Every week when I sit down to a new episode of Sleepy Hollow, I always find myself wondering which kind of Sleepy Hollow episode I’ll be watching. Is this one going to have a goofy, guest-starring monster running around town, or are we focusing on the Headless Horseman this week? (Lately it’s been the latter, and that’s been good.) Which Ichabod Crane are we going to get? The one who dishes out lots of comic relief, or the one who drops a lot of antiquated, narratively relevant but really-who-cares knowledge about ancient symbolic scriptures and tribal rituals? Will we focus more on what happened in the past, or what’s happening in the present? Who’s the sidekick this time, Crane or Abbie? Any chance we’ll see Jenny, Corbin, or Katrina this week? Is Morales in this episode? Please don’t say Morales is in this episode.
“Necromancer” was, on balance, a very, very good episode. (Perhaps not coincidentally, it was Morales-free.) Clearly it was not intended to be as knee-slappy as last week’s (because really, could anything out-funny Crane inadvertently happening upon HotChixxx.com?), but what it lacked in zingers it completely made up for in breath-baiting tension and Orlando Jones badassery.
We begin right where we left off; the Headless Horseman is contained in the bowels of SH PD HQ, which must also be where Liberace held his S&M parties in the seventies, because there’s nothing but chains and candelabra. Oh, wait — apparently those are “hex candles from the Mason supply.” My bad. It seems those are just extra protection, since a supernatural hex has surrounded the chamber since Thomas Jefferson designed it (a throwback to last week’s Jefferson debate; cue priceless, knowing, sideways glance from Crane, who was captain and head cheerleader of Team Tom). The hex works as a force field to keep HH’s allies away. Abbie insists on celebrating HH’s capture and/or coup by teaching Crane how to fist-bump. Crane gets it wrong and holds his fist vertically like he’s about to play One Potato Two Potato. Even after Abbie corrects his hand position, Crane deadpans that fist-bumping makes no sense. Not his greatest rejoinder, but he’ll make up for it later when he delivers the blow to a scene that ends with him leading the way through the underground tunnels. A beat after it seems we should have cut to black, Crane reappears with a quick, “Nope, apologies, it’s this way.” I swear, that guy is a human rim shot — always good for a cheap laugh, emphasis on good over cheap.
With Crane, Abbie, and Irving safe to interrogate HH at will, the only problem is that he doesn’t have a face, so the undead Andy Brooks is recruited against his will to act as mouthpiece (a.k.a. necromancer). Isn’t Brooks dead, Irving wants to know? “The rules of that status have gotten a little bendy,” Abbie replies. I think it’s funny when someone as straitlaced as Abbie uses the word “bendy.” Count that as a punch line, albeit a low-key, smile-to-oneself kind of punch line.
Usually Crane gets all the lofty dialogue and platitudes, but in a surprise twist (one I hadn’t thought to account for in my episode-gauging calculations), this week it’s Andy. The scene in which he implores Crane and (mostly) Abbie not to make him speak for the Horseman is genuine, unaffected, and really kinda sweet. Clearly, there’s a supernatural force field that renders the Sleepy Hollow cast impervious to potentially wooden and/or cheesy line readings when it comes to dialogue like, “My soul doesn’t belong to me anymore,” and “Confronting death means nothing but misery.”
As for Andy, it’s supremely refreshing to see an undead on TV who’s so, well, humane, just as it’s lovely to see John Cho do so much with only a sometime role. Can we get this guy bumped up to full-time cast member, please? Credit also where it’s due to the makeup team that’s given Andy a mottled, greenish-gray complexion that’s more sad than creepy.
And then there’s Captain Irving. The sight of Orlando Jones borrowing George Clooney’s black T-shirt and matching tactical vest from Ocean’s Eleven made me squee — all the more when he’s holding a machine gun waist-high. Seriously, I just can’t get enough of Orlando Jones, World-Weary Ghostbuster! Orlando Jones, Straight-Talking Plot Explainer! Orlando Jones, Skeptical Virgin! (Or however it was that he described himself the other week.) I loved, loved, loved the scene at the power plant where he and Jenny out-swagger the bad guys. It built on Irving’s action-hero moves from last week at the forensics lab and made me think that Jenny’s best chemistry is with him. Is it too early to start campaigning for their spinoff?
But with that scene resolved, soon I’m starting to worry that this is going to be one of those episodes where something happens in the present day, then Crane’s reminded of something and starts narrating to us through a flashback, and back and forth we go, learning a ton of arcane info for the sake of ultimately thwarting a bad guy. It kind of was that kind of episode, but one where the flashback reveals got juicier and juicier. I must admit, I wasn’t all that jazzed or intrigued when HH first dangled a necklace in front of Crane; it felt to me like we were in for another Crane history lesson, but the backstory turned out to be much more personal and soap-opera good. First we find out that, sometime after meeting Crane, Katrina wound up betrothed to his best friend, Abraham. (Side note: What happened to Katrina the Quaker? How’d she wind up looking like Marie Antoinette?) Crane the wingman helps the obtuse Abe select the most suitable necklace for her, and after Katrina receives the necklace, she knows instantly that it’s Crane who actually chose it. That’s a story line we’ve seen countless times before in any love-triangle rom-com, so it’s no surprise to learn that Katrina and Crane have fallen in love behind Abe’s back, that Katrina wants to break her engagement to Abe, or that Crane won’t hear of it. (Abbie: “You have some game.” Crane: “I never wanted, nor did I invite, ‘game.’”)
Things really get good when Crane and Abraham go on their declaration delivery through enemy territory. My jaw actually dropped when Crane told Abe plainly, “She professed her love to me. There’s no need to force an unhappy union.” Day-um! I don’t blame Abe at all for insisting upon a duel at that point, but I am again surprised when the ever-noble Crane yields for but a moment before diving into the fight sword-first. The rules of Crane’s compunction have gotten a little bendy.
It’s just an avalanche of whoa! from here on out. A dying Abraham is made a Redcoat; the power’s cut and some slimy-looking creatures (Moloch’s minions?) descend from the ceiling; they disintegrate into rubble when shot; ABRAHAM IS THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN!! I’m still not entirely sure what I witnessed at the end of Crane and Abe’s duel redux, but all I know is Abe and Andy suddenly vanished (to return soon, I’m sure), and Katrina’s still held captive somewhere. Crane tells Abbie, “Now more than ever, we need Katrina.” So I guess there's no need to wonder where we start next week.