Previously on Sleepy Hollow, evil coins, evil doings, evil sheriffs. EVIL.
Someone must have felt the fog machine guy for Sleepy Hollow wasn’t getting enough chances to show us the ol’ razzle dazzle. Because when a little girl in pajamas walks in a daze from her family’s historical mansion (down a fancy-schmancy spiral staircase, no less), outside and through the gate, she is surrounded by a veritable sea of lovely foggy night. Good job, fog machine guy! Wait, get back inside your house, seemingly-hypnotized kid!
“I have faced many enemies on horseback. Horsemen without heads, even discovered my own son is the apocalyptical Horseman of War. Thus how challenging must it be to guide the power of 300 horses using only one’s right foot?” Ichabod asks in what must be the most ornate rhetorical lead-in to a driving lesson in a parking lot ever.
Except Abbie knows he’s been practicing on the sly with Jenny; odometers don’t lie (“Curse you, Franklin, for inventing such a treacherous device,” Ichabod hisses, and omg, he hates Benjamin Franklin SO MUCH. I would watch the hell out of a sitcom of Benjamin Franklin being all naked and arrogant and Ichabod grinding his teeth and hurrying after him as his apprentice.
“Make it your steed,” Abbie advises him, and Ichabod promptly applies “jinba ittai” in which the horse and rider are one, and burns rubber like it’s going out of style. Basically he’s been having her on the entire time, because amidst all the angst about wives trapped with the Horseman of Death and agonizingly sad family histories, these two know how to have fun with each other.
But wait, there’s angst to be had still! Ichabod calls Abbie on trying to prepare him for a life that might not include her. Ow, MY HEART! “It is not our fate for one of us to bury the other,” he says gently. “We shall be victorious or defeated together.” Whether you feel Abbie and Ichabod are the bestest of friends ever or brimming with romantic tension, it’s basically undeniably that these two are meant to be at one another’s side.
Soon the two are off to investigate an Amber Alert — our missing in the fog girl, Sara, whose mother was Abbie’s social worker when she was placed in foster care. “Sometimes people get caught in the path of a storm and there’s nothing they can do but wait for it to pass over them. But know it will pass,” Abbie says feelingly, echoing the words the woman told her when she was a child, and trying to comfort her about her missing daughter.
While the family’s three sons — all adopted; Sara was a “happy accident” — look for their missing sister, and Abbie promises they’ll find Sara, Ichabod sneaks around the house spying through windows. Abbie spots him and sternly tells him to skedaddle; she’ll meet him in the woods.
Ichabod explains Daniel Forbes Lancaster, the family’s patriarch, was a scoundrel, even though the family has become well known for funding foster care programs for years. In the forest, the two find blood spatters indicating a trail, and a flute made from bone. Immediately Ichabod lifts it to his lips (Ew. Seriously? So gross). When Abbie reacts as though hypnotized, walking slowly forward into a pond, they realize how Sara was kidnapped: “lured into these woods by a creature of legend,” the Pied Piper.
Back in the Sekkrit Hideout, Abbie puzzles through the German origins of the Pied Piper tale, while Ichabod explains how this Piper may have started out closer to home. Ichabod tells Abbie of a mysterious man who in his day lured a garrison of British soldiers in Sleepy Hollow to their deaths. Abbie demands Ichabod use the “summoning spell” of the flute on her despite his reluctance: “I know what it’s like to be lost in those woods,” she says firmly.
“I will be with you at every moment,” Ichabod vows in the woods as the two prepare to have Abbie listen to an iPod recording, a 30-second loop of bone flute tunes. “So beautiful,” she says in a murmur as the effects kick in: the trees seem to grow taller, and the camera focuses on her befuddled face as the surroundings grow hazy.
“We may have found our target,” Ichabod tells her as he takes the earbuds out (the spell stops as soon as the music does). He’s spotted something behind the rocks. “Ah, hell, just shoot me,” says our blond surfer sexy privateer pal, Hawley. He’s been slashed by the Pied Piper on the leg, but he knows Sara is still alive.
“You, Pride and Prejudice, you mind not touching anything in there?” Hawley scolds Ichabod while Ichabod rummages through his bag. “Some of it goes boom.” Some of you goes boom, Hawley, bow chicka wow wow. Ah, he tangled with the Pied Piper on a job, searching for the bone flute. Abbie demands he give them information in exchange for the valuable artefact.
Turns out there’s been a plague on the Lancaster family since that 1778 garrison was killed — at their mansion. Daniel Lancaster hired the Pied Piper (who had somewhere along the line sold his soul, AS ONE DOES), to take out the soldiers who were groping his daughters. When Daniel betrayed the Piper (killing him and tossing him into a pond), the curse settled: every generation, a Lancaster girl goes to the woods and disappears. It happens at age ten, “when her bones are the right size” to make a bone flute. LOVELY. DDD:
Though Hawley insists he was “blindsided by a costumed psycho” rather than an otherworldly legend, Abbie promises him the flute if he tells them everything from his research on the Piper and gives them tactical support hunting the kidnapper. Totally makes sense to keep Hawley on board, people, if this gives Abbie and Ichabod research shortcuts! It has nothing to do how he and Abbie should totally mess around for stress relief.
