Sleepy Hollow: Zach Appelman on that brutal twist in Delware
WARNING: This story contains spoilers from “Delaware,” Friday’s episode of Sleepy Hollow. Recap here.
The Wendigo claimed Joe Corbin in the end.
In the penultimate episode of Sleepy Hollow’s third season, Joe (Zach Appelman) was cursed by the Hidden One (Peter Mensah) to return to his Wendigo form. This time, there was no bringing him back — and when the Wendigo set his sights on Ezra (James McDaniel), Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) was forced to shoot her boyfriend to save her father.
EW sat down with Appelman to get his thoughts on his character’s “shocking” ending, the chances we’ll see Joe again (“I’m hoping he’ll come back next season and haunt [Jenny’s] trailer or something. We’ll have a pottery moment, like Ghost”), and how best to play matchmaker for Abbie (Nicole Beharie) and Crane (Tom Mison). (Hint: It involves Shakespeare.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is this it for Joe, or is there any chance that one of the supernatural elements on the show could help bring him back?
APPELMAN: It’s Sleepy Hollow, so there’s always a chance. There’s always a chance of flashbacks, and there’s always a chance of ghosts and spirits. Whether or not that’s in the works, I have no idea. But as of right now, from what I know: He dead. It’s sad, but you know, if there is a season 4, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how that affects Jenny’s arc. This whole season has been about her finally being willing to open up to somebody and being really scared about getting hurt, so this is her worst nightmare coming to life.
This was something that our showrunner Clifton Campbell had said to me when he was letting me know about Joe getting killed: A big purpose of bringing Joe in this season was for Jenny’s storyline. I felt that too, very much: that the role Joe was bringing to this group of people was actually to allow Jenny’s character to grow. She’s had such a tough life, and she’s been so closed off and hurt. We got to see a lot of different colors to her this season, and a lot of different colors of Lyndie as an actress. Lyndie actually has so much warmth and humor and lightness to her that I think we haven’t gotten to see in previous seasons with Jenny. I’m really glad that I was the catalyst to let that happen. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens next for Jenny and whether or not this sends her down a dark spiral.
How do you feel about this ending for Joe?
I think it’s shocking, and it’s brutal, and it feels unfair, which I think is right. You can’t have tragedy without actually having tragedy. There’s something that feels so abrupt and so sudden about it that I think will hopefully maximize the effect that it has on the characters. So I liked that there was something sort of brutal and immediate about it.
It seemed sort of tragically fitting that part of it came from the fact that Jenny tried to take matters into her own hands, so her independence came back to bite her in a way.
Yeah, but I also think Joe doesn’t blame Jenny for it. I had a couple of lines to her before I died, which were, “I love you,” and, “It’s okay,” and, “You had to.” I think that’s the important thing in those last moments for Joe. Joe has a lot of blood on his hands already from his previous Wendigo incidents. He’s killed a lot of people, and I think if he had hurt Jenny or hurt her father, he wouldn’t have been able to live with himself. He really believes that what she did, putting him down in that situation, was absolutely the right thing to do, and in those last moments, his concern is for her. It’s, “I know that this is going to wrack her with guilt for the rest of her life, and I need her to know that I’m okay with what she did.”
At least before he died, he finally got Jenny’s permission to rummage through her whole trailer.
She finally gave him the keys! Yeah, what I’m really pleased about is that the two of them ended up in a really good place. They were trusting each other, and things were good, and that was such a satisfying arc to get to play out for this season. It was a piece that Lyndie and I enjoyed a lot. Amidst all of the monster fighting and the demon hunting, as an actor, it’s satisfying to have a human storyline to get to latch on to.
Where did you see their relationship going?
Lyndie and I always joked that at the end of the series, we wanted them to pull, like, the end of The Bourne Identity, where they just run off and assume new identities. Joe and Jenny open up some surf shop on an island in the South Pacific and run away from everything. That’s what we always hoped would happen, so we were a little sad that it’s not going to work out.
What’s been your favorite part of doing Sleepy Hollow?
