It’s All About the Benjamins in Sleepy Hollow: “This is War”

So how was everyone’s summer? Do we all remember where Sleepy Hollow left us last year? Ichabod’s buried alive, Abbie’s in Purgatory, Purgatory continues to deviate from every catechism class I ever avoided, Henry is actually War and also actually Ichabod’s son Jeremy, and—hang on, there’s waaaay too much to cover here. Check out Fox’s recap to get up to speed.

So for the season premiere, “This is War,” you want to see Ichabod and Abbie attempting to bust out of their respective prisons, right? And you want to see Henry savoring evil witticisms like they were… I don’t know, cherry tomatoes or something? And you want to see Jennie being her usual BAMF self? What if I told you, dear friends, that not only do you get all of that, but that ICHABOD SNARKS ON BEN FRANKLIN THE WHOLE TIME?

We open on Ichabod in his coffin, but then suddenly he’s with Abbie again, and they’re celebrating his birthday. She tells him how to blow out the candle and make a wish, but as he begins to say it, she hushes him, saying it won’t come true if he says it out loud. Ichabod responds, “Is there no end to this birthday madness?”

This is cute and all, but what’s going on? Is this real life? And wait, what, Katrina and Jenny are dead? WHAT?

They get called (by whom?) to speak to an archivist, but by the time they get to the archives the place is strewn with overturned furniture and decapitated corpses. Just another night in Sleepy Hollow. They discuss the drawing of a key in the archivist’s notes, and Ichabod tells Abbie that it is, in fact, Ben Franklin’s key—the one he tied to the kite when he discovered electricity.

According to Ich-history, Ben was trying to destroy the key, not make a giant scientific discovery. And incidently, Ichabod hated Franklin. Anyway, the key can open Purgatory, which means Moloch cannot get that key! They confront Henry, who is now their prisoner. Abbie remembers that Jenny brought the key back to Sleepy Hollow from Philadelphia, and the two Witnesses concoct a plan to chase down Ben Franklin’s key. But why does Henry seem so smug? And why is Ichabod having such trouble remembering how they captured him?

Naturally the whole thing is a ruse. Ichabod wakes in his coffin, knowing that Henry has just read his and Abbie’s thoughts to figure out the location of the key. So now all Henry has to do is torture the information out of Jenny. And Ichabod’s still trapped! And this is awful! Except that those of you who theorized that Ichabod’s cellphone would play a role in his escape should take half a shot now! He totally records a message for Abbie, in the hopes that she’ll find it if he dies. And it’s emotional and awesome and then he realizes the phone’s memory is full, so it didn’t actually record anything. Sigh.

But the flashlight still works, so he’s able to use the flint and powder that he always carries on his person apparently to rig up a mini-bomb! A perfect melding of modern tech and Revolutionary-War-era flintlock use.

Henry mind-melds with Jenny, and for some reason reading her sins gives him the location of the key. So I guess she was worshipping a false idol while she found the key, or was acting particularly slothful or gluttonous, ’cause otherwise that’s not how Sin Eating works. Follow the rules, Henry.

Sleepy Hollow

But this is still Jenny we’re dealing with, so as soon as Henry’s out of the way she kicks and headbutts her Hessian captor into submission (while still tied to the chair) breaks the zipties, and practices her knife-throwing skills. After a quick text with Crane, she’s back in her comfort zone, shooting people who outnumber her, until Ichabod manages to pick her up in an ambulance. Jenny should be on every show.

Meanwhile, in Purgatory: Abbie is still evading Moloch but at least the writers are being merciful this time, and they don’t stick us back in the terrifying doll house. Purgatory I can handle, but life-size dolls and emotionally-ravaged children are not okay, show. Suddenly someone grabs Abbie! It’s… wait, seriously? Andy? Don’t you ever give up?

Andy teaches Abbie how to make contact with the world above again, and claims that it’s not because he still has a total crush on Abbie, it’s just that, see, he needs to know he still has a trace of free will. Of course it’s that. It’s not at all that you watched Abbie date that dweeb Morales and then just when they were through, Ichabod swooped in with his big flapping Sherlock coat and ruined your unrequited fantasy. Nope. Not even a little bit.

Abby, apparently given linguistic superpowers by dwelling in Gehenna, reads Latin and creates a window, just as Ichabod happens to glance into the rearview mirror! And oh, do they ever hug as he’s transported into Purgatory.

