Tonight’s episode of Sleepy Hollow takes on an archetypal image in spooky ghost stories and folklore: the visage of a weeping spirit. But since this specter is powered by the tears of many an Ichabod-loving woman, its power is possibly greater than any threat that has come before on this show!
Yes, with “The Weeping Lady,” Sleepy Hollow potentially stands to revisit the “ghoul of the week” formula again. Fortunately, thanks to some cleverly intricate soapy plotting and a very self-aware sense of humor about what a heartbreaker Tom Mison’s coat can be, this hour marks one of the best yet in the series’ second season. After all, any episode that ties in the central romantic triangle (or is it a quadrilateral with the Headless Horseman waiting in the wings?), John Noble sobbing like a baby, and Ichabod’s conclusive criticism of emoticons as being “grimacing lemon caricatures,” is a winner in my book.
We began with a nice reminder about how Ichabod keeps his coats and shirts so neatly pressed this week with the brief re-introduction of Miss Caroline. However, viewers should not get too comfortable with her cooing presence, because she proves to be one Ichabod admirer too many. As Abbie appropriately surmises, this girl has “Crane on the brain,” and with Ms. Mills (whether she knows it or not) and Katrina already vying for his attention, she had to go. But not before a cute sequence that reveals Ichabod is as dreamily courteous as every fangirl could hope. Never has rejection seemed so chivalrous!
Sadly, after her friend-zoning, at Ichabod’s insistence since he has so few in this town, Miss Caroline’s affections are further thwarted by the malevolence of another woman scorned: the Weeping Lady.
The image of the spirit itself, I quite like. It probably helps that I supposedly had a run-in with a weeping lady ghost once upon a time. Many years ago while visiting Hampton Court in England, we were treated to a yarn about a condemned woman who was unfairly sentenced to death and executed. During this tale of the macabre and unfortunate, several parties in my tour swore that they heard a woman sobbing during the narrative. I myself did not hear it, but it would make for a better story if I had, wouldn’t it?
Sleepy Hollow certainly knows how to spice these kind of folk tales up, especially since this basic yarn about a tragic woman in Upstate New York turns out to be another literal ghost from Ichabod’s past. Enter Mary, our fourth woman vying for Ichabod’s attention in this episode alone.
By recollecting the green-eyed woman who apparently was once Ichabod’s betrothed, we are treated to two flashbacks. The first is more hilarity involving Mary incredulously (and unbelievably) braving the Atlantic during a time of war to woo Ichabod back to England. Her father might have forgiven him, but I have my doubts if King George would be so lenient on an officer who threw down his red coat and took up arms against the crown. In any case, Mary quickly figures out that Ichabod only has eyes for the bewitching Katrina. And somehow, she’s come back to 2014, more jealous than ever.
It’s an amusing premise set into motion by the dastardly Henry and the Headless Horseman. However, while it makes Henry more entertainingly evil than ever, it does continue the degradation of old Headless. Last season he was Death made flesh, Hell on a Stead. Now? He’s so obsessed with a married woman that clearly is not into him that he’s having to turn to her adult son for advice on how to stop her from Disney Princess messaging Ichabod via talking birds. Maybe, the Horseman should just cut his losses and join OKCupid?
In any event, Mary herself is a fearsome creature with all computer generated black shrouds and water that threaten to drown any she encounters. First poor, sweet, deluded Miss Caroline ends up on the watery shores of the Hudson, and next Abbie gets submerged when Mary comes calling in the public library. The best thing about this is that Abbie actually attempts to arrest the marauding spirit. If only it had worked, so she could have turned to Ichabod moments later and said, “She just got ghost busted.” Alas, the spirit instead tries to drown Abbie until Hawley shows up.
Last week, I was apathetic toward Hawley’s inclusion. In this episode, the contrivances of the plotting for his recurrence have still not won me over, but I did better enjoy Matt Barr’s performance as the interloper offering a romantic rival for Ichabod and, honestly, both Mills sisters. I especially liked his high-priced and ultimately worthless silver crossbow. Of course it doesn’t work, but I hope Hawley wasn’t whistling “Swan Lake” when he suggested that it was from the “real-life Van Helsing.” So wait, Van Helsing was a real person in Sleepy Hollow’s universe? Does that mean we could see Dracula down the road? That would be awesome. I mean, he’s appearing on every other network nowadays (NBC, Showtime, basically FX), bring the big bad to Westchester County, too.
…Getting back to “The Weeping Lady,” our heroes eventually deduce that she will go after Katrina, who they save in the nick of time from a watery grave. The irony of this is that Katrina and the Horseman apparently have settled down in the same house from “The Kindred,” yet Ichabod and Abbie have made no attempts to capture and put the Horseman of Death back in the dirt. Seriously, all he’s doing these days is playing house with Ichabod’s wife. He’s like right there.
At least until Abraham comes out to play too after Katrina gets taken. But that only comes after the most delicious of supplementary flashbacks. If you spent the whole episode wondering how Ichabod’s childhood fiancé—whom he had no qualms about firing a silver bolt through the heart of, I might add—ended up a damned spirit, then look no further than Katrina! As the witch tells it, Mary accidentally killed herself during a late night rendezvous with Katrina by a Cliffside vista. And upon realizing that Mary had fallen to her death, she hid the body, for Ichabod’s sake…so he wouldn’t go back to England.
This brings me back to “The Kindred” where Katrina revealed to Abraham that Ichabod and Abbie are witnesses, ergo impervious to any plans they might have for them. Between this and her choice to stay with Abraham, I trust Katrina about as much as any of her witchy sisters who appeared in The Conjuring. The showrunners cannot keep Katrina in another castle forever, and eventually she and Ichabod will have to have a reunion. On that episode, it will likely be more of a reckoning, especially with the reveal by Moloch that she is a “Shard of Hellfire.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but we have not heard of the Hellfire Shards before. I don’t know what that is, but it doesn’t sound particularly good. Between Mary’s jealousy, Katrina’s manipulation, and even Abbie’s own spiritual hang-ups, maybe Miss Caroline really is the one that got away for Mr. Crane?
The episode ends with Moloch chastising Henry, and leaving him sobbing on the floor like a child. The scene is deliciously weird. Is Sleepy Hollow positing that Henry really is only a child crying out for mommy and daddy? Or that he is as crazy as he is evil? Either way, I can’t wait to see where Noble and company take that. Hopefully, it is as loopy as this episode, which I’d qualify as worthy of four rolling heads. Assuming of course, the Horseman ever gets around to doing his literally damnable job again.