Plot Twist Theater! Sleepy Hollow: “Spellcaster”

Well, this one was a cavalcade of twists and turnarounds! But do they add up to anything? After my optimism of the last few weeks, gentle Sleepyheads, I’m just not sure. I think if these character shifts had been set up a half a season ago, and Hawley had at best been a cameo role, and we’d gotten at least one more Abbie and Jenny episode, I’d feel more confident than I do.

On the other hand—the twists we get work for me, and we finally get a few more fun Crane moments. And once again, Sleepy Hollow proves itself the true successor to “The X-Files Cold Open.”

We open on an antiques dealer and his assistant, who are discussing John Dee’s magical Journal of Plot Exposition. Naturally the head antiques guy leaves the assistant alone, and naturally the lights go out, and a terrifying man in black appears.

Undead Johnny Cash???

Undead John Dee???

No, neither, but I’m not sure who it is. But he sure wants that book! The assistant and a security guard try to stop him, but he slices his hands open, and suddenly blood is bubbling our of all their visible orifices. He takes the book.

We cut to Ichabod, being confused by the fake candles in a chandelier. Abbie runs in, looking concerned, but we soon learn…Ichabod is house hunting? How the heck is that gonna work? Abbie talks him through realtor-speak, and he finds a bowl of squeaky-toy fruit and squeaks it at her.

“Marketing” Abbie tells him.

He does not approve.

Then the realtor comes in with a basket of mini-muffins, and our Ichabod lights up, grabs handfuls of muffin goodness, and seems only slightly guilt when Abbie grins and says “marketing” again.

But, alas, we can’t go to hopen houses forever, because there is a plot! Abbie tells him about the murder, saying that the victims’ blood “boiled inside them.”

Ugh. But also, badass.

They’ve barely begun piecing clues together when he realizes what going on, and starts rattling off info about John Dee and the Grand Grimoire, which is the name of the journal that was stolen. Also the name of several real books of magic, and the book that Julian Sands is trying to hunt down in Warlock. Ichabod says with some confidence that Dee, Elizabeth I’s court magician, was a good guy.

Hey if Ichabod knows more about magic than the authors of the Malleus Mallificarum, why didn’t he notice he was playing Darren to Katrina’s Samantha all those years?

Sleepy Hollow "Spellcaster"

Speaking of Samantha…we cut to the Worst Witch in the woods, but suddenly she’s not the worst witch anymore. She levitates a flower, and then uses the force to smash a rock against a poor innocent tree. Even Abbie is impressed. Somehow the conversation about the Grimoire ends up being about Henry, whom Katrina is still mourning for some reason.

Then we cut to Henry at the hotel, he’s watching the news about the blood boiling. Did anyone actually believe he was dead? The landlady comes in to make the sort of chitchat only TV landladies make. Even after Henry creepily intones that the only thing he wants is privacy, she just stands there chirping away. The news shows the story about the blood boiling case, and she asks if he’s seen anything like it. He admits as he has, and then says he wants to forget. She says that everyone has things they want to get away from.

Wait, is Henry being tempted by the Light Side? Could it be? Is there still a drop of humanity in that former Horseman?

Ichabbie work out that there was jimson weed in the blood at the scene of the crime, which could act as a magical steroid. We cut back and for the between them figuring this out, and the Black-Hatted Guy doing extremely dodgy spells over the Grimoire. His eyeballs go white! Eeep!

Abbie has gotten some special image enhancement software from a pal at Quantico, and unfortunately no one stands there yelling enhance at the screen while they zoom in. We do, however, get a delightful scene of Abbie trying to explain “pixels” to Ichabod. As the pixels combine to form a man’s face, Katrina flips out—she knows him! He’s Solomon Kent! And for a sec I thought she said Solomon Kane…but given the guy’s Puritan get-up, I’m assuming we’re homaging the Robert E. Howard character here.

Sleepy Hollow "Spellcaster"

They realize that Moloch’s death must have freed him from Purgatory. This is good that they’re doing a MotW, but still tying it back to Purgatory and the overall War. Oh, but that’s the end of the good, cause now we’re getting a Katrina family flashback slide show! This Kent fellow was part of “The Great Spiritual Migration” which is SH’s highly creative name for that time when the Pilgrims left Britain and came to America so they could harass people here with their small-mindedness. Well, except in this version I guess it’s more that crypto-witches fled Europe for the Colonies, where maybe they wouldn’t be burned at the stake quite so much. Unfortunately Helena Van Tassel, Katrina’s grandmother, was part of the town that Kent helped found, and naturally he fell in love with a girl, and obviously she didn’t love him back, so of course he killed her and then made it look like she was Hellspawn, and then did the same thing to Katrina’s grandma, and that’s how we got the Salem Witch Trials, folks!

Abbie tells them that “every kid in America reads The Crucible and learns about the Witch trials” because apparently this is a universe that includes that, but leaves out the Lost Colony of Roanoke. And then Ichabod quotes Edward R. Murrow, and says “He would’ve done the Founding Fathers proud.” Which is sweet, actually, if a little forced.

