Sleepy Hollow season 2 episode 15 review: Spellcaster

Sleepy Hollow season two delivers what could well be a perfect episode now that Abbie and Ichabod's partnership is back on track...

This review contains spoilers.

2.15 Spellcaster

For my money, this is just about a perfect Sleepy Hollow episode. Almost everything and everyone I love about the show is present – Ichabod and Abbie in top form, dark history, dark magic, pretty magic, betrayal, silliness, series mythology, and… HENRY!

Before I get my Henry giddiness on, though, the villain this week is a substantial one in his own right. Solomon Kent – played by Johnathon Schaech, doing that blood spell thing he does – is a warlock out of time, one of many Purgatory escapees. He just so happens, though, to have been the guy responsible for the Salem Witch Trials, having accidentally murdered the object of his affection, Sarah, and desperately covered it up by claiming she was a witch. Kent also has a tie-in with Katrina’s family – her grandmother was one of his unfortunate victims. The remainders of her coven sent him to Purgatory, but he’s back to reassemble the Grand Grimoire, a powerful spell book of legend, and go back to right his wrong – and upset the balance of all history since then

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Our Witnesses, obviously, can’t let that happen. Abbie and Ichabod are positively synergistic this week as they manoeuvre each development right on the heels of the last. Kent, though a shrewd and fast-moving practitioner of dark magic, can only stay only a half-step ahead of them for most of the episode. Now that their partnership is back on track, it seems, they’re stronger and sharper than ever.

In fact, there is one telling moment this week that highlights their ultimate potency in their mission relative to Katrina’s, and I think it’s a more significant statement than it seems. Katrina has been invaluable in discerning Kent’s identity and purpose – she knows his history, as it’s intertwined with her family’s, and she knows how to use her powers hold him at bay. After their warehouse battle – in which Kent summons some sweet boiling blood demons – Katrina is pretty sapped. As she should be – she has fought off a warlock with ultimate evil power and sent him running. It’s just… well, Abbie and Ichabod still have work to do. They’ve killed the blood demons and are figuring out Kent’s sinister intentions. Abbie points out that, before they gained Katrina, the two of them defeated plenty of monsters without magic – and without Katrina.

This moment gives way to more action, but in light of possible developments with Katrina this episode, it may be an indicator of a coming disparity in the alliance. Kent has plenty to say about what he sees in Katrina – an inner darkness, he says, which she should give into and discover her “true self.” She definitely has some inner crazy white eyeballs under his influence even after he’s dead and disintegrated; could the pretty flower she nurtures at the beginning of the episode and then shatters at the end be some foreshadowing? And, considering what is revealed about Irving this week – is her evil-negative diagnosis of him from last week a deception that serves a malignant purpose? Ichabod observes that she is still mourning Henry; this could be a weak spot. I don’t know what the purpose of this possible turn for Katrina is, but a true Katrina Noir would be fantastic. But she has to stay that way – no more distressed-face wishy-washy self-absorption, just some straight-up apocalyptic, sexy, fiery evil for the Witnesses to epically defeat.

And now, Henry. Henry! For someone whose pivotal moments have had a decidedly dramatic flair, his showing back up in a cheap motel watching infomercials is a contrast, to say the least. It’s one that works, though – it seems to take this period of wood-carving malaise to help him gather his strength, and the encounter with the bullies to confirm who he really is in the natural order of things: a wolf, he says, as he efficiently murders them all. (Oh, it’s just so delicious to have him back!)

Henry 2.0 vows to now have no master but himself. He also, though, now has a key helper on the inside – the newly evil Irving 2.0, whose allegiance has been in question ever since he supposedly came back from the dead. His appearance in the forest with Henry is a lovely payoff to all the shadowy facial expressions and moments of doubt of those who know him best from the past few weeks. His soul, we know now, does indeed still belong to Henry. These two together have explosive potential.

One more thing – I noticed a distinct theme of memory this week. Katrina’s mother never forgot what Kent did to her own mother – an impression mirrored on a larger scale in how the Salem Witch Trials are still a blight on America’s memory. Henry tells the nice hotel kid, Ronnie, that he wants to forget the death and destruction he has seen. Irving claims not to remember anything from the six weeks he was “dead.” Kent himself is tormented by the memory of what he did to Sarah, to the point that he opens up a portal to the past just before the witnesses take him down. By extension, even Ichabod has it impressed upon him this week that he absolutely must remember what’s important, or he could easily take the same path as Kent. The persistence of memory is a defining force for each of these characters, and its underlying presence in the series – and especially this particular episode – is really poignant.

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We have three more episodes this season, and I like how this is all shaping up. Minor complaint – where’s Jenny? I hope she’s gotten over the Hawley thing by next week. If things keep going the way they are, the Witnesses will need all the help they can get.

Read Holly’s review of the previous episode, Kali Yuga, here.

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