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Sleepy Hollow Recap: Treehouse of Horror

SLEEPY HOLLOW

Let’s start with a quick show of hands: Who thought the haunted brick colonial was the same house the Masons were beheaded in? Anyone? Not just me, right? Cool. Wanted to get that out of the way.

Speaking of getting stuff out of the way, let’s also yada-yada over Lena the celebutante and her whole dealie, and then get right to the main course: McDonald’s, which Crane sourly informs Abbie “resembles no Scottish meal I’ve ever eaten.” Even worse, it was purchased at the “drive (pause) through,” that modern-day scourge that’s helped engender “the eradication of a thrice daily tradition.” Sometimes I think I should just transcribe Crane’s priceless bon mots and call it a day — in this episode especially, because, man, were his knickers in a twist this week. Society’s bastardization of the traditional, venison-based Pilgrim meal; no flesh-and-bones wife to hang with on Thanksgiving; an Ent-like tree demon might have killed my baby — oy, this one! It’s always something with him!

And speaking of Mickey D’s: Crane’s transition from Abbie’s comic-relief cohort to seething leading man on a mission? I’m lovin’ it. It’s nice to see the emotional heat behind Tom Mison’s hotness. (News flash: I am a heterosexual woman.) But what’s really neat is that as Crane’s taken on the protagonist duties, Abbie’s sort of shape-shifted into the role of therapist, giving voice and reason to Crane’s inner turmoil. Last week she counseled Crane through the realization that Abraham was the Headless Horseman, and his subsequent theory that he may have created his own nemesis, by telling him, “That is your arrogance talking.” This week, she replies to Crane’s admission that he’s feeling lonely by saying, “You have a right to be angry. You’ve lost more than anyone ever should.” Geez, Abbie, what’s your hourly rate and are you seeing new clients?

Anyway, onto the clunky chunk of a plot at hand. Lena and her bodyguard go missing upon visiting the house, which has been in Lena’s family since the Founding Fathers. A note she scribbled before going to check out the property included a list of names — one of them being “Katrina C.” Abbie thinks it’s a coincidence while Ichabod C. flips his shaggy-coiffed lid and says, “When the two of us are involved, rarely is a coincidence a coincidence.” Does that count as the Sleepy Hollow writers’ room making a meta joke about its own narrative crutches? I’ll vote yes, because look at that, it turns out the house was once upon a time known as Fredericks Manor, named for Lachlan Fredericks, a supporter of the colonials’ war effort … and, as Abbie says to Crane, “I assume a friend of yours,” which is exactly right and surprises exactly nobody.

What did surprise me was Abbie’s fear of haunted houses. I mean fine, okay, it adds a wrinkle of tension to the proceedings, but I just don’t buy it. You’re a cop. You spent last week in a hexed chamber with an undead man with no head. Plus, how many other haunted houses have you been in during your lifetime that you know this about yourself?

While I got a kick out of the way Nicole Beharie delivered dialogue like, “Are we in a damn haunted house?” and “Haunted houses do not work for me. There is a line,” this whole section of the episode lost me. It turned into an onslaught of horror-schlock cliches: Crows and bats and too much running and shaky camerawork and crappy lighting and long dark hallways that may as well have been tunnels because Sleepy Hollow loves itself some tunnels. (If Sleepy Hollow were a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, it would be called There Will Be Tunnels). As for the aforementioned Ent-like tree demon, which has taken root in the basement and grown up through the closet spaces to terrorize all who enter, I mean, I suppose I was into it. It was a little monster-of-the-week-ish, but I had no problem with it; it just didn’t enthrall me the way the Headless Horseman and his backstory did last week. I guess haunted houses do not work for me either, Abbie.

What did work for me was Jenny, all lively and free! I like this Jenny, the one without the constant worry wrinkles betwixt her eyebrows. I liked Jenny and Irving razzing each other and I loved her conversation with Irving’s daughter. (Meanwhile, I’m meh about the mishegoss between Irving and his ex-wife; like we needed that subplot to figure out he’s a world-weary guy?) I liked Jenny being shy about asking Irving to Thanksgiving dinner, and I liked the playfully defensive way she insisted “I can cook!” when Irving doubted her culinary prowess. (I have said that very sentence, that very way, many a time.) Yay to this week’s B story line.

Things get good again back over at the haunted mansion when Abbie follows Frederick Manor’s house matron (or rather, her ghost) into a bedroom where a baby’s about to be born. Okay, another show of hands: How quickly did you figure out that the woman having the baby was Katrina? Like a few seconds, right? Obscuring her face was its own dead giveaway. Also: Holy majoly, Crane’s a daddy!

The immediate payoff of this bombshell was seeing Crane’s reaction to the news of his offspring’s existence. When Abbie tells him what she witnessed, I’m not sure I can do justice to the incredulous way Crane said the word “no” (more like, “No …?” with a half-dozen emotional peaks and valleys packed into the ellipsis). Or how he phrased the question, “What was it? The baby?” Like he still couldn’t wrap his mind around having a son, a little human. (Well, we hope. We hope it’s not some kind of Rosemary’s baby and we hope that it — sorry, he — still exists on some immortal plane of being like Katrina, despite the fact that the tree demon came to life and attacked the house the moment Crane’s son was brought into the world.)

More payoff: Once the shock wears off, Crane gets PISSED, yo, marching to Abbie’s car, grabbing the ax out of the trunk, and issuing to Abbie a smoldering warning: “Heed my words. Do not follow me.” I know I used this expression last week, but DAY-UM! Crane may have to be awarded a Day-um of the Week from here on out. This is one hot baby daddy. Crane heads to the basement and starts killing the tree demon by chopping at its roots. At one point it looked like Crane hacked him in the tree nuts. Crane kills the tree and then says to Abbie, “I should like to go home now.” Which reminds me, does anyone else get a touch of Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper from some of Tom Mison’s line deliveries?

And one last show of hands: Who was surprised that Abbie is related to Grace Dixon, the house-matron ghost? That one I did not see coming, but man, did it make the episode end with a bang. I will also take a long draw off that bottle of Thanksgiving rum, Abbie. I need a drink.

Photo: Brownie Harris/FOX