A headless Redcoat gets the attention of Sleepy Hollow's finest.

By Kelly Connolly
October 30, 2015 at 02:34 AM EDT
Patrick McElhenney/Fox
S11 E5
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Early in the colorful fever dream that is this Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover event, Ichabod Crane needs a candle to illuminate the invisible ink in an old book. Angela pulls up a simulated candle on her high-tech screen. It works. Barring all heat- and chemistry-related logic, the most unbelievable science on Bones meets Sleepy Hollow at the height of supernatural madness, and it works. Of course it does.

Bones and Sleepy Hollow are not, on the surface, designed to share space, but crossovers that make complete sense are a lot less fun. And despite appearances, these shows aren’t actually opposites, in that each hinges on the partnership of two people who aren’t really opposites, either. It’s fitting that this event was touted with an X-Files analogy, with Bones as the Scully to Sleepy Hollow’s Mulder, because even Scully has a cross necklace (that’s Booth), and even Mulder has his doubts (that would be Abbie). They have enough in common to work together. Anyway, to quote Booth, “It’s Halloween — all bets are off.”

For Brennan, Halloween means bickering over candy, talking smack about the other moms in Christine’s class for their “completely unrealistic” plastic eyeballs, and pranking Booth into believing that he’s eaten an actual brain. I’d expect nothing less. But as soon as this prank war gets off the ground, it’s interrupted — some college kids found a body buried beneath the floor of an old church. Beside that body is a mortsafe (an iron coffin meant to prevent grave-robbing) with a strange symbol on the top and a headless Redcoat inside. Approximately 250 miles away, a tall British guy yells for a “lef-tenant” to get her coat.

I’m already so deep in the crossover mindset that this surprises me, but the Jeffersonian doesn’t view the 18th-century body as a fresh case deserving immediate attention. It’s material evidence, so it’s everything to Brennan, and you’ll have to pry it away from her cold dead hands, but it isn’t, on its own, a case — just a lead that might help them solve another one. The more timely dead body belongs to Sarah Lippman, a third-year medical student who recently shook up her entire look, going from pink hair to blond and trading eyebrow piercings for manicures. Her boyfriend, Joel, says that he was just “starting to rub off on her” — which is a weird thing to say, because happiness and personal style aren’t actually related.

Ichabod Crane, for one, is perfectly happy in his colonial garb, no matter how many people assume he’s in town for a cosplay competition. (Hodgins, who believes in a world where everyone owns demon contact lenses, just wants to know why he wasn’t invited.) Crane and his partner, FBI Agent Abbie Mills of the Westchester field office, show up to claim the Redcoat’s body, but since Brennan still needs it for the case, they’ll have to investigate from there. Crane and Abbie think the body might belong to Abraham Van Brunt (a.k.a. the Headless Horseman, a.k.a. the Apocalyptic Horseman of Death), but it’s actually General William Howe, a famously cruel commander of the British forces. So what’s his connection to Sarah, and where is his definitely-severed-in-this-century head?

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The answer might lie in the old book found in Sarah’s locker, which is marked on its cover with the same rune as Howe’s mortsafe. Via my new favorite CGI candle, the team uncovers an invisible message: The text will guide a Witness to a skull that can raise the dead. Whether that’s the Horseman’s skull or Howe’s, there’s no one better to investigate than the two capital-W Witnesses in the fight against the apocalypse. Crane heads to the Jeffersonian’s archives to learn more (it’s “like archive city,” so he’s living the dream) while Abbie teams up with Booth for some old-school detective work.

Abbie and Booth make a good team. He actually knew her old mentor, August Corbin, because this country probably stops functioning if Booth doesn’t “know a guy” in every city. He tells Abbie that Corbin talked about her the last time they spoke, even comparing her to Booth back in the day. Abbie takes that as the honor that it is. They could both stand to ease up on themselves, but there are are worse traits than a desire to save the world overnight. Anyway, this is a man who just almost died trying to save his brother talking to a woman who was literally predestined to fight the end of days. Slowing down is easier said than done.

NEXT: Fist bump treason

Booth and Abbie comb through Sarah’s apartment and find everything she’d need to dig up Howe’s skull, along with a note about how “incredible” last night was. Two weeks before her death, Sarah went out for an expensive night of drinks with a classmate, but she wasn’t cheating on her boyfriend — she was celebrating coming back from the dead. The classmate, Martin, says that Sarah had been fascinated by life after death ever since her sister died young. With the skull on hand as a kind of good luck charm, he induced her heart to stop and then re-started it.

But that skull was eventually used as her murder weapon, striking Sarah’s face and severing an artery. There’s a tooth missing, which Crane says would have been porcelain, and if the killer didn’t know to look for it, it might not have been cleaned. Sure enough, Hodgins tracks down the tooth and finds skin cells belonging to Joel. After her “transformative” brush with death, Sarah wanted her boyfriend to experience the same, but he didn’t see anything. Sarah saw her sister; for Joel, there was nothing. He lost his Catholic faith and didn’t know how to deal with it. So. Maybe this is a good time for Abbie to mention that she’s literally been to purgatory?

At least the body can go back to Sleepy Hollow now, putting things right between Brennan and Crane — who are actually as much alike as Booth and Abbie are, which is why they’ve been struggling to get along. They’re each used to being the most intelligent person in the room. Crane risks outing himself as a time traveler to present Brennan with a letter he wrote on Washington’s behalf, authorizing Howe’s burial in Sleepy Hollow. Someone should have warned him not to leave his own notes lying around the Jeffersonian. Angela picks up on the paradox (which Crane blames on ancestry), but now that the case is closed, all is forgiven.

The unlikely pairs celebrate with drinks at the Founding Fathers, which pretty much sums up the weird joy of this crossover. How did any of you not expect this to be a smashing success when Booth and Brennan’s favorite bar is named after Crane’s old friends, all of whom he hated? And who doesn’t love watching Booth and Brennan play wingman? Brennan comes right out and recommends that Crane and Abbie have sex, while Booth just shoots them knowing glances and leaves them alone at the bar. He’s got pranks to play on his wife anyway.

This collaboration is just getting started — check out the Sleepy Hollow recap for the rest of Booth and Brennan’s brush with the supernatural.

Bits and pieces:

  • As much as this crossover defied logic and worked, imagine what it could have been in Bones’ early days. Go watch season 2’s “The Headless Witch in the Woods” and tell me that wasn’t a Sleepy Hollow episode.
  • “Some inevitabilities take longer than others.”
  • Crane looks so betrayed by Hodgins’ fist bump, like he’s just been forced to commit treason against Abbie.
  • “They’re us! I mean, she’s beautiful. He has an incredible head of hair.”
  • “I’m thinking I hate soy cheese.”
  • I would not go digging around in that medical waste unless I were wearing at least three of those crime scene onesies.
  • “We didn’t account for the magical powers of the skull?”
  • If anyone at the Jeffersonian deserves to know the truth about Crane, it’s Hodgins. He would lose his mind. But he’d also probably move his entire family to Sleepy Hollow and dedicate himself to studying Crane as a perfect union of science and conspiracy theories, and we can’t have that. Bones needs him.
  • “Benjamin Franklin invented Sex on the Beach?” “He called it Fondle in the Forest.”
  • I can’t get over the fact that Bones crossed over with a show that has actually road tripped to purgatory and somehow got more agnostic.
  • “I’ll tell him eventually…a year.”

Episode Recaps


Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz play a will-they-won’t-they crime-solving duo.
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