Sleepy Hollow Recap: Worth the Wraith

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Abbie (Nicole Beharie) in “Whispers in the Dark.” Photo: Tina Rowden/FOX
Sleepy Hollow
Episode Title
Whispers in the Dark
Season
3
Episode
2
Editor’s Rating
4/5

Did Sleepy Hollow move to Thursdays this season just so it could get all #TBT on us? Because for me, one of the more squee-inducing parts of last night’s much-better-than-last-week’s-premiere episode was the return of Joe, of Grace Dixon, of Corbin — because, yes, even in a momentary and superfluous flashback, I’ll take all the Corbin I can get.

But let’s start off here talking about Joe, the one old-school character whom we got more than a little glimpse of last night. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed his subplot with Jenny. An episode of Sleepy Hollow sometimes feels like one long, uninterrupted A–story line without a resonant subplot. This subplot not only, y’know, existed, but it kicked off with a tense and engrossing conversation between Jenny and Joe about legacies, about family ... about their kinda-obvious-if-latent hubba-hubba-ness. (That would be super Freudian, but I’d be very, very down.) I should also say that their face-off in Joe’s trailer was a good example of the kind of bad expository writing that always gets under my skin about this show (Jenny to Joe: “The fact that you were able to parlay your Marine medical training into a job as an EMT?”), but the push-pull between them overrode that for me. I also do not remember Joe being this compelling (meaning, I don’t remember the actor’s performance of him being this compelling), so yay for that. However, I do remember that Joe was once a Wendigo, which the show seems to have conveniently forgotten, so this idea that he now needs to be shielded from all things supernatural doesn’t really track.

Moving on! Crane and Abbie’s battle against this week’s monster felt much more complex to me than usual, so much so that I will now type it out just to make sure we’re all clear: Pandora unleashes from her box a shadowy wraith (who reminds me of Ghost) that thrives on those who harbor secrets. (So, like, people?) This wraith was similarly unleashed during colonial times (but not, to borrow last week’s joke, at Colonial Times) by General Howe in the form of a turncoat named Marcus Collins. (Or, like, the wraith was tangled up with Collins’s soul? That part still confuses me.) The wraith did Howe’s bidding by weeding out and killing those hiding secrets (so, like, spies), but Betsy Ross thwarted its efforts to off her by uttering Collins’s full name aloud. (This reminds me of Beetlejuice.) It seems like this time around, the wraith was being let out by Pandora just for fun — at least at the start, with this whole insanely tangential embezzlement whistle-blowing to-do involving characters we meet for all of eight seconds. In trying to protect those involved, Abbie and Crane wind up threatened by the wraith’s murderous powers as well. They get him in the end, when Crane suddenly remembers that Betsy Ross said Collins’s name aloud to prevent him from killing her.

As my shrink would say, that is a lot to unpack. What I don’t like about this plot is what it indicates about Abbie’s new FBI gig; namely, that it’s going to be very difficult to conjoin Abbie’s aboveboard investigations with her off-the-record supernatural sleuthing. When she was a lowly police officer, the show managed to make it work, thanks to supernaturally sympathetic Captaun Irving (Fraaaank!) and, I guess, the fact that a town cop would respond to every wackadoo bit of nonsense that happens on the street. Now Abbie’s getting assigned to drug trafficking and embezzlement cases; how many more plausible reasons can there be for her to continue to allow Crane to duck under the yellow police tape alongside her? (Abbie alluded to this herself while eating takeout with Crane: “It’s not a balancing act I want to keep up forever.”)

But there’s a lot I liked here as well. The wraith, for starters, was legit creeping me out, especially when he assumed a mortal form in the final stage of his battle with Crane and Abbie; although it only lasted for a moment, watching his lumbering gait was almost physically upsetting to me. I also always liked Crane’s colonial flashbacks, and this episode gave us a good dose of that. (In fact, here’s the secret I’m hiding from the wraith — erm, your wrath: While SH never really knew what to do with Katrina in the present, I always thoroughly delighted in her historical scenes.) This week’s Betsy Ross installment was fine, or maybe more like fiiine, in that I’ve got no problem ogling Tom Mison and Nikki Reed as they minuet it up together for a minute. I did think it was hilarious that she later showed up to meet Crane in her underclothes and Howe’s coat, insisting to Crane that she’d “handled” Howe, just “not like that, my dear.” Um, then like how?

“It’s quite a façade, isn’t it?” Pandora asks Crane near the top of the episode, when the main story line was just starting to unfold. Yes, we all see what you did there, Sleepy Hollow, but a big kudos for following through on that cutesy-clever bit of foreshadow-y/allegorical dialogue with several wallops’ worth of bluff-calling and pretense-dropping. I’m talking, of course, about the two biggest jaw-droppers of the week: (1) Abbie had a boyfriend, Abbie had a boyfriend! (2) WHOA! ABBIE’S FATHER IS STILL ALIVE! Love, love, love both of these developments. Daniel (or, ahem, Danny) generates so much electricity with Abbie that it should be spelled electrizzzity, so who cares that his introduction as her boss raises a litany of logistical and chronological questions about how these two zipped through Quantico and the ranks of the FBI so speedily? It’s nice to see Abbie dealing with different (let’s say better) problems than saving civilization, and it’s a kick to see Crane get a bit flustered by how quickly Daniel’s presence recalculates his dynamic with Abbie. Did you catch that moment when Abbie intones an almost imperceptible “mm-hmm” at Crane when he asks if he should leave (see Favorite Crane-isms, below)? I’d watch a GIF of that moment for 60 minutes and call it a damn fine hour of television.

Speaking again of my shrink, Crane reminded me of her when he told Abbie about her psychological grapplings with her dad: “Leftenant, take that victory. It’s a hard one.” Who knows if all of the tantalizing story threads that developed last night will pan out down the line, but for now, I’ll take this week’s episode as a victory.

Questions:
So, what is the Shard of Anubis, and why do you reckon it’s so dang coveted?
Seriously, what is Pandora’s tree all about?
What do we think of Abbie’s house? Almost a bit too nicey-nice for her, I’d say.

Favorite Crane-isms:
Crane: With a ring-tail set all abaft the mizzen peak. [Yes, I turned on closed captioning.]
Crane: Half the Colonial Army were after my Bedfordshire clanger.

Crane: Oh, hell’s teeth! [I’m stealing that one for everyday personal use.]

Abbie: Takeout.
Crane: Capital idea.

Abbie: Only in Sleepy Hollow does your boss get eaten by a demon.

Abbie: He was just ... heading home.
Crane: I was?
Abbie: Mm-hmm.
Crane: I am just on my way home.

Crane: Did you know there was a proposition to tear it down and erect an apothecary? An apothecary! Another one!