Sleepy Hollow: The Sin Eater Review

John Noble is a Sin Eater and James Frain is a Freemason. But the coolest bit for Sleepy Hollow fans is that Ichabod finally has a home.

Home is where the heart is and Sleepy Hollow looks to be trying to find its own this week. This message is established strong and early when Ichabod and Abbie are seen enjoying a local baseball game between kids, which also helps to serve as a nifty reminder of the World Series that just ended (so quickly that this episode is a week early!). However, if the objective of baseball is to “get home” in both the literal and cultural sense, so too was Ichabod’s timey-wimey challenge of the night. Ichabod hardly feels at home in the 21st century. Despite bonding like revolutionary rhetoric and herbal beverages with Abbie, he still insists on calling her Ms. Mills and he never once seems to get the rules of that infernal baseball game. No, his heart is still in 1776 (or thereabouts) and with a certain bewitching redhead. But tonight is about learning to love the one you’re with. Abbie learns that quickly when Ichabod is kidnapped and captured. Indeed, after it has become apparent that Ichabod has gone missing in the last 24-hours, she wastes no time in enlisting her sister’s help to track Crane down. Seriously, at this point that entire psych ward should be deputized. However, she is only able to quickly deduce the challenge thanks to the help of a new vision: One of Katrina Crane. Faced with an Ichabod who has mysteriously gone absent (a tranquilizer dart to the neck will do that to you), Katrina has turned to the only person who cares for Ichabod as much as she does, Abbie. And there lies the real rub of this episode. If Ichabod is discovering that he has found his “true” home in 2013 Sleepy Hollow, then the Sleepy Hollow myth of circa 2013 has embraced its new, oh so soapy destiny. Tonight’s episode was the Fox breakout hit learning that it is a shipper’s delight. When I attended press events for Sleepy Hollow at New York Comic Con, they paired Tom Mison (Ichabod) with Katia Winter (Katrina). But truly, everyone already knew that the series was all about the will-they-or-won’t-they chemistry of Ichabod and Abbie. While I am still convinced the show is dedicated to cultivating the storyline between Ichabod and his timelessly kidnapped wife with a pure “damsel in distress” arc, it is equally unavoidable that viewers have already jumped from that ship before it ever docked. So too may have Ichabod. After all, it was the love of a good woman casting a spell on him in 1770s New York (it is a bit vague when he got to the New World) that convinced him to forsake King and Country, and it is now Abbie who will bring him back from the edge of oblivion tonight. That edge is provided, with exceeding politeness, by the Free Masons embodied in Geek TV MVP James Frain. Whether it’s The Tudors, True Blood or even The Cape, Frain is often there to remind us that he should be in more shows, because they are all invariably better when he is present, even at his most sniveling. Here though, that sniveling is meant to flatter the protagonists and viewers as he all but bear hugs Ichabod in recognition of one of the original Freemasons. Too bad he has to die. Like now. It is a curious thing to see the Masons enter Sleepy Hollow. An inevitable inclusion, given that George Washington, arguably history’s most famous Mason, has his name thrown around on this show like it’s the title for the third lead. And now, refreshingly, they are depicted as good guys, even when they want Ichabod dead. This stems from the night’s best elements, which involve flashbacks that finally reveal how Ichabod fell for the little red witch, and why he was enlisted into Washington’s army. As it turns out, it all circles back to a free slave that Ichabod is forced to interrogate and ultimately execute. Of course, he fails the latter half miserably, but the experience teaches him many things: A) That there are demons in the world (including historical British Officer Tarleton!) and that B) The Revolutionaries are truly the side of the angels. This all seems a bit muddled in timeline and actual meaning, an effect that is likely intentional given the soft focus and shallow depth of field it is all shot from, but it mostly holds together, because we finally get to see Ichabod and Katrina together. Considering that this “the couple” from Washington Irving’s folk tale—in the loosest sense possible—it is a pleasure to see and also a relief to learn that the actors do have true chemistry. However, it is too little too late when juxtaposed to the baited breaths with which Abbie goes to retrieve her friend. As Abbie has no qualms in admitting to her sister, Ichabod is the new rock in her life since the sheriff headed out in the pilot, and Jenny went to the loony bin before that. Ichabod is her Zen, and she will have him back. I could practically hear the shippers’ boats rocking with glee from crest to trough. And how will she get Ichabod back? With a Sin Eater! Obvious, really.  The origin of a Sin Eater is very vague, despite what the Heath Ledger religious horror The Order would have you believe. Some suggest that the first sin eater in mythology comes from Tlazolteotl, the Earth goddess of Aztec religion. Others suggest that Jesus himself was a Sin Eater, and then there is the mention of Christian Sin Eaters throughout the last several hundred years in passing folklore and tradition. The ambiguity implicit with the form gives a lot of leeway for a series like Sleepy Hollow, which is more than ready to add a new wrinkle to the Sin Eater myth: It’s John Noble. Once the man who almost condemned Gondor to ruin in Return of the King and a geek stalwart on Fringe, the man seems born for this kind of part. However, he of course must be coaxed out of retirement one more time to help Ichabod Crane, who is first captured and then poisoned. It appears convincing Ichabod to take his own life was not so difficult in light of the fact that his blood is entwined with the Horseman of Death and that he could save the world with the martyr play. But Abbie convinces him, even after the poison is swallowed, that Sleepy Hollow is his home now. And the ghost of his old friend confirming this is finally enough for Ichabod to let his sins be eaten and for his soul to be saved for another day. Meanwhile the Headless Horseman rises. It was an important episode that can be summed up in one moment: Ichabod calls his partner “Abbie,” as opposed to Ms. Mills, for the first time in their relationship. It is the transition of it being one of professionalism to that of true friendship. And maybe something more. Unfortunately, other than a few very cool flashbacks to Ichabod and Katrina’s first meeting, this episode featured little of whacky entertainment. I still need my bonkers in a show that sold itself on a pilot that features a Headless Horseman pumping a shotgun. And while John Noble as a Sin Eater was acceptably cool, there is no denying that this week lacked a kitschy pop or wackiness present in past episodes. Hence, I can only say this beheading got the job done. Next time, let’s make a show of the series’ execution. Den of Geek Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!


2.5 out of 5