Sleepy Hollow

And here is one of the best things about the show as a whole, and this episode in particular. Many shows have tried to invoke the Holy Couple, Mulder and Scully. (Some—Bones for instance—just go ahead and have one of the characters say, “We’re like Mulder and Scully.”) But Sleepy Hollow gets it right. As long as they’re apart, facing off with demons and terror, they are collected, competent, brave in the face of Death itself. Abbie has evade Moloch just fine so far, and Ichabod has broken out of a coffin that would have stymied Buffy herself, but when they finally see each other they collapse into each others’ arms and admit that they’re scared.

Then they go right back to the task at hand. Abbie is all for staying in the Underworld, justifiably worried that the key is just another one of Henry’s tricks, and also maybe trying to get in on the Noble Sacrifice action that Ichabod kept trying last season. But Ichabod made a promise, and he means to keep it. They set a meeting place, and he and Jenny head off to use some more of Ben Franklin’s aphorisms to find the Key Ex Machina. Ichabod is disturbed to learn that there are statues of Mr. Franklin all over the country. “It’s all about the Benjamins” Jenny muses. “Yes,” Ichabod snaps. “It always was.” Oh show, please don’t ever change.

They get the key, Ichabod goes back for one last Purgatory-heist, and he and Abbie are reunited again! Oh but there’s a second Ichabod? Has Orlando Jones for real been reading my fan ficti…oh, wait. He’s an imposter. Heh. Never mind.

They make it out, Providence casts a Glass Be Back spell to keep Moloch where he belongs, and the key disintegrates. Happy ending!

Oh, hang on. Here’s Henry again, and Moloch’s gotten him a pretty new suit! And a…sword? And Henry’s quoting Jesus? Well, this can’t be good.

I come not to bring peace, but a sword, eh? Apparently Henry prefers a literal interpretation of the New Testament…


Notes and Errata!

Sleepy Hollow Benjamin Franklin

Seriously. Never, never change.

  • Nudist Ben Franklin! Hellfire club! Squished strumpets! This is all the stuff they only taught in A.P. History, I guess.
  • Man, does Ichabod ever not like Ben Franklin. He hates his stupid made-up alphabet, he hates his nudity, he hates his aphorisms, and he thinks he was a “gasbag with an insatiable need to prove he was the sharpest intellect in the room.” Abbie could see how that was maybe a problem for our Ichabod.
  • How great was Andy? Seriously, as much as I mock him, he really does keep trying to not suck.
  • But on that note, is this show’s whole subtext a commentary on the bullshit that is “Friendzoning”? Seriously, Headless, no means no. Katrina is not confused, she’s married. To another guy. Whom she loves. Who is not and never was you. And Morales and Andy: I realize that Abbie Mills is awesome, but maybe you need to accept that she just isn’t interested in a relationship right now? Especially now, seeing as how you’re both pretty dead.
  • The shattering Purgatory Gateway effect continues to be cool. BUT. I must mention as an Indiana Jones fan, that when Indy says “Only the penitent man may pass” he means it. Ichabod doesn’t seem particularly humble when he rattles off the Purgatory Opening Incantation, he mostly just seems pissed and resolute.
  • “Lieutenant” does not equal “Leftenant.”

Ichabod’s Battles with Modernity:

We’ve all been there with the dying cellphone. I mean, hopefully not literally there, in a coffin, attempting to record a last message to a dear friend, but metaphorically there—you’ve poured your heart out, and the bastard didn’t even record.

Why is Ichabod’s phone full? Have you been taking pictures, Ichabod? Has somebody just joined Tinder?

Was the birthday-cupcake-candle a trick re-lighting candle? Or was that just Ichabod’s mind trying to break through Henry’s fantasy?

I will seriously light a candle to frickin’ Moloch if we get to see Jenny teach Ichabod how to drive.

Abbie’s Struggles With… Nothing:

Sleepy Hollow

Abbie seemed pretty much OK. She deals remarkably well with being trapped in Purgatory, she passes all the tests, evades all the tricks. If there was ever a place for a crisis of faith it would be here, but she seems to be completely committed to her role as a Witness.

Jenny’s Struggles With Never Having Enough Weaponry:

Actually, that was fine, too. If she’s cool with being outgunned and blasting through her enemies anyway, then I’m cool with watching her.

Orlando Jones’ Struggles With Being The King of Social Media:

I have to end with the incomparable Capt. Irving, who Tweeted:

#FreeFrankIrving indeed.

Leah Schnelbach wouldn’t mind some extra time in Purgatory, if it meant Ichabod Crane was coming to rescue her. Or Abbie Mills. Or both of them. Tweet at her! She could use some ship name suggestions…


Back to the top of the page


This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.