I’m sure your most pressing question following this week’s most excellent episode of Sleepy Hollow is the same as mine: When is Kyle getting a prequel?
(Kyle’s middle-aged bandmates sneer in unison: “Yeah, KYLE. When are you getting a prequel? Huh??”)
In the pantheon of Sleepy Hollow’s sacrificial lambs, all of those mostly nameless characters who’ve been introduced to be instantly killed by the monster of the week, there has never been nor will there ever be another Kyle, the African-American Marty McFly of Westchester County dad bands. We talked about this, Kyle; if you wanna shred, it can’t be within the confines of the post-punk indie-rock genre. Fly like an Eagle, Kyle, or like an Iron Butterfly. Oh, wait a minute, here’s a wrinkled old lady who’ll wail with you, hmm, where’d she come from? Wait, erm, she seems to be taking this whole “wailing” thing quite literally … Oh no, monster of the week is Banshee! (Random Wikipedia fun fact: “Screaming Banshee Aircrew were a minimal post-punk/Gothic Rock/Trashvogue alternative band originating from York, England.” Post-punk!)
After a thoroughly entertaining cold open brought us the Banshee in short order, this week’s main plot was set in motion by a similarly blunt arrival: Hey, lookie there, The Hidden One suddenly shows up unannounced in Corbin’s library. Even more straightforwardly, THO just goes and opens up a can of whoop-ass on Crane like it’s Tab. Why hasn’t THO tried the direct route prior to this? If he can just show up and start killing his mortal enemies whenever he likes, doesn’t that reduce 95 percent of this season’s plot to unnecessary narrative busywork? I know, I know — these are the types of questions I’m not supposed to ask about Sleepy Hollow. Let’s justify it by saying that THO prefers to TaskRabbit his bad deeds out.
“You should know … I’ve died before,” Crane warns THO. And just then, as if to prove Crane’s point that he’s unbreakable (à la Bruce Willis, not Kimmy Schmidt), the Emblem of Thura (so glad we finally have a name for it!) shoots out of Crane’s pocket to alchemize with THO’s blue force streams, trapping the baddie in a prison that’s at least half of his own making. And in a stroke of wrong-place-wrong-time bad luck, Crane gets stuck there with him. As Pandora soon explains to Abbie, Thura is “designed to contain the power of a god … it feeds on the power of the being it has imprisoned.” Y’know, just like it did 4,000 years ago when THO was last trapped in confinement.
Let me stop here and commend SH for a truly fun and mostly unexpected alignment of characters in “Incommunicado.” We got Abbie and Pandora teaming up to free their respective partners, Crane and THO, while Jenny and Joe serve first as reluctant Banshee catchers and later as two people willing to put what’s most important to them — each other, squeee! — on the line for the sake of getting Crane out of there. I call Abbie-Pandora a mostly unexpected alliance because we’ve been getting hints for a while that Pandora’s fed up with THO; this week’s plot represents a nifty, two-steps-forward-one-step-back evolution of that story line, with Pandora as loyal as she’s ever been toward THO, yet able to recognize that Abbie and her crew are trustworthy, resourceful, and not utter dicks like THO is. More importantly, “Incommunicado” has once again separated Ichabbie for the bulk of an episode. That’s a choice I’ve so often derided as misguided because it deprives us of what we most want from this show, but I gotta tell ya, it really worked for me this week. Just as Pandora knew she had to put aside her petty desires to collaborate with Abbie on their common goal, I loved the scene where Crane convinces THO to do the same by helping him decipher the arcane alphabet on his ancient tablet. Crane’s Dead Poets–style soliloquy on the joys of the humanities (complete with Ta-Nehisi Coates reference!!!) feels like something Crane’s probably had bottled up inside of him for awhile, and it’s genius to use it to convince THO of his own humanity. I mean, Crane got a demonic entity to acknowledge the existence of (at least in this one instance) a greater good. Talk about carpe diem!
