Anyone else starting to think that season 2 of Sleepy Hollow was one long con?
Think about it. Tonight’s finale—a full-throttle spectacle stuffed with thrills, chills, gasp-inducing decapitations, the TV season’s best smartphone-related gag, and one very, very gratifying death—was like a sumptuous five-course meal, an exorbitantly entertaining hour by any standards. And it tasted particularly delicious specifically because of what came before it—not 17 meals of bread and water, by any stretch of the imagination, but 17 suppers that weren’t nearly as high-quality as this one. Could it be that Sleepy‘s sophomore year frustrations were all part of a devious master plan, one designed to wring maximum satisfaction out of an already great closing episode? Probably not—but maybe we should consider giving this series the benefit of the doubt.
I’m so tickled by everything we just saw, in fact, that I’m going to write this recap in the form of a list titled 13 Awesome Things That Happened In “Tempus Fugit”:
1. Olde-Tymey Ichabod and Present-Day Abbie meet for the first time
Naturally, 1781 flavor Crane doesn’t recognize his beloved lef-tenant when he’s called to the jail cell where she’s being held. He is, however, intrigued by how much she knows about the enemy he’s facing—a Hessian on horseback, carrying a broad ax, with a wicked tattoo of a bow on his hand. This is the sort of information to which only a valuable revolutionary ally would be privy! Or, you know, a captured British spy—which is what Ichabod assumes Abbie to be at first. P.S. He guesses this partially because her accent sounds strange to his eidetic ear, even though Abbie speaks exactly the same way that every single non-Ichabod Past Sleepy Hollow resident speaks. Maybe Ichabod is not the best spy.
2. Abbie makes a sweet habeas corpus reference
“Only it’s not applicable for me for another hundred years, right?” she continues, pointedly holding up her shackles. It’s about as political as the episode gets, and that’s probably a good thing—Sleepy isn’t the place for a nuanced look at race relations in 18th-century early America, but it would’ve been strange if the show had decided to totally downplay Abbie’s particular challenges with regard to time travel.
3. And then she tells Ichabod that she’s from the future
Because this is Sleepy Hollow, Crane doesn’t immediately laugh in Abbie’s face and walk away. Instead, he lets her convince him that a Founding Father may be able to corroborate her story. Washington and Jefferson are both in Virginia at the moment… but hey, as luck would have it, Benjamin Franklin has just returned from a diplomatic mission to France. Returned to Sleepy Hollow, instead of Philadelphia, where he lives. (Although apparently, Franklin’s illegitimate son William Temple Franklin did spend time in New York in 1782. The more you know!) Nobody mentions how strange and convenient this is, which only makes it better.
4. Katrina has an eeeevil meeting with head-having Headless
The key point: The Horseman we see tonight is the imposing, hulking, masked Hessian of Sleepy‘s pilot, rather than pale, ordinary-looking Abraham. Thank you, Sleepy gods. Oh, and just to drive home that we’re not messing around anymore, Katrina murders a witness to their meeting without a second glance. Best part: This is not the coolest murder she’ll commit tonight.
5. Enter Franklin
This iteration of the First American makes a strong case for why Franklin is generally depicted as the Founding Fathers’ answer to Michelangelo. (The Ninja Turtle, not the artist; Washington is Leonardo, Jefferson is Donatello, John Adams is Raphael.) He’s completely tickled by Abbie’s story, crowing with delight when he hears that people are still using stoves and swim fins, and brimming with glee at the news that his face is on the $100 bill while poor Tommy J has to be content with the $2. (“Does anyone even use the two?” Maybe Franklin’s actually early America’s Regina George.)
Perhaps more importantly, Benji knows enough about the occult to understand that Abbie’s telling the truth—and to help her form a plan of attack. Spells, it turns out, can conveniently be reversed for a brief period of time after they’re cast. All our heroes need to do is find another magically inclined being to undo the knot Katrina’s tied. And Franklin knows just the woman for the job: Grace Dixon, Abbie’s many-times-great grandmother. What luck! What fortune!
And then the Headful Horseman enters Franklin’s hideaway.
6. Benjamin Franklin tries to destroy the Horseman of Death with a homemade grenade
Which is awesome.
7. The Horseman of Death STRAIGHT-UP DECAPITATES BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
WHICH IS AWESOMER. Like, Zombie George Washington levels of awesome. Like, I actually started clutching my face and shrieking in joy when it happened.
8. A cell phone saves the day
Why, you ask, didn’t Abbie immediately show the People of the Past—and Ichabod in particular—her pocket computer, which would’ve gone a long way toward making everyone believe that she’d traveled back in time? Because it’s more fun for the show to wait until all seems lost, then put the phone into play.
Following Franklin’s death, Abbie’s thrown back in jail, and Ichabod’s discharged from the army. Before they’re separated again, though, Abbie pleads with Crane to look at her confiscated device, which contains photos that can back up her story. (She tells him specifically to look for “our selfie,” either not knowing or not caring that this sentence is complete gibberish to him.)
At first, Ichabod ignores her plea—mostly because it comes only after Abbie finally tells him that Katrina is a pregnant wicked witch hell-bent on his destruction. This is the one thing Past Crane absolutely refuses to believe—until he comes home and finds Katrina reading from a magic book and fixing up a batch of Polyjuice Potion. (It’s actually some kind of health brew for women who are with child. Or is it?!) What he doesn’t see is the knife that Katrina is telekinetically aiming at his back. She’s holding off on giving her husband a mortal wound only because she wants him to tell her where Abbie’s being detained… but thankfully for Ichabod, before he can answer, he’s whisked away by a messenger for General Washington. (Who, as we’ve established, is in Virginia. So… huh?)
