When Zombie George Washington is Not Even the Craziest Part. Sleepy Hollow‘s Season Finale

Well. That was something, wasn’t it? I’m not even sure how to recap this beast, because two hours of Sleepy Hollow means about an entire season’s worth of emotions and crazy plot twists.

So, let’s just start with ZOMBIE GEORGE WASHINGTON and go from there, shall we?

First hour: “The Indispensible Man:”

Washington had himself raised from the dead so he could draw Ichabod a map of the afterlife, so that Captain Crane would be able to travel between worlds if necessary. This is the kind of forward thinking and strategizing that won us the Revolutionary War, people. The map was buried with him…in his true burial site, which is in, say it with me, Sleepy Hollow! Ichabod, Abbie, and Henry search for the tomb. Henry gets himself burned by some a cursed rosary, and eventually they find the correct, extremely Masonic, tomb. The tomb comes complete with a pyramid, a tribute to Cincinnatus, and booby traps. Luckily, Ichabod knows how to solve the puzzle, so the doors open, all the torches light themselves, and Moloch is revealed to be Gannon and they find the map!

Which Ichabod then has to pry from Washington’s cold, dead hands. Andy, who has recommitted himself to the demonic life, comes after them, and almost kills Abbie before Henry stops him by sucking some of the sin out of him. That’s a handy trick. After they escape, and Andy is (seemingly) really most sincerely squished, Ichabod burns the map to prevent it falling into Moloch’s hands.

But…then Ichabod’s eidetic memory comes into play, and he recreates the map, because Katrina. This is probably a bad move.

Meanwhile, Capt. Irving is taking the fall for Macey’s exorcism murders, and is led away in handcuffs.


Second hour: “Bad Blood”

Henry tells Ichabbjenny that the Horseman of War is being resurrected, and when they try to find a clue to stop him, Ichabod’s recreated map comes into play. Jenny and Abbie each promise to find the other again, no matter what Moloch throws at them, and Jenny goes to find clues left behind by Corbin. Abbie and Ichabod go to the forest and use Zombie Washington’s instructions to open the gate to Purgatory.

Henry warns them about the temptations, and he’s apparently read the story of Persephone, because her specifically mentions not eating or drinking anything. Then, the hand-holding happens, oh my god, and they go through the mirror into Purgatory.

Abbie’s temptation is a warm, familial dinner with her real father, Sheriff Corbin, and a non-demonic Andy. They offer her apple pie, and she very nearly takes the bait, until she remembers Ichabod, and the pie starts oozing blood:

Ichabod’s temptation is also a return to his father (none other than Jesus Bristow himself, Victor Garber!) who reassures him that he’s proud of him, and that the Crane line will continue at Oxford. Ichabod is offered a sinister looking drink in a green goblet, because I guess his dad is also Maleficent? But he sees through the ruse, which really annoys his dad:

Ichabod finds his way to Abbie, and they test each other:

Abbie swaps her soul for Katrina’s (BAD IDEA. BAD IDEA.) and stays behind as the two of them go back into the world. At which point things get super extra crazy. I mean, even for this show, which starts at crazy, they go ahead and yank the dial all the way up to BATSHIT WHAAAAAT I CAN’T EVEN. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read past this line, because it’s nothin’ but spoilers all the way down.

As Jenny’s trying to call Abbie and warn her about their true enemy, Headless shows up! And shoots the car!!!! Causing a massive crash that leaves Jenny at the very least pretty messed up and bleeding from a head wound.

Meanwhile, Abbie’s in a dollhouse in purgatory. This is the dollhouse:

All right. That’s it. Fuck you, show.

Hey, hey I didn’t mean that.

I’m sorry. Come here, gimme a hug, and let’s get through this together. She confers with her personified trapped memories about What Really Happened in the Forest That Day. And what happened was that she and Jenny saw War rise. Oh, and War? Ou know him already. He’s Henry Parish, and he just happens to have Ichabod and Katrina are bound to trees:

So he can reveal that he’s also their son, Jeremy. And then he decides to make Conor look like the most loving progeny ever, and actually calls Moloch his true father.

Henry/Jeremy/War, you’re a dick. You sold out Mr. Potato Horror, and you suck. But wait there’s more! He gives his mom to Headless! He drops Ichabod into a grave! He breaks the seal while Ichabod screams!

And then: Sleepy Hollow will return in Fall 2014.


So, I’ll try to sort through some thoughts here…


Abbie Struggles With…Anything?
Abbie and Jenny reaffirm their sisterhood, and Jenny promises to come get her. Where Katrina’s safe space is the church where she prays for Jeremy (which clearly didn’t work too well…) Abbie’s is the dollhouse she and her sister used to play with. The detail that they found it in a dumpster is kind of amazing. This is a show where the people standing between the world and apocalypse are two African-American women from a poor, abusive background, and a time-traveling British snob who renounced his family and nation to fight for America’s ideals.

