Sleepy Hollow season 2 episode 18 review: Tempus Fugit

Has Sleepy Hollow done enough to justify season 3 renewal in this week's fast-paced, intense finale? We hope so...

This review contains spoilers.

2.18 Tempus Fugit

The work Abbie Mills is tasked with as season two concludes is a matter of life and death, both inside the world of the story and for the series itself. Abbie has to find some way to connect with Ichabod – who is, of course, not the 2015 Ichabod we know – and convince him of the danger he and the world are in at the hands of his wife. This is an Herculean task, sure, but with the question of the show’s renewal hovering like Katrina’s levitating knife about to stab Ichabod in the back, this finale has quite the feat to pull off as well.

Both worked. This was a wonderful episode in its own right, and though we won’t know for a while whether it was enough to merit renewal, the season’s conclusion proves worthy of a future for the show. Sleepy Hollow is a show that inherently requires suspension of disbelief, but when it plays with its timeline, it usually gets it right. This week, time flew (per the episode’s title, Tempus Fugit) back, alighting on the very inception of the past two seasons’ battles, then flew forward to close the loop and begin a new battle.

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At the end of part one of the finale, the Ichabod/Abbie dynamic got flipped and now she is a woman out of time – his time. In part two, we see Ichabod in his natural habitat, as it were, and as such he is much more serious and stodgy than we’re used to. Abbie, well, she is always Abbie, sharp, expressive, resourceful Abbie. Thus – as if there were any doubt – our Witnesses are a force to be reckoned with no matter what century they’re in. Their reunion (or prequel pairing, or whatever) echoes their initial introduction, but with Abbie as the one who’s practically an alien in this time and Ichabod as the skeptical straight man. She’s at a decided disadvantage as a woman of colour – and one wearing trousers, at that! – in the midst of 18th-century colonial America, but in this case there’s not much time to dwell on fish-out-of-water antics.

These two are always going to be drawn to each other. There’s the pull of the prophesied Witnesses, sure, but Ichabod and Abbie are two people who, despite two centuries’ worth of cultural disparity, complement each other purely and understand each other almost completely. He could very well have dismissed her as a madwoman, and he almost does. The way she knows how to appeal to him, however impossibly, compels him to listen instead, which is a vice versa from the series pilot (minus the foreknowledge advantage for Ichabod). Intuition always plays a giant part in their relationship, and Ichabod’s is going to be crucial if things are to be set aright.

The pair’s forging ahead (no pun intended) is, unfortunately, imperiled by Abbie’s inadvertent causing of Ben Franklin’s decapitation. This, this is a perfect Sleepy Hollow moment. It’s a humorously horrifying, alternate-history-causing travesty that just nearly puts the lid in not only their relationship’s coffin, but by extension that of the human race. I know the premature death of an American founder and legend should not be a wacky “oops!” scenario, but we should be pretty sure that he’s not going to stay that way. It just makes the situation all the more dire.

Fortunately, regardless of his understandable disdain for Abbie, Ichabod’s previous intuition is restored, aided by some bewildering technology. His attempt to work Abbie’s iPhone is one of the few moments of comic relief in a mostly fast-paced, intense episode. I personally laughed out loud at the “slide to unlock” blunder, but the moment also gives way to a sweet – though confusing – realization by way of selfie for Ichabod. It’s telling, though, that there might be a subconscious inkling of trust before he even gets to the phone – he doesn’t find it odd at all that her code is his birthday. A lot could be made of that, but I choose not to. (It did give me a moment’s pause, I admit.) Regardless, this sets them back in action with little time to spare – because they have Katrina’s seriously diabolical plans to deal with, and fast.

Oh, Evil Katrina, we hardly knew ye. Katia Winter absolutely nails the role when given the writing she needs to unleash Katrina’s dark potential. Gone is the equivocating distress, leaving nothing but a witch’s rage and a mother’s wrath. I can’t say enough good about this development, and I couldn’t be more frustrated that we didn’t get it much sooner. I’ve loved this season overall, but its main weakness has been Katrina. The sides between good and evil could have been chosen earlier and turned her and Ichabod’s extended breakup into a tension-heightening road to the ultimate showdown. The time between her joining forces with Henry and her disintegration to ashes is woefully short. I’d have loved more than two episodes’ worth.

Katrina’s death – though mostly accidental – at Ichabod’s hands could have packed more of an emotional punch as well. That’s not to say it’s not effective, however – these are still two people in a marriage with quite the unique history (and wow, are they gorgeous as she dies in his arms). It will be interesting to see (hopefully) how Ichabod recovers from such a trauma; she attacked him, and though he did not set out to plunge the knife into her chest, as he tells Abbie – he made his choice. They all did, he says. Though Abbie and Katrina had returned to the exact same moment they disappeared into, nothing could have been the same thereafter.

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The time travel didn’t technically affect the present since it didn’t technically happen – or at the least, it happened in a bubble – so we averted the national nightmare of losing Ben Franklin before his time. But, the choices that Ichabod alludes to do have an irrevocable affect. It’s right that Katrina’s gone – she needs to stay that way. It’s right that Irving’s soul has been set free from the evil forces. It’s also right that Abbie and Jenny are on better terms than they’ve been since childhood. They share such a lovely moment when Abbie tells her that she wishes Jenny had been there to meet Grace. I could go on and on, incidentally, about Abbie and Grace’s touching interactions, but I do hope this is not the last we see of Grace.

If this is all we get, there could be much worse ways to leave it – with friendships and family bonds strengthened and molded into something much more, and with good triumphing over evil for another day. Both good and evil, though, have more to come. There are still other Horsemen, and don’t forget the empty pages in Grace’s journal. I very much hope we get to see what could be written upon them.

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

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