Another chapter of Sleepy draws to a close—but not before the death of a major character and one hell of a twist.
Credit: Brownie Harris/Fox

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”

The gang isn’t sure whether Abraham is telling the truth—but they’re also not willing to risk their lives in case he is. So they bring the Horseman back to their handy underground holding cell, where Katrina attempts to “gather more intelligence” by, uh, flirting with her ex-fiance. In the meantime, Jenny does the real work and determines that the sword will, in fact, consume the soul of anyone who uses it. A major bummer… except the crew just happens to know somebody whose soul has already been vacuumed away. Say what you will about Irving’s imminent death, but at least the seeds for this part of the storyline were well-planted.

Before they can put this plan into motion, they’ll have to find Irving… while Katrina stays behind with AbraHead. And tells Ichabod, for the zillionth time, that Moloch is the real enemy, not their demonstrably evil son. Whatever; Ichabod seems finally to have come around to everyone else’s point of view, which is that Henry must die if it’s the only way to save the rest of the world. And they’ll have just the man to kill him once they figure out where Irving is. He’s left Jenny a coded message—one pointing the gang to the old military post where patriots once captured Revolutionary-era spy John André. (Why in the world would Irving know this bit of trivia?) Once there, they find Irving at last—and discover quickly that the sword looks pretty damn fine in his hand.

It also looks pretty damn fine when held up against Abraham’s enchanted neck, as Irving proves once he and the Witnesses travel back to the tunnels. The threat of un-undeath is enough to make Headless confess that War and Moloch are currently merging Purgatory with the world of the living via the four white trees that stand at the spot where Henry emerged from the ground all those years ago. They’re burning the trunks one by one; by the time the fourth one goes up in flames, hell on earth will be complete. (Kell on Earth, alas, never will be.)

And so it’s time to weapon up before the big fight against Moloch—without first killing Headless. Which… I get that the show doesn’t want to get rid of this character yet, but it’s pretty ridiculous to present the main antagonist to the Scoobies on a silver platter, then decline to have them get rid of him just because Katrina’s got a crush. Anyway! Speaking of crushes, it’s time to grab the last member of the team—a visibly drunk Hawley, who manages to sober up as soon as the Witnesses let him know that Moloch’s ascension is nigh.

Weapons roll call! We’ve got the flintlock pistols Black Beard used to sink a leviathan; a katana sword said to imbue its wielder with the strength of previous samurais; and none for Katrina Crane bye. Who, by the way, informs the gang that her super awesome, never-before-glimpsed powers are, in fact, weakening as purgatory merges with the real world. Well, color me shocked.

Somehow, the gang convinces Hawley to play babysitter to Headless (he’s such a Stacey) while the rest of them go to face Moloch. First, though, there’s an emotional Crane Family Drama interlude in which Crane and Katrina decide, essentially, that they’re now on a break. Well! That should please a few shippers, as well as anyone who’s grown weary of this storyline. In any case, there’s not much time to worry about terms; it’s Attack Moloch O’Clock.

First, though, they’ll have to attack his horde of colonial zombies, which are rising out of the ground at an alarming rate. With sword in hand, Irving fights like a man possessed by righteous fury. He’s unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with even when he goes up against that imposing War avatar—at one point, he pulls a Vader and cuts off the bad dude’s sword hand. It’s an act that seems to injure the real Henry as well… though when Irving decisively stabs War in the belly, Henry doesn’t die. No matter; the War-bot is dead and gone, defeated by Irving. Huzzah!

NEXT: Irving fans might want to stop reading right about now

Well, until Irving himself collapses from wounds sustained during the fight… and Katrina is helpless to stop his bleeding. You had one job! And so Abbie’s second mentor dies. Farewell, Irving; here’s hoping we’ll see you in some form again in season 2B.

There’s little time to mourn; the gang has to figure out who’s going to go up against Moloch, sacrificing him or herself for the greater good. Only one of them can wield the sword at a time—and the first to take it, they decide, will be Abbie. If she fails, Ichabod will take her place; if he, in turn, can’t do the job, Katrina will be next. She, obviously, will also fail, meaning Jenny will be the only one left to finish the job. Sounds about right.

And so Henry goes to the gang in an attempt to win the sword for himself—but not of his own accord. He’s leaving the fold on Moloch’s orders, even though the death of the War avatar has left him vulnerable. Demon Daddy really couldn’t care less about this turn of events; he tells Henry that there will be more horsemen to take his place once he dies. “Be grateful for your chance to sacrifice yourself for my glory,” he booms, sounding for all the world like a demonic Regina George. Mark this as the point where Henry officially starts to think that maybe loyalty to Moloch isn’t the best game plan.

Henry saunters into St. Henry’s Parrish church, immobilizes Abbie and Jenny… and discovers, much to his surprise, that his father is holding Methuselah’s sword. He’s at Crane’s mercy; it’d take just an inch of forward propulsion for the man out of time to decisively kill his son (and lose his own life in the process). Tension mounts. We’re reminded of the biblical Akeda, the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son for the sake of his god. Though that patriarch was willing to murder his offspring, he ended up getting a reprieve, thanks to the very deity who ordered Isaac’s death—and now Ichabod too says that a metaphorical ram could stay his hand. Here’s the culmination of all those long, tortured, “can Henry be redeemed” conversations: Ichabod pleading with his son, begging him to rise against Moloch and save the world.

A pause. “You never gave up on me,” Henry says to his father, slightly teary. “Never will.” For a moment, it seems like Katrina’s been right all this time—a sentence it pains me to write. And then Henry starts strangling Ichabod. Yep; he’s evil through and through, and he’s going to deliver his noble, dumb parents, as well as Abbie and Jenny, straight to Moloch’s door.

Imagine if the episode had ended here.

Instead, we travel with the crew out into the woods, where Moloch lies in wait. There, the demon king demands Henry to finish the invasion of Earth by killing his mother. (Insert snarky comment here.) But ah, Henry seems strangely reluctant to fulfill this last order—even when Ichabod cries out that his son should take him instead. (“Noooo!” said everyone.) See, today has made him realize something: Any man, from the biblical Abraham onward, who’s willing to sacrifice his own child must die. Which is when Henry draws up Methuselah’s sword… and turns away from Ichabod, thrusting it into Moloch instead. The demon immediately bursts into a fiery explosion of death. Whoa—there’s that twist you ordered! Maybe tonight’s episode was secretly sponsored by Sylvia Plath.

Doughnut Holes

— Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: GPS (“Forgive me for not trusting an electronic device in an apocalyptic storm!”).

— Who else initially thought Irving couldn’t be killed because he had already lost his soul? Apparently, souls and lives aren’t intertwined in Sleepy‘s universe—though maybe Irving’s soul being in Henry’s possession will help him reappear next year.

— Shipper bait of the night: “Where do I buckle?” “Arms around me.”

— One last plug: See what showrunner Mark Goffman had to say about tonight’s episode in our postmortem conversation.

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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