Sleepy Hollow Recap: Dances With Wendigos

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Photo: Fox
Sleepy Hollow
Episode Title
And the Abyss Gazes Back
Season
2
Episode
6
Editor’s Rating
5/5

Let’s talk about feelings, people, because the folks on Sleepy Hollow sure did last night!

We start off this week’s episode as Lt. Abbie Mills tries to get Ichabod Crane to chillax with some yoga, to tone up his bod (no need, homina homina!) in preparation for battling Moloch while also quieting his anxious mind, which is still all worked up over last week’s realization that Katrina covered up the death of Mary Wells (a.k.a. the Weeping Lady). Crane — perhaps telling an emotional white lie for the first time ever — insists he now knows why Katrina “withheld.” (Because she’s secretly Lucille Bluth and she likes getting off?) “It’s because my role as a witness is too important to compromise,” he says. “Crane, it’s 2014. You’re pissed off. Just say it,” Abbie retorts.

A minute in, and already I’m stunned: Abbie showing a laserlike emotional intuition as she leads group therapy for two? And Crane, whom I’d say we all pegged as the more emotionally astute of our heroes, stumbling through layers of avoidance — ”I’m peeved”; “I’m disappointed” — until he finally utters a disarmingly genuine, “I’m hurt.” He adds, “It’s hard in good conscience to believe in her as I have,” which I optimistically take as evidence that Sleepy Hollow is slowly sowing seeds of doubt and creating little fissures of resentment between many of our main characters so that by season’s end, the stakes will be very high.

So what Crane really needs is a beer — wait, what Crane really needs is a beer? Half of which he quaffs down in one long gulp? I know we’ve seen Crane imbibe before, but for Crane, this is quite a letting down of the hair. (Crane’s hair is characteristically down at the start of this episode; significance alert!) Anyway, I have a hunch this is going to get good, and good just the way I like it, with equal parts suspense and pathos.

The layers of character complexity that began this episode, as well as the protagonists verbally processing their feelings, was great. SH is almost always a cut-and-dry battle between good and evil, just and immoral, and to see Abbie and Crane talking through the psychological baggage that this season has brought, well, I chugged it down as thirstily as Crane did his beer.

Of course, we must get to this week’s monster at hand, which means it’s time to meet honorably discharged Armed Forces member Joe … Corbin!! Now I’m gonna switch gears away from the emotional hoo-ha; from this point forward, let’s discuss the goings-on as bookmarked by my audible reactions, which started with the reveal that Joe is Corbin’s son. I don’t think I’ve had this many out-loud responses to an episode since the season premiere. Here we go:

Audible reaction No. 1: “GAH.”

That’s what I said when I saw the disemboweled body Crane and Abbie find in the woods, where they also find a relatively unscathed Joe. That body was some Hannibal-level gore. Another reaction I had during this scene was saying to the screen, like someone watching a horror movie in a theater, “Why do you two keep going into the woods? Nothing good happens there!” Joe’s taken to the hospital, where he goes off on his complicated feelings of resentment toward his dad. (In fact, it was at this point that I realized that Joe is perhaps the first-ever SH character, or at least the only one besides Andy, to wear his heart on his sleeve, rather than presenting a buttoned-up, cop-business persona.)

Audible reaction No. 2: “Of course you knew Daniel Boone.”

Because of course Crane knew — sorry, was a “close friend of” — Daniel Boone. So now we have our key to unlocking this week’s mystery, as usual, provided by a Crane historical flashback: Daniel’s brother Squire suffered from “nostalgia, when a soldier loses the ability to see anything but the horrors of war.” (I loved that for some reason.) In addition to suffering from nostalgia, Squire seemingly also suffered from I Am a Wendigo disease, even attacking his brother in his thirst for blood. (Hence Boone’s trademark raccoon cap, to cover up Squire’s bite marks. Ha.)

Audible reaction No. 3: “Gasp!”

Joe Corbin is a Wendigo! This made me feel sorry in retrospect for Sheriff Corbin and made me wonder if that’s why he was so obsessed with researching the occult and supernatural, like maybe what he was really trying to do all along was to save his son from the clutches of evil. Later, we find out that what actually happened was that Parrish mailed Joe an envelope of “supernatural anthrax,” a.k.a. bone dust … made from the flute-bone thing he bought from Hawley … oooh, it’s all coming together!

