“The question is, who am I?” Ichabod murmurs. It’s both the defining existential Question of the Week and the game he’s playing with Abbie, a “technique profilers use to crack cases when they’re stuck.” Or, you know, that game that showed how racist Michael was on The Office and how much Sherlock and John want to go out with each other are best pals on the BBC.
Katrina shows up in a mirror call, allegedly to help Ichabod from Horseman of the Apocalypse Central, but really so Henry can almost immediately undercut any suggestion that Katrina can actually contribute anything to the fight against evil. He uses her mirror three-way (ahem) to eavesdrop on Ichabod and Abbie’s conversation about the weapon that’s going to help them win this thing against Moloch, the Sword of Methuselah. I have no idea how, since presumably there has to be sin-eating for Henry to read from objects. JUST GO WITH IT.
More on that Sword thingy — Ichabod tells us fallen angels mean “watchers” so the message from Abbie’s ancestor’s Grace Dixon’s journal “Heed the chosen words of the watchers” must refer to demons. Okay, ignore how “angel” actually means “messenger”; see if I care! Basically Methuselah hacked up a thousand demons with his sword, so it can probably off Moloch. Benjamin Franklin’s “Join Or Die” political cartoon of a cut snake turns out to be the EXACT REPLICA of a river in Sleepy Hollow because of course, and that tells our Witnesses where to find that sword.
“Our quest will not be without peril,” Ichabod intones. “Crane, you and I can’t have lunch without peril,” Abbie answers. Just so there’s peril all around, (a) we hear Reyes is launching a manhunt for Irving while Jenny tries to transport him to safety across the Canadian border, (b) Henry makes Abraham/Headless go out and play go fetch the sword even though daylight is coming and he’ll get all smoky once the sun rises, and (c) Katrina realizes Henry’s tricked her and breathes out, “Ichabod, be strong!” to the mirror. Too bad there’s no sexy peril, amirite?
Hey, another thing about that wacky sword — turns out anyone who tries to nab it will die unless they know themselves completely. Abbie is a-okay with this: the journal and quest are her “legacy”, and all her suffering has only led to a chance to finish what her family started. Wow, I started getting all excited, thinking we were going to see flashbacks to Abbie’s embattled awesome ancestors from the Grace Dixon line and showing us how her Witness status comes with kickass family precedents!
But then Ichabod goes all introspective and says such “clarity of purpose is a rare gift,” and I know we’re getting an All About Ichabod search for self while Abbie pretty much bolsters his journey. And you know what? I don’t mind some tradeoffs to learn more about Abbie and Ichabod in turn, but this season has seriously been All About Ichabod. So even though I enjoyed aspects of what follows, it bums me out that Abbie’s legacy is only spoken of, and we spend the rest of the episode lamenting the fall of Ichabod’s epic bromance with Abraham.
Listen, the last thing I want to do is dispense with any developments on the Captain Irving front. He is my sweet baboo (imagine me saying this in a scary teeth-clenched expression of intensity, if you would be so kind), much as Jenny is my fierce kickass queen, and having the two of them go on the lam together should be my dream B-plot (or even C-plot; sadly I’ll take what I can get at this point).
Sadly, though, the Irving + Jenny scenes are almost totally irrelevant this week (do not doubt that I am weeping into my bourbon maple leaf cocktail about this). So I’ll wrap ’em up here by saying he jumps from Jenny’s car so they don’t get caught at Reyes’s checkpoint, they plan to meet later to get him to Canada, but he leaves a message on her phone saying he can’t run and he’s going to stay and fight.
Yeah. Let’s see him and her actually taking part in the narrative and plot development next time instead of their biggest screen time being with a clutch of bushes and a voiceover on a bridge, okay?
Back to Ichabod and Abbie! Or, Abbie basically bolstering Ichabod’s soul searching as she gets to slip in like, two Mama Mills references and Ichabod gets flashback after flashback. It’s all about his angst over his life being so tied in to Abraham’s choices and how their heterosexual life partner status went down the toilet as soon as Katrina showed up in that pub with her period-inaccurate hairstyle.
