A woman from Ichabod's past returns to wreak havoc on the town—and a woman from his present reveals an awful secret.

By Hillary Busis
Updated March 20, 2015 at 05:16 PM EDT
Jessica Miglio/Fox

Sleepy Hollow

S2 E5
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  • TV Show
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Well, that’s a bummer.

“The Weeping Lady” opens with a singularly amusing scene: Ichabod is in his cabin with Caroline, the ginger-haired Katrina lookalike we first met when Crane stumbled upon Sleepy Hollow’s local colonial reenactment society in last season’s finale. She’s there to bring him handmade 18th century-style clothing (cut from cloth woven on a heritage Saxony loom, whatever that means!), freshly-churned butter, and lingonberry preserves. And a little pillow—a not-so subtle indication that she’d like to show Ichabod how to do the Horizontal Headless Horseman, wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no-more.

Because Ichabod’s a proper gentleman, he has no idea that Caroline’s coming onto him until she’s practically tearing off his breeches with her teeth; he stammers out that he’s a married man, which is Abbie’s cue to walk through the door bearing delicacies from the Far East (a.k.a. crappy Chinese food). Caroline colors and apologizes profusely, which gets Ichabod all flustered, which gets Caroline even more flustered… all while Abbie gleefully takes in the scene before her, looking a little like this guy:

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It’s a lovely cold open that perfectly encapsulates what Sleepy does so well, and re-introduces a fun character to boot: as a recurring presence, Caroline would bring plenty of opportunities for awkward humor. If the writers played their cards right, she could easily evolve into a viable alternate love interest for Ichabod. (Those who know actress Laura Spencer from her turn as Jane Bennet on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries know that she’s got delicate longing down pat.)

Then the show goes ahead and drowns her via magical ghost-portal.

Sure, Sleepy‘s the sort of series where death never really means the end. But Caroline’s drowning is still a frustrating development, and not just because Caroline herself had promise. In order for Sleepy to survive, it needs to develop its ensemble beyond the handful of characters who appear in its opening credits; it’ll eventually get dull to watch Henry brood and Katrina be placed in mortal peril and Abbie and Ichabod charge in to save her, all while Jenny cocks her guns and Irving does whatever it is Irving’s gonna do this season.

The best way to develop that ensemble is, of course, organically: by bouncing a few different throwaway characters off of the show’s main players, seeing who end up resonating most, and rewarding those people with extra screen time. But Sleepy Hollow can’t take this tactic if it keeps killing off intriguing presences—Caroline, or the pilot’s badass warlock Reverend Knapp, or the Masons who seemed like they’d be a big deal for a hot second in season 1—almost immediately after they first appear on the show. The whole go-for-broke kitchen-sink approach is a great way to keep the series’ momentum from flagging, but it can sometimes get in the way of worldbuilding.

There are, of course, a few new characters that Sleepy‘s making a real effort to integrate into season 2—Sheriff Reyes, for one, and Nick Hotley, who has yet another convenient run-in with our heroes in “The Weeping Lady.” Reyes, at least, is being deployed pretty deftly—but I worry a bit about how hard the show’s pushing Hawley. Lest we forget, Ichabod and Abbie only met the treasure hunter for the first time two short episodes ago—and even though they never saw the guy in season 1, suddenly, he’s everywhere. This is the very opposite of the organic approach apparently represented by Caroline, before she was so unceremoniously murdered; Hawley’s uncanny ability to always be in the right place at the right time seems forced, at least since he hasn’t yet become an official member of the Scooby Gang. Here’s hoping that the show figures out a reason for him to be onscreen so much in the very near future; Sleepy may be ridiculous, but it shouldn’t be contrived.

NEXT: …So yeah, onto what actually happened in the episode

Ahem. Where was I? Ah, yes: Caroline’s been drowned by an apparition that takes the form of a crying woman. Thanks to a few local teens who saw the spirit interrupt their makeout sesh by the river (murderous ghost = real mood-killer), Ichabod and Abbie quickly deduce that she’s the Weeping Lady, a local legend that bears some resemblance to the mythical Mexican/Southwestern spirit La Llorona. (Sleepy‘s version was first written about in 1779 by an apparently fictional Hudson Valley resident named Obadiah Saunders.)

This take on the Weeping Lady didn’t drown her children in an attempt to be with the man she loved, then drown herself after he rejected her anyway. She is, however, lachrymose because of a man—Hollowers say that she was jilted by her husband, or her lover, or maybe both. Ichabod and Abbie go to the book depository in search of more information—and there, they both find more than they bargained for.

First, Ichabod’s surprised and touched to see a raven bearing a short, sweet, contraband note from Katrina, who assures him that all is well with her. Then Abbie’s surprised and touched… by the Weeping Lady herself, who appears in the library and grabs the Witness, trying to drag her into a watery grave. (She makes a portal in the floor that transports Abbie to the bottom of the Hudson, a neat visual trick.) With great effort, Ichabod manages to rescue his partner from the Lady’s grasp—but once he’s pulled her out, she lies motionless on the ground. It’s not until Nick Hawley (yep, he’s at the library, too) shows up to administer some mouth-to-mouth that Abbie coughs herself back into the land of the living.

