Sleepy Hollow Recap: Witness Detection

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SLEEPY HOLLOW: (L-R) Nicole Beharie and guest star XXX in the "In Plain Sight" episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Friday, Jan. 13 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Tina Rowden/FOX
Witches! Photo: Tina Rowden/FOX
Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

In Plain Sight Season 4 Episode 2
Editor's Rating 3 stars

I’ll come right out with the good news: This episode is a bit better than last week’s season premiere! It’s still nowhere near vintage Sleepy Hollow and, yes, I’m really just talking about a handful of charming moments throughout this hour; the goings-on with the whole witches story line are pretty blahzee-blah. Nevertheless, I’m getting onboard with Agent Thomas and (especially) her daughter, Molly, who might just turn out to be the savior this series needs.

Speaking of vintage Sleepy Hollow, we open with Crane in the D.C. library, where he’s taunted by a fleeting ghost skittering hither and yon around the room. “Leftenant?!” he ask-yells, and just like when we opened with an Ichabbie photo montage, I’m DEAD. Seriously, SH: You can’t do that to us. We’re trying to move on here. And I am DEAD SERIOUS when I say that the next time you make Crane call out for Abbie in an empty room, Nicole Beharie damn well better show up for real.

Alas, it turns out Crane was just experiencing a vision coaxed by a Tibetan singing bowl. (Remember when Ichabbie used to get bit by scorpions and eat sins or whatever to induce various fever dreams? Good times.) In reality, he’s on Jenny’s bus (now there’s a sight for sore eyes!) and they’re using the bowl as a “witness detector” to find Abbie 2.0. We learn Jenny moved to D.C. for Crane, which is cute, and the bus sits in some kind of auto-salvage yard, which, as Crane points out to Jenny, “’Tis very you.”

Crane goes down to see his new pals Jake and Alex at their dusty ol’ library to read up about his vision. Meanwhile, there’s some mumbo-jumbo going down in a coven house with a trio of billionaires and slimy-coiffed billionaire Malcolm. (I’m starting to wonder: Is he some kind of Trump meta-commentary?) There’s talk of a blade (“the most sought-after, cursed blade in the whole history of witchcraft”) and talk of a stone, which Malcolm obtains by the end of the hour, the latest in his week-by-week collection of artifacts to, presumably, usher in an apocalypse or at least one of the Tribulations.

To be completely honest, these kinds of details cause my mind to start wandering. It’s just hard to feel invested in something that’s so short-lived. Whenever a little device surfaces in a particular episode, we’re still bound to get all new Big Bads with all new tool bags next week.

After the coven refuses to hand over the “witch stone,” since protecting said stones is apparently their sacred duty, Malcolm’s all, “You do know that what you’re guarding actually has nothing whatsoever to do with witches?” They don’t believe him until he points out that they’re magical witch powers include always knowing when someone’s lying, so if they’re not feeling that way now, he must be telling the truth. Gotcha, ladies! The two hotter witches attack their leader and she winds up dead in a field outside their house.

Meanwhile, Diana is trying to send Molly off to school, except she doesn’t know how to make pancakes. “Back to our staple, cold cereal. Yay!” she says sarcastically. I’ll admit it: I started to fall a bit for Molly in this scene. It’s the first time I was able to empathize with her as more than a stock, tough-talking, lady-cop character. The pancakes bit was sweet and I could relate to her worrying aloud about how long of a phase Molly’s silence would be. (Note to future parents: Everything your kid will ever do, endearing or enraging, is a phase — and you’ll never know how long that phase will last.)

Against her better judgment, Diana eventually calls Crane to check out the witch’s crime scene. Crane then admits he recognizes the victim and there’s a flashback involving George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and some witches. Does anyone remember this callback to an earlier episode? My husband seemed to remember exactly what was going on and how this ties into a previous story line, but I just have vague recollections of female figures in cloaks. I think there was a circus or a fairground involved … ?

Anyway, you don’t really need to make the connection to skate along with this week’s narrative, so let’s move on. Crane does some more book-sleuthing at the library while the two witches get their Sex and the City on, sipping cocktails at some douche-bro bistro. (One’s a Samantha and the other is totally a Miranda.) They soul-suck a pair of married losers who try to hit on them in a scene that is both corny, WTF baffling, and also a handbook for Post-Millennial Dating 101.

Crane and Diana trade bits of backstory in the car, with him revealing he was once married to a witch and her refusing to reveal what’s up with her baby daddy. Diana then gets a call alerting them to the witches’ Night at the Roxbury murders. When she puts her smartphone down in its cradle, Crane sees Molly’s face pic and realizes she’s his new co-Witness since she’s the girl from his vision. Hooray to this moment! Hooray to a clever reveal of necessary information!

Jenny reacts to this information by instigating a one-woman stakeout at Molly’s school. She sees Molly getting pushed around by two Mean Girls and TOTALLY STEPS TO THEM! She taunts a pair of PRETEEN GIRLS (!) and oh my goshness I love Jenny so much. Jenny will stick her chest out at two girls in training bras and she does not give a damn.

When Diana and Crane arrive at the scene, there’s a big, drawn-out moment as he sees Molly for the first time. (P.S. I don’t mention often enough that Tom Mison is an actor endlessly capable of turning any beat, no matter how elongated or cheesy, into a captivating moment.) Molly, in turn, sees him and cocks he head and says cutely, “Hello.” Ha, loved that.

Diana’s really pissed about Jenny casing out her kid, which I get, but I also think she’s overreacting. Apologies are made and accepted, then Crane, Jenny and Diana return to the murder house to kill off these other witches. The grandfather clock is somehow involved (like I said, I only half-listen to that stuff) and when it is ultimately destroyed, so too are the witches. Jenny and Crane decide they’re impressed by Diana not totally losing it, since she only needs “a minute” to recuperate after seeing, you know, actual witches for the first time in her life. They then decide Diana is ready to learn that her daughter is a Witness to the Apocalypse — but they change their mind after staking out her house and finding her and Molly having an adorable time together eating breakfast for supper. (I really loved how Diana played up the moment of seeing her daughter’s perfect pancakes.)

As I mentioned earlier, I really like Molly. She may even turn out to be the key to saving this season of Sleepy Hollow, which certainly needs a savior. She reminds me of Drew Barrymore in Firestarter or Kristen Stewart in Panic Room, right down to the asymmetrical haircut. Oona Yaffe has presence and spunk enough to really take on more of the load, narratively speaking, as the season progresses.

One thing I’m not sure any of us need is a return of the Headless Horseman — yet here we are, again. The kicker to this week’s episode shows the guy galloping atop his horse down a two-lane road toward D.C. We’re just starting to get somewhere with these new characters. Quit horsing around, Sleepy Hollow!

Favorite Crane-isms:

  • Jake: “The problem is, they’re encrypted.” Crane: “Fortunately, I had the time to write out the cypher for that code on my Uber ride.”
  • Crane: “Nick! Nick has just been picked for the new draft, which is super news.”
  • Alex: “How would you even build a time machine in 1781? Out of whale blubber and wooden teeth?”
  • Diana: “Great. I am in an invisible house with a B&E artist and a guy wearing knee-high boots with a crossbow.”
  • Diana: “Maybe that’s why [George Washington] couldn’t tell a lie.” Crane: “Not to Martha, that’s for sure.”

Sleepy Hollow Recap: Witness Detection