Abbie and Ichabod encounter a demon with his very own enchanted bone flute—and he ain't using it to play "Peter and the Wolf."

By Hillary Busis
Updated March 20, 2015 at 05:17 PM EDT
Fred Norris/Fox

Autumn is officially upon us, which may explain the chill in the air. But given tonight’s Sleepy Hollow, there’s also another possibility: Ichabod is driving.

Which means, clearly, that hell has frozen over.

It makes sense to see Crane finally get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Having this new skill will open up a world of possibilities for the show—and it certainly bodes well for its funnier side, considering how many of Ichabod’s best moments (complaining about highly taxed baked goods, waxing poetic to Yolanda, seeing how many Starbucks there are in Sleepy Hollow and wondering, “Is there a law?”) happen to occur when he’s sitting in a car.

As amusing as that initial “Ichabod is hell on wheels!” segment was, though, it functioned more as a cold open than a crucial plot development. Instead, “Go Where I Send Thee…” was another straightforward MotW episode, centered on another supremely creepy creature: Sleepy Hollow‘s answer to the Pied Piper, a demonic flautist who preys on a single unlucky family and makes his horrible instruments out of their children’s bones. (It’s a shame that thanks to choppy editing and shots filmed in dark, blurry Monster Vision, we barely got a chance to appreciate the beast’s awesome costume and makeup design.) In short, let’s just say this version of the mythical figure was a lot spookier than Once Upon a Time‘s.

The folks being terrorized by the Piper are the Lancasters, an old clan that’s been in New York at least since the Revolutionary era. (Naturally.) They may as well be known as the Frankensteins, though, because the thing that’s been making their lives miserable for centuries was also created by them. See, back in the day, patriarch Daniel Forbes Lancaster—a figure who, unusually enough for Sleepy, appears to be purely fictional—was forced to house a rowdy group of redcoats on his Sleepy Hollow estate. When the crimson tide started getting a little too friendly with the Lancaster ladies, Daniel decided to teach them a lesson… by paying a musician to lure them out of his house with beautiful flute music, then slaughter the lot of them. Dude. This was Plan A?

Anyhow, the scheme went off without a hitch; once the British had been taken care of, Daniel decided to tie up loose ends by then murdering the piper he had hired. What he didn’t know was that said piper was so good at killing en masse because he’d made a deal with a demon—and after his mortal self “died,” Pipes came back as a fiend who, once each generation, lures a Lancaster girl into the woods and leaves her to die of starvation and exposure. He does this on each victim’s 10th birthday, because, as Nick Hotley later explains to Abbie and Crane, this is “when her bones are the right size to make his instruments.” Eeeee!

NEXT: See a bone flute, pick it up, all the day you’ll have BAD LUCK

So yeah: The backstory in “Go Where I Send Thee…” is, as the professionals say, creepy as s—, even if the hour’s standalone-iness is a little frustrating for those of us who grew used to the fierce plot propulsion of season 1. It’s very amusing, however, to see Crane—still trying to fly under Reyes’s radar—pop up at the crime scene, knocking on the outside of a window like a demented Peter Pan. After hissing at him to scram, Abbie meets up with her partner in the woods near the Lancaster place, where they promptly find a clearing filled with blood spatters—and a flute made of bone, which, Ichabod is quick to point out, resembles the ancient Jiahu gudi of China.

But there’s something odd about the instrument—you know, besides the fact that it’s made of a human bone. First of all, the notes it sounds are all pitched up half a key from where they should be. Secondly, when Ichabod picks it up and starts to play—of course Ichabod knows how to play the flute! I’m shocked he doesn’t claim he went to Oxford with Theodore Flute, inventor of woodwind instruments—its music puts Abbie in a deep trance. Note to Crane: You deal with supernatural shenanigans on the reg. It seriously never crossed your mind that maybe you shouldn’t blow into the missing piece of the skeleton orchestra?

Luckily, Ichabod’s recital abruptly ends when he sees its effect on Abbie—and the two soon realize that the flute is enchanted to lead unwitting listeners to the Piper’s lair. Meaning that by recording its music and having Abbie listen via headphones, they can a) find where the Piper is hiding while b) preventing anyone else from falling under its spell. Pret-ty sneaky, sis.