Ichabod distracts Headless from discovering Abbie’s hiding place, though sadly he did not ride the Demonic Horsie (anyone else think he was going to leap onto it?). Sunlight arrives (“Good morning, sunshine,” Ichabod says sardonically, and it is now my headcanon that he sings the soundtrack to Hair in the shower), and damn, Abraham is smokin’ hot! No, he’s literally “sizzling loudly” according to my CC; he gallops away, leaving our Witnesses to discover the sword.
The main thing I have to say about Ichabod and Abraham’s identity-forming sword-clashing mock fight is that that is literally the flirtiest fencing I have seen in a while. Gosh, it actually does seem, as we continue with more flashbacks, that Ichabod was kind of biting Abraham’s rhymes lifestyle-wise: following him to America, moving in on his fiancée, that old chestnut.
But also, did Katrina ever like Abraham for even a New York minute? She looks so damn uncomfortable when he shouts, “My darling!” as she’s undressing Ichabod’s many colonial-era-appropriate layers with her eyes (you know what she’s talking about when she tells him she’s glad he shed that redcoat, hurr hurr hurr!).
Abbie sympathizes with Abraham that she’s also struggled with her identity. But this struggle is not flashback worthy, because it does not show men sword-fighting. And I think you know what I mean here. Just in case that was unclear.
Abbie takes pragmatic charge of the mission, interrupting Ichabod’s randomly rapturous reaction to the Ouroboros symbol (a snake eating its own tail) she saw on the plaque Abraham knocked down. She points out this isn’t the microcosm versus macrocosm philosophical meaning Ichabod assumes, but “as above, so below” literalism. They start digging at the ground, and that is the thinnest layer of dust ever, and the loosest bricks! There must have been many a lawsuit on this supernatural site, let me tell you.
They soon reveal a spiral staircase, and make creative re-use of the cave-grave set to discover lots of Weeping Angel style guardian statues. Man, I want a Harry Potter thing to happen here where the statues all come to life and fight on their side against the monster o’ the week, but sadly… “Who put a bunch of stone statues down here?” Abbie wonders as Ichabod’s flashlight shows us a scary Medusa face. Ah, one of the turned-to-stone questers is one of Abbie’s ancestors, but they must run lest they be Gorgon-ified themselves.
“My god, the founding of the new world could have been but a by-product of” the search for Methuselah’s sword, Ichabod muses, having realized the stone statues were explorers from all over the world. Hey, Ichabod, you’re missing the salient point that Abbie’s pretty freaking upset her awesome ancestor was “dead before she could complete her mission” like “so many women in my family.” Gee, you know what would have been great? FLASHBACKS showing Abbie’s legacy and family members, powerful Grace-Dixon-descendants who fought evil to pave the way for Abbie becoming a witness! Just throwing that out there!
I bet you’ve never seen a horn this big, is what I want Henry to say to Katrina as he takes out his Apocalypse-sounding trumpet. Katrina gets in a few “It’s nice to see you’ve taken up an instrument” jokes while Henry lets her know he’s on to her trying to poison baby Moloch (Katrina, can you not do any of your jobs right?). Moloch lurks in the doorway, now a WASP-y surly teenager. “They grow up so quickly,” Henry quips, because there’s no real narrative connection to Moloch getting this old this fast and I guess no chance to explore that Moloch probably nabbed his life force from Katrina somehow (remember her black vein-y reaction?).
They bicker over whether humanity is a plus or a minus, Henry admonishes Katrina for abandoning him again, and he gets ready to blow that horn thrice “to announce the start of the End Times.” But first — THE VOLTA! No, actually Henry’s just going to lift the enchantment so swirly dust can surround Katrina as she looks on in horror at…something. No idea what. We never find out for sure, by the way.
Um, spoiler. *hands* Like, sure, it’s probably all-growed-up Demonic Moloch. But dudes, we’ve seen Moloch lurching around with his horns and all before. Anyway, it’s a pretty piss poor reveal in its moment for a show that’s usually A+ with its special demonic effects.
