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Sleepy Hollow recap: 'Pittura Infamante'

Ichabod and Katrina discover that a picture’s worth a thousand words, at least when it contains the spirit of a serial killer.

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Sleepy Hollow
Brownie Harris/Fox

Sleepy Hollow

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, John Cho, Katia Winter
Mystery and Thriller, Crime, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Two months ago, I wrote an article that outlined the issues plaguing Sleepy Hollow this year and proposed six ways to blast the show out of its sophomore slump. Two days ago, Fox revealed that the network, too, is aware that Sleepy needs fixing… and that it plans to renovate the series by making Sleepy more episodic (“Honestly, we felt watching the show, as passionate viewers, the show got too serialized”), “trying to return the fun to it,” and “maybe toning down a little bit the apocalyptic vision that existed in the initial episodes this season.”

Given those parameters, tonight’s episode—a largely self-contained hour that barely touched on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and was, I guess, lighthearted in that it pictured a whole lot of blood loss—might represent Sleepy‘s new normal. To which I say: Meh.

It’s not that there was anything really wrong with “Pittura Infamante.” The premise—a colonial painter-slash-murderer climbs out of a portrait to resume his reign of terror—was clever enough. The callbacks to Ichabod’s relationship with Betsy Ross were still amusing, even if that particular well’s starting to seem a little dry. And the episode’s cursory Big Reveal about a renowned historical figure (Abigail Adams wasn’t just a huge fan of pins—she was an amateur sleuth!) was suitably ridiculous.

At the same time, though, tonight’s ep just didn’t have the zippy, propulsive, “oh-my-God-did-that-just-happen?!” momentum of season 1 Sleepy. A momentum, I’ll add, that came largely from the very serialization the network has apparently decided to scale back.

In this specific case, maybe we can also blame a preponderance of unnecessary, hand-holding dialogue. (Art restorer Grant Hollister touches a supernaturally-touched canvas that is obviously bleeding; he responds by staring at his hands and saying, out loud, “Blood!”) Or maybe the episode felt lacking because of its B-plot, in which Abbie tells Ichabod that Irving is alive, explains that it’s not clear yet whether the Captain can be trusted… then has this conversation again with Jenny. And Cynthia, Irving’s wife. And Irving himself. (Think Groundhog Day, but less Ned Ryerson.) Then again, maybe the problem was that Ichabod and Abbie were separated for most of the hour; Sleepy just can’t be its best self when that Witness chemistry isn’t on full display.

Of course, we could always blame the reason for Ichabod and Abbie’s separation: Katrina.

The A-plot finds the Cranes traveling to a special event at Sleepy Hollow’s historical society, celebrating the group’s recent acquisition—a treasure trove of objects that once belonged to John Adams and Dawn Summers. (It’s only now occurring to me what an unfortunate name that is.) The exhibit, naturally, has special meaning to Ichabod—though as he says, in one of the night’s best lines, “John and Abigail Adams were more Katrina’s friends than mine.” He and Katrina are having a grand old time not touching and experiencing colonial acid flashbacks when their date night is suddenly and rudely interrupted by murder most foul. I do mean that literally: Grant Hollister is discovered strung up by his heels, bleeding all over the Society’s gorgeous hardwood floor.

And this is where having Katrina on the scene comes in handy. Guys, stop laughing! I mean it!

NEXT: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Murderer