Sleepy Hollow Recap: Join or Die

Photo: FOX
Sleepy Hollow
Episode Title
Magnum Opus
Editor’s Rating

Some of you have mentioned in comments over the course of this season that you like the patterned predictability of Sleepy Hollow (start with a joke, look through texts, determine this week’s threat to civilization, defeat it at the last moment), and having given it some thought this week, I’m here to say that I do enjoy it as well; there’s fun in the show’s familiarity, although I’ll still maintain that smartly and surprisingly thwarting those tropes now and again would only be a good thing. So we got our usual faux-cryptic opening (“The question is, who am I?”), followed by a larger-than-normal amount of page-riffling research, until we got to this week’s task at hand: retrieve a sword that can slay Moloch and prevent the apocalypse.

This to-do item comes about after Katrina appears in a mirror in Corbin’s library to warn Crane that Moloch lives, that he’s growing so strong he could rule the Earth in two days’ time, and that there’s a sword that could defeat him. I mention this only so I can snicker at how much less important Katrina becomes by the end of this episode, demoted from merely passing messages through a mirror (nonessential messages, at that; Crane and Abbie were already looking for a way to stop Moloch) to passively watching Henry, Abraham, and Moloch get another one of their ring-of-fire rituals a-cookin’ while she peers out a second-story window. (Seriously, a lady in a corset passively peering out a second-story window; it’s like the cheesiest cover art for the lamest Victorian novel you’ve ever laid eyes on.) I also mention Katrina at the mirror so I can follow it up with what I considered in my head to be my best joke of the night. Henry later approaches her same mirror and basically accesses her browsing history, seeing whom she’s talked to and what they’ve said. Empty your cache, Kat!

In other news (tonight, at least, I will put as much effort into my segues between story lines as the show itself does), Irving and Jenny are hightailing it to Canada, where he can wait things out until the gang comes up with a way to get his soul back. I enjoyed these scenes mostly for their wry humor. “No texting while driving,” Irving intones at Jenny. “Always the cop,” she retorts. I thought it was high-larious that Jenny keeps a burner phone in her glove compartment. Now that Irving’s gone underground (metaphorically, as opposed to Crane and Abbie’s literal subterranean quest for truth), I’m wondering how much we’ll see of him in the near future. This may have been a convenient way to justify writing him out of a successive episode or two.

As for Abbie and Crane’s arcs, I liked that this week’s sleuthing involved Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon; I find that the more rooted in real life and famed historical artifacts an episode’s plot is, the more of a kick I get out of it, and discovering the link between the snake and the map was one of the niftier bits of puzzle-piecing this season. Crane’s true-self talk probably went a bit overboard; it felt in certain stretches like the writers were just trying to fill time, especially since in the end, knowing his true self didn’t help Crane achieve his goal (obtaining the sword) as much as remembering that his fate lies with Abbie (i.e., when they realize they have to dip their torches in the oil basin together).

Funny, all that spoken self-examination amounting to less than expected, coupled with the flashbacks of Abraham and Crane’s relationship, reminded me of Lost’s infamous “origin story” episode. It kind of detracted from the overall momentum of the season, and it didn’t tell us much in the way of vital information. Also, I don’t think all that much of Neil Jackson’s performance as Abraham. (Maybe it’s just that, compared to Tom Mison, he’s less capable of elevating the material he’s given.)


  • Abbie: “You cannot tell a lie. Who are you?” Crane: “Oh, the little wooden puppet boy!”
  • On George Washington: “He was our liar-in-chief.” (Also loved Abbie’s retort: “Thank you, colonial Mythbuster.”)
  • I’ll throw in another Abbie-ism, as the Crane-isms were few and far between this week: “You and I can’t have lunch without peril.”