in this world!), it’s also online. “That is excellent news,” Ichabod proclaims, who totally has no idea what Abbie’s talking about.
“I’ve done something catastrophic!” Ichabod wails as he once again obscures his PDF of the manuscript with a pop-up. But thanks to print-outs, Ichabod soon realizes he’s looking at a. Of course! We all know what that is! *ahem*
Okay, basically instead of encrypting a text based on one shift of all the letters, with a Vigenère cipher the meaning is hidden by doing several such shifts in sequence. The key is ultimately based on one codeword, without which the entire thing is “impossible to decrypt.” When Abbie lets on she’s confused, Ichabod huffs, “Flummoxed by a foreign concept that resembles close to nothing of what you know? I can’t imagine how that feels.” Ichabod, you sassmeister, you!
When Abbie gets a reminder on her phone about coffee with Morales and understandably wants to ditch, Ichabod notes she should cancel the date in person. How does he immediately know? “You are much easier to read than a Vigenère cipher,” he tells her. Only because you’re BFFs with entwined fates, Ichabod!
At his desk, Morales seems haunted by Dead Officer Andy’s warnings; when Abbie phones him, he rejects the call. When Abbie leaves a message in the tunnels, she runs into the very DOA who freaked Morales out! “you’re supposed to be dead,” Abbie exclaims as DOA shifts back into place the jaw she just smacked out of alignment. “I want this to end, but he won’t let me,” he claims. Abbie side-eyes him at his claim that he only wants to protect her, and totally isn’t serving his demonic master by luring her in!
“Well, that is wildly inappropriate,” a confused and titillated Ichabod says of the Hot Chixx pop-up, which somehow immediately connected him to a live chat with a lingerie-clad woman without so much as asking for a credit card. “I’m flattered, Madame, but I’m afraid I’m espoused to another,” he says loftily before he slams the laptop shut.
When Ichabod glances at the code again, he next glimpses the skull on the desk. “Oh, Revere, you rum beggar, you hid the password on the back of his teeth,” Ichabod exclaims, noting the code “CICERO” partly hidden in the skull. Lucky the tour guide back at the museum gave him the idea with all that dentistry flummery!
“Is that the Sherriff’s Turncoat?” Ichabod demands when he finds Abbie with Dead Officer Andy.
“My name is Andy Brooks,” DOA says, aggrieved, before affirming Ichabod’s findings that they cannot kill Death, but they can trap him. Ichabod sends him to deliver a message to the Horseman to meet him at the cemetery at midnight to get his head back. Now scram! “Don’t threaten me,” DOA says sullenly before slinking out.
The manuscript Ichabod spotted was amended in 1782 by Masons who wanted to communicate how to defeat the Horseman. Because sunlight is his only weakness, this pretty much entails summoning a witch who does the night into day hocus pocus our scene shifts in this show do on a regular basis.
“Too bad we can’t summon your wife,” Abbie jokes as Ichabod talks of needing a witch. Wait, no. Would Abbie seriously poke fun at Katrina being in some Purgatorial dimension to her bereft husband? Well, she just did, so. *hands* We can maybe excuse it as Abbie really counting on having that cup of coffee she thought she’d get with Morales? “Yes, the thought had crossed my mind, thank you,” Ichabod says stiffly.
Luckily Abbie’s able to make up for her terrible faux pas by realizing ultraviolet light will give them the trick they need to simulate the sun and trap the Horseman. “Well, as long as it doesn’t include the internet then I’m amenable,” Ichabod agrees. Then he proceeds to slurp loudly through a straw (Ichabod still dressed in his Cave Grave stinky duds and drinking out of a to-go cup is my new favorite thing) and boasts, “This water was free at the market.” “So was the arsenic that came with it,” Abbie informs him. Woh woh woh!
While Irving helps Ichabod and Abbie make a whole mess of fake skulls, Ichabod explains the Masons created a cell protected by a supernatural barrier, designed by none other than Thomas Jefferson. Though Ichabod brags how he and Jefferson were like this, Irving and Abbie tell him the little story of Sally Hemmings, and also point out that Jefferson completely bit Ichabod’s rhymes. “We never really know people, do we?” Ichabod says, totally disenchanted.
Abbie explains away her wondering what happened to Luke, telling Ichabod that with the most important parts of her life off limits, a relationship is impossible. “Katrina once expressed a similar view,” Ichabod tells her, smiling (though it’s a buzzkill when Abbie points out he never would have been blood-merged with Death/resurrected out of time/trapped in the modern era where everyone he cares about has been dead 200 years without his connection to Katrina).
“It’s an adjustment,” Ichabod says flatly of his situation. I like all this development, seeing how being in Abbie’s time is always hard on him. Abbie feels lonely too, she ventures. “Perhaps this is the sacrifice that witnesses must carry; all we really get is one another.” They smile quietly while the Ichabbie fandom explodes in delight.
At the cemetery, Ichabod dodges the Horseman, luring him to chase him by brandishing his lit-up skull. Down in the tunnels, the HH is confounded to find multiple glowing skulls, none of which are his.
You know, they’re pretty good at staging suspenseful chases all around what is probably one small stretch of faux!tunnel.
“Crane, I’m hurt; I think I broke my ankle,” Abbie calls as the Horseman draws close to her. So obviously a fake-out; would Abbie ever ask for help if it jeopardized a mission? Also, she would RUN LIKE HELL on a broken ankle, thank you very much. But the Horseman is a dope and falls for it. “Now!” Abbie calls, and Ichabod and Irving are there to turn on the UV light and stand looking at a shackled and smoking Horseman while serious triumphant music plays.
Whew, SO MUCH EXPOSITION in this episode! It’s very fun to get a multi-episode arc, though, much as I love our stand-alone demons and baddies. What did you all think about getting more of Ichabod’s lonely reactions? Are you glad to see John Cho, I mean, Dead Officer Andy back? How far can one trust an Undead Minion of the Demonic Realm? Is Ichabod going to drink through straws from now on (because that would be hilarious)? Also, is that whole witch summoning thing a tip off that maybe, just maybe, Katrina will get to haunt more than one or two sets in this series? Dun dun duunnnn!