Over at Tarrytown Psychiatric, Captain Irving researches End of Days stuff and has a vision of himself as a Rambo-like soldier killing policemen and civilians while the Horseman of War rides behind him. When he comes to, the Bible he’s holding is on fire. NONE OF THIS BODES WELL!
“That is seriously freaky,” Hawley says as Abbie goes under the “vicious form of enchantment” of the song. When they discover a board covering a stone staircase underground, Abbie shakes off the spell and Hawley tells them “the piper’s jam is to weaponize sound,” but still thinks it’s a trick — he’s seen “better magic acts in Vegas.”
You guys, he called the Piper’s M.O. his jam. His jam! That Hawley. So slang. Much trendy. Amaze.
Abbie leads them down the dusty stone staircase, and I’m thinking this is the show re-using Ichabod’s Cave Grave set from season one. They proceed warily so we get the atmospheric effect and so I can admire Abbie’s upper arms (she’s always got tickets to the gun show).
They soon spot Sara, and Abbie works to set free the girl from shackles as Ichabod recoils at the bones and skinned flesh hanging from the ceiling.
“Oh damn,” Hawley blurts when the Pied Piper shows himself; yikes, is he all skeleton? Is that his long colonial hair? Hawley bawls out, “Shakespeare!” and with a tossed grenade and quickly applied bomb triggers, they escape the lair with Sara, the hole behind them exploding in smoke and dirt.
Abbie plans to get Sara home, load up on ammo, and head back to get the piper. “Cool, you guys let me know how that turns out,” says Hawley. Ichabod is horrified, calling him a self-serving reprobate, but to Hawley, the approaching apocalypse means only that “business is booming, end of sentence.” Hawley, you play like you’re an immoral badass who doesn’t care about the war between good and evil, but I can bet you dollars to doughnuts there are fangirls out there already creating complex backstories of suffering that made you this way.
“I was hoping you were better than this,” Abbie says, disappointed. “Do we have a problem?” he asks, demanding the creeptacular bone flute he was promised as payment. Oh, damn, Abbie breaks the flute over her knee. “In all the excitement, looks like it was damaged,” she says thoughtfully. Abbie, I love you with the burning of a thousand fiery suns! Hawley walks off in a huff.
Though Sara’s grieving mother runs to her recovered daughter with her arms outstretched, she looks surprisingly unhappy as Ichabod and Abbie bring her child back to her. So it’s back to the Sekkrit Hideout to dig out the fancy LED-lit noise-cancelling earbuds to defeat the Piper, and to research why the Lancaster family might have mixed feelings about getting their little girl back.
“If you were to perform the logging ceremony,” Ichabod says grandly (so Abbie can log them into the police mainframe). Seems every generation a Lancaster girl has gone missing and stayed that way. The one exception, in 1936, was recovered, but the other children in the family all died of a mysterious fever.
So we’ve got a Sophie’s Choice scenario in the works — Mrs. Lancaster adopted her sons trying to avoid the curse on the family daughters, but Sara’s “happy accident” birth puts her in a terrible bind. “The only way to save the other children is to sacrifice one,” Abbie realizes. Back at the Lancaster mansion, we see the mother, a desperate look on her face, watching her little girl sleeping. Ruh roh, Shaggy!
“Less than an hour ago, they were perfectly fine,” the distressed father tells Ichabod and Abbie as his three sons are rushed into ambulances by EMTs. His wife already left with Sara, with the promise she’d meet them at the hospital. Yeah, your wife’s not going to the hospital, dude.
“You stole the family sword,” Abbie says in shock after Ichabod’s smashed a display case in the house. He’s going to fence the Pied Piper!
“No, I don’t want to go any further,” little Sara says in the woods as her mother tugs her along. When Abbie finds them, Beth points a gun at her. What was the plan, take her into the woods and wait for the piper to show up, Abbie asks. “Try and kill him before he kills you? Or were you just going to let him take Sara?”
Guys, Sara is RIGHT THERE. How much therapy is this kid going to need after finding out her mom tried to re-abandon her to the clutches of her skeleton kidnapper???
Beth is hysterical, telling Abbie “You don’t know what it’s like to feel this helpless!” because either way, she loses children. “He takes one child, or the curse takes them all,” Beth says urgently; she lost her own sister when she was seven. Uh, check out Sara looking horrified at her mom, amirite? “This is not who you are; let me help you,” Abbie urges.
It’s Abbie’s appeal combined with Ichabod’s gentle assurance that they can make things right that makes Beth drop the gun she has pointed at them. “Oh, Sara,” Beth cries out to her daughter, hugging her close. AN ENTIRE LIFETIME OF THERAPY, OKAY?
