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'Sleepy Hollow' boss talks midseason finale twists -- and that big death

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Sleepy Hollow
Brownie Harris/Fox

Have you caught your breath yet, Sleepyheads?

Good. Because when EW spoke to Sleepy Hollow showrunner Mark Goffman a few weeks ago, we also had a chance to chat about the biggest moments in tonight’s midseason finale—namely, the untimely death of you-know-who (R.I.P.!) and that game-changing final twist. Read on see what Goffman has to say about the episode—and what we can expect from Sleepy when it returns in 2015.

First things first: Why did you decide to kill Irving?

Certainly it was tough decision, and incredibly emotional. For us, it was about what’s best for the storytelling on the show, and giving a great trajectory for his character. We felt like it was a really good ending to that part of his story.

He gets to go out heroically.

It’s a heroic, epic ending. It really felt like the right decision for his character, and how it would motivate Abbie and Crane from that point and moving forward. And you know, in Sleepy Hollow, anything can happen.

Right—it does seem like if you die on this show, you don’t necessarily have to stay dead.

Well, Andy Brooks is an example of a character who was dead but not gone. And Corbin has been back. So while again, I felt like it was the right way to play out his storyline, I think you’ll find that there is more to his story.

That’s good to hear. And in the final scene, Henry kind of finds his humanity—that was definitely a shock.

That was also something that we came up with early on. Both Henry and Headless, in humanizing them this year and developing them as three dimensional villains—we really wanted to give Henry an arc that made sense for his life. Here’s somebody who has suffered so much, and was tormented, and then buried alive for over 200 years, and he had so much faith in Moloch. Moloch he saw as his true father. And that moment when he realizes that Moloch has just used him for his own ends, and really doesn’t share that reciprocal love that only a father and a son have, that sort of unconditional love—when he realizes that, that’s what really guided his decision. We had this beautiful parallel with the Akedah, or the story from the Bible…

Abraham and Isaac.

Yeah. And so we tried to draw that parallel: When are you willing to sacrifice your son for the mission? But for Henry, [killing Moloch] really seemed like the right move. I think there are a lot of ways to interpret that moment, and there’s a lot more that we’re going to discover about Henry in the back half. Another one of the things that was brought up—I think you may have brought it up—all of the stories [this season] seemed to come from Henry. That is absolutely not the case in the back half.

Is he “good” now? I know that’s a silly question—but is he on Abbie and Ichabod’s side at this point?

That’s worth watching to find out, right? To me, just because he killed Moloch in that moment doesn’t make him good. We don’t know why he did it. It could have been purey because he felt betrayed by Moloch. It could be because he just couldn’t summon the strength to kill his mother. It could be because he found good within him. It could be something wholly unexpected, and he has his own plan. We don’t know yet, and that’s something that we’ll find out over time.

Moloch’s been the big bad of the show thus far. Him being gone, how does that shift things?

That was really exciting to me. We felt like we had played out Moloch’s story, and we wanted to liberate the show from just seeming like we’re telling stories about Moloch’s vision of the apocalypse, or that all of the evils seem to be generated by Moloch and Henry. So this really freed us up. I think it’s going to be really exciting. Abbie and Crane won’t know where the next creature is coming from, or what evil they’re facing, or why. So the storytelling then becomes much more interesting.

Could this also free up space for some purely comic episodes?

Yeah, that’s another thing that we feel like we want to capitalize on more. We’ve got some great twistory coming up. Benjamin Franklin’s going to be coming back; we have an episode with Thomas Jefferson, and I can’t wait to tell you who’s going to be playing Thomas Jefferson. It’s really fun. We also have a lot of fun with the “man out of time” moments with Crane. I think we have some great ones planned. As we get back to episodes that are really Abbie/Crane centered, I think that comedy and levity just naturally emerges, because Tom [Mison] and Nicole [Beharie] are just so good at it. The tone that we get from them is just a joy to watch and to write.

I loved seeing them play Heads Up together in episode 210.

[laughs] Yeah, we have some new ones coming up. We’re going to learn a little bit about Fort Knox—Henry Knox, who was around in Crane’s day. There’s going to be a karaoke scene, or episode with some karaoke in it. We’ll see Crane understanding a microphone and bouncing balls on the screen. [There’s] some interplay with robots; an encounter with a real estate agent, which I think is going to be pretty hilarious.

I was also wondering whether Irving’s death opens a space for Hawley to become more of a member of the team.

We have a great core, a fantastic ensemble. Hawley, I think, has joined in a really interesting way—but he is a character that by nature is a loner, and has really learned to fend for himself. And so while I think there’s a great and terrific bond that’s starting to form—this is Sleepy Hollow, anything can happen. We have an episode coming up in the back half that really features him, and we get to learn a lot more about his history. I think people are going to understand him a lot better after that episode.

Is there anything else you think people should know?

You know, the season finale, which I’m working on now, is a real mind-bender, and I think we listen to our fans—we love that they’re so passionate about our show, and we really aim to a high bar for their standards and our own. I think when we get to the end of the season and you see how it all comes together, and what Abbie’s arc ends up being at the end, it’s really mind-blowing. I hope we get to have this conversation in about two months, because I’m really curious to see what people think.

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