Let’s Rewrite the Declaration of Independence! Sleepy Hollow: “What Lies Beneath”

So much happened in this one! We met yet another of Ichabod’s beloveds, learned more about his past, and had an all-too-short glimpse into Frank Irving’s soul, plus we got a wonderful cold open, a slightly convoluted moral dilemma, and maybe best of all, met a truly intriguing new character!

Guys! There are only two more episodes after this! I don’t know how to feel!

So about that cold open. We’re down in the Borgesian Sleepy Hollow tunnel system, and there are three construction workers exploring, and then this guy pops out of nowhere and says, “You’re all dooooooomed.”

OK, not really, but that’s what should have happened.

Lead construction guy is curious! He wants to explore new tunnels, and find more of Sleepy Hollow’s history.

Oh, you poor schmuck, get out while you can!

They find a spiral staircase! Seriously, show, back away from the VanderMeer, you’re killing me.

Uh oh. A trapdoor. Yes. By all means, why don’t you pry it open? That sounds like a splendid idea. Ah, you’ve decided to lean into the tunnel and yell into it, and then look back excited at your co-workers? Yes, excellent course— Crap. All three of them are yanked into the tunnel by a hellbeast, except…wait….

Sleepy Hollow What Lies Beneath


We’ll have to wait to find out, cause now we’ve cut to Ichabbie, touring a battleship! The sun is shining, all is well, until Ichabod hears the laughter of young people and it spins him right out into a deep depression. “Instantgram,” he opines. “What happened to experiencing life, rather than photographing it.”

Abbie reminds him that it’s easy to say that when you have photographic memory.


Since they’ve both decided to go full buzzkill, they begin musing on the fact that their battle with evil may not have an endgame. Ichabod says that “The Bible foretold 7 years of Tribulation, but it didn’t say what form it would take.” Surely he’s not saying that Instagram is one of the Tribulations? Shit, nobody show him Tinder, it’ll kill him.

Luckily they get a missing persons call before their conversation can get any more depressing, and since they’re the only two people who work for the SHPD they’re at the tunnels in a nanosecond.

Then a guy with a camera comes up and starts asking questions, and naturally Abbie bristles, until she realizes that one of the missing men is the guy’s younger brother. The man’s name is Calvin Riggs—he’s a photojournalist who’s worked in Iraq and Afghanistan and he seems to realize that Sleepy Hollow hides a lot of secrets. Hmmm…but no time to delve into this guy, we must delve into the tunnels! Abbie Gandalfs her way through, pointing out a spot where the air is fresher, and she and Ichabod track down the alcove that the three guys found.

“I’m getting tired of small dark spaces…” Abbie says. Ichabod responds, “I was the one buried alive,” and actually grins at her.

Oh, we are back in happier, pre-Katrina times, folks.

Sleepy Hollow What Lies Beneath

OK, so “happier” is an extremely relative term here. They find manhole, and use radar mapping to figure out what’s under there, and discover that Sleepy Hollow, in addition to all its other wonders, contains it’s very own underground Monticello.

“Only one man could have built this…” Ichabod breathes. Yeah, Ichabod, we get it. It was your BFF Thomas Jefferson.

Now we hear the sad ballad of Thomas Jefferson and Ichabod Crane. They were besties, you see. TJ had the greatest mind of his generation, so naturally Ichabod tried to stay in his inner circle. Jefferson seemed to return these feelings, but then one day, well…

“To use your modern term, Jefferson unfriended me.”

Poor Ichabod never understood why: “One moment, he was showing me the path, the next I was persona non grata.”

Apparently damned souls will guard the fenestella from attack. Since damned souls are nothing compared to their usual foes, they head straight back to the fenestella, but, well, there are a lot of damned souls. And they’re also encased in hideous flesh, and they have some pretty gnarly teeth. Did I mention they move pretty quick for dead people? But at least Abbie manages to call the construction guys, and confirm that two of them remain uneaten.


They haul ass out of the tunnels, but only some quick flashbulbing by Calvin saves them. The damned souls don’t want their pictures taken apparently. Abbie is not happy that Calvin has shown up, but then he threatens to call his editor. “When you win the Pulitzer, people take your calls.”

OK, now we know it’s a fantasy show.

Calvin demands to be given more information, and Abbie agrees to work with him, “within limits.” When Ichabod objects, she snaps “You are the ones who put freedom of the press in the Constitution!”

“We did not predict the 24-hour news cycle!” Ichabod huffs.

They head back to the Archive, and learn that the undead creatures are called Reavers, because of course they are. They were originally Washington’s special forces, but now they’ve been zombified, and slept until the construction guys found the secret room. And…well, there’s no easy way to say this. They were starving. So, much like Firefly’s Reavers, they’ve been eating people. A fact which the show makes quite unambiguous.

Thanks, show.

Ichabod and Abbie head back in, fight past the Reavers, and finally make it into a mysterious room which contains…..Thomas Jefferson!

Holy shit!

Then there was an Android ad about unlikely animal friendships, and I honestly don’t know what happened for a while after that. There was an orangutan, and its best friend was a DOG.

Wait, we’re back! Ichabod bows to Jefferson. He is overjoyed to see his old friend, and TJ seems like he’s forgotten their falling out. But how is this possible? “A combination of science and witchcraft.” Jefferson says.

Ah, yes, of course.

So, it turns out he’s a hologram, running on a supernatural battery, and Ichabod proves this by waving his hands through him until Jefferson tells him to quit it. Ichabod introduces him to Abbie, and he replies that “the honor is his”…wait, does he know who she is? Jefferson clarifies, by telling him that he’s only still there because of their Mission. While Ichabod and TJ catch up, Abbie follows a weird blue cord around the back, and finds another staircase.

Sleepy Hollow What Lies Beneath

More sleeping Reavers! She finds the three remaining guys.

Meanwhile, in the part of the show that isn’t terrifying, TJ is telling Ichabod all about the fenestella. It was designed and built for the sole purpose of aiding the witnesses! All the information he and Franklin learned about the Witnesses is in this chamber, in hologram form. To demonstrate, TJ plucks a book from a shelf, and shows it to Ichabod.

“A book on eschatology written during the Roman Empire!”

Oh, show, you say the sweetest things…

Oh, but there’s a catch. You see, the Reavers have to stay to guard it, so Ichabbie will need to leave the construction guys to their doom, and risk more people stumbling down here and getting eaten. So it weighs on TJ that they’ll have to die, but, say it with me now: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”


“Why would you keep this from me?” Ichabod asks.

“I could offer no advice until the second Witness appeared,” he replies, and then presents them with the “Folio Immaculata” by way of apology.

Ichabod flashes back to his last great day with TJ, a day spent—oh, lord. Seriously, show? Ichabod HELPED WRITE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

The reason for TJ’s abrupt coldness? Ichabod saw the plan for the fenestella! The Founder couldn’t let him know about his destiny, so TJ had to shun him, to ensure it remained a secret. “This is my proudest achievement”

TJ tells them that this repository of knowledge could only be revealed after the second Witness was chosen. It will lead them to mentors and give them all the guidance they need in their fight.

“Choices in war are rarely clear. You and Abigail were chosen for this centuries ago, to win a war we could not.”

Ichabod and Abbie look at each other and nod. They rescue the guys, but wake the Reavers back up. This makes it even clearer that the fenestella must be destroyed. Abbie meets up with Calvin and takes the two remaining guys out, while Ichabod goes back to blow the place up. “As you’ve so aptly stated in the past, ‘I’ve got this.’”

TJ is upset by the decision, but Ichabod explains that in the America that exists now, the 300 million people up there are bound to stumble upon the chamber. He tells Jefferson, “Yours is the greatest mind I’ve ever known.” And TJ replies that “You, too, are a founder of this country.”


And then he tells Ichabod where to put the detonator. “My time has come and gone, but yours is still unfolding.”

And then, kablammers.

Abbie hauls Ichabod back up out of the tunnel just before it blows, and then yells, “We just blew up the author of the Declaration of Independence!”

Too soon, Abbie. Too soon.

Now it’s time for Abbie and Calvin to have a conversation about Freedom of Information vs. Protecting the Public. She tries to convince him to keep quiet so she and Ichabod can continue the clandestine Apocalypse Cancelling, but I fear it may have been wasted breath.

As he leaves, he calls to her, “Hey, check your email!”

And when she does, there a photo of her, with the message, “I never reveal my sources.”

Hmmmm….I’m not sure, guys, but I think that might have just been an excuse to let her know he has her contact info and wants to stay in touch…

Was this the only plotline, you ask? Why no, there were two others! But I thought I’d condense them for better recap impact.

First, Irving and Jenny met at the only bar in town. He asked her to help him break into the precinct’s evidence room, so he can retrieve his wedding ring. He claims that he has no friends left at the department who can help him. She listens, notices an odd tattoo on his wrist, and agrees to serve as lookout. They clink whiskeys on it, a pact which is deeper than a blood oath in some circles. Obviously, when she helps get him in, he goes straight to the box full of Hellfire Club swag, and Jenny pulls a gun on him, and since he realizes she’s a far greater threat than her sister he slams her into a wall. She keeps coming, they struggle again, and she, again, has him at gun point.

“You’ve gone to the dark side!”

Only Jenny could say this line and sell the disappointment.

But Irving is not going to be out-impassioned. “My soul is tarnished!” Apparently, since he came back, Evil Frank can occasionally get the upper hand to do Henry’s will. “When that other part of me takes over, I can only remember fragments!”

Please, please, please give us a good Frank/Bad Frank battle!

When she asks how he could have possibly foiled that extraordinary witch Katrina, he explains that he found a rune that could act as a shield. He burned it into his palm, and it hides him from the true nature of the curse so he can be conscious. Trouble is, it’s wearing off, and soon the Other Frank is going to take over forever. And thus we come to the true nature of this mission. He hands Jenny a USB stick—it’s the account information for Hellfire Club members, and it should give her access to about 1.73 million dollars. It’s for Cynthia and Macey.

Jenny tries to argue, but he cuts her off: “This is reparations. I lost my job, my soul, my family. This is security for them.”

She nods then, and agrees to give it to them.

“That Other Frank is about to take over and replace me forever—you are the only one who understands.”

Oh, man. I need a minute.

OK, so Katrina. She’s lying in bed, and then Henry’s there, bringing her dead roses. He says, “I killed Moloch for you, Mother—for our kind.” He hands her a rose, and presses it into her palm so a thorn cuts her….

Oh, but it was a dream! Katrina jumps out of bed and washes her hands in a china basin. But then there’s blood in the water! And then there are roses on the table by the bed!

Not a dream!

Ah, crap.

Next week: Will we finally get Evil Katrina? Is she suddenly good at witchcraft? Did she just blow Abbie’s car up?


Notes & Errata!

I try really hard not to just Sleepy Hollow against my own vague hopes for it. But really, I wanted this sort of Thomas Jefferson stuff half a season ago. I wanted Irving to still be around, maybe still compromised, but to at least be reliably on the show. I was really digging the idea that he and Cynthia would be exes who were raising a kid together. I really dug the idea of him and Jenny starting something against the backdrop of Apocalypse, with his family there as immediate dramatic conflict. I liked Katrina being trapped in Purgatory so Ichabod could pine over her while learning his way around the new world, and maybe working out his feelings for Abbie. I like Abbie and Jenny’s arc of slowly regaining trust for each other, and learning about their mother and Grace Dixon. I especially loved the commitment to the Apocalyptic arc, which gave the show such a natural yet urgent framework. I just feel like the show we got for most of this season was too similar to stuff like Supernatural or Grimm, when that wasn’t what I think most Sleepyheads came to the show for.

Having said that, how ’bout Steven Weber as Thomas Jefferson! That was pretty great.

And having said that, I think Calvin may be the first new character that I’ve wanted to become a regular!

Other than that, this seemed like a fairly standard, if solid, episode for me…the Reavers were legitimately scary, and I liked that they’re not just demons or monsters—they’re just doing their jobs. The argument about blowing up the fenestrella seemed more than a bit convoluted, though. It was sort of a straw-moral-choice.

Ichabod Struggles with Modernity!

Instantgram! Seriously, though, buddy: if Katrina’s gone evil? You’re going to need to learn the art of the selfie and get yourself on How About We or something.

Katrina Struggles With Everything!

Just make up your damn mind already.

Irving Struggles With…

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m just going to sit here and cry. Maybe Jenny can find a way to save him? Doesn’t the power of love work in this show’s cosmology?

Leah Schnelbach can’t handle Frank Irving’s story arc. Power of LOVE, dammit. Follow her on Twitter!


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