Well, that’s a bummer.
“The Weeping Lady” opens with a singularly amusing scene: Ichabod is in his cabin with Caroline, the ginger-haired Katrina lookalike we first met when Crane stumbled upon Sleepy Hollow’s local colonial reenactment society in last season’s finale. She’s there to bring him handmade 18th century-style clothing (cut from cloth woven on a heritage Saxony loom, whatever that means!), freshly-churned butter, and lingonberry preserves. And a little pillow—a not-so subtle indication that she’d like to show Ichabod how to do the Horizontal Headless Horseman, wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no-more.
Because Ichabod’s a proper gentleman, he has no idea that Caroline’s coming onto him until she’s practically tearing off his breeches with her teeth; he stammers out that he’s a married man, which is Abbie’s cue to walk through the door bearing delicacies from the Far East (a.k.a. crappy Chinese food). Caroline colors and apologizes profusely, which gets Ichabod all flustered, which gets Caroline even more flustered… all while Abbie gleefully takes in the scene before her, looking a little like this guy:
It’s a lovely cold open that perfectly encapsulates what Sleepy does so well, and re-introduces a fun character to boot: as a recurring presence, Caroline would bring plenty of opportunities for awkward humor. If the writers played their cards right, she could easily evolve into a viable alternate love interest for Ichabod. (Those who know actress Laura Spencer from her turn as Jane Bennet on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries know that she’s got delicate longing down pat.)
Then the show goes ahead and drowns her via magical ghost-portal.
Sure, Sleepy‘s the sort of series where death never really means the end. But Caroline’s drowning is still a frustrating development, and not just because Caroline herself had promise. In order for Sleepy to survive, it needs to develop its ensemble beyond the handful of characters who appear in its opening credits; it’ll eventually get dull to watch Henry brood and Katrina be placed in mortal peril and Abbie and Ichabod charge in to save her, all while Jenny cocks her guns and Irving does whatever it is Irving’s gonna do this season.
The best way to develop that ensemble is, of course, organically: by bouncing a few different throwaway characters off of the show’s main players, seeing who end up resonating most, and rewarding those people with extra screen time. But Sleepy Hollow can’t take this tactic if it keeps killing off intriguing presences—Caroline, or the pilot’s badass warlock Reverend Knapp, or the Masons who seemed like they’d be a big deal for a hot second in season 1—almost immediately after they first appear on the show. The whole go-for-broke kitchen-sink approach is a great way to keep the series’ momentum from flagging, but it can sometimes get in the way of worldbuilding.
There are, of course, a few new characters that Sleepy‘s making a real effort to integrate into season 2—Sheriff Reyes, for one, and Nick Hotley, who has yet another convenient run-in with our heroes in “The Weeping Lady.” Reyes, at least, is being deployed pretty deftly—but I worry a bit about how hard the show’s pushing Hawley. Lest we forget, Ichabod and Abbie only met the treasure hunter for the first time two short episodes ago—and even though they never saw the guy in season 1, suddenly, he’s everywhere. This is the very opposite of the organic approach apparently represented by Caroline, before she was so unceremoniously murdered; Hawley’s uncanny ability to always be in the right place at the right time seems forced, at least since he hasn’t yet become an official member of the Scooby Gang. Here’s hoping that the show figures out a reason for him to be onscreen so much in the very near future; Sleepy may be ridiculous, but it shouldn’t be contrived.
NEXT: …So yeah, onto what actually happened in the episode