Ichabod and Abbie try to get ahead of the game by raising a monster of their own.

By Hillary Busis
March 20, 2015 at 05:24 PM EDT
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Show of hands: Who thinks Sleepy writers Albert Kim and Mark Goffman (who’s also Sleepy‘s showrunner) dreamed up this whole “Kindred” thing purely as a vehicle to get Abbie to say “Franklinstein’s Monster”?

(My hand is up so high right now, you guys.)

If so, of course, I’m fully on board. The whole mythology of The Kindred—a gruesome patchwork collection of dead soldiers’ body parts described in an ancient Coptic text, then brought to life by Benjamin Franklin and a bunch of witches by order of George Washington to fight the first horseman of the apocalypse—is exactly the sort of bats— tomfoolery that made us all fall in love with Sleepy in the first place. (The show’s writers and producers call this stuff “twistory”; I call it “delightful nonsense.”) As a bonus, tonight’s episode contained some real plot momentum—more than that reset button of a premiere, at any rate—and marked the beginning of a new, more interesting role for Katrina. (Though honestly, anything at all would be more interesting than “Chief Damsel in Distress.”)

Until the end of the hour, though, “The Kindred” revolves around a familiar story line: Save the Witch. Now that Abbie’s jaunt to Purgatory is over and done, Ichabod can concentrate once more on finding and holding onto his beloved wife. He really needs to put a freakin’ bell on her, or something.

Thanks to Ichabod’s knowledge of Headless’ past and Abbie’s ability to solve 7th grade-style word problems—if Headless travels x miles per hour on horseback, and sunrise occurs at Y a.m., how far can the demon get before he has to take shelter?—the two quickly figure out that Katrina’s being stashed at the old van Brunt estate in Dobbs Ferry. Thanks to Corbin’s old Codex Tchacos (no library is complete without one!) and Franklin’s handy notebook—and, implicitly, Jenny for snagging both texts—the Scooby Gang then comes up with a brilliant plan: Raise the episode’s namesake beast, a creature that’s just as strong as the Horseman of Death himself. Only this time, the monster will be on Ichabbie’s side.

There are just a few flies in the ointment. One: The Kindred can’t be summoned unless they can attach one of the Horseman’s own body parts to the corpse Benjamin Franklin created. (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) And two: There is, quite literally, a new sheriff in town, and she’s not quite as chill as Captain Irving.

NEXT: Jenny fights the law; guess who wins

Meet Leena Reyes, the new head of Sleepy Hollow’s friendly neighborhood demon extermination squad—though she doesn’t exactly know that part yet. House of Cards fans may recognize actress Sakina Jaffrey as Linda Vasquez, a White House operative who tangles with Frank Underwood and loses—but Reyes seems a little too steely to let such a thing happen to her. In short order, she’s a) told Abbie she knows aaaall about her crazy-ass mom, b) declared that she’s going to “bring sanity” back to Sleepy Hollow (good luck, lady!), c) informed Crane that the sheriff’s department doesn’t really need a history consultant, and d) arrested Jenny for illegal firearms possession. Which, yes, is completely justified by regular world standards—but Jenny and her cohort need those illegal weapons to fight the forces of darkness! Isn’t there, like, a loophole in the law for exactly that purpose? Didn’t our demon-fighting Founding Fathers remember to write it into the Constitution?

So yeah—it seems that season 2 will find Ichabod and Abbie fighting a two-front war, against both capital-E Evil and Reyes’s more mundane authority. I’m glad that although Reyes is presented as an antagonist, she isn’t being vilified by the show (at least, not yet)—she’s just a hardass cop trying to do her job by the book, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Captain Ray Holt without the deadpan humor. It’s a tiny detail, but this nuance shows once more that Sleepy has a habit of zagging where other shows might zig. And while I’m not sure that a show as bonkers as this really benefits by having a level-headed Normal mucking everything up, I do appreciate what the EPs are trying to do by bringing her into the fold.

Speaking of the police: We finally get the year’s first glimpse of good ol’ Irving when Abbie visits him, looking for intel on Headless’ missing skull. Irving—looking worse for wear after his time in jail—informs her that the head is resting comfortably in a safety deposit box. (I imagine that trip to the bank was fun. “What brings you here today, Captain?” “Oh, you know, just stashing this demon head with my savings bonds and Cynthia’s grandmother’s necklace.”) Then he lets her know that he’s got a plan to get out of prison. Specifically: He’s prepared to tell the truth about how those two people died, which is basically equivalent to pleading insanity. Oh, and his estranged wife is in the process of getting a new lawyer to assist him. Remember this detail; it’ll be on the midterm.

After a quick trip to the bank—and the first of what hopefully will be many angry “Ichabod-vs.-the-modern-world” rants this season—the Witnesses are ready to snag The Kindred’s body, currently resting comfortably in the tunnels below the town. (It’s a good thing everything they need always happens to be in Sleepy Hollow!) Before they do, though, there’s enough time to pause for a brief moment of introspection. Abbie’s Purgatorial ordeal made her realize that her faith in Ichabod may just be her greatest weakness. (Cue squeals.) And Ichabod’s got blind spots of his own—namely, Henry. Which would be why he’s bent on going after Headless rather than taking down the Horseman of War. Eventually, the father won’t be able to avoid meeting his son on the battlefield. My hunch is that it’ll happen the next time the wind whispers “Sweeeeeps.”

