Sleepy Hollow season 2 episode 6 review: And The Abyss Gazes Back

Familial bonds, world-saving and Wendigos are order of the day for this week's Sleepy Hollow. Here's Holly's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.6 And The Abyss Gazes Back

One of Sleepy Hollow’s most cherished foundations is the transformative friendship of Abbie Mills and Sheriff Corbin. Though we lose him (in body, at least) in the very first episode, we take their bond for granted; it has clearly changed Abbie’s life in more ways than she could have known as a troubled teen just trying to avoid juvy. Corbin, with his apple pie soup and words of wisdom, sets her life on the path that leads… well, eventually it leads to her key role in preventing the apocalypse. Unbeknownst to her, though, he also equips her for the journey, as she often discovers along the way.

What we haven’t realized up to now was that, throughout the years of his fatherly mentoring of Abbie, Corbin was neglecting another bond, one that arguably should have been stronger than what he had with Abbie. Enter Joe Corbin. Joe is Sheriff Corbin’s son, and this week, he’s back from war under some pretty nasty circumstances – his entire platoon save him is dead (and how!). Though honourably discharged, Joe shows up this week with a troubling secret, a chip on his shoulder regarding Abbie, and some major daddy issues. When a couple of his friends end up slaughtered his first night back, it seems reasonable to say that this guy might have some other issues, too.

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The obvious thing to talk about at this point is the Wendigo, and we’ll get there, because it was awesome. First, though, I want to talk about family. Sleepy Hollow is a show that goes in many directions and, for the most part, pulls it off. Primarily, there are monsters of the week, the overarching mission of Abbie and Ichabod as Witnesses, Ichabod’s navigation of the 21st century, and Hawley’s… I’m not sure exactly what Hawley’s direction is, but I like him. Regardless of direction, a precious constant is the inconstant family history of each character and how together they function as a dysfunctional family of their own.

This episode beautifully brings together two makeshift “siblings” while shining a light on both the forged and the all-but-destroyed familial ties that drive each character. Joe’s brooding resentment of Abbie’s relationship with his father, Ichabod and Katrina’s strained marriage, their world-dooming estrangement from their son, their son’s twisted loyalty to Moloch – none of these ties are exactly healthy, but they are all irrevocably intertwined. All of these relationships – from Katrina’s catastrophic rejection of Abraham all the way to Abbie and Jenny’s unstable sisterly reunion to Irving’s fierce protection of his ex-wife and daughters – have brought them here. The fate of all of these relationships are indeed what will determine the fate of the world.

So, yeah, family is pretty significant in Sleepy Hollow. Learning that Abbie’s life-altering relationship with Corbin came at such a cost is thus very unsettling. Joe is a jerk – there’s no getting around it – but he has his reasons. It comes as no surprise that another son with his own reasons, Henry, knows exactly how to exploit what little Joe probably feels he has left of his dad.

It all gets very convoluted from this point, but it eventually comes back to the main story. Henry, using the crushed bone powder from a couple of episodes back, curses Joe to – involuntarily – work out some of his frustration by turning into the mythic Wendigo, who has to eat human organs to turn back into a human himself. Henry does all this to lure Joe back so Joe can lead him to the Jincan, which – long story short – will give Henry what he needs to create a really, really terrible spider that will crawl down Katrina’s throat. (I do not like spiders. I do not know what I’m going to do next week.)

Speaking of family, our history cameo of the week comes in the form of Daniel Boone and his brother, Squire. Turns out, Squire had his own Wendigo problem, for which Daniel paid the price in the form of head scars… thus requiring a raccoon hat. I still can’t help but love Ichabod’s alternative history lessons, and this one leads him and Ichabod right to the Native Americans who can help them out.

In the end, Joe gets cured, he and Abbie make nice, and Ichabod becomes a gamer, which provides one of the best laughs of the whole episode. (The other ones being Hawley’s “Mr. Dances with Wendigos” and Jenny’s “we should probably donate blood or something.”) It all wraps up a little too neatly with a few too many coincidences, but I still contend it’s a story well-told. It’s not like Sleepy Hollow is claiming to be a gritty documentary, in any case. And, this particular happy ending is just a temporary stay against the dark forces anyway.

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Every week, the war seems to have just begun, in fact. Henry remains deliciously, devilishly diabolical, regardless of Ichabod and Katrina’s tiny thread of hope for him – a hope encouraged by Joe’s plea for Ichabod to tell his son he loves him. Irving, meanwhile, is in the throes of a literal battle for his own soul, begging Abbie for help as he fights becoming a monster himself.

Every week, though, we also Abbie and Ichabod’s not-quite-familial, but probably stronger, bond all the more reinforced. Every one of these characters is in one way or another a type of orphan; it’s what holds them in this cobbled-together family under circumstances that could very well tear other families apart. And that, cheesy or not, is how they’re going to save the world.

Read Holly’s review of the previous episode, The Weeping Lady, here.

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