Between the attacks on both Abbie and Caroline, it’s clear that the Lady has an agenda—she’s only attacking women who are close to Ichabod. And when Crane sees the clue Mills snatched off of the spirit—a torn bit of fabric from her shawl—he suddenly puts the pieces together. Because, of course, he recognizes that lace—it’s a pattern he’s seen before, handwoven from Scottish cotton. (Which he can tell by looking at it for approximately one second. Naturally.) More specifically: It’s from the shawl Ichabod last spied on Mary Wells, the woman to whom he was promised before he ran off to the Colonies. Wait a minute—the singer of “My Guy” was born in the 18th century?

Yeah, no: Same name, different era. Ichabod’s Mary is a highly emotional noblewoman who, back in the day, was determined to make Crane come to his senses and board the next boat back to England with her—even though Ichabod gently broke off their engagement before he set sail for New York. A visit to Ichabod in the New World—which happened after he had turned sympathetic to the American cause, but before he and Katrina had admitted their love for each other—left him unmoved. But Crane had always assumed that even though Mary was upset about his refusal to return with her, they’d parted on good terms; the day after she arrived in New York, he received a letter from her that said she was releasing him from any obligation to her and planning to return to Britain posthaste. Considering how long it took to make that journey back in those days, perhaps Crane should have been suspicious about how willing she was to turn around.

NEXT: Katrina’s big confession (might just finally make her interesting)

For now, though, there’s no time to worry about the holes in Ichabod’s story. Crane and Mills have to concentrate on another edition of everyone’s favorite long-running game show: Save Katrina. After another encounter with Hawley—in which the Witnesses secure a crossbow equipped with an arrow covered in druidical runes and reinforced by Greek fire and basilisk venom, a.k.a. coolest weapon ever—they set forth for Headless/Abraham’s estate to make sure the Lady doesn’t drown Katrina, too. The good news: When they get there, Headless is just leaving, probably because Mondays are Bingo night in Hell. The bad news: Katrina’s not around, because the Lady has already dragged her through a portal to the river. (Wait, why isn’t there a floor portal here, as there was in the library? Answer: Ghost women are irrational!)

So Ichabod and Abbie speed over to the shore, where they arrive right after Katrina’s managed to magick herself out of the Lady’s grasp. (Lotta convenient timing this week.) Katrina enlists Abbie to help her cast a spell that will free Mary’s tormented spirit from her demonic body; Ichabod will distract the ghost until the spell is ready. The plan goes off without a hitch, unless you count Hawley’s kickass crossbow revealing itself to be totally useless—and the fact that before Mary crosses over to the other side, she indicates that Katrina is to blame for her wretched state. Wait. Say what?

Turns out that Katrina’s been keeping a rather large secret from Ichabod for, oh, 250 years: The night Mary arrived in New York, she asked for an audience with the witch. Katrina obliged, only to find Mary enraged and raving about how Katrina had turned Ichabod against his country, his family, and his betrothed. She was kinda right about all that—but maybe less justified in lunging at Katrina, which resulted in Mary falling over a cliff (! Girl knows how to pick a dramatic confrontation spot), hitting her head, and dying on the spot. Rather than trying to magick her back to life, Katrina elected instead to forge Mary’s handwriting; she’s the one who sent that letter assuring Ichabod that Miss Wells had returned to England.

Whoa. Presumably, we’re supposed to take Katrina’s tale at face value—and not suspect that she actually, you know, killed Mary on purpose. But even so, this is a pretty serious secret to have kept all these years—and as Ichabod notes angrily, it’s just the latest in a series of things Katrina really should have told him about at one time or another. Before they can really talk things out, though, Abraham reappears to whisk Katrina back to Casa del Headless—though he doesn’t attempt to harm Crane or Mills on his would-be queen’s request, which is really kind of insane when you think about it.

The point: When the hour ends, Ichabod is telling Abbie that he’s realized one thing: his main duty must be to his fellow Witness and their mission, not his witchy wife. Which means, perhaps, that there’s a schism coming—one that may just have fans sighing in relief.

Doughnut Holes

—It goes without saying that Henry’s the one who conjured up Mary, though like last week, he played a pretty minor part tonight.

—He is, however, in the doghouse with Moloch, who’s pissed at his surrogate son for caring more about hurting his parents than furthering the demon’s eeevil plot. Could this plant the seeds for War to rise up against his second father?

—Moloch tells Henry that Katrina’s vital to his plans because she is “one of the Hellfire Shards.” Wha? Is this a video game thing?

—So like, what did those EMTs say when they came to examine a nearly-drowned Abbie in that dry-ass library? I want to see a show about them. Another potential spin-off: Sleepy Hollow High.

—Things Ichabod Is Appalled By: text messages, emoticons (“Oh, a grimacing lemon caricature should do the trick.”)

—In a development that should surprise nobody: Jenny and Hawley used to hook up. And she’s kinda hankering to get things going again. Even though he apparently lives on a boat.

—Seriously, writers, if you’re listening: Ghost Caroline. Please?

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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Sleepy Hollow

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