“Katrina and I owe it to each other to have an evening free from apocalyptic discussion,” Ichabod Crane tells Abbie Mills at the start of this week’s installment of Sleepy Hollow. So how about we do the same? After all, this episode probably has the least to do with the End of Days since the show began. (Or maybe since that shaman episode last season. Remember that one? Good times.) Instead, the writers gave us a peculiar outlier that swapped out the usual SH standards (gunfights, sword fights, IchAbbie actually being around one another) for three atypical story lines:
Story line No. 1 (speaking chronologically and not at all in terms of quality): Crane and Katrina on their date at the historical society … where there’s a painting that murders people? M’kay. It kind of reminded me of that Patton Oswalt bit about the movie Death Bed (“the bed that eats people!”). It was also reminiscent of Clue, all costumed whodunit-ry in the midst of a dinner party at a spooky house. (P.S. I also caught on Twitter that Orlando Jones says the episode felt like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. So what we’re collectively saying is, it had an old-fashioned, film-y feel to it, and also Orlando Jones’s cultural references are more highbrow than my own.) I’m not sure I entirely understood the painting, the intricacies of its backstory, or why we were supposed to care about it, but I liked all the creepiness that came about because of it.
In fact, let me stop right here and state that, for me, this was definitely one of those episodes that coasted by on its high *gasp!* quotient. Meaning I’m able to forgive “Pittura Infamante” a lot of its shortcomings, most of which lie in this Katrina/Crane narrative, because it freaked me the eff out with its string of sudden, unexpected shocks. In fact, most of those lie in this Katrina/Crane narrative as well. (My actual notes: “Jeepers painting eye!!!” “Evil painting demon eye YIPES!” “Corpse waking up OH NO.” “Painting guy grabs Ichabod by throat WUT.”)
But back to those shortcomings. First of all, this seems like the most dreary historical dinner ever held, so even if I wasn’t one of two attendees possessing supernatural powers and/or an eidetic memory, I would’ve been glad for a murder on the scene just to call it an early night. Secondly, we watch Sleepy Hollow to see Crane and Abbie together. We definitely aren’t in it to see an hour’s worth of Crane and Katrina, so what is up with that? Did the writers think if we got more Katrina, we’d like her more? Katrina is so dull, not even Michelle Trachtenberg guest-starring as BFF Abigail Adams can liven up her backstory. (That also seemed like a terrible bit of miscasting to me. I loves me some Dawn Summers, but as a First Lady, Trachtenberg came off as wooden and way too young-looking.) Anyway, let’s move on to …
Story Line No. 2: Abbie and Jenny. If the upside to a Crane-Katrina pairing is seeing the sisters battling baddies and solving crimes side by side, that’s a tradeoff I can live with. I just love the two of them one-on-one, even when they’re just on the phone, like when they chatted all the way through Jenny’s super-gross bullet exhumation. This story line also provided what was my favorite line of the night: “Thanks for telling me to leave one in the BODY, HAWLEY!”
Story Line No. 3: I’ve saved what I think you’ll agree is the best for last: Frank!!! Looking sadder and undead-er and more reticent than ever, Frank trudges into P.D. HQ a broken man. (Ironically, he does so soon after Abbie states wryly, “Nowhere safer than the precinct.”) When he shows up there, my first reaction was to wonder why he’d do that to himself. Why effectively turn yourself in with one murder to undo (his own), plus all those others you still have to prove you didn’t commit? Was he just too mentally incapacitated, being a zombie and all, to think on his feet, like he used to? And because it bears repeating: How is he alive? For the first time all night, my head was spinning with questions about a character I have come to deeply care about.
Also, bonus character to care about: Cynthia! The return of Frank’s wife was a treat, and I was surprised by how much I grew to care about her and her role in this episode. She never did much for me last season, but last night, I was dying for her and Frank to be reunited to see what would come from their conversation; would she be able to tell that he’s not possessed by evil, like he said she’d be able to? I hope we get more of her soon.
In the meantime, we had the scene between Abbie and Frank in “the box” (if I’m remembering my cop-show lingo correctly; if not, I mean the interrogation room), which resonates like a beating heart compared to the mystery-solving, talk-heavy machinations Crane and Katrina are going through. I mean, you saw that runaway tear that rushed down the side of Frank’s nose after Abbie told him, “You couldn’t possibly understand how much I want you to be here,” right? And when he pleads, “You cannot leave me like this, please,” I nearly joined that tear by melting into a puddle on the floor. Two questions: How is this the 7-Up guy? And when is Frank getting his own spinoff (or at least another outlier episode he can call his very own)?
How’s this for a theory? Henry has planted the evidence that will supposedly clear Irving’s name and get him sprung, so that Henry (or Moloch, etc.) can then use Frank as his minion. Because, where else would this evidence be coming from, right?
Crane: “How can one be both business and casual?”
Katrina: “You had a dalliance with Betsy Ross?”
Crane: “Betsy who?”
Abbie: “Good answer.”
Crane: “In modern America, touching in public is quite permitted. It’s also led to the expression ‘Get a room.’”
Katrina: “Since when do you read the tarot?”
Crane: “Since someone left a deck in our parlor one summer … I assumed it was for recreation.”
Crane: “Your friend Abigail Adams was a … ”
Katrina: “No. Just highly opinionated.”