Sleepy Hollow Recap: Trials and Tribulations

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SLEEPY HOLLOW:  Tom Mison in the "People v. Ichabod Crane" episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Friday, Jan. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Tina Rowden/FOX
Tom Mison as Crane. Photo: Tina Rowden/FOX
Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

The People v. Ichabod Crane Season 4 Episode 4
Editor's Rating 2 stars

Things that interest me about the fourth season of Sleepy Hollow: Jake (#TeamJakeForever!) having a tween Witness in the form of Diana’s daughter, seeing how that Witness might fare against Big Bads as she develops a rapport with Crane, and, of course, watching Tom Mison act.

Things I couldn’t care less about: Diana’s intransigence, sassypants Alex, and any attempt to re-litigate the first three seasons of Sleepy Hollow.

That’s why “The People vs. Ichabod Crane” was a meh episode for me. Too much from column B and very little from column A.

This week, we find out that when Crane got slapped in the face by black goo during last episode’s cliffhanger, it was because the gang accidentally let a monster escape from the netherworld when they trapped the Headless Horseman in that J Street tunnel. This monster has apparently taken Crane back to a “cave of despair” in Maryland, where Revolutionary War soldiers were kept in cocoons so their souls could be tormented to the point that they wound up committing suicide. Fun times!

This setup takes Crane out of the episode’s main story line, depositing him in a sort of dreamworld purgatory. How are souls tortured in this dreamworld purgatory? Why, by hauling them into court, of course! Seriously, what could be more dreadful? Crane is told he’s been brought up on “crimes of cowardice, thoughtlessness, and abdication of your sacred duties as a Witness. You stand charged with … murder.” Whose murder, he wonders? Is it Abbie? Is it Abbie’s murder and does this mean we are getting a Nicole Beharie guest spot and oh my God is Nicole Beharie about to walk into the courtroom??  I know I just claimed I’m not into re-litigating the first three seasons of SH, but this would be very different. An Abbie cameo would be pure nostalgic sunshine and a chance to see Mison’s aforementioned dramatic talents at their finest, as they always were whenever his rapport with Beharie was given center stage.

Alas, ’tis not meant to be. It’s just Henry Parrish, a.k.a. Crane’s whiny son, who’s ostensibly here to prosecute Crane for Abbie’s murder. Really, he’s just trying to guilt Crane into killing himself by reminding him of allies long gone, like Joe and Abraham Van Brunt and Katrina. (Erm, I think all of us, Crane included, had no problem with offing her.)

This is the kind of re-litigating I can’t stand. All I have to say about it is … womp, womp. Seriously, who is interested in Henry Parrish’s airing of grievances from two seasons ago? Moveon.org, people. Five major characters have been introduced this season! There’s nothing but potential there. Charm us! Woo us! Lure us in by exploring these new dynamics, forming new alliances, yada yada yada. Instead, we waste this week’s B story on Henry celebrating his own personal Festivus.

Meanwhile, Jenny attempts to find the cave of despair, which now shares real estate with an Army base. I did love the little damsel-in-distress routine she pulled when she got caught trespassing, the way her voice went up a half-octave and she delivered a spot-on performance of a ditz who couldn’t find her boyfriend. When her gear falls out of her backpack and blows her cover, Jake and Alex (who’d been tailing) call Diana for help. Even though Diana is still majorly steamed about the fact that her kid’s a Witness, she springs Jenny.

Quick question: Is Diana steamed about not being told? Or is she actually mad that her daughter is a Witness? I’m finding her peevishness hard to decipher at this point, and I wish she’d just get over it already. Be like Jake, Diana! Embrace the otherworldly insanity of it all!

Honestly, what bothered me most about this episode wasn’t Diana’s reluctance or even Henry’s petulance. It was just all so boring. I’m not interested in another father-son spat between Crane and Parrish, in large part because we’ve had plenty of them already and they weren’t all that fascinating the first time around. As I’ve noted before (in fact, it’s probably my biggest, longest-running issue with the series), all the nerdy mumbo-jumbo is same old, same old — even though all those books and artifacts and scavenger hunts sometimes contain flashes of interesting story lines. This week, for example, I loved when Jenny and Diana went to that biker bar in search of their bomb-making chemical so they can blow up the ghouls holding Crane hostage. It was funny and it was lighthearted and it was surprising, especially the way Diana cleverly saved the day after she realized Jenny’s fixer was a former Marine.

Let me put it this way: You’ll see below that I could only come up with one humorous exchange for my usual list of “favorite Crane-isms,” and it technically isn’t one because Crane had nothing to do with it. There were no funnies this week, no LOLs! Even Jenny and Diana’s “Leatherballs?” repartee was pretty meh.

Time to dwelling on the negatives and get to the third act. Alex and Jake take their usual underground-tunnel route to the Smithsonian storage unit, where they go to get their tenth-century bazooka or whatever. They wind up stumbling onto Malcolm’s demonic goon as he disintegrates a security guard, then steals a map of some weird energy ley lines. (I’d like to think that Jeremy Davies’s Lost character would have a lot to say about weird energy ley lines.) Moving on! (I think it was Jenny who actually said, “That’s something we’re going to have to deal with tomorrow.” I’m inclined to agree.)

Anyway, they team up with Jenny and Diana to free Crane from his soul-tormenting cocoon. Although Crane is out, his soul remains adrift. To bring it and him back, Diana decides to call Molly — wait, she gets cell service in a cave? — and asks her to talk to Crane, presumably signaling that she’s finally willing to accept her daughter’s fate.

“We have much to discuss,” Crane tells Diana after Molly brings him back. Unfortunately, Sleepy Hollow didn’t give us much to discuss this week. But to quote Abbie’s words and Molly’s voice: “Don’t ever give up hope.”

Favorite (Almost) Crane-isms:

  • Jake: “That is so not good. We gotta help her.” Alex: “How? See if they’ll trade her for some free archiving work?”

Sleepy Hollow Recap: Trials and Tribulations