There's a corrupt coin polluting the people of Sleepy Hollow—one with a (sort of) surprising connection to a famous Revolutionary figure.

By Hillary Busis
Updated March 20, 2015 at 05:17 PM EDT
Credit: Fred Norris/Fox
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There’s only one show that could get a “Benedict” trending—at least, one whose last name isn’t “Cumberbatch.”

Of course, because we’re talking about Sleepy Hollow and not, like, Turn, an hour focused on Benedict Arnold alone would never do. No, “Root of All Evil” also found ways to incorporate Judas Iscariot, the 30 pieces of silver he was supposedly paid for betraying Jesus, the Revolution-era counterfeiters known as “shovers,” a gay Prussian general, Benjamin Franklin again… and Nick Hawley, the newest addition to the Sleepy family. That’s right, ladies: This tall drink of water is sticking around, at least through the first half of season 2. And just when you thought the eye candy on this show couldn’t get any sweeter.

After a gangbusters finale, a reset-button-pushing premiere, and a second episode that functioned as the season’s real beginning, “Root of All Evil”—the fourth episode of season 2 shot, but the third to air—had a tricky job to do. Namely, it serves as Hollow‘s return to the good old Monster of the Week format: Something weird is happening in Sleepy Hollow. Abbie and Ichabod investigate, only to find that the bad stuff is caused by a demonic force tied to Crane’s colonial past—and only he and Mills (and maybe an auxiliary Scooby Gang member like Jenny or Irving) can stop it. Oh, and along the way, we’ll get at least one scene of Ichabod interacting amusingly with the modern world. Fin.

For an episode that follows this formula to a T, “Root of All Evil” did manage to do a lot of things that’ll show dividends as the season progresses—including introducing Hawley (swoon) and delving deeper into the story of Abbie and Jenny’s mother, who’s bound to become more and more important. Just as vitally, it also revealed that Ichabod’s a closet Gleek. (Who do you think his favorite cast member is? I’m gonna guess Rachel. “It’s not Miss Berry’s fault that she’s more talented than her cohort! Why must they continually toss those frigid beverages upon her?”)

So yeah: As the name implies, tonight’s MacGuffin is a wicked Tyrian shekel—not to be confused with one of Tyrion‘s shekels, which are much less evil but much more likely to have passed through a whorehouse at one point or another. The innocent-looking silver coin, originally housed in Judas’s infamous bag of silver, has the power to bring forth the darkness within any person, tempting them especially toward betraying the thing they hold most dear—making a devoted bank teller turn against her longtime place of employment, for example, or a mild-mannered florist turn against his father. Or a Revolutionary War general turn against his nascent nation. Or, perhaps, a mental patient with a gun turn against her formerly estranged sister.

NEXT: More like Nick HOTley, amiright?

Who brought this latest demonic instrument to the humble hollow of Sleepy? You have two guesses, and the first one better not be “Walternate.”

Yep: As Ichabod and Abbie quickly surmise, this dastardly plan is the work of Henry Parrish. Like Ichabod, you may be confused to learn that after taking on the mighty mantle of War, the second Horseman has emerged “not as a raging colossus, but as an attorney.” (A line from Henry VI comes to mind.) And in truth, it’s mildly disappointing to see that Henry’s first move after failing both a) to manifest Moloch on Earth and b) to “marry” his mother off to the Headless Horseman is to slink around town, creating mischief bad enough to earn tonight’s episode a “viewer discretion is advised” intro but not quite dire enough to qualify as “apocalyptic.”

True, Ichabbie can’t be averting the end of the world every single week; the show would quickly grow stale if they did. But even so, it’s going to take a bit of adjustment to get used to this less dangerous variation on Henry. Maybe it’s best to think of him as Voldemort at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: “He doesn’t want to draw attention to himself at the moment. It would be dangerous for him. His comeback didn’t come off quite the way he wanted it to, you see. He messed it up.”

In any case, Jenny—released from jail with nothing but a community service sentence for her illegal weapons arrest, which… in retrospect, sort of makes me worry about the workings of Sleepy Hollow’s justice system—has a lead on someone who might be able to help the Witnesses figure out how to beat the coin: Nick Hawley, debonaire treasure-hunter-about-town and regulation dreamboat. He looks like a golden retriever, only hot. (It sounds weird, but you know I’m right.)

From the moment they meet, it’s clear that Ichabod doesn’t approve of Hawley or his mercenary methods. Any minute, I’m expecting him to break out a verse of “What Is This Feeling?” But Hawley, for his part, seems to get a real kick out of the stuffy Brit. Expect him to pop up again soon, if only just to give Crane a hard time. In the here and now, though, Hawley gives the pair a nugget of info about the coin they seek before disappearing when they refuse to pay him for his help. But later, he pops up again to let Abbie and Ichabod know that Jenny’s been acting kind of funny. She’s also stolen one of his guns, which may not exactly qualify as unusual behavior coming from her.

