Hawley gets some backstory—though Ichabod and Abbie's relationship is the episode's true star.

By Hillary Busis
Updated March 20, 2015 at 05:12 PM EDT
Brownie Harris/Fox

Tonight’s episode of Sleepy Hollow is brought to you by the letter “F”—which stands for both friendship (hooray!) and Ford (nope nope nope).

Those gratuitous shots of Hawley’s cherry-red Mustang flying down the streets of Sleepy Hollow, inspiring Ichabod to doff his imaginary cap to its exemplary horsepower even as it miraculously never inspired any of Abbie’s comrades to issue a big, fat speeding ticket? Not great, Bob. If you could get past the hour’s blatant sponsorship, though, “Kali Yuga” carried a message that should have been music to the ears of Sleepyheads the world over: Ichabod and Abbie know they’ve been out of sorts lately, and they’re going to do everything they can to shore up their bond so they’re never torn apart by Katrina’s heaving bosom again. I’ll drink to that—especially if it’s scored by a delightfully off-kilter rendition of “Proud Mary.”

That said, the Witness’ relationship is actually not the episode’s primary concern. Instead, “Kali Yuga” foregrounds another one of season 2’s bugbears: Nick Hawley, who hasn’t resonated with viewers quite the way that Sleepy‘s writers were hoping he would. Do you feel more tenderly toward him knowing that he was raised (between the ages of 12 and 18, anyway) by a hot goth lady who’s only, like, eight years older than he is at most? No? What if I tossed in the fact that she used to murder people in Miami—and that she’s also a vetala, i.e. a vengeful spirit out of Hindu mythology who boasts super speed, near-indestructibility, and one killer manicure?

Personally, I’d say all those elements sweeten the pot. And while English actress Jaime Murray’s portrayal of Hawley’s long-lost guardian wasn’t quite oomph-y enough to make the vetala Carmilla Vine (try saying that three times fast) seem like more than a garden-variety Monster of the Week, I do appreciate when the series attempts to broaden its universe—and neglects to wrap things up tidily at 9 o’clock, despite the network’s directive to be more episodic.

But as usual, I’m jumping the crossbow. Let’s take a step back: Carmilla—named, I assume, for one of fiction’s very first vampires—turns up in Sleepy Hollow to enlist Hawley on a mission. She, like him, is a notorious treasure hunter (which, in Sleepy-ese, translates to “white person who steals occult stuff from other cultures”), and she’s currently in need of a Very Important Object: the Bajrayogini statue of the Hindu deity Kali, the goddess of “time, change, power, and destruction.” (Kali is also the star of a very silly chick lit book I read circa 2005.)

See, Carmilla wasn’t always an undead minion of the many-armed immortal; she got transformed into one years ago, when chasing a runaway Hawley all the way across the globe. (Was he running away because he realized that a college junior really had no business taking in a 12-year-old child?) According to Carmilla, gaining possession of the statue will allow her to reverse the curse, transforming Carmilla back into her human self. Hawley accepts this explanation without a second thought. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering he has, in the past, a) not realized his date was a straight-up succubus until the very moment she started to remove his soul, and b) fallen for one Mills, then transferred his affections to her sister without rhyme, reason, or explanation.

NEXT: A hard Knox life

Ahem. So: The statue happens to be in the possession of another white treasure hunter—Theodore Knox. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because Theodore is the descendent of one Henry Knox, i.e. the recipient of tonight’s Random Colonial Shoutout. (Kudos to Sleepy‘s casting department, by the way—the guy chosen to play Theodore really does bear a striking resemblance to the United States’ first Secretary of War.) As luck would have it, Knox is about to throw a White Treasure Hunters’ Jamboree, which will give Carmilla and Hawley the perfect pretext to sneak onto his estate, break into his goodie-stocked vault, and use their four arms to make off with Kali’s six.

It’d be an easy enough heist—if it weren’t for those meddling kids! By that, of course, I’m referring to Abbie, Jenny, and Ichabod, who quickly figure out what Carmilla really is, then track her and Hawley to Casa Knox. Guess what kind of car they use to get there.

Knox’s party takes place at a gorgeous, sprawling plantation-style home (makes sense for Wilmington, where Sleepy is shot; makes slightly less sense for upstate New York, but who cares when the view is this pretty?) that boasts fire-eaters, belly dancers, and plenty of sloshed rich people wielding expensive, magically laced weaponry. It seems, in other words, like the perfect place to spend an hour or six. Alas, the Scoobies have barely any time to enjoy the party before they head off to find Hawley and his mentor. Adding insult to injury, their reconnaissance mission turns out to be a total bust. First, Hawley foils Jenny’s attempts to stop him by locking her inside a closet. Then he heads to Knox’s vault, where he discovers Abbie, Crane, and Carmilla locked in a modified Mexican standoff.

