I’m writing this an hour after the mid-season finale of Sleepy Hollow … and I don’t have much to say. I’m nearly speechless because I’m not feeling much of anything, and I think I’m so numb because this show hoodwinked us. Again. Fool me three times, shame on Sleepy Hollow.
Let’s briefly recap Sleepy Hollow’s history of mid-season and end-of-season cliffhangers: There was the one where Crane was buried alive, the one where Abbie was trapped in purgatory, and the one where Abbie got sent back to colonial times (which, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure happened in a regular episode). While it’s easy for me to recall those OMG moments, I can’t remember how Ichabod and Abbie got out of them. The seemingly insurmountable predicaments in which our Witnesses find themselves trapped are resolved not just quickly, but quotidian-ly. No threat turns out to be a big issue and, soon enough, we always return to our regularly scheduled supernatural procedural.
That’s why you’ll have to forgive me about my lack of excitement or acclaim for “Novus Ordo Seclorum.” And that’s a shame, because the episode was pretty good before Abbie walked into a tree and out of our lives. (For the time being, anyway.)
The episode opens with Jenny still in the throes of shard fever, now lying helpless on the banks of the lovely Hudson River as Pandora appears to baptize her mummy husband. “She’s a sister to one of the Witnesses. Think of her as a vessel to drink in her power,” Pandora tells her mummsband, who scoffs at the very idea that Witnesses still exist. While mummsband levitates Jenny — which is totally unnecessary, but still cool — Pandora strangely whispers sweet nothings in his ear, like, “My love has returned to my side.” I’m down with this little wrinkle in the story line because:
- It’s funny that she’s clingy toward her god mummsband;
- It’s yet another shade of crazy for Shannyn Sossamon, and I just can’t get enough of her;
- It justifies the entire season so far. Pandora needed that shard energy to rejuvenate her hubs!
Just then, the rest of the Scooby Gang shows up and — poof! — Pandora whisks away Jenny in a cloud of teleportation smoke. They leave behind a piece of cloth (or was it paper?) with Sumerian written on it. Crane deciphers the message while, in one of the show’s ever-more-frequent bits of meta commentary, Abbie asks, “What is it, Crane? What kind of monster we dealing with this time?” He solemnly informs her that it is a (dun-dun-dunnnnnn!) … GOD.
Back at the archives, Abbie continues on her restless streak by admonishing Crane, “No rush. Just figure out who he is. So we can kill ‘em. Fast.” Crane and Joe figure out that last week, when they’d contained Jenny in that hexagonal interrogation room, she’d drawn her shard-induced visions on the wall, proving that Sleepy Hollow is a cheap knockoff of National Treasure. (Kidding!) Actually, it proves something that must be verified at another archive in Albany, but who cares, because: Toga! Toga! Toga!
The toga party is a good example why this episode didn’t rank as one of the season’s best. No part of “Novus Ordo Seclorum” really resonated for me, but it was still a fun-to-watch hour. The frat bash, for instance, was silly and smart, while providing a most perfect milieu for pithy Crane-isms. That’s always a welcome distraction, if not a necessary part of Sleepy Hollow’s formula. I just want to see a bit more staying power in a mid-season finale.
Anyway, it’s apparently a flashback week — albeit a Betsy Ross–less one — and we get another interesting view of Paul Revere’s gig as a keeper of National Treasures (sorry!) and as a blacksmith smart enough to make sure the eye would be protected for centuries. “I really hope you’re about to say, ‘I think I’ve seen this staff before,’” Abbie tells Crane as he talks through his historical anecdote, giving voice to exactly what I thought at that moment. (Don’t you love when that happens?) The scene also works the story line all the way back to the origins of the eye’s odd shard casing, which I appreciated.
Abbie is vibing big time with Crane and Jenny lately, showing the feels she usually works so hard to keep tamped down, but at work, she’s up to her usual clamp-it-down-and-frost-it-over-with-a-layer-of-passive-aggression strategy. “That’s what happens when you lie to someone for six months,” she declares in her ongoing battle of wits with Reynolds and Sophie. “They tend not to trust you.” Of course, Abbie then helps herself to items in the evidence room and submits an arm-long list of tactical requests. Who should trust who? I really liked the FBI scenes in this episode, though there’s a lot of baggage getting needlessly stuffed into the same suitcase. There are several separate grievances at play — the emotional remainders of Abbie and Reynolds’s relationship, her push-and-pull about whether she should tell him she’s a Witness, and so on — but the dialogue between Abbie, Reynolds, and Sophie tends to treat them all as the same. It’s a minor problem, but it could be better.
Abbie and Sophie encounter the Atticus Nevins escape/murder scene, it leads to my favorite scene of the episode, where Pandora confronts Abbie while wearing her FBI get-up. I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again: There cannot be enough Shannyn Sossamon on this show! I love how her character blends several alter egos and how each is shaded differently. (Although, I’m pretty sure her mortal-costume wig is the same one she wore to the dance club a few weeks ago.) Crazy Pandora pretending to be a federal agent really did it for me.
Abbie quitting the FBI was a half-shock, I’ll admit, since the show makes it clear that her job and personal apocalypse-prevention freelancing can’t remain copacetic forever. (Also, as I said, all huge problems that involve our Witnesses tend to resolve themselves.) What I liked best about her resignation — even if it technically has nothing to do with the resignation itself — was the combination of vulnerability and swagger she shows afterwards, especially out in the woods as they prepare to head into Pandora’s lair.
And finally, we have the climax and its surprising-yet-not-surprising action. For the reasons I explained above, I don’t really want to get into Abbie’s disappearing act. I mean, she obviously won’t be killed off. So, what will happen to her?
- Why couldn’t Abbie throw the pieces of shard into the tree trunk, or plant them in there all careful-like, rather than stepping into the trunk and sacrificing herself?
- When Abbie quits the FBI, Reynolds immediately calls someone: “The asset we were cultivating, we just lost her.” What does this statement mean? For a moment, I thought it meant that Reynolds is two-timing Abbie even more than we already know he is.
Crane: Why is emulating a Roman Senate gone amok considered celebrating?
Joe: Beer can make a guy do strange things.
Crane: From time immemorial.
Joe: So all we have is a working knowledge of Sumerian and a very depressing Masonic book? [How much has Joe role been expanded just to serve as the Sleepy Hollow Greek chorus/fan mouthpiece? I’m guessing his existence is like 55 percent chorus, 45 percent Jenny tension.]
Jenny: No offense, lady, but your man is damn ugly.
Abbie, as she leaves an outgoing voice message: And if this is you Crane, I mean it, wait for the beep.
Joe: Roger that.
Crane: Heartily seconded.
Abbie: [It] looked old, magical — you know, Crane-ish. Thought it might come in handy.
Abbie: You ready to fight some bad guys, Crane?
Abbie: My man. [I need a GIF of this exchange.]