Any time you get to work on a genre show, it’s just so much fun to come to work, because it’s never boring. You get to run around the woods fighting monsters — I mean, that’s so much fun. So there’s that part of it. Personally, what’s been so wonderful for me is getting to work with Lyndie so much. We got really lucky, because she’s somebody who’s going to end up also now being a lifelong best friend … And the little moments I got to have as well with Nicole and Tom and Jessica [Camacho] have been so much fun. I felt like there was more to be explored with those relationships, too. Tom and I had a lot of Joe-Crane bromance storylines we wanted to do. We really wanted to have an episode where Joe and Crane go out and get totally drunk together and have a guys’ night out.
Were there any other ideas you were hoping to make happen?
Tom and I had pitched this scene about Joe and Crane on their guys’ night where they were at the tavern getting drunk and comparing scars. It was kind of an homage to that scene in Jaws when they’re on the boat and they’re comparing war wounds. It would be Joe showing Crane all of his scars from Afghanistan, and they’re competing, like: Who has the best scars? And finally it ends with Crane ripping open his shirt, showing his big chest wound, and going, “Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, 1776. Beat that.”
I also think Joe ‘ships Crane and Abbie. Joe would totally dig having Crane as a brother-in-law, so maybe there could’ve been a whole fun side plot in season 4 about Joe being like, “I’m gonna make this happen. I’m gonna play matchmaker.” It’d be the romantic comedy side plot where Joe and Jenny try to come up with a scheme to get Crane and Abbie to fall in love. It’d be sort of like Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedick. The friends have to trick them.
Do you have any thoughts on how you want to see Abbie and Crane’s relationship play out?
I think it’s tricky! I think they have so much chemistry, and there’s definitely a part of you that looks at them and goes, “Oh my gosh, you guys would be great together.” And I think, for me, whether or not I would want to see that happen would depend on how it was written and how it played out. But look: I think I was on the fence about it, and then for the last few episodes in the back end of the season, I’ve been watching the work that Tom is doing in those scenes, and I keep being like, “Oh my god, that guy’s in love.” Like that scene when he’s making her dinner, the Italian dinner with the candles. And then there was a scene a couple of episodes ago where they’re having a heart to heart. I see it less from Abbie to Crane, but I see it very much from Crane to Abbie. I don’t even know if he’s aware of it, but I think the guy’s head over heels. And I think Joe sees that, too … I know there was a lot of conversation about how Joe and Jenny got together so quickly and Abbie and Crane didn’t, and it’s like, well, they’re different people. Joe and Jenny are younger. I think they’re a lot more impulsive. And I also don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think the more love on the show, the better.
Are there any scenes that you’ve done that stand out when you look back?
One of my favorites was actually at the end of “Sins of the Father.” There was a scene with Joe and Jenny right at the end of the episode where they wake up in the morning in her trailer, and they’re just lying on the couch talking about their dads. That was a really beautiful scene that Damian Kindler wrote. There was something so simple about it and something really intimate about it too. They’d both had these troubled relationships with their father, and it wasn’t about demons and monsters. It was just about human beings. Lyndie and I were both really pleased with how that scene turned out.
I loved the whole banshee episode. The scene when we’re fighting the banshee in the amphitheater with Beethoven’s fifth underscoring it was one of my favorite scenes — how it was shot, how it was edited, I thought it was really funny. It was exactly the right tone for Sleepy Hollow. Russell Fine directed that episode; that one was wonderful. And one of my favorite episodes is “The Art of War,” when Jenny gets possessed with the Shard. I loved that one because it was the first time you had Joe, Crane, Abbie, and Jenny together. That was really fun for all of us, to feel like for the first time we actually had Team Witness in the house.
Assuming this is really it, is there anything you’d like to say to eulogize Joe?
I really loved playing Joe. I have a lot of respect for him. In the back end of the season, I started to think a lot about how Joe has been a grounding force for Jenny this season, and I was trying to think, “Where did he get that? Where did that come from?” Because he’s a young guy. He’s a Marine. It would be so easy for him to still be the hot-headed, angry young man we saw in season 2, but he matured a lot this season, and I think we got to see a lot of his father in him. That stable, patient, understanding, empathetic man that his father was — that made his father such an important figure for the Mills sisters — I think we saw that Joe had actually inherited a lot of that. So I’m really thankful for how much material the writers gave me this season, both as an actor and for the character, and I love this show, and I hope I contributed something meaningful to it. It’s been a joy. And I’d love to come back as Zombie Joe.