NEXT: Duck season! Rabbit season! Reyes season!

But knowing that the coin’s out there leads the Witnesses to deduce that Henry has planted it for Jenny to pick up—and, thanks to an argument the sisters just had about Sheriff Reyes, Abbie thinks coin-addled Jenny may have grabbed that rifle in order to blast her sister away. The twist: Some light stalking reveals that Jenny’s actually planning to take revenge on Reyes—the woman responsible for tossing Lori Mills into the looney bin—by pulling a Dick Cheney.

After a quick jaunt to a local church, where Ichabod reluctantly distracts the priest by delivering a surprisingly mundane confession (“My son abhors me, my wife is living with another man…”) and Hawley slices himself some consecrated glass (it’s the only thing that can protect against Judas’ coin, obviously), the trio heads to the woods. Reyes is there to go hunting; unbeknownst to her, so is Jenny.

As they try to track Jenny before she can do irreparable harm, Ichabod and Abbie have one of their patented Pre-Denouement heart-to-hearts. The theme of tonight’s episode, if you didn’t get the memo, is loyalty, particularly loyalty to a person or cause other than oneself. Abbie and Crane both certainly demonstrate this; Hawley clearly doesn’t. And then there’s Katrina, who just may represent the dark side of this particular virtue. Abbie isn’t exactly on the “Katrina’s secretly evil!” bandwagon, but she is cautioning Crane that when the chips are down, they may not be able to count on the witch to turn against Henry. After all, what mother could bear to turn against her only son—even if he is a monster?

We’ll have to put a pin in that conversation for now, though, because there are dark eagles afoot—a symbol of Benedict Cumberbatch Arnold. And sure enough, both Jenny and her would-be prey are nearby.

What follows is a fairly standard if engagingly shot “stop our possessed friend” sequence, with one slight twist: Abbie gets up in Jenny’s cross hairs, daring her angry sister to shoot her as well as Reyes. In a bravura speech that really lets Nicole Beharie show off, she also hits on something that helps make tonight’s plot seem less like standalone boilerplate mayhem: Henry’s ultimate plan is to divide the Witnesses from their support systems and each other, leaving them weak and vulnerable. It’s up to our heroes—each of whom is a proud, independent weirdo—to band together and prevent that from happening.

NEXT: “Your son is a lawyer. You must be very proud.”

The talk, thankfully, works; Jenny drops the coin and reverts to her old self (murderous, but not that murderous). The evil trinket itself gets scooped up by an eager Hawley, who furnishes Ichabod with a forged passport in return. (It better be really good if these guys are going to get the document past eagle-eyed Reyes.) We’re left with things having returned pretty much to normal—or at least, as normal as they get on Sleepy Hollow. And honestly, this in itself is a little unsettling. You know what might take the edge off? A nice episode of Glee.

Doughnut Holes

–After some sneaky maneuvering involving Tarrytown Psych’s answer to Hodor, Ichabod manages to tell Irving that his lawyer also happens to be the Horseman of War, and his son, and “many other things.” Basically, he advises the captain, if Parrish wants to get him out of the hospital, Irving should do everything he can to stay inside. We’ll see how long Frank takes that advice.

–Ha: Henry’s evil law practice is called Parrish and Cipher.

–I’ve already ruined the punch line, but this line is a thing of beauty that deserves to be reproduced in full: “I know about homosexuals, thank you! I trained under Baron von Steuben. His affections for his own sex were well known. Also, I watched the finale of Glee.”

–Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: Gentlemen wearing hats indoors. But not gay people; he’s surprisingly fine with gay people.

–Ichabod asks if Abbie thinks he shouldn’t have allowed Katrina to stay behind with Abraham and Henry. Abbie’s awesome response: “Allowed her? She’s 1. a grown woman, 2. a witch, 3. a redhead. You couldn’t have stopped her if you tried.”

–Jenny knows Hawley pretty well—here’s hoping we delve into their backstory more in future weeks.

–Henry has settled in Fredericks Manor, the haunted house from season 1 where he was born. (The message: Sometimes, our loyalties are deep and weird.) He’s tricked it out with a scale model of Sleepy Hollow and everything! And considering the bed he set ablaze in the episode’s final moment, he hasn’t exactly gotten over his parental issues yet.

–Speaking of, Henry’s brief confrontation with Ichabod in the precinct was the best. I love petulant Henry asking his father if he plans to “take [him] down to the fishing hole.”

–Huh—so that is Paul Revere on the Samuel Adams beer label! I’ll be damned.

–This Week In Katrina: Her hair looks less like it came from a bottle. Scintillating stuff.

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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