Nov 19 2013 5:00pm

The Necromancer Chains Death! Sleepy Hollow: “Necromancer”

Death in Chains

Okay, this was one more packed episode—and I hate to say it, but I felt like this was weaker one. Where the flashbacks worked well in “Midnight Ride” and “Sin Eater,” here they felt too expository. There were still some fun moments, though, and possibly the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

So, in Story One, Ichabod and Abbie interrogate the Horseman with some help from Andy, who is apparently now a freelance necromancer when he’s not being controlled by Moloch. Meanwhile, over in Story Two, Irving picks Jenny up on her first day out of the mental hospital, and the two of them track the nefarious Hessians, who, after stealing a magical artifact, blow up the Sleepy Hollow power plant to cut off the electricity—thus killing the UV lights that are keeping the horseman weak. Irving and Jenny head back to the Horseman’s cell to act as backup, the interrogation does not go as planned, and Ichabod duels with death.

So, the main element didn’t completely work for me this time. There were several scenes jammed in that filled in more of the details of Ichabod and Katrina’s courtship, and his life before their marriage, but they were all so rushed that much of the information didn’t really land. We were very abruptly introduced to Ichabod’s best friend and partner-in-espionage Abraham, who is also (dun dun dun) Katrina’s affianced! But then she breaks off with him to be with Ichabod!

Abraham Van Brunt

And then Ichabod, like a crazy honor-obsessed dunce, tell Abraham that they’re in love and want his blessing, while they’re on a top-secret mission to deliver the Declaration of Resolves to the First Continental Congress, which of course means it’s time for a duel.


Which Abraham wins, but then the Hessians shoot him, and Ichabod barely escapes with the incredibly precious document as his friend lays dying.

God, Ichabod, for a super-secret spy, you’re really not good at tactics.

The continuing interrogation of the Horseman reveals that Abraham made a deal with Moloch as he was dying, becoming the Horseman of Death in exchange for claiming Katrina’s soul for his own—presumably after the Apocalypse is taken care of?


 This fills in more of Ichabod and Katrina’s life, but it also does a weird thing with Katrina’s story—while yes, it was her choice to break off her arranged marriage to Abraham, we now know that she’s being held as the Horseman’s prize—not that she’s there because of some magical act, or her attempt to save Ichabod at all. This also means that Katrina bound Ichabod to his former best friend, her former fiancé, unknowingly, and it gives the Horseman a completely personal motivation for coming after Ichabod rather than continuing his mission.

Here’s the problem: we find all of this out, via flashbacks, during Ichabod’s attempted interrogation of the Horseman. We learn about Abraham’s existence, see his duel with Ichabod, and within 10 minutes Ichabod and the Horseman are dueling, and we see that the Horseman’s stance is Abraham’s. Then, to underline it for us, the episode inserts a mini-flashback to the duel we just saw into the duel we’re currently watching.

Duel with Death

Grrr…show, I like to do some of the work! Let me use my brain-meats!

Now, I think that the revelation of the Horseman being Ichabod’s undead best friend is great, but… you know how, on the Golden Girls, sometimes Blanche would suddenly have another daughter we’d never heard of before, because the writers needed somebody to visit and cause a plot to happen? Or like in the classic Family Ties episode, “A My Name is Alex” we suddenly learn about Alex P. Keaton’s best friend since kindergarten, who we’ve never met before, who has conveniently died in time for sweeps week? That’s almost how this felt. Suddenly Ichabod has a formerly unmentioned friend/rival, who also just happens to be the most important nemesis on the show. It was a lot to take in, and I think the show would have been far better served by introducing Abraham a couple of episodes ago, say during the “Sin Eater,” so that finding out about his deal with Moloch would have been an actual gut-punch, as it is for Ichabod.

There is also the fact that this is now another heavy burden of guilt to hang on our dear Mr. Crane. Not only did he allow Arthur Bernard to die, now he also betrayed his best friend, and led to him selling his soul?

