“I’m not going to let fear and hysteria take root. Not in my hometown,” the new sheriff promises our beloved Abbie Mills near the top of last night’s episode of Sleepy Hollow. “We are going to bring some sanity back to this town.”
Oh, God. For the love of all that is 230 years old and (plot) holey: don’t! Insanity is Sleepy Hollow’s raison d’etre. Without it, you get an episode like “The Kindred,” devoid of any gripping conflict and slowly paced.
Seriously, kind of a pointless snoozefest of a story line this week: Ichabod Crane thinks the Headless Horseman wants to create an eternal blood tie between himself and Katrina. Crane comes across a thing in a book about Benjamin Franklin’s Frankenstein-like “kindred,” which remains unfinished and unanimated because it needs a body part from the Horseman of Death. Co-winky-dink! Our heroes got ahold of HH’s skull last season, so they just need to verify its current whereabouts. They do. HH fights Franklinstein (with Henry’s doppelgänger thrown into the mix). Crane finds Katrina, but she says she has to stay with HH so she can find out what bad thing he’s planning next. Crane and Abbie run away. And … scene!
In fact, it was during the episode’s very first scene (Crane’s dream about the Katrina–Headless Horseman ritual, followed by his subsequent conversation with Abbie) that I sensed the next hour was headed for doom, or at least Dullsville. Besides the fact that two episodes in a row have now opened with that oh-it’s-not-real device, Crane’s Crane-isms were also decidedly not up to standard! “He once referred to the Palace of Versailles as … quaint,” Crane says archly about Abraham. That’s it? For shame, Crane!
Let me now pay Sleepy Hollow some compliments. No matter how I may find the overall quality of an individual episode, while watching each one I always experience at least a couple of physical, visceral reactions. (Most often a gasp, a “gah!” or a “ha!”) And even though I didn’t think much of “The Kindred,” I still audibly gasped twice. The first time was when Abbie told Crane about the new sheriff, “She is greeting the troops.” (I know, I need to go somewhere and update my worldview: A lady sheriff?!) But more than just her gender, it honestly had not occurred to me since the first-season finale that Frank Irving would be replaced as the sheriff of Sleepy Hollow. In fact, now that I think about it, the show flipped both of my major season-two expectations. I thought getting Irving out of custody (if not out of trouble) would happen easy-peasy, while Abbie would be forced to remain in Purgatory for a while. Ergo, it also didn’t occur to me that a new sheriff would not believe in ghosts and stuff, and that her not-believing would serve as yet another impediment to our protagonists’ important work. Perhaps that’s why a new knee-jerk, out-loud reply entered my Sleepy Hollow–watching lexicon this week, which I found myself saying at the end of every frustrating scene with Sheriff Reyes: “This lady!”
(One more thought before I proceed: Maybe even when I don’t like an individual episode, I like the groundwork that certain aspects of that episode lay for the season as a whole.)
The second time I audibly gasped was, of course, when we saw Irving for the first time this year. And then I gave a “ha!” when Abbie said under her breath, “We need the head.” (Definitely the best line reading of the night.) This then led to what was easily the episode’s funniest scene, at the bank. “Thomas Jefferson once said banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies,” Crane informs Credit Card Schilling Guy. “It is this kind of gross invitation to indulgence that mocks the power of the invisible hand to foster the true wealth of nations — a boon to your industry, I’ll grant.” Crane should get on DailyKos and/or follow Elizabeth Warren on Twitter. Also, Sleepy Hollow’s writing staff is totally the 99 percent.
Now let’s talk about Katrina. Oy, Katrina. Here’s a serious question: When does Katrina actually get to use her powers as a witch? She wasn’t able to make use of them in Purgatory because those were the house rules, and now she’s yet to use them on Earth because why? At one point, Crane tells Abbie that Katrina “is a witch of extraordinary abilities.” Freaking when?! “She can tip the scales of this war on either side.” Can she? Does she only get to use her powers when other supernatural entities do so first? Is there some kind of “Don’t ask, don’t spell” policy I’m unaware of? This lady!
Unfortunately, this lady is still the lady in Crane’s life, as he reminds Abbie. “Leftenant, you must trust me when I say I have not forgotten our duty as witnesses,” he comments as they’re driving to where HH is keeping Katrina. (Side question: Is the Kindred in the trunk during this scene? And did Abbie and Crane decapitate him to make room for the HH’s skull atop his neck? Pinterest his no DIY tutorial on Kindred-making so I need to know!) “But I do have another duty. To my wife. I intend to honor them both.” I’d like to think that in this one bit of dialogue, we have been given the crux of season two. (This also speaks to my earlier thought that bad episodes may actually be pretty good at laying groundwork for future episodes.) Meanwhile, Abbie achieves Wuthering Heights levels of mushiness in some of her dialogue. Like when she tells Crane about seeing his demon double in Purgatory, “I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in my life.” And then later tells him, “My faith in you is my greatest weakness.” Coming from Abbie, this sounds almost creepy.
“Leftenant, do you think Katrina is my weakness?” Crane then asks. I’ll answer that for you, Icky. Not only is she your greatest weakness, she is the show’s greatest weakness. I dare say the writers have yet to figure out what to do with her. If they had a better handle on her, wouldn’t they have felt confident in breaking her out — not just from HH’s lair, but from the one little metaphorical box they insist on keeping her in? She’s been a captive of evil forces throughout the history of the show. I suppose the best thing I can say about Katrina based on “The Kindred” is that, ha ha, maybe she’s supposed to be, like, an emotional witch. Because the way she plays Abraham — with her flowery excuses, like, “He was an escape route that your haste turned into a husband” — that is some advanced-level psycho-manipulation right there.
Anyway, then there’s a fight: Evil versus repurposed evil (the Kindred) versus remote-controlled evil (Henry’s Moloch-supplied stand-in). A fight that does not involve our protagonists. (In fact, when Abbie tried to insert herself into the fray by firing at Henry’s robot-knight, that struck me as a very shortsighted and unnecessary move.) A fight that had no consequences; Abraham wound up with his torso impaled on some sort of farm equipment, but it’s not like they’re not going to kill him off, so … better luck next week?
I didn’t experience any truly perplexing moments in this episode — a telling sign of its plodding pacing — so here are some less crucial questions for you all:
- Was this whole episode written just so somebody could say “Franklinstein’s monster?”
- Is the Galvanic cell a real thing? (Spoiler alert: Wikipedia says yes!)
- Is the frog on the Bible the best part of the opening credits sequence?
- Another opening-credits stumper: Who executes the better World Cup arm-folding move, Jenny or Henry?
- “Are you part of the wedding industry?”
- [Crane wordlessly pulls on the corded pen at the bank and gestures at it exasperatedly.]