This week’s episode was interesting, in that we finally got some plot development, but in such a surreal and odd way that I don’t know if it was necessarily better than the plotless episodes. It’s also an excuse for me to use the word antepenultimate, as there are only two more episodes left in the season after this.
Spoilers after the jump!
The episode starts out with a bit of a bait-and-switch on the baddie of the week. The cold open shows us a banshee attacking some dudes in a band, and Sophie brings Abbie in on the case when all three guys are discovered dead. I expected a regular monster-of-the-week episode right up until the dang Hidden One himself strolled right into Ichabod’s study.
The Hidden One claims to be there to kill Ichabod in defense of Pandora’s honor—odd, to me, considering he doesn’t seem to like her that much, and the more pressing reason is that the Witnesses are thwarting his plans left and right?—but Ichabod has Abbie’s symbol, and when the Hidden One attacks him, the symbol throws up a defensive barrier. A really effective barrier, in fact; it seals both of them into the study to await death by overload of the Hidden One’s power. Cue Pandora to show up and explain all of this to Abbie, forcing the two of them to team up to rescue their erstwhile beaux from death by supernatural Chernobyl. While Ichabod and the Hidden One fuss about, arguing about art and omnipotence and trying to work out a communication spell to talk to Abbie, the ladies get down to business. They try to capture the banshee so Pandora can use its power to dismantle the barrier, but Joe’s forced to kill it when it attacks Jenny. Joe then offers himself up in place of trying to hunt down another monster last-minute. Doing so could possibly purge him of his inner wendigo, about which he’s been angsting all episode, but it could also kill him.
Pandora convinces Abbie to bring her the rest of the pieces of her Box they’ve collected to focus her spell, because that’s a good idea. Abbie, between a rock and a hard place, doesn’t really have another choice, but Pandora still gets away with what they’ve spent episodes painstakingly collecting. In an odd moment of candor, she reveals to Abbie that she feels guilty because she was the one who revealed the power of Abbie’s symbol, which is apparently called the Emblem of Thura, to the rest of humanity, thus revealing the Hidden One’s weakness. This of course is timed perfectly with the boys getting their communication spell running, so the Hidden One overhears everything.
That little seed of discord sown, everything progresses pretty predictably from there. The barrier is broken, Pandora flees with the Box, Joe is totally fine and seems to be wendigo-free, and Abbie and Ichabod go for donuts. It looks like next week’s drama will derive from the Hidden One confronting Pandora about her millenia-old betrayal.
I said at the beginning that this episode seemed surreal, and I think it’s because “enemies stuck in a place are forced to get along to break out” is a really difficult to sell trope (outside of fanfic). It was bizarre how easily Ichabod and the Hidden One progressed from outright animosity to arguing about the merits of Charles Schulz and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Meanwhile, there was more mistrust toward Pandora on Abbie’s part, but it seemed pretty one-sided. Is Pandora so confident in Team Witness’s purity of heart that she figured she could come to them and they’d just help her?
Jenny and Joe’s relationship continues to both progress and to be the only romantic entanglement in the show right now that makes sense. However, while they did get some cute banter this episode, I was of two minds about their climactic scene. While Pandora is drawing off Joe’s dark energy, he goes so fully wendigo that Jenny has to talk him back to humanity so he doesn’t mindlessly ruin the ritual. She allays him with confessions of love and promises of commitment to remind him of his humanity. On one hand, this could be seen as good character growth for Jenny; we’ve often seen her struggle to express her gentler side and coming to terms with that part of herself is good for her. However, it’s also a very tropey Beauty and the Beast moment, where the woman is able to show the monster his humanity because she loves him.
I’m struggling so much to figure out what’s going on with this show. Do they have any idea how they’re going to end the season? Are they actually hoping for renewal? There are a lot of plot threads that still need tying up, Reynolds’s mysterious boss not least among them. Is Ichabbie endgame? It seemed like it a few episodes ago but we haven’t got much development there lately. Why is the Hidden One the worst omnipotent villain I’ve ever seen? Will Ace use the slightly-less-cool-sounding-than-antepenultimate word penultimate in next week’s review? Only time will tell, I guess.