Ichabod Crane

Now, on to what the show did really really well this week: ANDY. I seriously hope that wasn’t the last time we see John Cho, because he’s been great. I was really there for his tortured, please don’t trust me stuff, and I honestly feel the unrequited longing for Abbie way more strongly with him than I do with Morales. He also got to do some great work as Death’s mouthpiece, with the black eyes and the twisting head and everything. Plus, in the end he took the initiative and saved Ichabod, kinda, and managed to gasp out a really sincere-sounding “Tell Abbie I’m sorry” as he went poof. He also does the best snapped-neck acting I’ve ever seen.

Andy Brooks

The other good thing—the long-awaited team-up of Irving and Jenny! After they spend about ten minutes arching their eyebrows at each other and discovering their shared love of Significant Glance Theater, they decide to team up. Irving takes Jenny to Adams’ Antique Shop, and we again get to see that Jenny in some ways had more connections and roots in the town than Abbie does. Jenny used to procure pieces for Adams, and knows how to get into the secret room behind his shop—you just twist the Ben Franklin head!

Ben Franklin


(Can I mention how much I love all the secret passageways and tunnels in this show, by the way? It’s like all of Sleepy Hollow is just an incredibly elaborate town-sized gothic manor.)

They find Adams, wounded but alive, and they see that the special Druidic Maguffin has been taken. So here’s the other thing that didn’t work as well…16th Century Druidic scripture? Quoi? Look, Rosicrucians, Knights Templar, Freemasons, I can handle whatever you want to throw at me, Sleepy Hollow Writers, but you want to conjure up Druids that were still walking around in the 1500s, and just throw Cromwell’s name in there too? I guess Supernatural already copyrighted the overdramatic use of the word “Enochian” so “Druidic” had to do….but the cool thing is that we see Irving and Jenny already functioning as a team—and possibly doing better than Ichabod and Abbie. Irving’s a little annoyed when Jenny decides to go rogue at the power plant, but he’s also clearly impressed. And, well, this is Jenny’s response to being shot at:

Jenny Amused by shoot-out

And this is Irving’s:

Irving amused by shoot-out


I think we may have a new ship on our hands.

So the episode wraps up with...um... Jirving? acting as backup in the tunnels, Ichabod pretty much loses it, Abbie’s forehead remains perpetually scrunched in concern, and Andy saves the day. Not what I was expecting. I’m hoping for some far more complicated reason for Katrina’s exile in Purgatory - while the romantic triangle adds an interesting wrinkle to her timeless love with Ichabod, it also turns her into much more of an object than an agent. But Ichabod’s increasing anger is giving him more depth - he’s becoming a real, flawed person, rather than just a collection of charming British quirks. I don’t think he came up with a single quip in this episode, actually. And letting us see Andy’s remorse was just perfect - the show has turned a henchman into a tragic figure.


Ichabod’s Struggles with Modernity:

There wasn’t so much in the episode, but I do get to write the two most delightful words of my tenure so far at Tor.com:





I love that Abbie recommends he read “The Metamorphosis,” but does she think it’s an American story? I also love the idea that Ichabod is spending his time catching up on Faulkner and Twain.

Of course he prefers candlelight….


Abbie’s Struggles with…anything?

Abbie and Andy hold hands

Not really. She does get a wonderful moment of empathy with Andy, where she holds his decaying hand, and gives him probably the only moment of warmth he’s had since he made the deal with Moloch. Other than that, she’s a little annoyed that Irving brought Jenny down to the cell, and then she’s frustrated with Ichabod’s insistence on interrogating the Horseman when he’s clearly losing it, but that’s it. She mostly stays out of Ichabod’s way. And while I’m glad to see more of Ichabod’s anger coming out, it does seem to be shifting the dynamic a little, and taking up most of the show’s oxygen. This show needs to be Abbie’s story at least as much as Ichabod’s—but, obviously, we’ve still got a few more episodes to go, so I’m probably doing al ittle too much forehead scrunching of my own.



How awesome was it when Irving stood up for Abbie? As an analog to last week, when we saw how much lighter and friendlier he is with everyone but Mills and Crane, seeing him shut Jenny down by talking about how hard Abbie’s working was pretty gratifying.