Abbie’s biggest struggle was with her own concerns about Ichabod’s betrayal, which ended up playing into everything, because her decision to trust him led to their separation.


Ichabod’s struggles with modernity:
He learns how to use a cellphone! He learns emoji! He wants an upgrade! He talks to Siri about his undying love for Katrina! And he wanders into a Revolutionary War reenactment to buy some new clothes.


Daddy Issues
When Ichabod and Abbie get to Purgatory, their greatest temptation is to have a father figure who tells them he’s proud of them. Abbie’s rejection of Corbin puts a new level of scar tissue on their relationship. Ichabod quietly tells his father that he still loves him, even though he’s been disowned. Henry’s true motivation is vengeance against parents who abandoned him, and that “Moloch is my true father” thing sort of pins more of his issues on Ichabod—which is deeply unfair, since Ichabod was dead at the time. Jenny and Abbie both suffered at the hand of an alcoholic father who then left them with a crazy Season 2 plot point mom. And against all of these deadbeats stands Capt. Irving, who will literally do anything to protect his daughter.

Once again the family theme becomes oddly resonant. Capt. Irving is going to prison potentially to protect Macey. Jenny and Abbie reaffirmed their sisterhood, and promised not to lose each other again. Ichabod is willing to walk into Purgatory to save Katrina, and almost seems ready to chuck the whole Moloch-fighting part of the bargain to help his wife. Henry is the long-lost son of Ichatrina, and his entire reason for being a horseman is that he felt abandoned by Ichabod and Katrina in the first place. Well, and God, but that’s a whole other issue. Speaking of which….


Sleepy Hollow’s Relationship with Theology:

Any time Plan A in your fight against evil involves Zombie George Washington, a time-traveling Oxford professor, and pitting two completely unprepared tweens against the Horseman of War, maybe you need a backup? Just a thought, Deity Currently Running the Sleepy Hollow Universe. There are plenty of suggestions on Twitter and Tumblr for possible directions if you need any help.

Purgatory, at least as I have always understood it, is a place of purging, where sin is burned off through labor and penance until the soul is pure enough to enter Heaven. This is the point of candles in Catholic churches, in Catholicism, being dead means…well, just about as much as it does on Sleepy Hollow. You’re still part of the community, but since you’re almost certainly in purgatory since no one is perfect, people can light candles and pray for you to help you work shit off a little faster. In SH, Purgatory is a terrifying forest, filled with weird gooey demons crawling around, faceless crying women, and trapped childhood memories. It’s run by a demon, and the souls trapped there can pray for other souls. (Although Katrina praying for Jeremy is weird—first of all she’s a Quaker? And also, the Purgatoried souls aren’t usually praying for anyone else? But hey, I guess it’s all a free-for-all since Vatican II anyway.) Also, if you need out, you can swap one soul for the other as long as they weigh the same, like when Indy takes the idol in the beginning of Raiders. Also, Katrina says she can’t leave until she’s been forgiven for her sins, but by whom?

Also, the Jefferson Bible gets a shout-out! When Abbie says something about not feeling right about adding things to the Bible, Ichabod replies: “Thomas Jefferson took a scalpel to his copy of the Gospels.” This is awesome in several ways—first, I’m impressed that Ichabod has the guts to mention TJ again after what happened last time. But maybe more importantly, the way that Ichabod speaks admiringly of Jefferson as though he was a surgeon doing exacting work tells us a bit about Ichabod’s Relationship to the Enlightenment, and the fact that the show’s writers are careful to say “Gospels” rather than “Bible,” given that Jefferson only edited a few bits of the New Testament, is some nice religious historical accuracy. Just as earlier in the show’s run, when they corrected the usual mistake of people saying “Revelations” rather than “Revelation,” it’s a tiny gesture that shows not only that they’re doing their research, but also that they’re willing to fix mistakes they’ve made.

Finally, the Apocryphon of John is name-checked as the source of the prophecy that the two witnesses will turn on each other. The Apocryphon is a Gnostic Christian text, which pits matter (eeee-villlll) against spirit (goooood). In the text (which is more of a philosophical treatise in the style of Revelation than a narrative Gospel) Jesus is cast as a being of light trying to free people from their fallen physical selves. It’s a pretty pure expression of the dualist worldview that many Gnostic sects held, and it feeds into the show’s universe well.

Um, in short, I love a show that respects religion nerds.