Katrina has a highly convenient vision of Kent, which tells Katrina that he doesn’t have the whole book, but doesn’t reveal his whereabouts. Now they have to find the second half of the book! They’re seriously reenacting the plot of the 1989 B-movie Warlock!

We cut to Abbie pulling a gun on Irving, but he just wants to tell her that there are no hard feeling for her thinking he was evil. “As far as I’m concerned, you and me are good.”

Awww…..but there’s something kinda weird about Irving. He seems almost jolly. But then, he is just recently back from the dead.

Henry comes home to his hotel room to find the landlady’s kid fixing his faucet. The kid has painted a figure and left it with the model that Henry carved. Henry asks about the landlady, and the kid waxes rhapsodic about how great his mom is. (Seriously, were these people planted by #TeamGood to lure Henry over, or what?)

“Who needs a dad, right?” says Meaningful Exposition boy, sticking the landing.
“Fathers are never what they’re cracked up to be.” Henry says, snarkily.

The kid leaves him the figure.


Actually, this seems awfully convenient to elicit an “awww.” Henry just spent a lot of time being evil, is he seriously going to be won over like this?

Meanwhile, Ichabbie talk it through: could Solomon Kent be trying to get his Pilgrim crush back??? Because, come to think of it, that could open a portal to the afterlife that would flood the earth with the undead! Uh, way to bury the lede, show.

Sleepy Hollow "Spellcaster"

Abbie and Ichabod share a touching walk-and-talk about purpose, Witnesshood, the choices people make when faced with regret. Eventually, Abbie comes to her point: she’s worried that Ichabod will lose sigh of being a Witness if he has a comfortable 3-bedroom house to go back to at night. It’s not like working for God is a typical 9-5. Plus, he reminds her a little of this Solomon Kent guy…

“How heartening to know you compare me to a murderous warlock.”

They round the corner and find Kent, and after a brief battle he blasts them across the room with MAGIC! Katrina shows up and stops him, or at least slows him down. He promptly tells her that “she’s walking the wrong path” and that the reason her magic fails her when she needs it most is that she supposed to be evil.

Hmmm…are you sure it isn’t because she’s just not that good at magic? I mean, I know you’re just joining us, Solomon, but we’ve all been watching Katrina be the worst for like a season and a half now…

Oh, but no more time for evil recruitment! He needs to slash his arm open and get blood everywhere. (Solomon, if you don’t work harder on building #TeamEvil’s ranks you’re never going to get that toaster.) He uses the blood to make blood demons! Much like the evil painter from a few weeks ago, but even more blood. Abbie shoots one and it explodes, because sometimes Sleepy Hollow is just purely awesome. Katrina goes after Solomon, while Ichabbie prove that they work better together and take out the other demon. Abbie tells Ichabod his trash talk needs work, because calling something a “minion of Hell” just isn’t cool enough.

Katrina is, surprisingly, not being utterly useless! She sends her enemy glitter, and it slows him down long enough that she’s able to pummel him with lightning balls. Buuuut…he zaps her with the Grimoire, which knocks her down long enough for him to reiterate his point re: her commitment to good. “You resist your true potential,” he says all Palpatine-like, and also “give into the Darkness to find your true self” and Katrina YOU’RE NOT FALLING FOR THIS ARE YOU?

Did Abbie not sit them down and show them Star Wars last week, after all the trash compactor jokes? Seriously? It’s the simplest moral booster shot in the freaking world, how did she not do this?

FFS. Katrina lets her eyes go white and she looks like a Catholic girl who just let her bestie get to second base during a sleepover. Icahbbie get to her, and notice that she’s not quite all there, and she just tells them that Kent got away, and her powers are useless now.


Back at cabin—Katrina’s a mess. She says she can’t sense Grimoire anymore. She says she needs to recover. Abbie goes off to meet Irving to ask what he remembers about coming back. “From the Great Beyond?” he replies, grinning. Seriously, it’s getting weird. He can’t remember anything, and then all of a sudden he’s superpissed and starts yelling at Abbie not to back down. She seems startled, but doesn’t leave or anything, just says “You seem more…” I think she’s looking for a polite way to say “in need of medication” but he cuts her off with “Jacked up? Nothing like dying to give you some perspective on life.” And as soon as she leaves his face shifts.

What’s going on, Irving?

Henry watches as two toughs menace the landlady and Ronny, though to be fair, Ronny was in their room while they were out, probably carving little figurines and planning uplifting anecdotes.

Abbie comes back to Ichabod, who seemingly is sitting and mooning. They discuss Solomon, and Ichabod remembers something he said, in an ancient Aramaic dialect that Ichabod just happens to speak. Once he works it out, he realizes that Solomon was saying “I am the traveler”.