Whatever. The point is that Ichabod is now free to go through Abbie’s personal effects—including her phone. Think this scene, but with fewer monkey noises:
NEXT: Unlock the magic, Crane
The best part: After Ichabod finally gets the damn thing to turn on, he responds to the “slide to unlock screen” command by… sliding the phone across the table. Insert applause emoji.
Eventually, Crane cracks the phone, only to find precisely what Abbie was talking about—a moving picture of his future self clowning around with Lef-tenant Mills, complaining about the narcissism of millennials and their penchant for waffles. He must have so many questions: How did he get transported to the future? How did Abbie get transported to the past? What is a waffle?!
The answers lie with Miss Mills, who’s still incarcerated. So Ichabod races to her cell, ready to save her…
9. Abbie rescues herself
But he can’t because Abbie’s a straight-up boss with hand-to-hand combat skills to spare. There’s the Mills we’ve been looking for all season.
You’ve gotta feel bad for the colonel she just knocked out, though, on account of our next item.
10. Katrina does an even cooler murder
The witch is dressing the colonel’s wounds after his Abbie-delivered beatdown. Why? Because this way, she can nick a little bit of the detective’s blood, which she uses to divine that the Witnesses have absconded to Fredericks Manor. “How are you privy to such information?” the colonel asks suspiciously. “It’s simple, really,” Katrina says, her badass complex growing three sizes, like some glorious reverse Grinch. “I am a witch.” And then she magically Force Strangles the colonel to death. It is, by leaps and bounds, the most exciting thing this mess of a character has ever had the privilege to do on Sleepy Hollow—great enough that I’m actually hoping the show finds a way to bring back Evil Katrina in season 3. But we’ll get to that.
11. Abbie meets Grace Dixon
Get out your hankies! If only Abbie and her ancestor had more time to get to know each other—or Abbie could somehow bring Grace into the future without disrupting the timeline. Alas, they’ve got more important things to worry about than a long-awaited family reunion. Grace knows just the spell to undo Katrina’s own enchantment, which will return Abbie and the witch to the moment right before the time portal opened—essentially making it so that everything we’ve just seen never happened. (Which would explain why Present-Day Ichabod has no memory of ever meeting Abbie in colonial days.) In order to do that voodoo that she does so well, though, Grace will have to channel the magic that protects the manor from dark forces.
You know what’s coming next.
12. There’s a super sweet final showdown
Katrina and the Headful Horseman arrive just as Grace is beginning her counterspell. Ichabod gallantly offers to distract them while the Mills/Dixon ladies do their work. He knows it’s a suicidal mission—but, as he points out, if Grace’s spell works, his death won’t matter, and if it doesn’t, well, “there will be greater problems than my death.” Before he goes, Abbie pulls him into an embrace that makes Past Crane visibly uncomfortable. “Is this level of intimacy commonplace in 2015?” he asks. Abbie’s response: “Yeah. We hug it out.”
And so we’ve reached the final curtain. Katrina’s tossing fireballs like she learned dark magic at Rumplestiltskin’s knee. (Well, until she stops and lets her minion step forward to take on her husband, which seems like a bad move—couldn’t she just kill Crane herself? Gotta love that even at her most effective, she’s still the same Katrina.) The Horseman is attacking with all his might. Ichabod’s a good shot, but it’s two against one—sorta—and there’s no way he’s going to make it out of this alive. At least, until Grace finishes her incantation, blows some magic dust at Abbie, and, just as the Horseman is about to Benjamin Franklin our hero…
13. Everything changes
Grace’s spell works. We’re back in the present day; Katrina’s horrified for exactly one moment before she focuses her ire on Abbie, ready to kill again. That is, at least, until Ichabod gets a knife, and… well, you can figure out what happens next.
Yup: Crane chooses his demon-fighting partner over his beloved wife, in a fatal decision that leaves Sleepy Hollow‘s least-loved series regular as dead as a Henry Parrish.
And it seems pretty certain that this won’t be an Irving/John Cho kind of semi-kinda-not-really death. Katrina has crumbled into dust; she is no more; she has ceased to be. On one hand, I get that it had to happen this way; it’s become abundantly clear over the past season that Katrina as originally written just wasn’t working. In another, though, I can’t help wishing that her change over to the dark side had been more drawn out, and that we’d gotten more than an episode and a half of Wicked Katrina; keeping her around to be season 3’s Big Bad, at least at the beginning of the next run of episodes, seems like it would’ve been a logical move.
Because as things stand now? Everything that happened this season has been resolved, tied up into a neat little package. Frank is alive, good, and ensouled again. Moloch is dead, and his apocalypse has been averted. Henry’s gone, and so’s Katrina, which means Crane family drama is basically null and void. There is, in short, a totally clean slate for the show’s next year, assuming Sleepy gets another year—which is endlessly exciting, though I miss the propulsive “holy eff what will happen next??” feeling that came along with season 1’s huge cliffhanger ending.
For now, though, let’s not worry about what’s going to happen next. Instead, let’s just be grateful for what we have: Sleepy‘s core four (Ichabod, Abbie, Jenny, and Irving), together again, ready to fight some sort of un-defined but looming evil. In the end, isn’t that all this show really needs?
Follow Hillary on Twitter: @hillibusterr