It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Sleepy Hollow episode, and almost as long since I’ve watched one, but after a small mini-marathon yesterday morning, I was raring to go for last night’s episode. With Hawley out of the way and only a few episodes left in the season, I figured the writers would be bringing their A-game. It was therefore doubly disappointing to discover that “Spellcaster” wasn’t really anything to write home about. Spoilers after the jump!
The antagonist of this episode is an undead warlock named Solomon Kent who’s after an ancient grimoire. He’s unafraid to murder bystanders in his quest, and that’s what keys Team Witness onto him in the first place. When they discover who he is, Katrina exposition-dumps his biography for us: Kent was a warlock and community leader in Salem, Massachusetts when her grandmother van Tassel (also a witch) lived there. Kent had a fixation on a young woman in the town, and when he realized she didn’t return his affections, he overreacted and accidentally killed her. To hide his crime, he transformed her corpse to look demonic, and told the townsfolk that she’d turned into a monster and attacked him. The cover-up for his crime ended up spiraling out of control into the notorious Salem Witch Trials.
Broni Friendzoni the warlock ended up escaping Purgatory after Moloch’s death, and he wants the grimoire in question because it contains a spell that will let him travel backward in time. If he can go back, he can avoid killing the girl he was crushing on; however, his going back would dramatically alter the course of history, and Abbie and Ichabod can’t allow it. After Katrina is put out of commission during their first battle with Kent, Team Witness teams up with Irving (as their resident expert on the undead) to use modern witchcraft—chemistry and electricity—to stop him.
Meanwhile, we also get our first real glance at Henry since the midseason finale: he’s been hanging out in a motel being literally the most boring angsty manpainbot that I have seen from the show so far. He doesn’t leave until the very end of the episode, when he meets up with Irving. Irving has, unbeknownst to Abbie and Ichabod, stolen the powerful grimoire that Kent had been using, and he presents it to Henry. If it wasn’t clear before that he was under Henry’s control, it’s pretty dang obvious now. And speaking of untrustworthy, shoutout to my girl Katrina? She’s been cagey for a while, but she seemed to be leaning on the darker side of her powers this episode in a way that drained her power dramatically. She was unwilling to let Ichabod or Abbie see her use this dark power, and when she tried to control it later on she ended up destroying the flower she was trying to ensorcel. And her tight-lippedness is rubbing off on her hubby; for all that they were trying to reignite the spark of their marriage a few episodes ago, Ichabod was super-eager to ditch Katrina when Abbie invited him out for a celebratory post-monster-slaying pint.
My biggest issue with this episode was that, while it revealed some things we’ve been waiting to find out about, and while it set up the conflicts we’ll likely see coming to fruition in the finale, it was just… kind of boring. Kent the sad friendzoned warlock was the most uninteresting villain-of-the-week in the world. The scenes with Henry at the motel where he was crashing were equally boring, and also useless. They introduced us to a series of minor characters—the mother and son who ran the motel, and some vaguely ethnic-yet-bad-at-Spanish gangsters who harassed them—who were irrelevant by the end of the episode, and were therefore only there to prop up Henry’s annoying character arc.
One side note on worldbuilding that I was confused about this episode: any fears I have about Katrina’s dark powers from a plot standpoint aside, they have been manifesting in ways that Katrina’s powers never have before. She’s always seemed to depend on spells and chanting; in this episode, however, she is suddenly able to casually use telekinesis and change the appearance of objects without any spellcasting. She says something handwave-y about her powers peaking, but it doesn’t seem enough to explain this total stylistic switch. I’m not sure if this is bad writing or her powers growing more complex now that she’s tapping into her darker side.
Henry’s finally gotten his shit together and seems to be back in the saddle—apparently all he really needed was to murder some fuckboys—and, per his speech to Irving at the end of the episode, he’s ready to rewrite the story of the apocalypse to suit his needs. I still can’t figure out whether the show wants to redeem him or not, so I can’t say with any certainty what he’ll do now that he has the grimoire. I can guess, though, that things will get worse before they get better. I think it goes without saying that the same is true for whatever’s up with Irving. While he is definitely working for Henry, it’s unclear what his motivations are or if he has any. Is he a mindless drone of Henry’s, just pretending to still care for his family and Abbie? Is he like Andy, subject to his master’s will but still carrying some loyalty to his pre-death friends? Whichever is true, shit is undoubtedly going to hit the fan when Team Witness finds out.
I’m interested to see how the writers can tie up everything they’ve laid down in the next three episodes. They’re doing decently well as of right now, but I don’t know if the season finale will go off with a bang or a sizzle. Till next week!