Teacher says: Every time a black rose grows, a leftenant’s sense of well-being takes a ding.
Yes, I’m twisting a classic Frank Capra line here, but you watch the final scene of this week’s Sleepy Hollow and tell me it’s not the anti-It’s a Wonderful Life: While some heavy painkillers help Ichabod wax narcotic about how happy he is to be reunited with Abbie, Mills’ fear of being left alone to fight the tribulations is so palpable, it causes a new blossom to unfurl on Pandora’s ever-growing treevil.
The concept of trust between the Witnesses is one the Fox series has explored before: charmingly and interestingly in Season 1 (via the quick affinity Ichabod and Abbie found for each other), roughly and hurt-feelings-ly in Season 2 (via Katrina’s now-what’re-you-gonna-do-with-me? introduction into the modern world). I’m interested in how the revamped series will tackle the topic as we move through the current season — because, per the look on Abbie’s face at the end of the hour, Agent Mills is seriously doubting her colonial companion, no matter how many times he pledges himself to their shared duty.
Maybe I’m reading too much into that parting shot. Maybe Abbie’s true fear is that one of these days, Ichbod is going to actually go through with killing himself in the name of saving humanity. (You only get so many free passes, Crane.) Read on as we review the action in “Blood and Fear.”
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK | Let’s get the baddie o’ the week out of the way straight off, because he’s kind of lame — and that’s the point. Nelson, a dorky guy lusting after a blonde co-worker, goes to a bar — is it Club Twerk?! — but can only watch from afar as the blonde dances with some some brodude from the office. As the sad sack falls ever deeper into his misery, Pandora shows up in her punky finest and whispers, “Let’s show everybody the real you.” They drink, they dance. She does some magic mojo, and he wakes up the next morning with a curved blade on his bedside table.
Not long after, Abbie is called to the scene of a murder at Nelson’s office: The guy who’d been cozying up to the blonde (whose name is Emily) has been stabbed to death and drained of all his blood. Ichabod immediately recognizes the M.O. and says he knows the killer’s identity: “You might know him as Jack the Ripper.”
THAT KNIFE LIFE | As it turns out, a teenage Ichabod’s best friend was offed in similar fashion when they were students at Eton in 1763 — but, Abbie points out, that was more than a century before London’s infamous Whitechapel murders. Ichabod’s (heretofore unmentioned) obsession with solving the killings makes him very well versed in all the details, so it’s not long before the Witnesses realize that 1) the murders have been happening for 900 years, so they’re probably supernatural in nature; 2) Pandora likely summoned the evil spirit who commits the crimes, in part because she’s aware of the Witnesses’ deepest fears (Ichabod’s involves his friend’s murder); and 3) the curved blade used for the killings are what transforms ordinary people into the Rippers by causing them to be “wholly overcome” with bloodlust.
Too bad that, at that moment, Pandora is making sure that Nelson is undergoing his final transformation: The knife becomes a permanent part of his hand.
‘ICHABOD CRANE: AMERICAN’ | Let’s take a break to handle some of the lighter fare that happens in the hour, shall we? Ichabod rails loud and long against the town bureaucracy (I love Abbie knowingly and patiently waiting out his tirade), which is giving him trouble about making the archives into an officially recognized historic site. But Abbie eventually signs the papers for him, getting over the only-American-citizens-can-petition hurdle. As they talk, he’s so inspired by her notion of letting go of the past that he makes a grand announcement. “I’m going to do it: become a full citizen of this country,” he says proudly, and if you need a little pick-me-up, I suggest you replay Tom Mison making oratory love to the phrase “consummate my allegiance to this nation” a few times.
“Ichabod Crane: American. I like the sound of that,” Abbie says, smiling. Know who else is on board? Zoe, the woman on the receiving end of Crane’s low bow in the last episode, whose offer to shepherd Ich through the citizenship process is gratefully accepted. Her dad was an immigrant, she explains, and Ichabod’s words “really spoke to me.” Based on that look she gives Crane at the end of the scene, I’d say his highly arched brows, gallant manner and tight, Revolutionary double-jug were murmuring some sweet nothings of their own, too.
THE PLAGUE CURE | Back to the maniacal killer: The Witnesses realize that an outbreak of sickness has occurred at the end of each historical killing spree and theorize that the knife somehow becomes tainted, putting the Ripper spirit into a mandatory time-out. So they find some malarial blood and plan to shoot it into Nelson to stop him cold.
Of course that doesn’t work, so Ichabod does the next best thing: injects himself with the infected blood and lets Nelson stab him, thus tainting the knife and ending the Ripper’s killing jag. Unfortunately, it also leaves Crane with a slashed-open torso. Abbie races to his side and pulls him into her lap, begging him to hold on until the ambulance arrives. (Side note: I adore Nicole Beharie’s line reading on “Oh my God,” which manages to cram fear, shock and a sense of “I can’t believe you’re doing something this jackassed AGAIN” into three little words.) Speaking of which, Crane? I thought you and Abbie agreed to talk about it before you decided to poison yourself for the greater good.
So Abbie skips dinner with Daniel, opting instead for a quick drink in his office (I imagine after making sure Crane was safe?) during which he puts forth a desire for them both to keep “pushing” each other toward greater things. She points out that they’re no longer equals, but it’s a friendly conversation and they leave it on a good note. Also, take a good look at Daniel’s face as Agent Mills walks out: That’s a man who hates to see Abbie go but loves to watch her leave, if you get my drift.
FINDING THE SHARD IS HARD | Throughout all of this, Jenny and Joe are on the hunt for the Shard of Anubis she traded for his life last week. They track it to — and retrieve it from — a shifty woman who uses a lot of August Corbin’s old tricks. Jenny is thrown by how little she knows about what’s going on, but Joe seems pretty sure they’ll get to the bottom of it. And even though he’s a total neophyte in the fight against the apocalypse, he says it with conviction, so there’s that.
ICH, STITCHED | Back at home, Ichabod wakes up on the couch, where we learn that the malaria didn’t affect him because he’d already been exposed (and probably contracted it) in ye olden times. Even in his weakened state, he pontificates about how the Greeks thought Pandora was the being who taught mortals to fear the gods, but then reassures Abs that they’ll best her. “We are, after all, the Witnesses,” he says, initiating a fist bump. (Aww.) “I am most grateful, Leftenant, that you and I have found one another once again,” he slurs, drifting off into a drugged sleep. It’s very sweet, but as I mentioned before, Abbie’s dubious face worries me. And it worries me even more when Pandora, watching via pond cam or whatever the heck that reflective thing in her lair is, notices a rotten flower come to life on the treevil and gets all happy about it.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!