So. There was a scene, in Season One, that made me love this show. It was a scene in “The Sin Eater” (Remember? When we met Henry?) and in it Ichabod agreed to poison himself for the greater good, and tried to get Abbie to leave him, so she’d be spared watching him die. But she refused to let him die alone, and held his hand, with every intention of staying there to the end. This was a great moment for many reasons: the show opened itself up in a way to see the depth of love and trust between these two characters, and allowed you to imagine an entire world around them in the process.
Last night’s episode, “Tempus Fugit,” gave us another moment like that.
We open on Ichabod loading a musket and shooting. We get to see how good he actually is, which is nice. After two seasons of watching him fight demons and modernity, it’s cool to see him in his more natural element. He’s not just a Mary Sue—there is actually a reason that this character was given this crazy assignment. He gets called away from the field to talk to Abbie, and… oh! He’s just missed his own death!
He tries to interrogate Abbie, but she keeps dropping just enough bits of information about Headless and Ichabod’s relationship with General Washington to keep him interested in her, without quite overplaying her hand. It’s incredibly fun to see Nicole Beharie play Abbie as an impromptu spy.
Meanwhile, Katrina comes running into the hospital tent feigning panic over Ichabod, only to learn that he’s not there. She only barely hides her anger when she realizes that Abbie is tampering with the timeline. Finally, we see Katrina as fully evil, and it’s great.
Ichabod takes Abbie with him to the battlefield to look for the Horseman, as she explains their mission as Witnesses, that she’s from the future, and that he was supposed to die. “The future’s off the rails,” she says, and he’s clearly not buying it.
I want to mention that this is the first time in months that I’ve just watched the show, and been too involved to keep typing notes.
Unfortunately, leaving the battlefield to consult with Abbie was, technically, desertion of his post, and now Ichabod’s colonel threatens him with a firing squad, telling him that the next time his Oxford degree won’t keep him safe. Ichabod, completely ignoring all of that, asks about Abbie. “You want her? Buy her at auction,” the colonel sneers. Instead, Ichabod offers to take her the three miles to the runaway slave encampment, and the colonel agrees.
This is the one moment that the show actually deals with the stakes of Abbie’s time travel, and I think it mostly works. They put the reality of her situation upfront, but since it’s balanced with Ichabod still being Ichabod, and treating her with respect, it doesn’t completely overwhelm the rest of the show. Plus Nicole Beharie is perfect, submerging her panic and anger under the submissive body language that the men are expecting from her.
Abbie is just as uncomfortable in a carriage as Ichabod used to be in her car. They do an adorable callback to his obsession with power windows when she can’t manage to get the sash on the carriage windows to sit where she wants it. Anyway, Abbie tantalizes Ichabod with just enough hints about her knowledge to convince him to go see his old pal Ben Franklin!
Meanwhile, Katrina has found Abraham, and offers to help him. DON’T DO IT ABRAHAM!
Abbie takes a certain sick glee in pointing out all the buildings that will be Starbucks in the future. Heh. Ichabod doesn’t understand why anyone needs so much coffee, because some things never change. She makes a point of saying “Hi” to people who are astounded and disgusted by her. Ichabod tells her it’s because she’s wearing trousers, presumably because he’s too polite to just say that they’re horrified that a slave is speaking to them.
But then we get to the truly fun bit of this episode! We reach the home of Ichabod’s nemesis, Mr. Ben Franklin, who naturally accepts Abbie and her story from the second he sees her. In a particularly adorable moment, she tells him all about the future as he rattles off inventions to see if people still use them—libraries, universities, hospitals, post offices, the Franklin Stove, bifocals—but the thing that really makes him happy is that he’s on the hundred dollar bills, while Jefferson is stuck on the measly two. Plus, she sees an arm, realizes that it’s Franklinstein’s, and assures him that his creation works.
But more importantly, the scene between Franklin and Abbie finally gets the show back on track. In Season One, Sleepy Hollow dealt with Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. They gave us a scene where Ichabod, a man who is good and well-meaning, is nevertheless called out on his elitism, his snobbery, and his hero worship. He listens and learns. He’s a different man by the end of that scene. This season, when we actually met Jefferson, we got none of that. No follow up on the earlier discussion, no time to reckon with the President’s legacy. No time for Ichabod to question his idol. It bothers me that they dropped such an important thread. But here, when Franklin learns that an African American woman is a sheriff detective, he calls her the American dream.
Abbie tries to talk about Headless without quite naming Katrina as his conspirator. Franklin finally notices her discomfort and send Ichabod out of the room, which is hilarious. Even-stuffier Ichabod may be my favorite Ichabod. Abbie spills the whole story to Franklin, and without even thinking about it he tells her not to tell Ichabod about his wife.
And then Abraham comes in and decapitates him.
Wait, what??? SHOW. Come on, show.
The horseman decapitates Ben Franklin.
The timeline is FUCKED.
Abbie’s locked up again because everyone, even Ichabod, believe that she led the Horseman to Franklin intentionally. She pleads with Ichabod to believe that they’re partners, and he challenges her to tell him what she and Franklin discussed in private. She tells him that if she were lying, she’d never tell him what she’s about to say, and then accuses Katrina of allying with the Horseman. And Ichabod’s succinct and chilling response? “May God have mercy on your soul.”
As he storms away, she begins desperately calling after him, informing him that Katrina’s pregnant with his son, that her proof of their partnership is in her phone, and that HER PASSWORD IS HIS BIRTHDAY.
Oh, I need a minute.
Ugh, the colonel’s back. He tells Ichabod he’s been relieved of duty, and that, while he’d have him hanged, General Washington will be sending for him. When Ichabod gets home, he sees that Katrina has helpfully left a whole bunch of witch stuff out on the table. There follows a tense conversation where she denies being pregnant while trying to telekinetically stab him in the back. And then, just in time, General Washington’s men show up looking for him.
So that moment I mentioned at the beginning? We’ve caught up to it now. Rather than going straight to General Washington, Ichabod runs back to the prison. He finds Abbie’s cellphone, and, adorably, stops just short of impersonating a 2001 ape. He taps the phone on the table, spins it around, waves it—nothing works! He wakes it up just enough to see that it says to slide to unlock—so he tries sliding it across the table. No dice. But he juggles it around just enough that it gives him the passcode screen. He types his birthday in, and it unlocks! He actually says, “What devilry is this?” before finding the video of himself that she mentioned.
Abbie, meanwhile, is looking for ways to escape. She pries a nail out of a bench and starts using it to pick the lock.
Ichabod watches himself on the phone’s screen. Abbie is behind him in the video, talking him through taking a selfie. Past-Ichabod is terrified. How can he be in the phone? How can this be real? But it means Abbie is telling the truth. He can’t deny it. He keeps watching himself, and all of these realizations flick across his face, under the fear. And meanwhile, we the audience, are seeing another tiny piece of the Witnesses daily life. Here were Abbie and Ichaobd in the early days, him attacking a new piece of tech with equal parts irritation and joy, and her, amused by him, and loving his enthusiasm. It’s a tiny, gorgeous moment of real friendship, and we get to watch the moment work on Ichabod himself as he realizes how much this woman must mean to him.
And how is Abbie doing, in this moment? Well, she’s almost got the lock when the colonel comes in, accusing her of trying to bring down America. Abbie lets him talk for a minute before she disarms him, chokes him out, and bounces his head off the prison’s bars.
Ichabod comes skidding around the corner and surveys the scene. “…I-I’m here to save you.”
“Everything you said is true. We’re partners.”
“More than that. We’re friends.”
Ichabod, with a glance at the unconscious colonel. “That’s… good news.”
They head to Grace Dixon’s house, and she catches him up on Katrina, and the fact that she betrayed them. She claims that the seeds were there, that she used to be good. “She saved my life, and yours. The woman that’s come back from the future is not the woman you know.”
Meanwhile, Katrina is tending to the colonel. She takes a piece of his skin and reads it to figure out where Abbie’s gone. When he questions her, she says, “It’s simple, really. I’m a witch.” And kills him. Cause she literally is an incredibly powerful witch now, it was just that being good stifled her powers. Thanks for this, show.
The Witnesses get to Grace Dixon, and Abbie shyly introduces herself. Grace says, “It’s you! The Witness!” and grabs her hands. Ichabod stands off to the side, confused, as the two work out what to do to reverse Katrina’s magic.
But there’s no time to catch up, because the Horseman’s back! And this time he’s brought Katrina.
Grace and Abbie work on a spell as Ichabod runs out to face his wife and ex-BFF. But first he says goodbye to Abbie. And she tells him that in the future, he calls her Leftenant. So he calls her Leftenant.
And she bearhugs him around his waist, much to his chagrin.
Ichabod: “Is this level of intimacy common in 2015?”
Abbie: “We hug it out.”
Once he’s gone, Grace shows Abbie the journal. She tells her that the most important pages are the blank ones in the back—the ones that Abbie will write. Abbie recites the spell along with her ancestor, and just as Abraham’s blade is coming to Ichabod’s throat, time stops.
Katrina starts screaming “No!” over and over, and then we whirl through some of the most important moments from the show’s history, until we land again in the room with Ichabod, Abbie, and Katrina.
Katrina immediately attacks Abbie. “She killed my son! She dies!” Ichabod wrestles with her, and somehow in the fight she’s stabbed. She sees Jeremy, says his name a few times for maximum creepiness, then and dies and turns into Groot spores.
Abbie stays back while Ichabod cries. Finally, she ventures some comfort: “You had no choice.”
“Yes I did,” Ichabod says. “We all did.”
Then Jenny and Irving run in. IRVING IS STILL WEARING HIS SWORD.
Jenny asks “Katrina?” and Ichabod just shakes his head. They don’t know how evil she had become, so he can gracefully say that she died in battle and leave it at that.
As they leave, Abbie says, “Grace told me that the biggest battle is ahead of us.” She reaches out to Ichabod, and he looks around at the room where he has watched his old life die, and turns and walks out the door with her, following Jenny and Irving.
Notes & Errata:
Well shit, now I want it renewed. If this is it, they actually managed to give us a decent ending, but I want to see the band back together, fighting evil and cancelling the Apocalypse.
This episode had everything! A return to scary Headless! Evil Katrina! Ichabod and Abbie working together! The power of partnership! Grace Dixon! Ben Franklin’s head, sailing through the air! Oh, it was great.
Timothy Busfield is an excellent Ben Franklin. His rivalry with Jefferson should be its own flashback episode.
Grace Dixon was exactly what I expected a Mills ancestor to be, and I loved that after this whole season with Katrina, we get to see her out-magicked by Grace and Abbie.
So, having gone through this rollercoaster of a season, in which it seemed writers were just throwing new characters into the scripts to see who stuck, and throwing new character twists at the actors to see what would be believable, we’ve finally ended more or less as we started. The core, Abbie, Ichabod, Jenny, and Irving, are all together again. Irving is good, Jenny’s still touch but a little more hopeful now, and Abbie and Ichabod’s partnership has been tested in many ways, but is now stronger than ever. If the show gets renewed, can we go on with these four, into a new kind of Sleepy Hollow?
Will they stick to monster of the week plots, or return to a real, serialized Apocalypse? Are Henry and Katrina going to come back as spectral Big Bads, or will the Witnesses get back to fighting more Horsemen?
And speaking of those…where the hell is Abraham?
Abbie’s Struggles with the Past:
Those damn carriage window sashes, man.
Luckily the show only made a few glancing references to the real peril our Abbie was in. It was just enough, I thought to be respectful of history, without getting so heavy-handed that it through the tone of the show off too much.
Ichabod’s Struggles with Modernity!
Revisiting past-Ichabod was an excellent way to watch Tom Mison wrestle with a cellphone.
So what did everyone think? Do you want Season Three? Did the show work its way back into your hearts?