When I saw last week’s preview, I couldn’t believe that of all the episodes I could possibly review, I was going to get the one centered around Nick Hawley. Out of our whole review team, I’m probably the one who dislikes him the most, so I was prepared for the worst. But surprisingly, the episode turned out to be… pretty good! In an interview, Tom Mison said that the producers “have been listening and are aware of what is popular and less popular,” and the episode featured some truly epic livetweeting by Orlando Jones. If Sleepy Hollow keeps going on like this, well, who knows?
Spoilers after the jump.
“Kali Yuga” was Hawley’s backstory and an action-adventure film all in one. Turns out Hawley was raised by a woman called Carmilla Pines, who appears this episode to con him into helping her break into the home of one Theodore Knox, a descendent of Henry Knox (of Fort Knox fame). Hawley and our friends find out that Carmilla’s been turned into a Vetala, an “undead human being of Hindu lore”, and she thinks an artifact in Knox’s collection can turn her human again. Hawley doesn’t ask Ichabod or the Millses for help, though; he’s afraid of what Carmilla can do and tries to throw them off his tail, locking Jenny in a closet and Abbie and Ichabod in the actual vault. Then he and Carmilla run off. Although he clearly thinks Carmilla is dangerous, he apparently doesn’t see the harm in accepting a drink from her; within a scene he’s unconscious and Carmilla is starting a ritual to turn him into a Vetala. Because that artifact clearly doesn’t do what she said it did. Fortunately, Ichabod, Abbie, and Jenny are able to save him in time, but Carmilla manages to fly out a window to safety. Hawley says she’s his problem, and says he’ll leave Sleepy Hollow to hunt her down.
I don’t know enough about Indian mythology to lay out all the exact details of how Sleepy Hollow got the Vetala wrong, but sadly, it was again a gross bit of cultural appropriation in an otherwise excellent episode. Though the myth is of Hindu origin, of course the actress who plays the Vetala, Jaime Murray, is white. And her character, Carmilla, says she was turned into a Vetala while traveling in Mumbai—apparently she was kidnapped by a gang there. So not only do they again show a non-Western myth through a Western lens, but they also demonize the actual people who originated the myth in the process.
At the very least, the whole Vetala debacle most likely means that we’ll be rid of Hawley for a while, if not forever. I’m definitely glad we’re getting shot of him, but it also means that his time on Sleepy Hollow was weird and disjointed—he never did anything useful or interesting before he left, and his personal relationships didn’t seem to make sense either. At first he seemed to like Abbie, even blowing off Jenny to get a chance with her; then in the past few episodes he’s been all about Jenny, with no rhyme or reason given as to the direction of his romantic endeavors. In this episode, his family issues seemed to come out of nowhere, and it was honestly hard to care about his character as a result of that lack of buildup and continuity. I will miss Ichabod’s overwrought reactions to Hawley, though. Those were the best.
For their part, Abbie and Ichabod and Jenny were all amazing this episode. Did you know Nicole Beharie can fucking sing?! I didn’t, and I feel that not informing me of this was a grave oversight on the universe’s part. She needs to put out an album immediately. Tom Mison can do her backup vocals. In-show, Abbie and Ichabod ended up harmonizing pretty well both on the stage and in their communication—the Witnesses have found their bond under some strain recently, with Ichabod caving into Katrina’s wishes and Abbie holding things back from Ichabod, and the two of them realize that they can’t just treat their bond as some mystical thing that will always be there no matter what. In order to keep it, they have to work to maintain it, and that means communication. (I’m at once pleased and sad that Ichabbie got this poignant scene, and Ichatrina, the actual marriage of the two, did not.) While stuck in the vault, Ichabod neatly lays out their problem through a cool bit of storytelling: in order to get out of the vault, they need to press the exact alchemical symbol built into the wall. Ichabod thinks he’s onto something and presses a symbol without consulting Abbie; needless to say, he’s wrong, and they almost die. “I was excited; I may have acted rashly,” Ichabod confesses to Abbie. After discussing the problem together, Ichabod then presses the right symbol, and they escape.
With Hawley off being captured by strangers from his past, it’s Jenny Mills who steps up to rescue him. The scene where the Mills sisters good-cop-bad-cop a suspect was incredible. The two of them go to a guy called McKenna because they think he set Hawley up, and when McKenna isn’t moved by Abbie’s righteous wielding of the law, Jenny fucking slams his head into his own counter. Threatened by Jenny’s fighting skills and his own tarnished police record, McKenna quickly gives them the name of Hawley’s kidnapper.
In our side plot this episode, Irving shockingly finds himself cleared of all charges, and he’s excited to go and start rebuilding his relationship with Cynthia. Cynthia, however, keeps remembering Abbie’s words from last episode, and she’s not as excited. She insists that Katrina should examine Irving’s soul to see if it’s clear of Henry’s influence. But Katrina just asks Irving where her son is, and when Irving says he doesn’t know, she uses a potion to look through some of Irving’s past experiences. Then she tells him he’s free of Henry—most likely untrue, as Irving quickly finds he has no reflection. Uh-oh.
In the past week I’ve seen many fans take to social media to criticize both Katrina and Katrina’s actress, Katia Winter, for the character and the acting and that seems pretty unfair. For one, Katrina’s already been set up as pretty morally ambiguous, and she doesn’t even know Irving that well since she was in Purgatory all of Season 1 and Irving was in Tarrytown when she got out in Season 2. For another, Katrina hasn’t exactly been the easiest role to act, given the scripts. Winter even responded to some criticism via her Twitter account:
In previous episodes, I’ve criticized the writers for writing Katrina not as a person, but as a collection of tropes. But it seems like they’re really trying to change this—Katrina got some legit characterization in the last episode, and also proved that she isn’t always motivated by her relationship to a man. In this episode, we learn that Katrina might still possibly be evil, or at least definitely has her own agenda. If the writers are going forward with this, they just need to show more of her motivations and goals for her character to continue making sense. Like, we know she’s dead set on redeeming Jeremy—why? And don’t just say, “it’s cause she’s his mum.” That’s a cop-out and at this point, a stereotype. Is it guilt? Is it a convoluted relationship with the gender roles of the 18th century? Is it a desire to hang out with someone with powers again (as Jeremy is a witch)? As long as the writers keep giving us a three-dimensional character who isn’t motivated solely by men or by how many deus ex machinae the plot needs, I don’t care if Katrina turns out to be an evil character or a good character. And really, that shouldn’t even be a factor—if we all hated antagonistic characters with their own agendas, Snape and Loki shouldn’t have any fans at all.
Next time, a warlock comes back from the dead, and Irving becomes our unwilling undead expert. Can the Sleepy Hollow writers turn things around with only four episodes left in the season? I’m actually pretty excited to find out. See you all next week!