Given the episode title, I think we all expected some revelations to surface in “Awakening”; what we might not have realized was how much the series itself would wake up, finally tackling work we’ve been waiting to see this entire season. Seeing Abbie and Ichabod somehow returning to a time when they must explore their roles as Witnesses, instead of just talking about it in circles? Watching Katrina at last beginning to develop a character and purpose? The series delving into what the hell makes Sleepy Hollow so Sleepy Hollow-y and re-embracing that? Check, check, and check. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Now, I completely get some viewers will feel like this is too rushed, too little too late, too forced after a season of stalling and repetitions. But though I agree that a bunch of what we saw go down last night felt less than organic, I’m going to go ahead and grab onto this energetic if flawed series reboot and cling for all it’s worth. Let’s hope this newly-woven web of developments translates into a killer season finale (but not the death of the show itself: we’re still waiting on that renewal, Fox!).
While poor Ichabod grumpily discovers he’s a literary trope (I’ve honestly been dying for him to discover he’s not the only man out of time, though Abbie promises him “you’re the only one in the nonfiction section”), bells are ringing in Sleepy Hollow. Oh look, random people going all witchy, and Henry chanting and responsible for it all!
You know, seeing a teen go milky-eyed evil at a funeral and accuse her mom of infidelity in her dead father’s voice is a bunch more exciting than a jerkwad motorist getting zapped by power lines. But even better is watching Abbie getting Ichabod to confirm that yeah, what we’ve all been saying, they have to “put our bond as Witnesses before anyone or anything else.” Still, it’s the proverbial gun on the mantelpiece; this episode’s obviously shaped to test just that.
Before Abbie and Ichabod can check out the town’s evil bell issues, Jenny pops by to tell them Frank Irving’s evil, but she just can’t kill him, because Frank Irving. I feel you, Jenny!
Hey, remember the Gorgon’s Head that Headless and Ichabod fought over, who froze the Mills’ ancestor? “Let’s consider it a nuclear option,” Abbie offers as a way to stop Frank from perpetrating malevolent crimes with an eventual hope of un-freezing him.
Meanwhile back to our episodic problem, Ichabod reveals he was the one to crack the Liberty Bell, because no one else in history ever did anything of note ever. Well, to be fair it was one of several witch-y bells capable of turning lots of people all Dark Willow; to combat the threat, per Washington’s orders, Ichabod used a decoy and explosives to destroy one. But now, with a hot new bell in town, someone’s obviously trying to release the powerful magic in Sleepy Hollow’s populace. Time to crack some bells, and quick!
You can almost see the exact moment Abbie stifles her eye roll and says, yeah, okay, so. Witch stuff. I guess we better call Katrina. Ichabod delicately says Katrina has been “distant” and “withdrawn” since encountering Solomon Kent (probably code-words for “napping” and “ordering a bunch of horrible poly-blend gothy outfits online”).
Cue Katrina, all up in the blood magic at Sheriff Corbin’s cabin, trying to draw Henry to her! “Your dark side becomes you,” says Henry, who went from deriding his parents to being an adoring mama’s boy so fast that I’m still using Icy Hot for the whiplash. They trot over to Fredericks Manor so Henry can present his mom with John Dee’s Grimoire and announce his plan for the “Awakening Ritual” to call forward all the descendants of the coven in the town.
Turns out Henry, being only half warlock (damn Ichabod’s Muggle blood), needs Katrina’s greater power to effect the enchantment. That way they can save “our kind” from being hunted, marginalized, and burned. Katrina’s taken in by Henry’s “dream I cannot dream alone.”
Let’s pause while I choke on my tea. Henry. Is saying. He’s less powerful than Katrina? Okay, okay, this is one of the major moments this episode when I had to grit my teeth and say, “Just go with it!” to move forward. Henry has performed amazing magic freaking left and right, while doing a little flower work gives Katrina sad little nosebleeds. Okay, so maaayyybe now that Moloch’s dead, we might say Henry doesn’t have access to those powers? Still, it’s a choking-hazard of a plot point pill to swallow.
