Another week, another episode of Sleepy Hollow with an annoyingly sexist trope. At least it was handled marginally better than it has been in shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supernatural. Join me after the jump for soul-sucking, succubi, and spoilers.
After our obligatory man- (and woman-) out-of-time scene, in which Katrina and Ichabod get way too into an episode of some Bachelor-esque reality show, our baddie of the week quickly reveals itself. A succubus, acting under Henry’s orders, is killing people and harvesting their souls. It goes after several victims, including Hawley, although Team Witness manages to save him before she finishes draining his life force. At first they can’t figure out why the succubus is feeding so often, but it turns out that the Moloch fetus inside Katrina didn’t get totally dead last episode; Henry has somehow gotten hold of it and the succubus is collecting souls to nourish it through the rest of its gestation.
The succubus is a special breed of monster called an inchordata, meaning heartless, and this means an added bit of difficulty for our crew: it keeps its heart outside its body. They track the heart down to a local cemetery where Henry has been getting up to his usual occult nonsense, and then split up. Hawley (since he’s the only one who’d recognize it) and Ichabod go after the succubus itself, and Katrina and Abbie go after the heart to destroy it with magic.
After they successfully use a combo of fire magic, girl power, and teamwork to destroy the succubus’s heart, Abbie finally admits that it’s good to have Katrina around. The team is stronger with her on it, she says, and it’s true. Katrina agrees, but she also thinks she can still do better as a spy in Abraham’s house. She leaves Abbie to give Ichabod this news and jets off back to Abraham, Henry, and wee baby Moloch, and leaves me really confused.
One new and different thing about this episode is that Katrina briefly got to be a character rather than a plot device. We get to see her interact with Ichabod and Abbie, take part in the investigation, and bring her witchy knowledge—both of spells and of occult history—to the table. While her scenes with Ichabod were mostly lovey-dovey, I was glad to see that the writers haven’t completely forgotten that Katrina was deceitful a few episodes back—the couple’s relationship is more interesting when it’s not constant “we love each other more than life itself”.
And while it was basically inevitable that Katrina and Abbie would clash over something, I was happy to see that it was more over “what should our strategy be” than “I am more entitled to Ichabod’s attention”. Not only that, but by the end of the episode they had established the seeds of a friendship—much better than pitting the women against each other. And the episode scraped a Bechdel pass on top of that. All of this makes me extra annoyed that Katrina’s headed back to Horseman Central—they keep giving us scraps of her character development and then throwing her into situations where everything they’ve just established is undermined.
Luce documented all the different tropes Katrina has fulfilled so far last week, and I guess this week we’re adding another: over-attached mother figure. Yes, that demon thing grew inside you, Katrina, but no, that does not mean you have to treat it with maternal affection. Because it is a demon thing. Her insistence on Henry’s deep-down, very buried goodness is starting to get frustrating too, not because his redemption isn’t possible, but because it always comes from a weird mother-magic “moms always know” place.
I am also deeply confused by the sudden Abbie/Hawley romance vibe. Not only was it kind of weirdly forced into the plot of this episode, I was pretty certain that the Mills sister Hawley was interested in was not a cop. It was especially grating to have Ichabod eyeballing them and trying to put a bug in Hawley’s ear about asking Abbie out; however well-intentioned, it isn’t his place to push her into a relationship. Hawley also points out that his love life is none of Ichabod’s business. I may be a little more frustrated than is entirely necessary about this, to be honest, though, because yet again, I’m annoyed that Jenny has been totally sidelined in favor of Hawley. Jenny’s supposed to have all sorts of contacts; there’s no reason we need Hawley around distributing magical shit right and left when we could have all sorts of cool raids on the hideouts of Jenny’s old allies to steal their stuff. The addition of a romantic subplot just confirms that he’ll be sticking around even longer.
There was also no mention of Irving or Reyes in this episode. As far as the former is concerned, I’m worried about him because he’s not getting a ton of screentime despite being in deep shit. I hope it doesn’t take the whole rest of the season to get him out of the psych ward and back in the saddle. (And I hope we get to see Macey again soon.) In the latter’s case, I was excited and relieved to have Reyes (kind of) on Abbie’s side in regards to the spooky stuff happening in Sleepy Hollow last episode, and I’d like to see how their relationship progresses now that she is in-ish on things.
All hope is not lost for the show, though; there was one small part of the episode that caught me off guard in a good way. One thing that stories with succubi/seductress characters usually gloss over entirely is the existence of same-sex attraction. I was surprised to see that Sleepy Hollow did not fall into this trap—the succubi went after a man and a woman in this episode, while remaining in a female-bodied form the whole time. It’s a small thing, but in the battle of representation in storytelling, a small victory is still a victory.
Unfortunately, next week may also deal in some offensive tropes, since it seems like we’re finally going to get the whole truth about Mama Mills and her suicide. But on the upside we should get Jenny in more than a cameo role, and plenty of Mills sisters backstory to go along with her. Till next week, Sleepyheads!