Audible reaction No. 4: “Woah!”

Has Sleepy Hollow been saving up its CGI budget for the Joe-to-Wendigo transformation? I was a bit blown away by what I saw when Abbie and Crane find Joe again in the woods, where he’s gone to collect the treasure chest full o’ Jincan that his dad left buried for him. I likewise found Wendigo Joe chasing Crane to be one of the more suspenseful sequences of the season, complete with good shaky camerawork and a Wendigo’s-eye-view of the action. Tom Mison has a million ways to say — or, in this case, scream — “Leftenant!” The way he urgently cries out for her at this moment was one of his best. And then when the Wendigo falls atop Crane face to face, that was another “Gah!”/”Whoa!” moment for me.

Audible reaction No. 5: “HA!”

Hawley looks lustily at Abbie when they’re down in their monster-holding chamber, then his old bed buddy Jenny shows up. I’ll say it again: Ha! More wheels are then set in motion — Joe’s not reverting back to Joe, so our sleuths try to research a cure for his curse, sending Crane and Hawley to meet with the Shawnee while Abbie and Joe have more touchy-feely time reminiscing about Corbin. (I also ha’d at Crane’s petulant “Must I?” when told he and Hawley have to go see the Shawnee as a team.) Joe and Abbie even bring up “the pie-soup gag.” Wow, callbacks! Moving the plot forward by sharing old memories and deep-down feelings about Joe’s actual father and Abbie’s father figure! I’m getting verklempt.

Audible reaction No. 6: “Ooooooohhh.”

That was an in-the-presence-of-coolness “ooooooohhh,” because there’s nothing cooler than Jenny showing up with a gun that she’s not afraid to point at anybody. Jenny as the muscle of our Scooby gang is just the best. That’s what goes down when, as our heroes predicted, Parrish shows up to the chamber to steal the Jincan and, as it turns out, Joe. When Parrish then double-crosses Joe outside by slicing open his forearm rather than curing him of his Wendigo curse, that was the first time in a while where I honestly felt like I had no idea how this week’s predicament would be resolved, like I couldn’t imagine a scenario where the good guys win in the end. They do, of course, and while it’s undeniably a routine resolution — Crane recites an incantation that stops the monster just in the nick of time — I had so much fun getting there. And what a kicker of an ending, with Katrina swallowing the weird CGI spider. One more time: Gah!

QUESTIONS:

Pardon me if this was explained by a bit of dialogue I didn’t catch, but why is the drunk driver who paralyzed Irving’s daughter serving time in a mental institution? And are we to infer that Irving knew he was in the loony bin with him all along but only now decided to act upon that or use that to his advantage? (This is one of my SH pet peeves, like how we all of a sudden found out through dialogue last week that Hawley and Jenny were sleeping together. Show me, don’t tell me — and don’t tell me only when it becomes convenient to your plot that you do so.)

I was more perplexed by Frank’s phone call to Abbie at the end. Was that supposed to be like, “Hey, just a heads up, I fight for the dark side now, but save yourselves and don’t worry about me”? Was he apologizing in advance? Maybe I’m trying to read too much into what Irving said, but I was like, so does he want to be evil now? He’s evil, but not so much, because he decides to at least inform the good guys that he’s become evil?

FAVORITE CRANE-ISMS:

  • “‘Soopermin’ is Peter Parker — no, no, no, that’s the arachnid fellow … Clark Kent! I was going to say that.”
  • “The downward facing of our dogs” (is what I will now call that move in my head every time I go to yoga class, now through infinity).
  • “Big Ash? Big Ash? Big Ash.”
  • “The owner of that single-person automobile is your shaman.”
  • “You shotten herring. You are scurvy louse. You are a slop bucket. You are a pus sludge, no-good, by-blow pair of buns.”
  • Crane on “trying” to relax: “The grass does not try to grow, water does not try to float.” Must stitch onto pillow.
  • [Crane blows into Breathalyzer]: “I do believe I’ve won.”
  • “I find yoga neither soothing nor relaxing … made more uncomfortable still by discussion of my ‘double jug.’” (Question: Did anyone else notice that after he said this, there was a shot of Abbie in plank position, at an angle that quite generously showed off her, um, double jugs?)
  • “How is it that a man who settled Kentucky is remembered as the guy who wore a raccoon on his head?”