You’d think that this would be the point when Hawley comes to his senses, chooses his new pals over his fairly evil godmother, and helps Abbie and Crane escape while ensuring Carmilla doesn’t make off with the statue. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. After a brief bout of hesitation, Hawley asks for Carmilla to let the Witnesses go. In return, he says, they won’t go after her—and he’ll pledge himself to her service once more. Carmilla’s happy to take the deal—which raises some questions about the nature of her relationship with Hawley. (Are we to understand that her feelings toward him are more than maternal? Or is that just her demonic seductress thing talking?)

So Hawley and Carmilla amscray, leaving Ichabbie locked inside Knox’s giant safe. (Hawley does say he’ll alert Theodore to their presence, and they’ll be out of there within a day; how kind of him.) It’s a frustrating state of affairs, to be sure—but it’s also one that gives Abbie and Ichabod a chance to really dig into their issues, which have been festering in the background all episode.

He’s upset that she’s been hiding things from him, including rigging the archives with a silent alarm and holding onto Angel Orion’s “call me” charm; she still resents the whole Horseman brouhaha. Clearly, the two have been out of step lately. They’re keeping secrets from one another; they’re misinterpreting each others’ signals; they obviously haven’t played Heads Up in way too long. If they’d been as simpatico tonight as they were in season 1, they probably wouldn’t be stuck in this mess in the first place. Hearing Ichabod and Abbie admit to being out of sync feels like hearing the show admit that it, too, has been off for the past few weeks, if not longer—and though I think it’d be a copout to claim that Sleepy was keeping Ichabod and Abbie apart specifically so that this scene could happen, it’s certainly nice to see the show acknowledge and try to remedy a few of season 2’s issues.

NEXT: Irving’s not starting with the man in the mirror

In any case: There isn’t a ton of heart-t0-hearting after the Witnesses let their issues out into the open. That’s mostly because Ichabod soon has a brilliant insight into which secret button will release him and Abbie from their prison… and wonder of wonders, he ends up choosing wrong. (Ha!) They’re nearly squashed by a spiky, Star Wars-style death trap before Abbie pushes Ichabod to hit the correct button, which releases them in the nick of time.

Thus it’s time to find Hawley—who, predictably, has been taken captive by Carmilla—and make one last-ditch effort to save him, even though he kinda sorta totally screwed over the Scoobies several times tonight. No matter: Through a series of expository deductions too goofy to dig into here, Ichabod and Abbie determine that flaming iron can defeat a vetala. They arrive at Carmilla’s House of Demonic Transformation, working as a team (woohoo!) to ax her minions and free Hawley once and for all.

The one loose end: Carmilla herself, who escapes just before Hawley can strike her while the iron is hot. Hey, now the Kindred, Henry, and Orion have a fourth! They can play bridge!

We’re left with one heartwarming image—Ichabod and Abbie together again, singing the slow part of “Proud Mary” at Mabie’s and regrettably getting cut off before the uptempo shift—and one eerie one, which I’ll describe in detail in…

Doughnut Holes

—Surprise: Irving’s in this episode, too! After being exonerated of all charges—which, huh? Henry’s pulling evil strings to make this happen, right?—he allows Katrina to give him a magical physical, which should determine whether the Horseman of War is still in possession of Irving’s soul.

The good news: Katrina says his connection with Henry has been fully severed. The bad news: Katrina’s acting reeaaally suspicious when she says that, and, oh yeah, Irving notices at the end of the episode that he doesn’t have a reflection. All of which indicates one of three things: Katrina messed up (a shocking thought, I know); a secretly evil Irving, who really is Henry’s puppet, duped her on purpose; or Katrina saw that he’s still connected to Henry, but lied about her findings because she believes Irving can lead her back to her long-lost son. Given everything we’ve seen so far this season, my inclination is to lean toward option no. 3.

—After Carmilla disappears, Hawley does too, nominally to track her down and kill her—but I’d be shocked if he didn’t turn up again before the finale. He does, at least, give Jenny a nice long smooch before he goes.

—Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: …Nothing?! Crane happily participates in both karaoke and blatant product placement tonight, adding in some kind words about Mary Poppins for good measure. Maybe the guy really is changing. (He does, however, take a teensy bit of umbrage with “Proud Mary”‘s lyrics: “Pumped a lot of tane down in New Orleans? That makes no sense.”)

—Speaking of karaoke—did we know Nicole Beharie was hiding a great set of pipes this whole time? Because daamn.

—P.S. This is the song Ichabod chose to sing, clearing the bar out in the process. Spoiler: It’s no “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

—One bone of contention: Why bring in a creature with Hindu roots and not cast an actress of Indian descent to play her?

—Irving, explaining why his own wife is defending him in court: “I tried to go to an outside firm. That didn’t go so well.”

—Jenny, in mock horror, after knocking a stooge’s face into a countertop hard enough to break the glass: “This guy tried to assault me!” Is it bad if Semi-Crazy Jenny might be my favorite Jenny?

—True or false: The animated Kali statue at the end of the episode looked like Baby Dancing Groot’s evil cousin.

—Next week, we’re digging into the Salem Witch Trials—which, alas, would indicate that tonight’s relatively Katrina-free episode was but a port in the storm. Nothing gold can stay.

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr.