Sleepy Hollow recap: 'Deliverance'
The Witnesses must race to keep Katrina from delivering a bouncing baby demon.
I’m just gonna leave this here.
Let’s start out for real by addressing one of Sleepy‘s biggest recurring bugbears: the Katrina Problem. To recap: She’s more of an exposition factory than a flesh-and-blood character; she’s constantly in need of saving; for a witch of supposedly remarkable power, she sure makes a habit of never actually doing any impressive magic.
Back in season 1, these facts were irksome but understandable. Sleepy had so much ground to cover in 13 short episodes that we couldn’t really fault the show for not taking time to make Katrina more interesting. But now that we’re halfway through the first half of season 2, they’re starting to seem a lot less justifiable. True, her expository role has lessened since she escaped purgatory—but even seven episodes in, attempts to flesh Katrina out haven’t yielded many dividends. Her role as an embedded “spy” in Abraham’s camp had potential, but she hasn’t learned anything of consequence there; the revelation that she watched Ichabod’s old flame Mary die complicated their relationship slightly, but didn’t really add layers to Katrina herself. (We already know she keeps secrets from Ichabod. That’s kinda her thing.)
I’ve spent enough time harping on this that I don’t want to get bogged down in complaints before the recap even really begins. That said: “Deliverance,” while entertaining and at times sublimely creepy, didn’t do much to solve the Katrina Problem—even though it’s one of the few Sleepy episodes that’s thrust Katrina to the forefront. It’s getting to the point where I almost wish that Crane’s wife does turn out to be secretly evil, if only to give Katia Winter something else to do. (I can see her excelling in a sort of Dark Willow role. Can’t you?)
We can, at least, say this for Katrina: While “damsel in distress” is a well-worn trope, not many of those damsels can boast of being impregnated, via curse spider, by their own evil son. Maybe the Deliverance theme actually is appropriate in this context!
At the top of the episode, Katrina isn’t yet aware that she’s carrying a horned bun in her oven. All she knows is that she’s awoken with a wicked craving for evil pickles and evil ice cream—and that a group of mysterious bros, led by Henry, have invaded Abraham’s House of Horrors. They’re there to take Katrina away, haha—but they hadn’t counted on Abraham’s overwhelming devotion to the witch, which prompts him to attack Henry’s goons with an ax. So maybe Headless isn’t all bad. In the ensuing melee, Katrina escapes and stumbles out onto a nearby highway, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village-style. Before long, Abbie and Ichabod find her in the hospital, suffering from a high fever, an abdominal infection, a mean Incurable Cough of Death, and a bad case of Veiny Stomach. Ichabod spirits her away to the archives, where she’ll be safe from Henry’s men; Abbie decides to tail the dudes—all by herself—in order to figure out what they’re up to. She doesn’t even want to bring in Jenny as backup? Oof; this seems like that moment when someone in a horror movie leaves the room, telling everyone left that he’ll “be right back.”
NEXT: She’s Having His Baby (Satan’s)
The Cranes’ long-awaited alone time is more than a little uncomfortable, thanks both to the whole Mary thing and Crane learning, much to his bemusement, that Katrina seems to have developed something of a soft spot for Abraham. At least Ichabod soon realizes that Henry’s men come from an organization we’ve heard of before: the Hellfire Club, which fought for evil (a.k.a. the Brits) to prevail in the Revolutionary War once upon a time. Thanks to Franklin’s handy notebook, our heroes also learn there was once another woman afflicted with the same ailment as Katrina—and when Abbie arrives at the archives, miraculously unscathed and bearing a book by the club called How We Did It, she tells the couple that she spied a tablet at Hellfire Headquarters. It indicated that unless they can stop the spell, Katrina will die at sunset. I’ll pause to give you a moment alone with your grief.
Oh, and one other detail Abbie has gleaned: the Club’s referring to Katrina as the “vessel.” Meaning there’s something horrifying growing inside her. Meaning we might as well go ahead and just start calling her Rosemary.
For exactly one split second, Ichabod thinks that Abraham’s the one who knocked Katrina up—and he is furious. I wish the show had teased that moment out longer. Instead, it quickly dispels the notion that K and A have had any sort of untoward relationship, allowing the Witnesses to glean that Corbin’s Jincan was the source of Katrina’s Lil’ Belly Demon. There goes that tension. Katrina can’t get rid of it with some sort of magical Plan B—and for whatever reason, neither Abbie nor Ichabod brings up asking Nick Hawley for assistance. (Interesting! This, plus his role in last week’s episode, makes me hopeful that Sleepy is done inserting Hawley into the action for no good reason.) Which, according to Katrina, leaves just one other option: Meeting up with Henry and asking him real nicely if he’d please extract the devil’s spawn he so carefully inserted into his mom.
Uh. Katrina? I know you’re still hoping for a mother and child reunion, but hasn’t Henry made it pretty damn clear that he is Evil? With a capital E? And like, six lowercase Es after that one? And also the word is italicized? (Eeeeeeevil, is what I’m getting at.) Nevertheless, she clings to the idea that somewhere deep within Henry’s grizzled, hardened exterior lies her beloved Jeremy—a sad, scared little boy waiting for his mommy to kiss his booboos and make them all better. She tries to convince her husband that Henry will help them if they just beseech him to; Abbie gives a “witch, please” face and eye-roll that’s perfect enough to frame and hang in the Museum of Shade.
