I’m writing this recap as fast as I can, because, like sands through the hourglass, my feelings of benevolence toward this penultimate episode of Sleepy Hollow’s third (perhaps last) season are quickly slipping away as I type, and like the Hidden One, my inner frustrations are channeling into a rage best described as “let’s burn the whole thing down.”
I’ll just come right out and say it: Oh my God, they killed Joe! YOU BASTARDS!! I absolutely do not understand this choice. His death served no higher purpose, thwarted no greater evil, did nothing to advance the story. (And it took place just as Jenny was just beginning to be cool with Joe touching her stuff. Lookit how she let him run back to her trailer and rifle through her maps!) How can a Sleepyhead be expected to accept the exit of a major and beloved character like that when there’s no payoff? Perhaps even more irritating, Joe’s death doesn’t even make sense on a micro level. Jenny’s dad specifically told her to use the ballistic-whatever gun as a very last resort, but she just shoots her own boyfriend in the chest after like 15 seconds of battling his Wendigo alter ego. Would Jenny even sacrifice Joe’s life to save her long-absent father? Plus, Jenny’s fought demons for far longer with far less ammo; dammit, a week or two ago she tried using wire and a blanket to stop a baddie. Joe’s exit was, I’m sorry, cheap. And poor Jenny had to mourn his naked body with her dad right there, a situation I’d like to think Joe would punctuate with a deadpan, “Well, this isn’t awkward.”
(Point of information and POSSIBLE SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT: The talk of the interwebs is that Joe will make some sort of appearance on next week’s finale, but will not return to the show if there’s a fourth season. So hopefully Team Joenny will at least be afforded a more proper sendoff than the few moments of blood-spattered sweet nothings they whimpered at one another last night.)
Here’s where my rage starts to bubble. Joe was a key reason why SH’s third season, especially the back-nine episodes, have been some of the show’s strongest. Sweet yet practical, dry-witted yet mushy in his affection for Jenny, he rounded out the Scooby Gang, gave good punchlines, tempered Jenny’s prickliness and honestly, just made the show more fun and full of feels. Do I even want to watch this show without Joe? Sleepy Hollow’s body count (including characters who just stop showing up) is reaching egregious levels of frequency and carelessness. Time and again, this series has written itself into a dead end only to discard someone to concoct a way out. But (unless something happens next week that makes me retract all of this) this wasn’t even one of those times! This was just … bye-bye, Joe! And yes, characters get killed on TV all the time, including at random; it’s one of the reasons TV is so good these days, throwing out the old TV sausage-making rules, yada yada. But Joe’s exit just does not feel earned, justified or even dramatized in a compelling-enough way. Is anyone else starting to feel like Pandora without her box, like your relationship with SH is getting a little one-sided and abusive and there’s nothing you can do to stop it?
The irony in all of this is that, despite that huge bungle, “Delaware” was a better-than-average episode. I liked Ichabbie’s coffee-and-doughnut, earthly-delights scene, even as it hard-trolled their ‘shippers with Abbie’s insistence on wiping doughnut crumbs out of Crane’s facial hair. (Side note: Crane really would make the best barista. He and Jenny should open a craft coffee-and-beer joint together!) I lurrrvvved Papa Mills’s reveal that he’s known about the supernatural all along; even though I guessed he was somehow involved weeks ago, the discovery that he knew Joe’s dad and took that infamous photo of Corbin and Nevins was a genuine surprise and a clever twist. I also really dug his short scene with Jenny in his walk-in closet of apocalyptic prevention, where he’s admonishing her with Dad-isms like “do you hear me?” and she’s all “WTF” and he’s all “pay attention.” Although annoying, I got a kick out of Danny’s natural gravitation toward being team leader during Operation Ley Lines and an even bigger kick out of Jenny finally cutting his power trip short by telling him over the phone, “Say again? You’re breaking up.”
As for our Witnesses’ mission to the Catacombs, my recollection of and affection for it is growing ever-cloudier thanks to my aforementioned rage spiral, but … it was pretty good, right? More funny banter and terms of endearment between Ichabbie on the boat (apologies to the ‘shippers once more), followed by a nifty half-zombie slaying, some of Crane’s usual code-deciphering — and then, surprise, still-alive Betsy! I’m glad that she’s been given a reason to exist besides her ample bosom, but like her previous beefcake-driven storylines, she didn’t have much to do here besides asking a bunch of what-year-is-it questions for mild comic effect.
Her dialogue, in fact, exemplifies my other grievance with “Delaware,” second to my grief over Joe. Her conversations with Abbie and Crane mostly registered as filler, especially when, back at home, the end of days is freaking nigh. The intercutting generated a lurching pace to the second half of the hour, and if I may extrapolate, was indicative of the frustrating hurry-up-and-wait tone that we’ve had to put up with throughout the season.
“You ever think of how many times we’ve technically died?” Abbie asks Crane as they’re crossing the Delaware. “I can endure anything … it’s the losses that wear me down.” My thoughts exactly, Abs.
How did Jenny escape the Hidden One? We see her under his spell atop the mountain and then next thing, she’s a free woman showing up at her trailer to save her dad and Joe. I know there are lots of little narrative hiccups you just have to ride with on SH, but this one felt like a particularly big hurdle.
If Betsy has been stuck in that chamber since 1776, who left her cutlass lying around the Catacombs? Was that the not-Betsy who sent Crane a breakup letter? Was that George Washington?
Is there a Ford in your future after that very blatant product placement?
Crane: Embrace the fruits of life with a full heart. [Ed.: Someday I’ll get around to stitching my Crane-ism quilt, with this quote in the center square.]
Abbie: If this doesn’t work, you realize we are just two people on a boat singing the anthem.
Crane: Truth bomb if I ever heard one.
Danny: Is [Pandora] always like that?
Joe: Trust me, man. This is her being nice.
Crane: And this must be your knight.
Crane: Queen. Pure chicanery.
Crane: Well, now [Washington] was a great man, but a great man with legendary halitosis.