Shopping at the hardware store to buy stuff to make explosives, as one does, Ichabod gets in more complaints about modern stuff (he’s stymied by the “monopedal birds” and “band of barbate pygmies” people stick into their lawns).
Soon with Jenny’s help they’ve dragged the bell into the tunnels, where an explosion will be contained. Uh oh, it’s evil Irving, firing at them with a bolt single action shot! “I got this,” Jenny declares as Irving takes time to reload, because of course he would choose a weapon that would give his opponents time to do stuff.
As Jenny and Irving have it out (and honestly, though shoehorned in, I love Lyndie Greenwood and Orlando Jones anytime, so I cheered the callback to Mr. & Mrs. BAMF of s1), Ichabod and Abbie are shocked to find Katrina isn’t Henry’s prisoner, but working with him. “We are the innocent that have been wronged,” Katrina announces, apparently miffed because witches were “owed” legitimacy they didn’t get when Washington reneged on his pact with the covens of early America.
Damn, that would have been so much more effective if we had heard about that grievance, like, any time before this moment! Just as it’s hard to believe Katrina would embrace the dark side so quickly (because come on — the show didn’t do nearly enough to make this sharp turn make sense), it’s tough to buy that Katrina’s resentment has been genuinely festering this entire time.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m halfway on board here with the rationale, because yeah, that seems like a deal that might have gone sour in the Evil v. Good battle for the colonies we’ve seen in flashbacks. I can’t help but wish the characters and plot had earned their way to these reveals (along with the heavy emotional moments I’ll talk about below) instead of the show cramming them in like this. But for me the final take away is, okay, I wish we’d seen this developing all along, but I am here for such bombshells if the show can do right by the revelations with stronger character work (for Katrina) and plotty support.
“What you say now cannot be unsaid,” Ichabod tells Katrina (part of what made me think for a while Katrina was going long game and actually working against Henry). But nah, bro; Katrina says it’s a relief to say she never could have made it with a Muggle in the end, ew! Ichabod’s shaken, but declares she won’t have the bell. Time for Katrina and Henry to tag-team it, her with some of that fiery hand-ball action, him by re-bricking the passageway to trap Ichabod and Abbie in the tunnels away from the bell. It’s all Poe up in here! Uh, except that Abbie and Ichabod can easily escape through other tunnels.
“If we take out the heart of this evil, the limbs will surely follow,” Ichabod tells Abbie, finally determined to take aim at his son. They agree to try Ichabod’s tried-and-tested decoy/distraction technique to destroy the bell.
At the same time, Katrina and Henry get the bell to the old town hall to get their coven on. Katrina justifies her turn to Henry saying it’s not about good or evil but “about you”; she calls him her “darling boy” and effuses “you have given me back my soul.” Strong stuff! Huh, maybe Katrina secretly felt all listless and purposeless since she’s been back (she sure looked it). Still wish we’d gotten an inkling of her disdain for Ichabod’s status or her tie to Henry (beyond her just repeatedly claiming she had one) before this.
“You have to admire his tenacity,” Henry says when Ichabod totally calls him out from the street below. “You bare your teeth then you back down,” Henry scorns him in person, comparing him to Moloch in his self-serving ways. Ichabod scoffs Henry is “as much a man out of time as I,” calling him “an angry, unruly child.”
Abbie plays back-up and nearly runs over Henry, but Katrina shows up for some more power ball hand magic, setting fire to the vehicle. Okay, you pretty much cannot come back from that, Katrina! “Lieutenant!” Ichabod shouts, horrified. To Katrina he warns this cold-blooded murder of his fellow Witness will send her back to Purgatory. But it turns out Abbie’s “death” was the distraction; she very nearly gets the powder keg lit on the bell before Henry stops her.
Henry and Katrina are the worst villains int he history of ever; they never notice the explosives taped as obvious as hell to the bell. And hey, Ichabod, now tied to Abbie at a stake, has flintlock pistols to set off the cut-rate bomb, while she’s got rope-cutting flint. Aww, they kicked it old school after all! Even as various people begin to go white-eyed witchy with the bell tolling, Ichabod rushes to tell Abbie Henry’s probably mortal now (his face bled; it was a thing), and they cut themselves loose.
Henry, distracted by Ichabod’s shot, gets taken down from Abbie’s gunfire. “Save the bell,” Henry chokes to Katrina, already dying and pitifully asking his mother to call him “Jeremy,” the name she gave him. Ichabod joins them for a rushed tragic tableau so he and Henry can quote Hamlet at each other and Henry can say he has no regrets (okay, not terribly redemptive of him). Katrina weeps as Henry disintegrates into dust.
Since Jenny had stalled (the Gorgon head in her hand, which she kept glancing at somehow without being turned to stone? *hands*), she gets to watch Frank Irving cough up allll his evil after Henry’s death. Gee, you’d think Irving would die right there; it was Henry’s contract that brought him back. Not that I’m not thrilled Irving gets to escape his dead-end plotline! Just, what the hell is he now, if good!Irving was only due to a magical pog, and bad!Irving was just hacked up?
“You are the source of my sorrow, Ichabod Crane!” Katrina rails, apparently forgetting that she kind of started everything by kicking her fiancé Abraham to the curb back in the day. She should have let him die, and this time, she will. Oh hey, Katrina’s busting out Solomon Kent’s “Traveler’s Spell”! As Katrina chants, Abbie rushes toward her to put a stop to the maelstrom of power she’s generating, and both disappear to Ichabod’s forlorn cry of “Lieutenant!”
One thing I truly loved this episode was all the great Abbie and Ichabod interaction, in ways that felt like they were moving closer together instead of stagnating. And Ichabod’s repeated cries of anguish for Abbie rather than his wife just confirm the priorities the Witnesses agreed upon at the start not only of this episode but of the series itself. Return to that, witches!
Now, as Abbie awakens in a foggy forest, it’s like a reboot of the series beginning — she stumbles, confused, along a road, much like Ichabod did in s1. But instead of watching Ichabod’s peril (nearly being sideswiped by a car), now Abbie almost gets run over by a horse-drawn carriage.
A crow lands upon a “Village of Sleepy Hollow” sign, another echo to the beginning of the series, as a string version of “Sympathy for the Devil” (originally Ichabod’s discovery song in 1.01) plays.
Katrina gasps back to existence as a nurse in a battle tent. Listen, I’m pretty sure her switch to Henry’s side wasn’t just about reclaiming her son; she seems completely unruffled by the throngs of wounded and dying soldiers surrounding her, focusing on the thrill of realizing she’s once again pregnant with Jeremy/Henry.
Cut to Abbie examining proclamations in the town square. Passers-by stare and soldiers approach asking for her papers. Oh hell, after a season of wishing the show dealt more with its obvious race issues, now Abbie’s going to be arrested as a fugitive/suspected escaped slave?
This was seriously the most tense the show has made me this entire season, watching Abbie put behind bars (another parallel to Ichabod’s arrest in 1.01). But hell, Abbie works to free herself immediately, saying she has information that could change the course of the war. And “There’s only one person I’ll talk to. Captain Ichabod Crane.”
Next week – the season (and possibly the series?) finale, the aptly-named “Tempus Fugit”! How will Abbie and Ichabod work together in this transported setting, now that our man out of time is back in his own time and unaware of his status as a Witness? Are we in for a whole season of colonial Sleepy Hollow, or a dramatic return to the present? And will Katrina become the show’s new villain, or bite the dust in the “final sacrifice” the promos are touting? Definitely tune in with me next week, and meanwhile, tell me what you thought of “Awakening”!