Ding dong, the witch is dead. Which old witch? The Wicked Witch. Ding dong, now long live Sleepy Hollow?
Indeed, it feels like the last two or three episodes of Sleepy Hollow season two has been about a course correction and a righting of wrongs that began during last year’s very finale. While I’ve read several opinions over the previous year that Katrina should have been revealed as warped by the hellfire of Purgatory and to secretly be in cahoots with Henry/Jeremy the whole time, I tried to remain objective; let’s just see what the Sleepy Hollow writers actually wanted to do with the purportedly bewitching Mrs. Crane.
As it turned out, they wanted to do what the fans thought that they should have done over a year ago: they made Katrina a van ally of evil.
Last week, I wrote excessively about the poorness with which that U-Turn was made, but at the very least, their attempt at manufacturing the ugliest break-up/divorce in geek television history has now provided viewers with a solid hour of entertainment in tonight’s finale. When one looks back at the previous season of Sleepy Hollow, this is a huge improvement for the series, which I hope is ready to put its darkest days behind it.
The strength of this episode was of course a role reversal where Abbie Mills becomes the Witness out of time. However, she seems to get around much more expediently in the 18th century than Ichabod has ever done in the 21st century, but that may lay at the feet of one of “Tempus Feguit’s” few flaws: it was only a single episode. I think any fan of the series can enjoy watching Abbie run around Revolutionary era New York—which was remarkably peaceful considering Tarrytown was considered a No Man’s Land between Washington’s forces (and why is he in Virginia again?) and a New York City that is occupied by the British. But hey, we’re here, let’s have fun with it.
And fun is exactly the word that I’d use to describe this hour. Almost every story beat worked as an encouraging riff on the familiar—such as Ichabod going back to day one obliviousness about the 21st century and thinking “slide to open” means moving a shiny black box across a table—or the new, like Abbie being able to take an 18th century racist to school in mixed martial arts. However, my favorite bit was when they played up the advantage of this hour being a mulligan where everything we see got wiped by a time reversal spell. In other words, as soon as this exposition was unspooled, there was no way Benjamin Franklin was keeping his head.
Still, the little touches of Benjamin Franklin taking pleasure in his status on currency—not to mention of finding a charmingly exotic mademoiselle at his front door—is the kind of gonzo historical fiction/fantasy nuttiness that made Sleepy Hollow such a blast in the first place.
What was less impressive, unfortunately, was the reason that we are here. Katrina Crane has gone all “Terminator” with her time travel predilections and she’s after the blood of her husband. Meanwhile, Abbie will be Ichabod’s Kyle Reese (or Arnold Schwarzenegger depending on the sequel), ready to save Crane from a vengeful wife. Seeing Ichabod have to struggle with his bridal betrayal is a bit redundant, as is her being still inexplicably evil. I understand that she wants Jeremy to have a happy childhood and blah blah blah, but she went from being a true revolutionary that kept the flame alive for centuries while in Hell to turning into a generic baddie that executes injured blue coats on the battlefield while willingly aiding Moloch in his ascension. It plays better than last week because of all the fun Abbie Mills is having, but the awfulness of the Katrina writing and execution is the one reason that I am somewhat glad this time traveling detour only lasted a single episode.
Indeed, there was one last execution before the hour concluded: Katrina Crane met her end in Ichabod’s arms. Honestly, if this is not a major point of character development for Ichabod in future episodes, I’d be shocked. Vile plot device or not, killing your wife in your arms should have some repercussions. It makes his stoic hero shot closing out the episode seem even premature.
Nonetheless, it allows Ichabod the freedom to pursue a romance with Abbie (something I’m still not necessarily dying to see), and, more importantly, provides Sleepy Hollow the chance to pursue a life after season two. If you noticed, all of the tiresome anchors around season two’s ankles are gone: Frank Irving is alive and well, and no longer under the spell of Henry; Henry meanwhile is assumedly burning with papa Moloch, along with Katrina too (yay!). Even Hawley is gone.
What remains is what made season one so strong: Ichabod, Abbie, Frank, and Jenny. Yet as a consequence, the entire second season a bit like the finale: a dreamlike wash that has been erased.
Luckily, unlike most of season two, tonight’s finale really is worth your time. Besides ridding us of Katrina, it put Abbie back in the driver’s seat for the first time in what seems like centuries (forgive the pun). The fact that Lt. Mills took center stage in the last Katrina episode where she ran around Upstate New York during the American Revolution, and reminded us why we liked watching Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison in the first place, was a refreshing callback to Sleepy Hollow’s best days.
I still do not honestly think we have seen the last of Henry or Katrina. They, like Moloch, are able to return from beyond the grave at any moment in a show like this. But for the time being, it seems unlikely that this familial albatross will weigh down on the core dynamics that we like so much on Sleepy Hollow. So, I’ll call this a victory.