Within the first few moments of Sleepy Hollow‘s Season 3 opener, the Headless Horseman is magicked into vapor and sucked into a box — a fitting metaphor for how the Fox series is handling the remains of its troubling second season as it moves into a hopeful third.
But what’s left to fear when the drama’s central bad guy is so easily dispatched? And why should we care about this new, hooded woman and her weird ramblings? Fear not, kind friends.
The premiere reinstates (with vigor!) what we’ve loved about the smirkingly supernatural tale, quickly reuniting apocalypse fighters Abbie and Ichabod and returning them to knowing, zinging form. And though the series makes very clear that most of Season 2 is shelved in that box with ol’ Abraham, the transition feels like a logical progression for the Witnesses and their peeps.
I, certainly, felt relief watching the episode; make sure you hit the comments later to say whether you did, too. And with that, let’s all crack a blueberry stout and review what takes place in “I, Witness.”
A FRESH START | As I mentioned, the episode opens with a hooded woman — who, from her dress and deportment, apparently attended Katrina Crane Finishing School — stopping the Headless Horseman in his tracks and sucking him into an ornate box she carries. It’s a little unclear who she’s talking to, but she says something about delivering the Horseman of Death, and now she wants something in return: Fear.
Cut to a guy running in an alley and then accidentally slamming into a garbage-can lid that’s put in his path. No, the cat did not sit on the remote, accidentally switching you to a CBS procedural: We are now in the world of FBI Special Agent Abbie Mills, and the guy is one of her shifty informants in the impending bust of a huge drug ring. Abbie’s haircut and blazer, her tough-but-well-meaning senior agent, his “You’re not at a small town sheriff’s department anymore” dialogue — it all has me a little worried that we’re moving into NCISleepy Hollow territory. But the textbook G-man/G-woman stuff swiftly shifts to the background when Mills gets a call. “He’s where?” she asks.
CELL-BLOCK RANDO | Cut to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, where Ichabod has spent the past five days after trying to bring back a shady-seeming antiquity. He’s wearing orange scrubs and his hair is noticeably shorter, and we learn that he’s been gone on a “walkabout” for nine months with nary a text message in the meantime. “Indeed, there is much upon which we need to catch up,” he says. “You think?” she replies, consonants clipped.
Chagrined, Ich explains that he went into his absence looking for solitude but then not talking to Abbie became a habit, “a deeply regrettable one.” Anyway, the reason he’s called is because he wears Katrina’s enchanted necklace — the one the Horseman gave her, which was linked to Abraham’s soul — and a few nights before, it went all busted Horcrux on him. Crane reasons that the broken necklace indicates that someone has bested the Horseman, and “dark forces are in motion.” So with a little federal maneuvering (and a very funny, wordless exchange in which Ich and his cellmate thump their chests and flash the peace sign), Ichabod is a free man. (Side note: The quick sequence in which Ichabod dresses in his colonial clothing was pretty great, no?)
‘LEFTENANT’ FOREVERMORE | While they drive, Abbie tells Ichabod he can keep calling her “leftenant,” despite her new gig. “‘Agent’ doesn’t sound right,” she says, playfully flicking her hand into his cropped ‘do. “I can only handle so much change.” Crane goes on to say that he’s alone now that Katrina and Henry are gone — if you re-watch, check out Abbie’s face when he drops that one — and that maybe their deaths “closed a chapter for us.”
So, in search of a new purpose, Ichabod took a flight (“Crane on a plane?!,” Mills says. “I miss everything!”) to his family’s ancestral home in Scotland to learn whether others from his bloodline had had a brush with Witness-ship. In a crypt, he found a tablet that, translated, read, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and which might hold clues to their ongoing mission.
Abbie can’t keep her laughter in check, pointing out that translations of dead languages are highly subjective. (Side note: Plus, isn’t the Book of Revelation their mission statement? And is Abbie forgetting about the whole seven-years-of-tribulations thing? Last I checked, we’re barely into the third.)
NOTHING TO FEAR BUT… WAIT, NEVERMIND | They’re interrupted by a call, which sets up our Monster of the Week: Two guys were arguing in a cabin, and now they’re both dead. What we know and what Abbie and Ichabod eventually deduce: The men were killed by an evil beastie that left behind some red residue on the stairpost.
They leave the scene to visit her new office at the FBI field office — looks like she shares a decorator with Grimm‘s Capt. Renard — and it is so adorably cute how happy Abbie is as she talks about plans to take the drug ring down. A forensics tech named Agent Pendrell Dani enters to ogle Ichabod… oh, and to mention that the victims both had high levels of hormones associated with terror. Ichabod thinks a research party is in order. To the archives!
BETSY ROSS HAS IT SEWN UP | Sadly, Team WTF’s homebase is about to be rubble; the city sold the building — which is, for the moment, still standing — to a developer, who’ll demolish it and probably turn it into a mini-mall. Crane’s outrage over the matter is tabled when Jenny enters and hugs him hello. Hi Jenny! The quick update on her: She definitely helped Irving escape, a la Witness Protection Program, to keep his family safe and she’s trying to find a job.
Let’s shorthand the research and rush right to the Ross: The trio eventually realizes that the demon they’re looking for thrives on the combo of fear/gunpowder and made an appearance at the Battle of Bunker Hill. That leads Ichabod to relate a story of Betsy Ross, who apparently was a cool, ballsy broad Gen. Washington trusted to carry secret messages to and from the warfront. (Side note: I like Nikki Reed in the role, and I love how she seems to discomfit Ichabod in the extreme. Anyone who can render him speechless is worth learning more about.)
Eventually, Mills x 2 and Crane find that the key to stopping those demons is shooting them when their eyes go all cloudy; hence the “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes” thing. (Nice twistory there, Sleepy Hollow.) It all comes to a head at the drug ring bust, which unfolds in pieces. First, Abbie’s superior dies from a slash from the beast — note to self: Never be that woman’s boss. Terrible things happen — and the bad guy gets away. Then, Abbie goes in to negotiate with the seriously freaked out drug lord (who saw the monster kill Agent Granger), reasserts her purpose as a Witness, saves the day, collars the crook and still manages to save Ichabod from literally getting scared to death. Best part? The Witnesses share a heartfelt hug and welcome each other back to their destiny.
CHEERS! | At the bar later — hey, Jenny’s got a job as a bartender! — Abbie makes sure Ichabod knows, “You may not have family, but you are not alone.” Aw, guys! (And why is Ichabod shot-gunning that blueberry stout?) When she goes to settle the tab, she accidentally bumps into the hooded woman from the opening of the episode (whom we later saw chanting and watering a tree with eau de fear or something of that ilk, for reasons unclear right now). The woman is in contemporary clothing now and introduces herself as Pandora.
“Like the lady with the box?” Abbie says, smiling, but Pandora mentions how it’s really a dowry and then things get a little strange for a moment. (Side note: I will forever love this show for moments like when Abbie gestures toward Ichabod and he does the prison peace sign while Jay-Z’s “Hard-Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” plays on the jukebox.) Abbie welcomes the newcomer to town and walks away as Pandora’s eyes go all funky. “It already feels like home,” she says. Pretty sure that’s not a good thing.
Now it’s your turn. Grade the season premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!