Sleepy Hollow‘s first season finale—which aired as the series’ 13th episode ever—was a game-changer in every sense of the term. It revealed that a trusted ally was actually an exceedingly dangerous enemy; it exponentially accelerated the coming apocalypse; it separated all of our heroes from one another, leaving each one in a state of mortal peril. The episode exemplified everything that made season 1 such an exciting ride—its breakneck pacing, its go-for-broke attitude, its prevailing tone, which I’ve heard more than one of the show’s staffers call “batshit crazy.”
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare that hour to tonight’s midseason finale, which airs as the current season’s 11th episode. After all, this one—”The Akeda”—isn’t meant to wrap up a season’s worth of story; we’ve got seven additional hours still to come next year. Even so, it does seem like Team Sleepy intended “The Akeda” to act as a similar sort of game-changer, one that could tie up season 2A in a neat-ish bow and free them to try out new things when the series returns. That’s great news, considering the repetitive nature of what’s aired this year so far; I’ll be happy if we go a long, long time before hearing another conversation about whether Henry can be redeemed.
That said: Man, did Irving have to go out like that?
Seeing the ex-Captain become a badass, Sword of Methuselah-wielding, demon-slaying machine? Awesome. Watching him bleed to death without having a chance to reunite with his beloved wife and daughter? Less awesome. Remembering that the show sidelined the character all season, not bothering to check in on him for episodes at a time and giving him minimal screen time when he did appear, then finally set Irving free—only so that he could kick the bucket, like, immediately? Less awesome still.
True, as showrunner Mark Goffman said in our postmortem interview, dead on Sleepy Hollow doesn’t necessarily have to mean dead-dead; see also Cho, Zombie John. And when I asked Fox whether Orlando Jones will still be a series regular in the back half of season 2, a representative from the studio responded in the affirmative (though this is a contractual label that doesn’t have a bearing on creative decisions). All of this is certainly promising; I’d rather watch Vengeful Ghost Irving (or whatever he turns out to be, if he comes back) than Neutered Tarrytown Psych Irving. That said, I do wish we’d had more time to spend with the character this year before the Captain’s untimely demise—blaze-of-glory-esque as it may have been.
Mini-rant over. Let’s turn our gaze to the Witnesses, who are racing to Fredericks Manor… on a “borrowed” motorcycle. Hey, when the apocalypse is nigh, who’s got time for that pesky 8th Commandment? The house of horrors seems to be empty when they arrive, though Henry’s 3-D Sleepy Hollow diorama is a bit disconcerting… especially when Abbie and Ichabod discover that when connected, the spots where Henry has wreaked havoc form a pentagram. Ahh, so there was a method to his madness; he’s planning to unleash Moloch’s demon army via the center of this formation. The pair has to stop the Horseman of War before it’s too late… but first, they have to (all together now) save Katrina.
So Crane manages to rescue Nell from the train tracks just in time—Abbie doesn’t bother trying to help, because she’s as over this as the rest of us are—but declines to kill Headless, for… reasons. Maybe, though, it’s a good thing contrivance has intervened. Katrina casts a spell to extend the charm of her necklace, enabling everyone else to see the Horseman as Abraham. (The spell, literally: “Extendus.”) Once he’s head-ful again, Abraham informs our heroes that he’s a regular viewer of Once Upon a Time: “All magic has a cost,” he snarls. Specifically? Bram claims that anyone who would wield that demon-slaying sword must give up his own soul in return. Drat! I guess nobody ever claimed that averting the apocalypse would be easy. (No one ever said it would be this hard.)
NEXT: Katrina gives new meaning to the term “intelligence”