You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the TV-loving world who couldn’t find something to like about this week’s Sleepy Hollow. The very strong episode has baseball, Fringe‘s John Noble and the Hug Heard ‘Round the World – aside from a new pair of pants for ol’ Ichabod, what more could you want?
During the hour, we also witness Mr. and Mrs. Crane’s first meeting, and we are enlightened on the circumstances that made Ichabod decide to fight against the British. But seriously, all I can think about are those last few minutes. Because they’re AWESOME. Let’s review what happened in “The Sin Eater.”
PLAY BALL! | In a nod to the World Series that pre-empted Hollow for a few weeks, we find Abbie and Ichabod taking in a local baseball game at the beginning of the episode. He looks mildly baffled as she lights into the umpire, so she explains America’s pastime. She loves the sport for three reasons: its traditions (“no matter how crazy the world gets, it makes you feel safe, like everything’s OK”), its teamwork (“the players have to have faith in each other and watch each other’s backs”) and its failure to discriminate (“and that’s the American dream.”). Ichabod does a little misguided heckling of his own before the game wraps and Abbie offers him a ride home. He declines, choosing instead to take a walk that brings him to Katrina’s grave. A second too late, he realizes he’s being watched. Then a tranquilizer dart hits him, and as men approach him with a bag to put over his head, everything goes dark.
CREEPY DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE | An oblivious Abbie is driving along to Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” when she kinda falls asleep and is transported to a scary old house with lots of candles. A baby is crying somewhere, but all Ab finds is the most terrifying rag doll ever constructed… and then the Headless Horseman is upon her. A voice calls her into another room, where it appears that she’s stumbled into Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. But then the veiled, chanting women around the Ouija board vanish and only Katrina is left.
Ichabod’s wife introduces herself to Abbie and, in short time, says that Lt. Mills has to hustle and find someone called a sin eater because Ichabod’s blood link to the Horseman is going to mean his death before the next sundown. (I know it sounds rushed there, but it’s not much slower-paced in the show. When this show decides to go gonzo, you’ve gotta just fly with it or get left in the supernatural dust.)
DON’T FEAR THE EATER | Good thing that Jenny, for whom Capt. Irving helps Abbie procure a 24-hour furlough from the loony bin, tracked a sin eater for some time when she was Sheriff Corbin’s personal Carmen Sandiego. The Mills sisters realize that their man, Henry Parrish, spent a long time sanctifying death-row inmates before basically falling off the face of the planet two years back settling in Hartford, Conn.
Abbie puts the hard press on Henry, who just wants to be left alone after a lifetime of ridding people of their ugliest transgressions. (Side note: I didn’t realize how much I missed Noble until I had him on my screen again. Very psyched that he’ll be back a few more times this season.) But when Abbie bumps into him, her connection to Ichabod is so strong that his location pops right into Parrish’s mind: Crane is being held in the tunnels under Sleepy Hollow, behind a door marked with the square and compass that make up the Freemasons’ symbol.
SINS ALL AROUND | Indeed, while the Mills sisters have been looking for Henry, Ichabod has been proving that he is, indeed, himself to a bunch of his fellow Freemasons. The men who kidnapped Crane want to know the first time he heard the phrase ordo ab chao – Latin for “Order from chaos.”
Long story short, Ichabod was ordered to kill a freed slave accused of treason, but instead chose to let the man go free. The man, Arthur, gratefully tells Ichabod to use the Latin phrase as a password with Katrina, who (along with Commander George Washington) will help him find his new, British Army-deserting path.
But before Arthur can get far, another Redcoat shoots him dead. Crane charges the shooter; as they fight, it’s clear that the man is a blue-headed demon. Based on this and another (Grimm-esque) scene earlier, it appears as though the British Army was riddled with otherworldly nasties. A badly injured Ichabod manages to shed his uniform coat and stumble to Katrina, whom he’s just met but whom he feels like he’s known forever. He whispers “Ordo ab chao” then collapses in the doorway.
A MAN’S GOTTA DO… | Having verified his identity, the Masons welcome Ichabod… and then tell him he’s gotta kill himself in order to end the Horseman’s reign of terror. It’s at this point that the Mills sisters bust in and Abbie is all, “Um, HELL NO.” But Ichabod nobly argues that it’s for the greater good, so he must do it – and that thre’s no time for her to bring him to Henry. She puts up a fight until he raises his voice slightly, saying, “Abbie, this is the only way.” It’s the first time he’s called her by her first name, and it’s not lost on either of them.
And here begins the scene which could be subtitled “This recapper can’t believe the following exchange is affecting her so much because the series is clearly not going to off one of its very pretty leads in the sixth episode of the first season, so why is there a giant lump in her throat?” I don’t think I’m getting soft in my advanced years; I just think that Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison softly, gently kill it as they sit across the table from each other and prepare for Crane’s death.
Let’s just run down the many ways this scene wrecked me. How about when they both start to cry as he notes he is “most grateful” for having known her? Or when they frantically clasp hands when he admits that he’s terrified by what he has to do? Or when he asks her to leave and she refuses, so he merely replies, “I’m so sorry” as he quaffs the poison? Someone needs to get Henry to sanctify me, because I’m dying over here.
EAT UP | Speaking of the sin eater, he suddenly appears and seems much more jazzed to be part of the proceedings. By bleeding Ichabod’s palm, he helps Crane summon the spirit of Arthur, who’s got no beef with the fact that Ichabod basically got him killed. It was all part of the journey, Arthur says without malice, noting that Ichabod’s regret over the act is what the Horseman is “feeding on.” (Side note: Wait, I thought the Horseman was all about the sin in Ichabod’s soul. Metaphorical po-tay-to, metaphorical po-tah-to?) Anyway, Henry does his thing – which involves dipping a piece of bread in Ichabod’s blood like he’s at the Williams-Sonoma olive oil tasting station – and Ichabod and his Hessian nemesis are decoupled.
Crane stands and announces “He’s gone,” which sends Abbie into his arms. Both of them seem so happy and relieved; she sasses him and he uses the word “admonition,” and nothing is wrong in my world for a few minutes. That is, until the Horseman rises and makes his way to Ichabod’s empty grave…
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Is my prone-to-‘ship heart making too much out of Ichabod and Abbie’s interactions during the hour? Did you love Capt. Irving’s brief yet funny appearance? Sound off in the comments!