One thing I didn’t anticipate is after a two week hiatus was how much I was looking forward to my Monday at 9pm this week. Sleepy Hollow was returning and dammit, I was dying to see what in the world the wildly creative minds behind this surprising show would come up with next. Turns out, they came up with their strongest episode yet in “The Sin Eater.”
It’s interesting how they constantly manage to tie all these seemingly random events into one constant, one that glorifies the foundation this nation was founded upon. It starts simply, with Abbie and Ichabod watching a local baseball game. Even that simple game, with its setting, rules, and the freedom to berate the ump, ties into what the founding fathers had envisioned for this country. What Ichabod had vowed to protect all those years ago. He gave his service so that everyone could live free. It all gives him a feeling that he’s finally home. Abbie manages to point out he is home.
Enjoy that sentiment for a second, breathe it in like fresh air, because it didn’t take long for everything to get wonky from there. Ichabod is taken at his wife’s gravesite and Abbie has some sort of weird vision quest while driving. At night. On a country road. It’s Katrina, and Abbie is inside a creepy old house that comes into play later. Although you don’t see the roundtable of old women with black veils holding a séance later. Too bad, that would have been a nice conversation piece. You do have to wonder though, other than it adds a nice creepy element to the dream, does such a visual hold any kind of significance?
Right, the vision. Katrina found a doorway and took her chance to tell Abbie that Ichabod was taken and she has to find a Sin Eater to save him. He must be sanctified. By the end of the day of course, because the headless horseman is coming back. Damn those pesky deadlines. So, Abbie does the unfathomable (after she almost crashes her car) and tells Captain Irving the entire fairy tale. Why? She wants Jenny for a day to help her find the Sin Eater. I was nodding along with the captain, going, “Girl, you’re crazy.” Because he seems to like humoring her though, he agrees.
In the meantime, Ichabod sees his captors. It’s Eric Renard from Grimm! Actually he’s a descendant of a Freemason (and founding father) that Ichabod once knew and they were determined to verify his story. When he told the whole detailed story about interrogating Arthur Benard, a free black man in the old fashioned white wig (they didn’t make black wigs back then?) when he was a British soldier because they were looking for a guy named Cicero, we learn some very key pieces of Ichabod’s backstory. It was then that he changed sides, after finding out through his conversations with Arthur there are demons among men. Who should he see as one but his ruthless Commanding Officer, a guy who hung men in the town square in front of their children. He knew something wasn’t right about that guy, something Arthur’s house servant called, “a conscience.” That Quaker house servant was…wait for it…Katrina!
While Ichabod had story time with the Freemasons, Abbie and Jenny found John Noble (fine, Henry Parrish) in Connecticut in record time. Before that happened though, Jenny and Abbie had an interesting conversation where we learn that in this show, there are no such things as coincidences. Abbie recognizes the irony that she met Ichabod the very same night her sheriff mentor was killed. Ever since she’s met him, she’s found her purpose. Ichabod was in her life for a reason, and it’s her job to protect him. When they meet John Noble, he gives the whole “why do I do this” speech (I can relate), but he touches Abbie anyway and tells her Ichabod is in the caves with the Free Masons. They want John Noble to come with them, but he’s done helping, which means he’ll arrive just in the nick of time, right?
This is where the real fireworks happen. Ichabod finishes his story. He was ordered to take Arthur into the woods and kill him. Arthur told Ichabod that Katrina was right, he’s the one that’s been chosen. If he kills Arthur, he will lose his soul. He must carry on his role as a witness and find his way to General Washington. In the meantime, Arthur was willing to sacrifice himself to save Ichabod’s soul. Whatever Arthur said made sense to Ichabod, who fires the gun into the air, sparing Arthur, but his CO kills him anyway. Ichabod stabs the CO and voila, a nasty demon appears. It looked like the one that was following John Cho around a few episodes ago. Given how tightly woven these plots are, I wouldn’t be surprised. Ichabod is wounded, and ends up back at Arthur’s home, where Katrina is there to catch him as he collapses. Yep, it’s the same home in Abbie’s vision.
The Freemasons loved the story and pledge their allegiance to Ichabod. One twist though, he has to die. Katrina betrayed them all those years ago by linking him to the horseman and delaying the inevitable. If he dies, so does the horseman. Iggie sees logic in this, and agrees the best thing to do is to sacrifice himself, just like Arthur did all those years ago. That’s when Abbie comes in, and I’ve got to admit, my heart shattered into little pieces over their touching farewell. These two are really becoming quite the pair, in a non-sexual way of course, which makes their partnership really extraordinary and so fun to watch. Even though she knows that Ichabod could be spared by a Sin Eater because what really binds him to the Headless Horseman is the sin he carries over of letting Arthur die, there’s no time to get him to Connecticut. Ichabod admits to being terrified but acknowledges he’s only there on borrowed time. He’s grateful for the time he had. He takes the poison with Abbie refusing to leave his side.
So, Ichabod dies, right? Hee, right. No, John Noble arrives realizing that Ichabod was his real reason for his existence and power. He was given those gifts to protect the witness. Gee, took him long enough to figure it out! He spills some of Ichabod’s blood to release the poison, and Iggie goes into some dream state where he’s back with Arthur, renouncing his sin. Arthur frees him and that breaks the link with the horseman. John Noble dips some bread into his blood, which has now separated into two pools, and literally eats the sin away. Gross. Ichabod recovers and hugs Abbie, realizing that she was right, there’s always another way. Abbie gives the credit to Katrina. Of course, all this does is break the link. The Headless Horseman is on his way, and he’s found Ichabod’s grave site. You all know what that means. Part II next week!
So, other than a dizzying tightly woven mythology loaded with religious and historical symbolism, what can we take away from what happened? For one, all this s*** ideally should have really played out 250 years ago. Katrina linked Ichabod so he wouldn’t die, thus finding another way back then, but you do have to wonder, if she didn’t do that, how would have Abbie become the second witness? The bible said there are supposed to be two witnesses, but back then only Ichabod was identified as one. Everything has happened for a reason, like what Abbie was saying earlier.
How cool is it that Ichabod now has the Freemasons on his side? It does help that he was one, but he even called them brothers. I always like it when a good hero story lines up allies in the fight. Along with Abbie and Jenny, this is turning out to be quite a group. Also, didn’t you love the instant fireworks between Katrina and Ichabod when they first met? Katrina said it best, it felt like she’s known him her whole life. Hey, I’ll take a wacky Revolutionary War love story in the middle of an apocalyptic tale any day.
Mostly though, I swear I could watch Tom Mison recite the phone book for an hour and I’d be entranced. Ichabod’s struggles played out very emotionally this week, and what a major coup this show has for having such a fine actor to define this very unusual role. I’m smitten.
So another week of completely implausible events all coming together in a very plausible way. My hats off to the writers of Sleepy Hollow for pulling this off, and dammit I’m already wishing it was Monday. Bring on the big showdown with a powerful demon! I’m ready.