“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” conventional wisdom holds. Conventional wisdom apparently never watched a possessed teenager snap a priest’s neck with less effort than it takes to change the channel.
If this week’s Sleepy Hollow taught us anything, it’s that the devil we know is one scary mammer jammer. Doesn’t bode well for the evil we haven’t yet met, eh? Read on for the devil — and the details — of “Vessel.”
CASE CLOTHED | The episode opens with a true sign of the apocalypse: Ichabod in skinny jeans. Right from the very first moment, with Abbie giving her supportive speech (“I’ll be right here with you. You won’t be alone.”), I knew he was going to come out of that room in some modern garb… and yet I laughed anyway. “I do not understand your obsession with my finery,” Ichabod grumbles in a line the writers clearly aimed at the threads-fixated fandom. He tries, and fails, to sit – poor Tom Mison, the wardrobe department pulled a real Wolowitz special on him.
Believe it or not, there is a point to this exchange. Throughout, Abbie assures her fellow Witness that Moloch must be getting nervous; that’s why he went through the motions of pulling Ichabod into Purgatory and planting the idea that he’d deliver Abbie’s soul to the demon. “You ever hear of a boondoggle?” she asks. “”If it’s another type of constrictive trouser, I’d rather not,” he replies. Ha! She reiterates that Moloch’s got nothing. Ichabod looks less than convinced, but that may be just because his southern colonies are revolting against the tyranny of too-tight denim.
Abbie gives him another outfit to try, but Ichabod’s had enough. He returns in his old garb, to which a resigned Abbie sighs, “If you’re going to keep wearing that damn thing, I have two words for you: dry cleaning.”
EVIL LEAPFROG | Capt. Irving has hauled the vendor from the previous episode in for a polygraph test… which he passes when he swears he never threatened Macey. You’ll recall that the vendor was possessed at the time, and that the entity leapt into a nearby woman soon after. Don’t worry — the sheriff’s department has found her and asked her to come in, too. When she does, she makes contact with an officer and transfers the demon to him. Irving gets a call from the beast soon after… and the caller ID tells him it’s coming from inside the station! The beastie wants George Washington’s Bible (and in case Irving is slow, it writes that on the ceiling in disappearing blood) before nightfall, or Macey’s soul is toast. By the time the captain locates the evil officer, the entity has jumped into another cop.
After a quick confab with Crane and Mills, Irving rounds up Cynthia and their daughter and hightails it out to a safe house. How will that help, exactly? Horror movies have lead me to believe that the devil can find you anywhere; what will moving a little farther west on Rte. 287 do? (Though the idea of supreme evil being forced to sit in Tappan Zee Bridge traffic does have its own rewards.) Even worse: Luke and the possessed cop – whose name is Jones – are along as muscle.
Irving’s priest meets them at the undisclosed location and goes about setting up holy perimeters (salt, holy water) around the house. The demon soon jumps into Luke, who keeps Jones alive just long enough to get rid of the salt so he can enter the house. As night begins to fall, the fiend jumps into Macey, who levitates in the living room while a horrified Frank Irving looks on.
C’MON GET HIGHER | Back at the archives, Ichabod and Abbie find something very disturbing in Corbin’s files: a DVD of the dearly departed sheriff attempting to exorcize Jenny seven years before. Wha? When it becomes clear that the evil jerk inside of Macey is probably the same one that took control of Jenny, the formerly crazy Mills sister is summoned, says she doesn’t remember anything and refuses to help them save Irving’s kid.
After a little cajoling and meaningful eye contact by Ichabod, Jenny confesses that the possession lasted a while and made her want to kill Abbie; when the “voices” got too loud, she’d break the law so that she’d be locked up. “You were protecting her,” Ichabod says softly. Sweet in a messed up way, right?
Once Jenny is on board, things move quickly. The Witnesses realize that salt can contain the demon, whose name is Ancitif, and some research tells them that a particular type of French lantern can serve as a spiritual containment unit. (Ichabod lapses into professor mode for a minute as he recalls that Ben Franklin received a few lanterns as a gift from the French, who were going to revolt and needed to… zzzzzzzzzz. Meanwhile, DemonMacey is contorting like a Cirque du Soleil performer. Get a move on, Crane!)
BREAKING AND EXITING | Jenny knows that a local end-of-days group has one of the lanterns, so she plans to break into their warehouse and steal it. Abbie is steadfast in her helllll no: If the recently released Jenny is caught committing a felony, she reasons, she’ll go straight to jail. So Abbie will break in for her. (Aww.)
Ichabod and Abbie get all the way into the warehouse and locate the lamp, but they’re both too short to nab it from its perch on a high shelf. Several teeny things about this scene are great: his teasing about her generation being taller than his “on average,” her knowing “hmm” when he can’t grab the item, his awkwardness at having her booty so close as he gives her a boost. Ultimately, they secure the lantern… and run into a very pissed-off militia waiting for them outside the warehouse.
THE POWER OF CRANE COMPELS YOU! | Thanks to Jenny’s quick thinking, history with the group and ability with firearms, everyone gets out OK. (Side note: Anyone else think the doomsday group’s leader Chase looks like Joe Carroll’s hillbilly cousin?) The trio speeds to the archive, where the Irvings are frantically searching for G. Dubs’ Bible, which Katrina had buried with Ichabod.
Jenny draws DemonMacey’s attention and, when she starts to falter, Abbie steps in like the badass she is. (Side note: Nicole Beharie’s completely unfazed “Bored Now” face is awesome.) Anyway, all of it is a distraction to lure Ancitif into a salt circle (well, oval-ish shape) so Ichabod can pop out and suck the demon into his special French light. “Our plan is in motion. The Witnesses can’t stop it,” the devil says before it gives up the ghost. “Darkness will reign!”
Once the exorcism is complete, Jenny is moved to tears by the sobbing pile of thankful Irving family members on the floor. (Macey’s fine, by the way.) Off a glance at Ichabod, Abbie moves to hug her sister, who eventually hugs her back. (As if the indignity of skintight pants weren’t enough for one episode, Ichabod’s left in the corner with only a Pier One accent piece full of pure evil to keep him company.)
THE GOOD BOOK TELLS ALL | Later, at the cabin, Ichabod goes all Mr. Wizard as he mixes up a concoction involving baking soda, water and lemon juice – it’ll make any invisible ink in Washington’s Bible glow in the dark. And when he brushes the liquid across the page, “December 18, 1799″ shows up… and Crane recognizes the handwriting as Washington’s. Abbie says it’s impossible, because Washington died on Dec. 14, 1799. I say Abbie has inhaled a little too much of the homemade solution’s fumes, because how is it impossible that someone wrote a date that may have been in the future? But Ichabod seems on board with her hypothesis, and they did spend the last 45 minutes battling a hellspawn, so what the heck do I know?
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you ready for next week’s two-hour finale? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots