Skinny Jeans, Short Jokes, and a Demon! Sleepy Hollow‘s “Vessel”

And we’re back! This week saw a welcome return to form for Sleepy Hollow, and as much as I loved Carl’s write-up of Mr. Potato Horror, I felt like the Mystery Science Flashback Theatre was getting pretty worn out at this point—holy crap, Ichabod’s third cousin has an important message from the past and is also related to Abbie’s family in some way!—but last night my favorite time travelling Chosen One finally got back to what he does best: using archaic languages to thwart demons.

It also finally said those two little words we’ve been waiting to hear: dry cleaning.

But best of all, it actually tied up a few threads and let us all take a deep breath before the huge two-hour battle with evil next week. So, by way of synopsis:

Ichabod is worried that Moloch is coming for Abbie’s soul, but Abbie thinks it’s just a demonic boondoggle, and yells at him to try on more modern clothes.

Once again the show has fun with everyone trading awesome words around! Meanwhile, Irving gets a typically subtle message from the Underworld. First a demon calls him on his personal cellphone, then the word “Bible” is written in blood on his ceiling. They also sent him a text, hacked into his Google calendar to set an appointment, and left a post-it on his computer screen. All of this to say that if he doesn’t give Moloch’s emissary Washington’s Bible by sundown, Macy’s soul is going down. He tells Ichabod and Abbie, and they search through Sheriff Corbin’s collection of exorcism tapes (presumably on the shelf between The X-Files and his porn stash…) and find out that one of his first exorcise-ees was actually Jenny!

Sleepy Hollow Vessel Jenny

AAAAAHHHHH!

They talk to Jenny about it, and she confesses that the reason she used to get locked up all the time was to keep Abbie safe, since the demon was trying to use her as a weapon against her sister. They eventually figure out that the demon is speaking backwards, and when they reverse the tape it explains that the Beatles concert in Shea Stadium was actually an archaic ritual that—wait, no. Ichabod recognizes that it’s speaking Aramaic (obviously he speaks Aramaic) and apparently the demon is just saying “I am Ancetif” over and over again. Which is exactly what you should do if you’re a demon with an easily-researched weakness. Moloch needs new minions.

Irving, being a cop as well as an Apocalypse fighter, calls his priest and sets up a safehouse. Unfortunately for the Irvings, the show has finally found something interesting to do with Morales! Yeah, the same demon that’s been hoping through hot vendors and invades him, snaps his partner’s neck, and then invades the house. Irving, somehow not realizing Armageddon movies are also horror movies, leaves his endangered child alone to go have an intense conversation with his ex, then wanders out into the woods to talk to Abbie on the phone, and by the time he gets back Macy is…well, she’s doing this:

Sleepy Hollow Vessel Macy

Although to be fair to Capt. Irving, the demon totally grabbed her while the sun was still up.

So then it becomes a race against time, with Irving taking the demon and Cynthia back to Ichabod and Abbie’s headquarters to find the Bible while Abbie, Ichabod, and Jenny try to find a lamp that will cast Ancetif back into Hell. This involves a brief stop at an End-of-Days Cult’s compound, but it’s cool, Jenny knew them. So Jenny gets to hang out in her comfort zone. Her comfort zone is pointing multiple guns at people.

Sleepy Hollow Vessel

They make it back just as Ancetif has Cynthia by the neck! Jenny faces him down; she’s obviously scared, but then Abbie steps up next to her. And so Ancetif falls for their ruse, because Ichabod has been drawing a salt circle around it! The lamp opens, the demon is vanquished, and everyone takes a deep breath.

And so does the show, which is what’s really important. After the tangential and somewhat clunky development of Irving’s family, we get some real pay-off when we see them curled up on the floor.

Irving reaches out to grab Abbie’s hand and thank her, and between the journey the characters have been on, and the fact that all of them are acting the shit out of this scene, I actually welled up a little.

Sleepy Hollow Vessel

Then Abbie and Jenny hug it out (I think for the first time?) and it’s a great bit of emotional follow-thorough. The way Jenny hesitates before she puts her arms around Abbie, as though she’s genuinely forgotten how to touch another human, is a really good, instinctive moment.

Then the camera pans over to show us Ichabod, alone outside the salt circle, watching all these families come together.

I thought for a second that Abbie was going to pull him into a group embrace with her sister, but I’m really glad that the show sidestepped anything that clichéd. Good job, show.

Sleepy Hollow’s Interesting Relationship with Theology:

Sheriff Corbin uses Matthew 17:20 on Ancetif! “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” The interesting thing about using this particular quote, which they come back to several times, is that this is a prime example of what I, back in my religious studies days, used to call Jesus-sass. The disciples often screwed up, and really come across as a collection of spiritual Keystone Kops in many of the stories. Here they’ve botched an attempted healing of an epileptic boy and Jesus has to swoop in and fix things. This moment is actually pretty poignant because his mind is already on the upcoming trip to Jerusalem, and it is immediately after this incident that he warns them that someone is going to betray him.

Also, does unblessed Morton’s salt really work on demons? I seem to remember The X-Files making a point of using giant sacks of kosher salt…personally I prefer the pink Himalayan stuff for my exorcisms. You can’t be cheap about this stuff.

Sleepy Hollow’s Interesting Relationship with Shipping:

This show has now set up several ships (with the active encouragement of Mr. Jones) so I find it really interesting that it keeps reaffirming the established relationships. As much as Ichabod and Abbie are partners and occasionally flirts, Ichabod is devoted to Katrina. After setting up some sparks with Capt. Irving and Jenny, we now see the depth of his love for his wife, and the bond that used to hold the family together. Interesting stuff.

I’m still holding out for Icholanda, though.

Ichabod Grapples with Modernity:

Holy shit skinny jeans!!!!

Sleepy Hollow Ichabod skinny jeans

Also, he conquers the pause button.

Abbie Grapples with…Anything?

She struggles, briefly, with fear that her sister is going to turn on her again, but she overcomes it like the boss that she is. Watching her step up next to Jenny and cock her head at the demon was one of the most weirdly moving moments of the series so far. And seriously, if I was a demon and saw this look on Abbie’s face:

Sleepy Hollow Vessel Abbie Jenny

I’d run back to hell without being asked a second time.

So! We’re almost to the Apocalypse! Or at least, the Season 1 Apocalypse. What are we expecting? What are our fondest hopes? Personally, I just want two hours of John Cho…


Leah Schnelbach thinks the SH writers need to come up with some sort of skinny jean/Revolutionary War-era coat combo for Ichabod. For, um, historical accuracy. Someday, perhaps, she will use Twitter more consistently.

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