Oh my gosh, you guys, Sleepy Hollow finally returned to its former glory just in time for the season finale. Even though we don’t yet know if there will be a third season or not, I really hope there will be. All season long, the writers have been cleverly tricking us into thinking they’re incompetent, and now they give us this? They could write all along! You’re not fooling anyone, Sleepy Hollow writers!
Spoilers after the jump!
My main complaint is just that there was so much story crammed into this one episode. Abbie ended up in the past, and though Ichabod doesn’t believe anything she says at first, he finally agrees to take her to see his mentor Benjamin Franklin, who tells them that Abbie’s ancestor Grace Dixon might be able to reverse the traveler spell. Then Franklin gets beheaded by the Headless Horseman. Katrina tries to kill Ichabod, but is foiled by the timely appearance of some soldiers; Ichabod and Abbie race to Fredericks Manor; Grace sends Abbie back to the future, where Ichabod kills Katrina.
That leads us into the main problem with this season: its pacing. Abbie-in-the-past was an amazing twist that definitely could have led us through the second half of the season, if the writers had seen fit to give the twist the time it deserved. Sleepy Hollow‘s flashbacks to Revolutionary times often feel like exposition dumps; why not take advantage of the fact that Abbie is actually in the past to not have any flashbacks? Also, why not use this opportunity to have Ichabod and Abbie take a couple episodes to travel around to all the founders and get info from them—particularly Jefferson, whose Fenestella they destroyed for literally no reason? Now both Witnesses are here—Jefferson has no excuse to not talk to Ichabod!
There are a number of things that the writers could have tightened up to make this season better. Hawley’s whole plotline aside, if Henry literally wasn’t going to do anything in the latter half of the season, why not just kill him in the first half of the season and spend the second half of the season actually fleshing out the newly evil Katrina? All we got from her in the end were some bad dreams and melancholy glances and we were left to conclude that she felt really guilty over being a bad mom, but we were never shown why she felt that way; we were only told “Okay, now she’s sad!” “Okay, now she’s evil!” In all her time on the show, Katrina (if she’s really dead, one never knows with Sleepy Hollow) only got to be an extremely underutilized series of tropes, not a real character.
But we’ve bemoaned the downward trajectory of this season enough—what about this plot twist? I was way more excited for this plot twist than basically everyone else on the review team, and this episode was almost everything I could have hoped for. The cool thing about Abbie going back in time was that she was now the “man out of time”, not Ichabod, and the writers went out of their way to reinforce the parallels between the two of them. Like Ichabod, Abbie woke up on the outskirts of town, almost got ran over by a carriage, and then was arrested when she went into town. This episode, she messed with the windows in the carriage like Ichabod did the windows in Abbie’s car, and she points out all the places that would be Starbucks in the future. It was a nice callback to happier days, when the pilot was enormous fun and everyone still loved this show.
And although I was afraid that Sleepy Hollow would veer away from any racism whatsoever, there was actually about as much talk of race and slavery as I think FOX could get away with. Abbie was called a “mysterious slave woman” and “an escaped slave” several times, and she was treated as such. That doesn’t mean Abbie was helpless—she saves Ichabod’s life yet again, she beats up the American commander who wanted to teach her a lesson, and, as the cherry on top of our awesome sundae, tells him, “Now that’s true American strength.” Sleepy Hollow showed that Abbie could more than hold her own in America’s racist past, and it also finally showed the audience that 1700s America wasn’t as amazingly race-blind as they keep saying it was.
Given all this, Ben Franklin’s meeting with Abbie was great. Normally it would be annoying to yet again see that the Founders were all completely free of racial prejudice, but seeing Franklin be so enthusiastic about meeting a time traveler fit right into the wacky persona he has in this show. And when Ichabod complains, Franklin tells him that Abbie is an “brilliant, educated, well-spoken” woman, an officer of the law, and more importantly, he says, “She is the American dream.” Abigail Mills, a Black woman, is the future. And it’s not just Franklin, an old white man, giving her accolades, either. In one of the most touching moments of the series, Abbie meets Grace Dixon, and in the short time they have together, they bond over their family heritage and their legacy. Grace tells her to look at her journal and says that the blank pages at the end are the most important, because those are the ones that Abbie will write. Grace hands off the torch to Abbie, and the line of amazing Mills women continues on.
The finale also leaves us on an interesting note between the two Witnesses. When Ichabod stabs Katrina, Abbie tries to comfort him by saying that he had no choice. Ichabod, however, tells her, “Yes, I did. We all did,” and in the end the two basically reaffirm, yet again, their commitment to each other. Ichabod flat out says that he had a choice, and he chose Abbie over his wife and everything that he knew. Like Ichabod’s actor Tom Mison said in a recent interview, “They belong together, whether it’s the 18th century or the 21st century or whatever century. Whether it’s in America or England. Wherever they were destined to meet, they will be together and they will be drawn to each other.” Shipping intensifies.
With the end of this episode, we basically have a blank slate. Katrina is dead, Henry is dead, Irving is presumably back on the side of the light, and the Witnesses are cool with each other again. Abbie says that they still have a fight to be fighting, but it’s not altogether clear what that fight is. I assume the Headless Horseman should be in it somewhere, and maybe Orion and the other freed Purgatory inhabitants will come into it, but we’re not sure. Part of this is probably because the show hasn’t been renewed yet. Should Sleepy Hollow get a third season? I’m inclined to say yes, especially as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. somehow scored a second season. If the writers could just write consistently good episodes instead of one good one here and there, then why not? The second season as a whole was not good, but it had some genuinely touching moments and some genuinely suspenseful ones as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the show isn’t renewed, but I hope it will be.
What did you all think of this season of Sleepy Hollow? Let us know in the comments.
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