Oh, wait, it isn’t Gozer, we’re cool—Kent’s not trying to resurrect anyone, he’s trying to go back into the past! So it’s not Ghostbusters he’s unleashing on the earth, it’s Back to the Future, and if Kent tweaks the past too much, Ichabbie could become Marty McFly’s unlucky disappearing siblings! Oh and btw—Sleepy Hollow is a single universe, so none of that fancy many-worlds-splitting-into-infinite-realities for these characters. Luckily Crane knows just the thing they need to do.

They need to tap into a convergence of mystical energy—ley lines! Um, sure. And then Irving shows up to help, and the band’s almost back together! Jenny’s off on an errand of some sort, and, as Abbie points out “Before Katrina was here, we took down all kinds of supernatural threats.”

All right, Abbie!

They work out a plan that involves tapping into nature, lightning, and a fire hose, which honestly confused me, and Crane will face off with Kent. Not defend his wife’s honor, and certainly, definitely, not-at-all because Abbie called him out on his wishy-washiness, but just to like, prove something to himself, man. Honest.

And it works! Almost.

They find Kent through a method known as “there are only ten minutes left in the episode.” Crane grenades him, Irving shoots him with a dart full of Atropene—a hallucinogen that interacts unpleasantly with the jimson weed he takes to enhance his magic. (Kids, don’t do drugs!)

“In the 21st C we make our own lightning.” Crane says, and Abbie straight up electrocutes him. Then Crane goes berserker and starts pummeling Kent while screaming vitriol about the witch trials. Abbie has to pull him off. Then the two notice that Irving has disappeared, so they go to find him…leaving Kane unguarded on the ground. Which is a cue for Irving to walk out, pick up the Grimoire, nonchalantly kick Kent in the head, and watch as he dusts. Once Ichabbie run back to him, he claims the book dusted, too.


TeamWitness gets back to the cabin, and Abbie muses on Crane’s sudden burst of anger.

“Remind me never to lay a hand on Katrina,” she says, foreshadowingly.

But Ichabod insists it wasn’t that—it’s just that their talk before reminded him (again) how high the stakes are. Not just because of the possible Apocalypse, but because of their own moral lives. “We are all of us walking a razor’s edge between darkness and light,” he says. Abbie is nice enough to let this incredibly pretentious (but, I’ll admit, awesome) line hang in the air, and then suggests that they all go get a beer. She even invites the Worst Witch, but Ichabod demurs, saying that she’s still recovering from not doing anything useful before.

They leave, and Katrina comes out to practice being evil.

Sleepy Hollow "Spellcaster"

Aw, crap, I was kidding but that’s actually what she’s doing! She’s still wearing her amulet, and she freezes a flower and it explodes like something out of an early-80s video. So I guess I’ll call it: she’s going to run away with Headless and turn him into her minion to battle with TeamWitness and try to get Henry back. Except we only have three episodes left, so I don’t see how all of those things can happen.

Henry comes out to confront the guys at the hotel. Maybe he’s going to…oh, no, never mind. He tells them they’re sheep, and he kills them with magic and walks off whistling a merry tune. Yup, still evil.

Then he goes and meets Irving in the woods, the two clasp hands. Irving hands over the book, and says “The Witnesses trust me again.” So Irving is straight up evil, too, unless he’s fooling Henry, but…I don’t think that’s the case. Wait, so, how long has he been evil??? Just since he died, or was he tricking them all before?

Henry decides to go into full evil proclamation mode: “No longer will I be defined by anyone else! Destiny binds to my will!”

Yeah. We get it, Horseman of the Daddy Issues.

Notes & Errata

Is everyone on this show evil now? Is this to punish us for being mean to Hawley?

So…everyone becomes competent once they go evil? All the guys who were trying to be good are half-assed magicians, but as soon as you give into the Powerrr of the Darrrk Siiiide, you turn into fucking Doug Henning?

You know who I bet isn’t evil? FRANKLINSTEIN.

How amusing/infuriating is it when Katrina tells Abbie that magic is an innate gift? Yeah, we know Katrina, we watched Abbie and Jennie raise their mom’s spirit at a séance, and oh yeah Jenny was able to use magic better than you a few episodes ago, so I think they’re aware it’s innate.

We’ve only got three episodes left, so…um, maybe everyone will explode?

Sleepy Hollow "Spellcaster"

Ichabod Struggles with Modernity!

He learns about pixels! And squeaking fruit! And realty language! And marketing! And credit ratings! And trash talk! Which he should have learned by now? But his attempt at insulting the blood demon was adorable, and to follow that up with his utter rage at Kent was effective.

Katrina, Henry, and Irving Struggle With Moral Ambiguity

Like I said, everyone is evil now. Will this swerve the show back onto a better path? DID THE SHOW ITSELF NEED TO BECOME EVIL IN ORDER TO UNLEASH ITS FULL POTENTIAL?

Leah Schnelbach tends to choose the Light Side, but after watching this episode she’s reconsidering her allegiance. Follow her on Twitter!


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.