So Ichabod goes through the trouble of tricking Henry into a meeting at Tarrytown Psych, via Irving. Spoiler: It does not go well. Henry reveals not only that he’s picking Moloch over his parents—”I choose his leadership. I choose his might. I choose his fire that will burn the world”—but also that the thing inside Katrina is no ordinary demon: It’s Henry’s bestie Moloch himself, who plans to use Katrina as the vessel that will finally deliver him unto earth. Oh, good; I’m glad Henry’s insanely complicated plan actually had a point other than “let’s give Henry an insanely complicated plan.”
Ichabod returns to Abbie and Katrina—who have taken sanctuary in the church at St. Henry’s Parish, where Katrina originally abandoned her son two centuries ago—with his tail between his legs. Henry won’t help them; all seems lost. But wait! Abbie’s just remembered the photo she took of the Hellfire Club’s stone tablet. It shows a mysterious green light emanating from the rock, which gives Ichabod jolt of inspiration. The score swells; the camera moves in for a close-up. Cue Crane’s line of the night: “I must Internet! Immediately!” Ichabod Crane Is Your Hot Grandpa.
NEXT: The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your dilapidated church?
Explanation time: The light resembles the Aurora Borealis, a phenomenon with the power to banish demons (okay, sure, fine). With the help of Ichabod’s eidetic memory and an incredibly creaky dial-up modem (Abbie couldn’t use her phone? Whatever, the joke’s funny enough that I don’t mind), our heroes determine that Benjamin Franklin himself hid an Aurora-generating prism inside the tablet itself. All they have to do is snag the glass and shine a light through it onto Katrina’s stomach. Bingo-bongo, demon defeated.
But how to get the tablet without being taken down by the Flying Hellfish? Weirdly enough, this is where Sheriff Reyes comes in. The Witnesses decide to confess a small portion of the truth to the SHPD’s commander, telling her that there’s a dangerous doomsday cult on the outskirts of town—one in possession of dead bodies and a large cache of illegal weapons. Though initially she’s suspicious, Reyes agrees to check out the headquarters with a whole team of policepeople; as they’re shooting out with the Clubbers, Ichabod and Abbie have a chance to sneak over and snag the stone. (It’s locked in a safe. The code? Abbie guesses it correctly: 666. “Lack of imagination,” Ichabod mutters as he extracts the treasure.)
And so the Witnesses return triumphantly to the church, bearing the one weapon that can defeat their latest adversary—and, as always, they end up kicking the demon out of Katrina’s womb in the nick of time. All is well—besides, you know, the fact that the Witnesses are basically just running out the clock before Moloch makes another attempt to come to Earth. And that Abraham won’t rest until he has Katrina back in his clutches. (Which, eh.) And that when Ichabod grabbed Henry’s hand at the mental hospital, he performed a bit of accidental Legilimency, peeking into Henry’s mind to see a memory the Horseman never intended to share with anyone—a fragment of terrified little Jeremy running through the woods, just as vulnerable and innocent as Katrina always thought he might be deep down. In theory, this means Henry could possibly be redeemed. In practice? It just means we’ll have to wade through at least a few more “He’s not going to change!”/”He might be able to change!” conversations before the first half of the season is through. Humbug.
—Oh, also? Henry’s of course not done scheming; the episode ends with him capturing lightning in a jar, for some reason. Some nefarious reason, that is.
—Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: Modern-day America’s low voter turnout; the provision against campaigning at a polling station (“General Washington gave each voter a pint of beer at the ballot box!”); “American Idolatry,” which is what he calls American Idol (nice cross-promotion, Fox); dial-up modems and the sound they make. He can, however, concede that the U.S.’s historical lack of universal suffrage was a disgrace.
—Well, hello, Katrina in modern-day garb. Where’d she get that corset-and-jeans combo? “Some drunk goth chick’s clothes ended up in the lost and found.” Haaaa. (Also, Ichabod? You go right ahead and keep wearing your hair down.)
—You know Katrina’s veiny demon-pregnant belly? I saw it when I visited Sleepy‘s set in September. It’s made of flexible silicone; the show’s monsterologists made a mechanical demon hand that pushed against the belly out from the inside, creating the “let me out” effect you saw in “Deliverance.” Pretty sweet, right?
—Ichabod to Henry: “If you let her die, it will plague you for an eternity.” Henry in response, proving in the end that he’s just a petulant, hyperbolic teenager: “Like the eternity I spent in that box?” The unspoken part: “Daaaaaaaad?”
—Oh hey, Ichabod has a new cover: He tells Reyes that he’s “a criminal profiler with an emphasis on acts of historical imitation.” Which is such a load of bull that I can smell it from here, but she seems to accept it as truth.
—A nice bit of symmetry: Grace Dixon delivered Katrina’s first child. Her descendent, Abbie Mills, stands by Katrina’s side and squeezes her hand as she’s struggling not to give birth to another one.
—And hey, proof that people can change: Between “The Weeping Lady” and now, Ichabod took some time to learn CPR.
—Perhaps after bringing the Aurora Borealis to Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod and Abbie enjoyed some delicious steamed hams.