If you had told me halfway through the pilot that Andy was going to be the most poignant and emotionally resonant character on the show, I would have done my best attempt at Irving Eyebrows. And yet here we are. Come back, Andyyyyy!

I find it really interesting that Ichabod is becoming angry and unhinged. After seeing him as an interrogator in “Sin Eater,” seeing him taunt the Horseman, mocking him in his defeat (essentially saying “I took your hee-eead! I took your hee-eead!”) shows us a darker side to his personality.

Ichabod having a spot of tea

Any “Ichabbie” stuff has basically been thrown out the window in this episode—he won’t listen to Abbie despite all of his promises to her, and because of that almost blows the interrogation completely. The charm and lightness he shows with her is almost gone, and he ends the show by saying that “Now, more than ever, we need Katrina,” with real desperation, while Abbie looks worried.

Next week is a haunted house episode! With apparent ties to Katrina. So hopefully they’ll give us a fun MOTW, with a side of mythology-building! 

Tell me what I missed!

If Leah Schnelbach ever chains Death, she'll be sure to ask Him better questions. You can follow her on Twitter!

Matt Stoumbaugh
1. LazerWulf
I think "Jenniving" sounds better than "Jirving".
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
Does nobody read Washington Irving anymore? In all the online reviews I've seen of this episode today, not one reviewer has caught onto the fact that Abraham Van Brunt is the real name of Brom Bones, who in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is Ichabod Crane's rival for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, and who may have impersonated the Headless Horseman to scare Crane away. So all this backstory may be new to the show, but it's something that maybe we should've been expecting all along, since this is the first time the show Sleepy Hollow has ever really had all that much of a connection to the story it's theoretically based on.
3. Aella
"Irny" gets my vote. That is all I have to say.
Marilynn Byerly
4. MByerly
And Ichabod got his butt kicked both times when he dueled Abraham. Not very heroic but more realistic since Ichabod was a scholar while Abraham had the training because he was an aristocrat.

What bothered me is Katrina. She's first introduced as a Quaker, isn't she? A Quaker woman in the dressy outfit in a social situation that wasn't remotely suited to her religion? I don't think so.

And Abraham sells his soul because his pride is hurt? That's overkill even for an arrogant snot like him.

And Headless' horse saved the day like Lassie Lipizzaner telling the Hessians that Timmy, I mean Headless, had fallen into the well. Yeah, horse! That was my favorite part.
Leah Schnelbach
5. Cloudyvision
@MByerly: I love the horse! I want it to get its own episode, ala Appa in Avatar.

@Aella: YES. Although I do also like Jenniving.

@Christopher: I did catch the name thing, and I meant to talk about that a little more... I think what's throwing me is that they decided to make the Horseman one of the Four Horsemen, who obviously have their own narrative weight, but then they keep mashing bits of the original Irving story into it. So in this case I ended up feeling like it was little too much. I would have loved it if they'd just had Brom as a character in his own right...but I may also be overanalyzing at this point. :)
Mo -
6. Astus
While I did enjoy the episode overall, I agree that the Horseman reveal felt clunky. As a whole, I haven't really enjoyed the flashback sequences but introducing Abraham in this episode just felt too convenient. Might have been good to illustrate the camaraderie between him and Crane in the earlier flashbacks. The reveal felt a bit flat rather than having emotional weight.
7. sterling
Well, there were Quakers and Quakers by the eighteenth century. Some had done quite well for themselves in the colonies and had become very prosperous merchants. Some of these wealthy Quakers would dress in a more fancy, secular fashion than the more devout members of the Friends.
8. corrielle
I have so much fun reading these reviews every week that I grin like crazy when they show up in my twitter feed!

@sterling: I'm glad to hear that the bit of Katrina's back story where she's part of the Quaker community wasn't complete retconned by this weeks episode. Because that was the big problem that my house's SH watch party had. She looked so very different and... out of keeping with the little I remembered about the Quakers and, more importantly, what she looked like in the episode where she and Ichabod meet, with NO explanation from the show about what caused the change.

The thing that really had me scratching my head, though, was the timeline. Was Katrina engaged when she met Ichabod and had all of those intense interactions with him before he switched sides? When, exactly, did he become friends with Abraham? Was that before or after Ichabod found out Katrina was engaged to him? Or did she get engaged AFTER she met Ichabod? That seems very unlikely, but I suppose it's a possibility. The way they talked about the engagement in this episode, though, it seemed like it had been a done deal for a while, and that Ichabod knew them as an engaged couple for quite some time... still, though, not knowing when exactly the engagement happened, or WHY it happened really bothers me. Honestly, if the whole, "oh, he's a good man and he can provide for you" thing was actually Katrina's reason for agreeing to that match, I'll be disappointed because the very independent, version of Katrina who travels on her own, meets with abolitionists, calls out British offices on their cruelty, and helps change Ichabod's mind seemed not to be the type to agree to a marriage like this in the first place. And for her to do it AFTER they meet and have all that chemistry? I don't buy it.

Hopefully next week's episode will provide answers. Until then, I'm going to sit over here and be a slightly grumpy Katrina fan.
Pernilla Leijonhufvud
9. Therru
The literature thing really threw me.
Crane: "Metamorphosis."
Abbie: "Yes, a lot has happened in American literature in the last 200 years."
Me: "Wait, what?" I mean, how's that for a non sequitur? I feel that there was a lot of "not keeping the facts straight" going on in this episode. Calling alchemical symbols "hieroglyphs" (and having Ichabod able to read them even though nobody had managed to crack them in his day). Renaissance Druids (good name for a band, though). Katrina's story seemingly completely retconned. And Abraham may have been plucked from the pages of the original story, but he was indeed plunked into this version completely out of the blue, and also being a bit of an arrogant dick, which garnered him no sympathies from anyone but, strangely, Ichabod. Also, making the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse merely a jealous rival out for personal revenge (instead of, you know, a nightmarish Biblical harbinger of the Apocalypse) was kind of bringing him down in the world, I feel. I've loved this series so far, but this ep did suffer from some subpar writing.

Also, I thought of them as Jenning.
Doreen Sheridan
10. dvaleris
I'm pretty sure Crane refered to Katrina's engagement as arranged during the party scene. And while I, too, am constantly taken aback by Katrina's outfits, I wasn't quite as surprised by the dress she wore to the party because, well, it was a party.

I don't believe that Moloch was able to claim Katrina's soul because of a promise to Abraham, despite what Moloch might have let the raging, unfortunate and clearly not thinking-very-clearly young man believe (and I'd cut him some slack on the whole selling-his-soul thing: he was a hot-tempered, arrogant fellow who probably felt he'd just been betrayed by his fiancee and his best friend.) I'm pretty sure Katrina landed in Moloch's realm all on her own.
11. Megs
I wasn't as in love with this episode as I could have been, either. As others have said, the Katrina backstory felt very confused and inconsistent with the last bit of Katrina backstory, and the stuff with Abraham lacked emotional heft (and oh man so predictable). I feel like Katrina just hasn't settled into the story yet, and making her the damsel is obnoxious. As another review pointed out, the horseman was scarier when he was an inhuman specter of doom, not an arrogant scorned nobleman.

BUT it was great seeing Jenny, Irvine and Andy get some love! I had a moment where I was like "wait a minute, why are the sherrifs just letting her tag along on an investigation... armed?" And then I remembered that due process doesn't exist in this universe and just let it flow. This was also the week I discovered Orlando Jones' twitter and tumblr and now I have a new celebrity I want to be best friends with.

Whether the Metamorphasis bit was a goof or not, I thought it was funny. I could totally see Abby thinking "oh yeah, I read that in high school, must be Great American Literature." She's not dumb, but she's not the scholar on the team either, and lots of people have big glaring blind spots like that.
Anthony Pero
12. anthonypero
I was disappointed by a lot of this episode at the time I watched it...

But I've since watched the Red John reveal on The Mentalist. It changed my perspective on disapointment.

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