This episode was also packed with a lot of smaller moments that I really liked, even though THO would probably call them “useless pablum to entertain lesser beings.” Giving Kyle a run for his money in the one-scene-and-done department, we have Jenny’s “bon vivant whiskey blogger” friend, who I guess was jammed into the script because someone realized it’s St. Patrick’s Day? He was so hilariously WTF, he may as well have been Mike Yanagita in Fargo. And then, whether intentionally or unintentionally on SH’s part, the first capture-the-Banshee attempt outside Joe’s ambulance referenced Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s famous “Hush” episode with its temporary silence. Did anyone else really dig how Jenny conveyed to Sophie that they’re no longer supposed to kill the Banshee by showing her Abbie’s text? With so much information getting conveyed on this show through dusty tomes, this struck me as insanely refreshing.
All Lucky Charms mascots aside, once “Incommunicado” got down to business, it became clear that this was another episode about choice vs. fate, a paradox our Witnesses have wondered about and struggled with from the beginning. “Your life was mapped out long before you were even born,” THO informs Crane, dropping the bombshell that Witnesses inherit their duties from their forebears. “No room to question your own wants or identity … it wasn’t a choice.” On the flip side (but really, just a few floors underneath Crane and THO), Joe makes the boldest choice of his existence by deciding to let his inner Wendigo come out so that Pandora can harness his evil energy to break the force field that’s trapping THO and Crane. It’s a life-risking move, and one that finally convinces Jenny to admit she loves him, so … bonus! All ends well, of course, as THO poofs himself outta there as soon as the force field is lifted and Joe winds up not having to die after all.
“It seems, yet again, I owe you for my life,” Crane tells Abbie, who replies, “I’m keeping count.” I’ve been struggling with this line since I heard it, because to me it represents the crux of “Incommunicado.” Though funny on its surface, it also speaks to much deeper issues at stake on Sleepy Hollow: The fact that Abbie’s a constant savior and sacrificer, the question of where Ichabbie is going (if anywhere) as two people drawn to one another not just because they’re apocalypse-preventing teammates. Likewise, I think one of the reasons I liked this episode so much was that you could get swept away in the action as it unfolded, but that action was threaded together with enough material to hint at where this story is headed and what it all means. Oh, TV show; as the Hidden One tells Pandora with the last line of the night, “You are the most devious of creatures.”
Let me harp on that last line a bit longer. Who’s on board with the idea that Pandora will fully turn on THO and join the Scooby Gang soon?
I’m also happily taking bets as to whether this week’s reveal about Ichabbie’s ancestors also being Witnesses means we’re about to get some return guest stars. Grace Dixon, anyone?
Crane: I may have inadvertently watched you purchase me a Summertime Squash bran muffin … This is a crime against pastries, nothing more.
Crane: Even a tiny lie of the doughnut variety can erode the trust between two people.
Abbie: Multigrain croissant. Truce?
Crane: More like a tactical interdiction.
Abbie: You are getting good at this.
Sophie: Yeah, I’m really digging obstructing evidence.
Crane: If you come not bearing cruller, Leftenant, do not bother coming …
Jenny: If Joe hadn’t Wendigo’d out, we’d be nothing more than greasy stains on the floor right now.
Crane: I take it you’re not a reader.
Joe: Based on advice from a drunk whiskey blogger, what could possibly go wrong? The guy eats blood sausage for breakfast, but whatever.
Jenny: Who would’ve thought you could hogtie a banshee with an industrial sound blanket and an iron cable?
Joe: It’s always the darndest things.
Sophie: So who’s going to tell Mills that we knocked off her monster? Not it!
THO: You hunger at a time like this.
Crane: I’m eating my feelings.
Abbie: Donut Man is open 24 hours and I think you’ve earned it.
Crane: You are a very good person.
Kyle: Screw it! I have cowbell class at 8 a.m.