Ichabod’s soaked-sock torches are way better than Abbie’s flares, JSYK! Our fearless duo waits to lure Headless to do the work of killing the Gorgon for them (no head, no eyes, he can kill the Medusa-like demon and they’ll rummage around for Methuselah’s Sword in the meantime, totally un-stone-ified).
Whee, snaky Gorgon! Who seems oddly coded as masculine, by the by. But the main point, as Abbie admonishes Ichabod, “Don’t tell me you’re trying to take a selfie with the Gorgon,” is that while Abbie puzzles over the “true sword” test (around a weird baptismal font that totally has a handy-dandy torch holder that comes standard) and Ichabod goes to lurk the outcome of Abraham’s struggle, is that we get to see The Headless Horseman and a Gorgon totally throw down!
Like, for real, that could have lasted way longer and I would have been like, “One of you has NO HEAD! One of you has SNAKES ON YOUR HEAD! Oh my god, who shall be the VICTOR???” for a good five more minutes.
The Gorgon is killed far too quickly, though, and soon Abraham and Ichabod are totally whipping them out! Swords, I mean, at least for Ichabod, while Abraham brandishes his axe, as one does. Hey, Ichabod can see Abraham’s face, because everyone in the chambers “must wear their truest” visage. I wonder if Abraham sees Ichabod as an Armani model with his hair being blown by an unseen wind? Dude has pretty hair, is all I’m saying.
“I want redemption for you, Abraham,” Ichabod spits out, and this is actually news to me. I had no idea that Ichabod thought Abraham could be redeemed, though I think other fans of the show will agree with me that Abraham seems way, way more redeemable than Henry Parrish does. The best part of this duel of honor might be Abraham’s grouchy faces. He does pissy petulant really, really well.
No, wait, the best is Ichabod’s line, “Our story is ever to be told by swordplay.” You bet it is!
Finally Ichabod gets to face his fears that he’s been basically bogarting all of Abraham’s stuff (you know, America, Katrina, supernatural beheading death, rising from the dead, etc.) by finding out that, wouldn’t you know, Abraham has the same fears! “I am what you made me!” Abraham roars. “I was supposed to be the hero of this story, not the villain!”
Guys, Abraham is one of the more potentially interesting newer supporting characters on this show at the moment (way more than Hawley, sorry). Too bad his existential teen angst is only a way to spur Ichabod on into proving Katrina loves him the most-est.
Everyone has a “wait, whaaaat?” moment when all the swords turn to snakes, because that’s not phallic or anything. Abraham believes Ichabod and Abbie’s assumption that there is no sword! Abraham kind of shrugs that one off, though, ready to kill Ichabod and Abbie with his double barrel (he seems strangely wary of Abbie’s gun, and I mean, come on! Can the Horseman of Death actually die? I’m assuming NO). But hey now, what’s that horrible sound? Why, it’s Henry blowing the trumpet of Revelation!
When Ichabod seems to give up, Abbie rallies him, as she does of late, and he says one of the better lines this season, “It is through your eyes that I see myself most clearly.” And that makes my heart ache, and it’s kind of awesome, but I don’t want for Abbie only to be the vehicle for Ichabod’s personal revelations, you know?
Finally the two of them realize that the oil (not water) in the baptismal font thingy is there to be lit up with a torch, not just by Ichabod, but by both of them. Because they have what all those turned-to-stone explorers back in the modified cave-grave set don’t: each other. They both light torches and light the oil at the same time, revealing the hilt of the sword.
“Oh, uh, after you,” Ichabod says awkwardly and chivalrously. “No, please,” Abbie says graciously to give him the opportunity to pull out the sword whilst bathed in a supernatural sparkly spotlight. Was there ever any doubt that this would be Ichabod’s moment? The episode signaled it to us throughout; all of Abbie’s legacy currently seems in service of Ichabod’s self-realization.
Back at Horseman Central, thunder rumbles as Henry and Abraham look on, pleased, as Moloch appears summoned in a circle of fire. So I guess we have two shofar calls to go? Because this episode is the first of two parts — next week, tune in for the second installment, “The Akeda”! Meanwhile, join me in comments and talk to me all about “Magnum Opus!”