Sleepy Hollow Recap: Monsters Bull

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Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie). Photo: Tina Rowden/FOX
Sleepy Hollow
Episode Title
I, Witness
Season
3
Episode
1
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Because Sleepy Hollow is ostensibly about the apocalypse, I’ll start this season-premiere recap, appropriately, at the end. Here’s our dashing Ichabod Crane on his current situation — geographically, historically, and metaphorically speaking — uttered while he’s pounding blueberry stouts with Abbie:

“It’s not the country I thought it would be, but it’s the one I have. And I must accept it for what it is. Just as I ask it to accept me.”

Lemme borrow those words, Crane, and shoehorn them into my own wonky analogy: Sleepy Hollow is not the genre-bending action/sci-fi/buddy-dramedy show I thought it would be, but it’s the straightforward supernatural cop procedural that I have. And I must accept it for what it is. Just as I ask it to accept me — me and my fellow Sleepyheads, the ones who have patiently accepted what must be three Homelands' worth of major cast changes (Andyyyyy!!!) and now must learn to accept stuff like Nikki Reed as a Maxim hot-chick Betsy Ross.

So in the name of said acceptance, I will now type a sentence I never thought plausible: Jocelyn from A Knight’s Tale smoke-monsters the Headless Horseman and traps his vapes in Pandora’s Box. This is how one of the last vestiges of the previous two seasons is done away with (the Headless Horseman). That Shannyn Sossamon opening scene segues nicely into Abbie chasing down her CI and asking him (and us), “Did you miss me?” (Pause to take in Nicole Beharie’s bob; realize that you never noticed her resemblance to Kerry Washington until the new do brought out her bone structure.) Then we get C. Thomas Howell spouting nothing but catch-up exposition — “Stop thinking like local law enforcement, or isn’t Quantico teaching that anymore? Look, you’re moving up fast, okay?” — which means he’s ultimately disposable and thus a goner. (Also, he’s Abbie’s mentor and she mentions she’s fond of him, so of course.) Fast-forward to Crane’s first appearance in an orange jumpsuit. CRANE IN AN ORANGE JUMPSUIT. GET. OUT.

Here, I’ll happily stop and pay SH a compliment: When Crane and Abbie have a moment, and that pensive score (in my head, it’s called “IchAbbie 4 LYFE”) intones on the soundtrack, I love Sleepy Hollow so much. That half-smile, half-chortle Abbie can’t help but emote when she sees Crane in his lockup ensemble, the way she actually turns away from him because the moment is just a bit too much to take in; it freaking slays me. Just as I love when they sneak in clever bits of revisionist history, like "Betsy Ross as undercover agent" and the whole backstory about the phrase Don’t shoot ‘til you see the whites of their eyes. Despite the fact that the end-of-episode IchAbbie hug was much more titillating for me than the random Crane-Ross lip kiss, I’ll gladly welcome Nikki Reed as everybody’s favorite patriotic seamstress; she held her own against Tom Mison just fine, and besides, nobody who watches this show can claim they’re above a little beefcake. (For the record, I’m not 'shipping for an IchAbbie romance per se; another thing I do love about SH is the uniquely textured friendship that exists between Abbie and Crane. I just want more of that, more odd-couple BFF-ness with a whiff of will-they-or-won’t-they.)

But to phrase my objections to yet another story line — in a season premiere, no less! one in which we were promised major changes! — that’s largely nothing more than monster-of-the-week-ness, I’ll once again cite Crane: “And I return to the questions that echo through my soul: Is my destiny to be naught but a ceaseless traveler? Inexorably slouching my way through this mortal coil?” A question that echoes through my soul is, are we really only on the second of seven baddies that our heroes have to thwart? Because I fear that’ll start to feel like clock-punching real quick. And must we inexorably slouch our way through that apocalyptic checklist with lazy bits of plotline problem-solving, like when Jenny tracks down the secret message that Betsy Ross carried centuries ago simply by Googling it for exactly one microsecond?

Honestly, I don’t care about the "yogwai" or however you spell it, and I won’t care about the next demon Pandora scares up. I care about Crane and Abbie doing more than reading things out of dusty books and conveniently recounting things people once said at the precise moment it serves them to recount that thing. I care about them and Jenny being in peril for longer than the duration of one episode’s climactic scene. If Sleepy Hollow is going to do the straightforward-procedural thing, am I allowed to at least hope for some surprises along the way? For more questions, see below.

Questions:

  • When the rednecks scene started, who else thought that was Crane’s old cabin?
  • What was up with the Sharon Cherski–looking FBI lab tech? Was she just supposed to be super-smitten by our hottie Ichaboddie? It seemed like they gave her such a drawn-out beat that maybe there was supposed to be something else to infer there. Like, she recognized him from somewhere? She’s evil? Probably neither, though.
  • Will there be a BAE-tsy Ross joke this season? Answer: How do I copyright “BAE-tsy Ross,” please?
  • Why was Pandora using her redneck-infused fear water to grow a tree?

Favorite Crane-isms:

Abbie: How long you been here?
Crane
: This is the morn of my fifth day.

Jesus: As a wise man once said, it’s a hard-knock life for us. (I am only putting this here to call out the fact that Annie and her fellow orphans said this, not Daddy Warbucks, and that mischaracterization makes me very angry.)

Jesus: [Flashes peace sign.]
Crane
: [Flashes peace sign.]
Abbie
: You wanna stay with your new pals?
Crane
: Good God, no.

Crane: It was only then that I gleaned what they meant by “Return to your upright and locked position.”
Abbie
: Crane on a plane. [Note: A spinoff idea that should happen immediately.]

Crane: Anaconda. [Just like the way he said it.]

Crane: This chamber has stood since the 1750s! The Battle of Lexington was plotted right here!
Abbie
: Now it’ll be a mini-mall.
Crane
: A mini-muhh 

Jenny: It’s in Colonial Times.
Crane
: Ugh. We need it in the here and now.
Jenny
: No, I mean it’s actually in Colonial Times.

Crane: The deeds of so many brave men and women, signposts of history, reminders of our hardship and the ultimate sacrifice. They’ve taken it and used it to decorate an eatery.
Abbie
: They also have mini golf out back.

Josh Gad–looking restaurant employee: Welcome to Ye Olde Colonial Times. Have thou dineth with us before?
Crane
: Why are you talking like that?
Gad
: It be how we spoketh in days of yore.
Crane
: If you were wounded in the head, perhaps.

Crane: The corner goes in the front! You’re not a pirate! [Single best line of the episode, easily.]

Crane: [Looks at Benjamin Franklin bobblehead.] At least they have something right.

Crane: Spaghetti and musket balls. I cannot tell a lie cherry pie. Eggs Benedict Arnold. For shame, for shame!

Jenny: Let’s see a paralegal do that.
Crane
: Exactly. I have no idea what a paralegal is.
Jenny
: Me neither.

Crane: This is precisely the abuse of centralized federal power that Thomas Jefferson warned against.
Abbie
: Do you want your stuff or not?
Crane
: Yes. Please.

Crane: I would never have believed that blueberry stout would work.