NEXT: Heads up!

For now, though, it’s time for a different type of showdown: The Kindred vs. the Horseman. While they’re fighting, Ichabod plans to run inside the Dobbs Ferry estate and grab Katrina; Abbie will stay by the monsters, ready to help Kindred out with additional firepower if necessary. (Normally, this would be Jenny’s beat—but she’s in jail, and all signs point to her staying there for the next while. Booo!) It’s a simple enough plan, one that should be a snap to pull off… provided Ichabod can get the incantation right. Never one to admit that he isn’t the smartest, most capable man in the room (or on the misty edge of the creepy hell-mansion), Crane gets a little snippy when he finishes the spell with a flourish and… nothing happens: “I followed the instructions! I’m not the witch in the family!” Lesson learned: Never invite Ichabod over to help you assemble your Ikea Arkelstorp desk.

But the second time around, Ichabod’s chanting works—and not a moment too soon, because just as The Kindred is opening his (er, Headless’) eyes, the Horseman of Death has come galloping at our heroes. As the big throwdown begins, let’s take a moment to admire Sleepy‘s monster work; this show may do supernatural action sequences better than anything else on network TV. Much credit for that should go to Sleepy‘s head creature creator, Corey Castellano, who makes his mythological beasts the old-fashioned way—out of foam rubber and silicone prosthetics, not cheap computer-generated imagery. (Ahem.) Sleepy‘s monsters have the heft and look of real, tactile beings, which goes a long way toward grounding the insane things they’re doing—imagine how much less frightening this fight would be if the opponents were both made of pixels instead of fake flesh. (And/or if they only fought by shooting magical beams of light at one another.)

Everything is going swimmingly as Ichabod ventures into the house, ready at last to take Katrina into his arms and spirit her back to Corbin’s cabin. Except, wait, there’s just one snag left: Katrina tells Ichabod that all things being equal, she’d actually prefer to stay with the murderous, headless demon.

Say what?

Actually, Katrina’s reasoning makes a lot of sense: Using her feminine wiles, she’s managed to convince Headless (or rather, the part of him that’s still Abraham) that he can make her learn to love him. He’s so besotted that he’ll allow her to stick around for awhile before magically binding Katrina to him—allowing her to spy on him and Henry, giving Abbie and Ichabod eyes and ears inside the enemy’s camp.

It remains to be seen how, exactly, she’ll be able to pass information to the Witnesses, since her magical powers are still kinda nonexistent (she did twirl that stick around that one time!). It’s also unclear how she plans on keeping her true motives secret in the presence of Henry, a practiced sin-reader who should be able to smell a liar from miles away. Still, it’s tough to argue with the logic of this decision; it gives Katrina something to do other than exposit, and also gives her character some much-needed agency. Snaps all around—though if we don’t see some mother-loving magic from this witch in the next, oh, two weeks, I shall be very put out.

NEXT: Sleepy proves again that it knows how to stick the landing

We end in a place notably different than where we began the night: Katrina is still in custody, though this time it’s because she chose to be. Jenny is locked up, though hopefully not for long. The Kindred has been raised, though after his big fight scene, he vamooses, sure to show up again only when our heroes truly need him. And Irving has officially made the move from prison to Tarrytown Psychiatric, onetime home of Jenny Mills. Which is better than prison… as long as he’s not being pumped full of drugs he doesn’t need. At least he’s got a new advocate: That lawyer Cynthia found, a lovely guy by the name of Henry Parrish.

Eep!!

Doughnut Holes

–Irviiiiing, don’t sign the demon contract don’tsignthedemoncontract DON’T SIGN THE DEMON CONTRACT… aww man, he signed the demon contract. Wonderful. This will end well.

–I get the reasoning, but it’s a liiittle lazy for Sleepy to start with fakeout dream sequences twice in as many episodes.

–Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: the “wedding industry”; banks; credit cards (“It is this kind of gross invitation to indulgence that mocks the power of the invisible hand to foster the true wealth of nations!”)

–Come to think of it, the way Reyes describes her, maybe Jenny does deserve to be in jail.

–Before he turned into a Horseman, Abraham van Brunt was basically the Veruca Salt of colonial America: He once called the palace at Versailles “quaint.”

–Ichabod: Katrina is “more than just my wife. She is a witch of extraordinary abilities.” Quoth Aretha: Prove it.

–On Katrina’s old coven: I cannot hear someone say “the Sisterhood of…” without my mind immediately continuing “…the Traveling Pants.”

–Can’t wait for Henry to finally snap at Moloch and decide to strike off on his own: “You’re not my real dad!!”

–Katrina was clearly lying about being receptive to Abraham’s advances—but do you think he actually struck a nerve by pointing out how fast Ichabod was to rescue Abbie from Purgatory?

–Timeline Alert: Abbie’s rescue took place “mere hours” after the events of the finale. But a week has passed between that episode and the events of this one.

–Abbie, describing Mrs. Mills in a nutshell: “She knew my mother, who was a little bit totally crazy.”

–Reyes: “There are wonderful new ways to treat hallucinations—antipsychotic drugs, electroshock therapy.” Irving, ideally: “You think those are new? What, are you a time traveler, too?”

–Fun little Easter Egg: Franklin keeps The Kindred behind the family crest of Luigi Galvani (which Ichabod recognizes, because obviously). Galvani’s work helped inspire Mary Shelley’s Franklinstein—er, Frankenstein.

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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