Sleepy Hollow: Awakening Review

In the penultimate episode of season two, all the cards are laid on the table for Sleepy Hollow. If only they had been bluffing....

Katrina. Oh, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina.

I promise to give Sleepy Hollow three compliments this week before I get into the Katrina plotting. Ready?

1) Last week, I was unable to praise the show for taking advantage of shooting on the USS North Carolina in Wilmington. Sadly, Sleepy Hollow is leaving North Carolina—due to that state’s boneheaded state legislature and governor—for Georgia, so I appreciate the series taking full advantage of this while they can, even if it makes zero sense for there to be a WWII battleship near Tarrytown.

2) Just as I never tire of Ichabod judging modern habits (such as Abbie spoiling the ending of Citizen Kane), I also enjoy his increasingly colorful colonial past—such as going on a secret mission to destroy a bell for General Washington…in 1773. Sure, there was no war in 1773, and Washington was not ordering secret missions, and I’m by and large beginning to assume that Ichabod Crane was also the Brian Williams of his day, but like BW, his tall tales have their charms.

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3) As I predicted several episodes ago, Sleepy Hollow is going the full Dark Shadows by returning to the revolutionary past for next week’s season finale. And honestly, I’m quite cool with that. Hell, they could spend a whole season back there for all I care. Just so long as Katrina dies next week by falling into a fiery pit of hellfire reserved for only the nastiest of plot contrivances, horribly written characters, and people who talk at the theatre!

Did I say three compliments? Let’s just settle for two and a half.

I am unsure yet whether this severe distancing from Katrina was either a godsend for the series or if the show’s doing double back flips at the moment over Jaws, but sweet George Washington was this particular hour of Sleepy Hollow “awakened” to its house on fire.  Maybe when the smoke clears, we’ll be able to model the kitchen, but let’s first talk about that choking sound.

Clearly, the writers have never known what to do with Katrina Van Tassel, the erstwhile love of Ichabod Crane’s truncated life in Washington Irving’s original tale and a weight around a series that’s meant to be Moonlighting with a Revolutionary soldier and a modern day sheriff’s lieutenant. In season one, Katrina was a perfectly acceptable prop for the series: the unrequited love for our mysterious and romantic new lead to get over while seeing Abbie right there in front of him. Of course, when that unrequited love is “resting” in purgatory and just waiting to be rescued, it was apparently a ticking time bomb that Sleepy Hollow’s writers never knew how to defuse.

As a result, it has gone off for all of season two, making for a painful demise to a potentially interesting character thread, and an even more gruesome torture to be inflicted upon the audience. First, they tried to excuse Katrina’s return by partnering her with the Headless Horseman and simply regurgitating the story beats of season one with “your princess is in another castle,” but that proved a dumber idea than giving the Headless Horseman back his head (at least for Katrina’s eyes).

Next, Katrina became the vacuous waste of space that lived in Ichabod’s house when she wasn’t in need of being saved from Rosemary’s Moloch or whatever half-assed threat came about every other episode. And with Moloch gone, she’s simply been there biding her time until the writers predictably and boringly turned her evil.

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And for what?! Because, Henry Parrish lied and said that he stabbed Moloch for her instead of because demon daddy was 86-ing him back to hell? Does that make any sense? For a character who patiently and longingly bided her time in what was essentially Hell while waiting for her husband to awaken in a hope to save the world from the Apocalypse, would she really partner with the guy who sold her as a piece of property to the Horseman of Death, so that they can kill every non-witch in the world?!

But she bought the bill of goods so well that she suddenly feels like a persecuted minority fighting for witches’ rights. Indeed, she feels so strongly about it she agrees with Henry about stealing a page out of the original 2000 X-Men film’s script by using a bell to turn everyone into witches (and killing the non-believers, including her, until now, beloved husband).

This is not lazy plotting. I say that because it’s not actually plotting. It’s just throwing soap opera clichés at the whiteboard and seeing what sticks. And no: having Henry quote Act One of Hamlet doth not Shakespeare, this make.

 Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Frank Irving who also had a “dark side” turn this season from only a few episodes ago. Well, guess what? It got reversed tonight with Henry dying, thereby freeing him from what has basically been a season-long waste of time. What did Frank Irving accidentally selling his soul to Henry amount to after 17 EPISODES? A band aid retcon while Katrina now wears the black hat. As I said, it is a disservice to call it lazy plotting, for it would imply that there is at this point actually a plot.

I do not know if much or if any of this falls on Katia Winter, who honestly has been serviced with a non-character all series long. However, the lack of inner-life behind Katrina’s eyes for much of season two has hardly been bewitching. Then again, I am not sure what an actress can do when her character bounces from personality traits with more threads than her corsets.

So that brings us to Katrina choosing to betray Ichabod and Abbie, because Henry, and deciding that she will kill everyone in Sleepy Hollow and beyond. If they’re trying to make her the Wiccan’s Erik Lehnsherr, there must first be a serious grievance. No. Magneto she’s not—I wouldn’t even call this villainess worthy of Days of Our Lives, but that is apparently whose antagonistic hands the series might be in come season three.

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Yep, Abbie (finally) put Frank Parrish in the ground, and Ichabod couldn’t be happier. Realizing that his family tree has long gone to seed, Ichabod lets Abbie do what should have been done half a season ago. And honestly, I wish we had cut to Nicole Beharie more. Rather than being stuck in the background out of focus, the multitude of her rolled eyes at Katrina’s inevitable betrayal should have been savored. My only other request is to know why she didn’t put two or three more slugs in Katrina too? Because Henry Parrish’s redundant sorcery became a bore by the end of season two, and that was when the heavy was being played by John Noble. If we’re in for a whole third season of Evil Katrina, Abbie should be at least partially held responsible.

Oh well, at least they’re going back in time. Next week honestly should be fun, as it is an interesting idea, especially with Abbie going the full Victoria Winters in an era where she would be especially unwelcome in America. With any luck, she’ll get a chance to fire true and rid us all of Katrina Van Tassel for good.

If Washington Irving knew what a future adaptation of his work would do to the good Van Tassels’ family name, he might have kept walking by that Old Dutch Church’s 18th century tombstone.



1 out of 5