The plan goes off without a hitch, at least until the Witnesses stumble upon a familiar face in the woods: none other than Hawley, injured but not badly. Apparently he had an encounter with the Piper the previous evening; though he tried to save little Sarah Lancaster, his efforts were rebuffed by the “costumed psycho” who had kidnapped the kid. (Nick still doesn’t know that demons are real. But don’t worry; that innocence will last about as long as Ichabod’s indignant reaction to the high price of good coffee.)

But wait—why was Hawley in the forest that night in the first place? Because he’s been hired to track down an important artifact: a flute made out of grade-A 10-year-old tibia. Ichabod, naturally, is horrified. But ever-practical Abbie is willing to strike a deal. If Hawley can help them save Sarah, she’ll hand over the cursed instrument.

Which is how Hawley ends up accompanying Crane and Mills to the Piper’s eerie Buffalo Bill den, complete with skinned animal carcasses and a deep stone well that holds his terrified young captive. Which, naturally, leads to a dimly-lit fight scene that might just make Nick start to believe in magic. Abbie gets Sarah loose from her iron shackles; Ichabod and Hawley try to fight the Piper, though he’s outfitted with hellish speed and a nifty bone staff that plays an ear-splitting, incapacitating high note. (Sopranos are always such show-offs.) It’s a good thing Nick thought to bring some explosives along with him; our heroes escape just before they detonate.

Hooray! Success! All is well! At least, that’s what you would be saying if there weren’t 20 minutes of the show left, not counting commercials.

NEXT: I told you not to sign the demon contract, Irving!

Hawley is shaken by their demonic encounter—but his heart isn’t stirred. He takes the metaphorical money and runs—even though Mills snaps the flute in two before giving it to him—leaving Abbie and Crane to return Sarah to her loving mother, Beth. Except something isn’t right here. Beth seems a little… underwhelmed by their reunion. And when Abbie and Ichabod do a little more Lancaster research, they find out why: In every generation but one, a Lancaster girl has gone missing. The outlier was snatched but eventually found and returned to her family unharmed—only to see every one of her remaining siblings die of a mysterious illness. The takeaway: If the Pied Piper’s chosen one doesn’t perish, he retaliates by killing all of her brothers and sisters. Uh oh.

The illness is already striking poor Sarah’s three innocent brothers when Abbie and Ichabod return to Casa Lancaster. Beth and Sarah, however, are nowhere to be found—probably because Beth, who’s thisclose to utter (utterly justified) hysteria, has decided to lead her beloved youngest kid back into the woods. Leave it to Sleepy to take Sophie’s Choice and pump it up to 11. Abbie and Ichabod reach Beth in time to convince her not to give the kid up to the Piper… only then to be surprised by the monster himself. Ichabod once again goes up against it, armed with both a sword forged by the same man who made George Washington’s and a pair of noise-canceling earbuds. He’s holding his own until Pipes knocks out his plugs… and then Abbie appears to deal the Piper its final death blow. What a beautiful team these two make.

Hooray! Success! All is well, for real this time! The pair even gets a chance to celebrate their victory with a bit of coffee before rushing off to slay their next dragon. What Ichabbie don’t know, however, is that Hawley has turned around and sold the bone flute to an intermediary… who, of course, is secretly working for Henry Parrish. And it turns out that a broken flute is no trouble at all, since he’d planned on grinding the whole thing into osseous dust anyway. Dum dum duuuuummm!

Doughnut Holes

— This Week in Katrina: a big, fat nothing. Not complaining.

— This Week in Irving is slightly more interesting. Now that he knows the guy’s true identity, the captain tries to fire Henry as his lawyer… only to realize that he’s already signed a contract in blood. And, oh yeah, that when the End of Days comes, he’ll be a musclebound Soldier of the Damned, fighting on the side of War. At least Frank looks good doing it.

— Things Ichabod Is Appalled By: odometers (“Curse you, Franklin, for inventing such a traitorous device!”), the “sadistic larceny” that is expensive espresso (until he tastes it).

— Did we know already that Abbie’s real first name is Grace?

— Beth Lancaster, by the way, was once Young Abbie and Jenny’s case worker, though that nugget barely ties into tonight’s plot; maybe it’ll be important as the season wears on.

— Hawley’s snide nicknames for Ichabod could soon reach Sawyer-level amounts of amusement. Two to add to the list tonight: “Pride and Prejudice” and “Shakespeare.”

— This one time, at the Second Continental Congress, Betsy Ross tried so hard to jump Ichabod’s bones that he had to hide in a closet.

— “The only thing this mercenary cares about is money!” —Ichabod, demonstrating that he knows the meaning of the word “mercenary”

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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