Sleepy Hollow’s Relationship to Supernatural TV:
The demons in this show are strong. As of the end of the finale, Evil is clearly in the lead, and I’m almost wondering if this show is going to be a complete fakeout, and actually end up being about the evil characters rather than those fighting them. Like all right-thinking people, I love The X-Files, but the fact that all those seasons went by with the various Big Bads always staying their hands stretched the show’s credibility. Mulder and Scully never even really solved a case, for gods sake, but they were never fired, no one ever just put a gun to Mulder’s head and pulled the trigger, shadowy people kept curing Scully’s cancer—they always had an out. The Winchesters are still able to roam the countryside, destroying demons and urban legend villains, despite the trail of sexually voracious female demons they’ve left in their wake. And Buffy’s foes mostly dusted. In Sleepy Hollow there are consequences. Capt. Irving has no way to explain the two murders at his safehouse. None. He can’t say a demon did it, and he has no one to pin it on. Presumably Morales is still alive, but what is he going to remember? So Irving’s going on trial for murders he can’t explain.


Not only do we have one of the most diverse casts on TV, we’ve got two African-American women who have fought their way out of impoverished backgrounds to stand between the world and apocalypse. We’ve got a modern woman who chose to leave a so-so relationship to focus on her career, and a Colonial woman who walked away from an arranged marriage to a rich guy for true love and equal partnership. We’ve got a non-stereotypical black police captain who doesn’t yell all of his lines. We’ve got extras and background characters who represent different genders and races, rather than just being a sea of interchangeable white people. And maybe best of all? We’ve got white characters who shut up and listen when they’re being schooled on Sally Hemings.


The Curse of the Nice Guy
Officer Andy, Det. Morales, and Headless all have one thing in common: they could not accept that the women who happen to be in their lives also have their own lives. I’m sorry, boys, but just go update you OKCupid pages, all right? 

The Art of the Switcheroo
The switcheroo is important to this show. As much as I grumbled about all of Ichabod’s flashbacks earlier in the season, the emotional weight given to the family backstory meant that Henry/Jeremy/War’s betrayal of Ichabod and Katrina really meant something. It came completely out of left field, and it hurt. (Poor Mr. Potato Horror….) The show set Katrina up as a possible evil, with all the questions of why she was in Purgatory in the first place. Then it set Jenny up as a potential weak link, but rather than making Abbie and Jenny antagonists, the show did the emotional work of having them talk to each other. Their reminiscences proved that it really was the two of them against the world when they were children, which shows us just how badly Abbie’s betrayal broke Jenny, and, maybe even better, does not shy away from just how horrible it was for Abbie to abandon her sister. At one point, Tumblr was convinced that Irving was some sort of angel or demon, possibly the Metatron? And that Abbie and Jenny were the Witnesses rather than Abbie and Crane… basically, SH has bounced all of us around like a hacky sack on the quad of a small liberal arts college. And we loved it, because in each instance the writers chose to take us in solid directions that made sense as we got to know the characters better.


Sleepy Hollow’s Relationship with Ships:
SH set up a bit of a flirtation between Jenny and Irving (and honestly I love how those two bounce off each other) but then they reaffirmed Irving’s status as a family man. It’s clear that he and his wife had a real partnership before Macey’s accident, and its clear that he wants to make it work again—and was then willing to take the fall to save them. This idea obviously carried through even more strongly with Abibe and Ichabod. For all that people want to ship Ichabbie, the show is also dedicated to showing us how deeply Ichabod loves his wife, and as they piece her history together, we see that she did everything to try to save him, work against evil, protect their son, going so far as to betray her coven, allow herself to be burned, and to spend hundreds of years in purgatory all to try to contribute to the fight against evil. This also sets up the possibility that Ichabod and Abbie will have a truly non-romantic cross-gender partnership, which in this world of Bones and Castle and Mulder/Scully tension, would be goddamn fantastic. It’s also a fascinating, mature take on relationships.

And, in Conclusion, All Hail Sassy Hollow:
The aspect of SH that actually makes it worth reviewing, I think, is the dedication to humor. Tom Mison mentioned this in their press panel at Comic-Con—that while the actors are very serious about the emotion of the story, the show is also willing to wink at its audience occasionally. The moments like Ichabod’s confession to Siri, his unraveling of the mysteries of the emoticon, everything that happens in the reenactment scene, it all gives these people a depth and wit that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, as it turns out, it’s the humorless characters like Henry that you need to watch out for.

So what I’m saying is: Sassy Hollow 4-Eva.


How About You, Viewers at Home?
So what do you all think? Where are we going? Where have we been? And how the hell are we going to get through the next nine months?

I’m assuming mountains of fan art are going to be key, here…but I’ll leave you with this:

See you next fall, Sleepyheads.

Leah Schnelbach believes that Ichabod Will Rise, and also that there are not enough I Can’t With Yous in the world for this show.


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