When the Piper shows up, Ichabod starts fencing him, pursuing him when the Piper jumps down the well to his lair. “Finish it,” Abbie yells out. Soon the fight knocks Ichabod to the ground, and when the noise-cancelling earbuds fall out, the Pied Piper makes a shrieky sound of DEATHLY DOOM.
As Ichabod is immobilized by the Piper’s scary scream, Abbie rushes in and stabs him through with Daniel Lancaster’s sword. “No more kids, privateer,” she tells him (fascinating, to re-align this heinous character with Hawley, who Ichabod has called a privateer several times).
Back at Tarrytown Psych, Henry Parrish is nonplussed that Frank Irving might just be peeved he wasn’t told about the whole Biblical Horseman of War thingy. Henry keeps his smarmy cool, saying he understands if Irving wants him not to act on his behalf — which would mean losing the funding he’s secured for Irving’s wife and the treatment he’s obtained for Macey Irving.
“What do you want from me?” Irving asks, desperate. “To make things right,” Henry insists. “For what is war but an instrument of justice?” Besides, what have Ichabod and Abbie ever done for Irving, hmm? Besides bring misery and suffering to his life? “I am but a phone call away,” Henry promises should Irving change his mind, and advises him to take solace in the bible, especially to check out “Ezekiel 18:4”.
“Behold, all souls are mine,” reads the relevant text, and now Irving totally gets why he was signing that contract in blood! Still seems like there should be an eternal salvation loophole there — can you sign your soul away if you don’t know you’re doing it? Don’t trust Henry, Irving. I mean. He’s a lawyer. Lawyers are wriggly. D:
“Sadistic larceny! This is typical of the Italians,” Ichabod rails against his cappuccino he’s enjoying at a warf-side café with Abbie. “A gaudy hillock of overheated milk atop a thimble’s worth of coffee that costs equal to three Tennessee stallions!” Then he drinks it. “oh my,” he says, totally transported. “I can’t even with you,” Abbie says with a laugh, wiping the foam off his moustache and beard, because we didn’t just see a scene where it looks like they’re on a cutie patootie date together, did we?
“What we did is a big save,” Abbie assures Ichabod who feels ambivalent about the “Hobson’s choice” Sara’s family faced. “Miss Mills, are you gloating?” he asks, half-shocked. Well, “we saved lives, ended a curse. We made it right,” she concludes. It’s time to get back to work now, though: “we have a war to win,” he vows before he bolts back the rest of his coffee. “Oh, it was hot under the foam!” he whines as they skedaddle.
Hey, it turns out that Hawley isn’t in trouble with his buyer of the creeptacular supernatural bone flute after all! The agent picking up the item tells him the money is already in the account, and hauls the artefact off to the buyer.
We see an aged person’s hands take out the pieces of the flute before putting them into a mortar and pestle. Ah, hell, it doesn’t count that Abbie broke the thing; apparently it’s the bone dust that’ll do the job. Pull the camera back to reveal Henry Parrish of course, crushing the bone with gritted bared teeth before tasting the powder. “It’s perfect,” he says with satisfaction. Yikes!
I loved lots about this episode, including this twist ending that perhaps Abbie and Ichabod were set up to save the girl and help the family all along, so that Henry could get the item from Hawley. I like the Hawley is still by all accounts an unrepentant scavenger, and that Henry is goddamn terrifying the way John Noble plays him, all sly humor and seemingly warm exterior no longer hiding vicious intent.
But I particularly loved the way the episode handled the matter of missing children and how children belong to a family even without blood ties. There are so many procedural shows in which a child goes missing and everyone is like, “we must find the child, BECAUSE CHILDREN!” But with Sleepy Hollow, Abbie and Ichabod have developed and highly personal reasons for caring about a little girl going missing. Their investment is not merely a cliché or a contrivance of the plot needs of the week.
Though I would have really enjoyed seeing more of the Lancasters’ adopted children, rather than brief glimpses and mentions, it did seem clear that the parents love all their children, “happy accident” child by blood and the three children through adoption, equally. Beth’s agonizing choice was, well, not exactly easily resolved (have I mentioned the therapy bills that are coming due pretty soon?) . But her genuine agony in choosing between any of her children came across effectively.
Man, I miss Jenny whenever she’s not in an episode! What does she think about Irving being locked up in the psych ward, especially given that the two of them seemed well on their way to becoming Mr. and Mrs. BAMF last season? And if she takes Ichabod out in Abbie’s SUV for super-secret driving lessons, what else do you think she and Ichabod get up to when Abbie’s on long shifts down at the station? I feel like maybe they go to arcades in hoodies and drink way more milkshakes than Abbie would consider appropriate.
What did you think of this week’s episode? I’d love to hear from you in comments! And definitely tune in with me for next week’s ep, “The Weeping Lady”!