Sleepy returns with lots of talk about reinvention—and an angelic new character.

By Hillary Busis
Updated March 20, 2015 at 05:13 PM EDT
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Gee—you think Sleepy‘s midseason premiere was trying to tell us something?

In case you somehow missed it, the (oft-repeated) theme of the evening was “reinvention”—specifically, the type that’s obligatory after a life-changing chapter comes to a close. Witnesses Ichabod and Abbie have spent Sleepy Hollow‘s entire run up until this point struggling to thwart Moloch and avert his apocalypse; in “The Akeda,” they finally managed to do just that.

So naturally, as “Paradise Lost” begins, our heroes find themselves feeling somewhat adrift. What does a soldier do once her mission is complete? How does someone define himself after achieving his purpose—or at least, the thing he’s long been led to believe is his purpose? If Batman finally defeats the Joker, is he even Batman anymore—or does that victory force him to form an entirely new identity, one that isn’t contingent on the existence of an equal but opposite enemy? And can heroes even call themselves “heroes” anymore if they don’t have villains to fight?

It’s heavy stuff—and it’s no surprise that season 2’s second arc would begin by examining these questions, since Ichabod and Abbie’s angst is one shared by the show itself. (In short: Can Sleepy survive now that its central conflict has been largely resolved?) Neither the Witnesses nor Sleepy really come up with clean answers to those messy, too-frequently mentioned questions by the time the hour’s through—but even though it has its frustrating aspects (Katrinaaaaaa), this shiny reset button of an episode does sow a few intriguing seeds for the back half of the season. Including, as many of us guessed (and wished and hoped and prayed for), the reveal that, yep, Irving ain’t dead yet.

But before we get to that, let’s talk Ichabod, who’s spent the six weeks since Moloch’s defeat tilting at windmills—or at least stalking through the woods of Sleepy Hollow with a crossbow, desperate to find something, anything that goes bump in the night. (Ever-practical Abbie hypothesizes that he’s really using futile demon-hunting as an excuse to avoid getting a job, sorting out his issues with Katrina, and finding a dentist. Somehow, my heart is warmed by the idea of Crane suffering from a sort of noble, 18th-century-inflected Peter Pan syndrome.) Dude practically jumps for joy when he discovers a wormy apple at the farmer’s market, which Crane interprets as a sure sign of supernatural activity… and because Sleepy Hollow is Sleepy Hollow, wouldn’tcha know it, he turns out to be right.

Old man Wilcox had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! And on that farm, he had some Dementors—E-I-E-I-AHHHH!

Abbie and Ichabod are preparing to take down these hooded, horned baddies when suddenly they’re joined by some unexpected company: a hot guy. Wearing badass armor. And a big ol’ pair of Maleficent-style wings. That’s right: It’s a motherf—ing angel. Supernatural took four seasons to reach this point; Sleepy‘s done it in one and a half.

As the black demon-proof vest would imply, Mr. Wingley isn’t exactly the harp-strumming, peace-on-Earth, cherubic type. He’s more of an avenging, Old Testament-style angel—one who wields his shiny gold halo as a sort of heavenly boomerang, slicing and dicing the Dementors until they’re nothing but memories. He’s also not one for pleasantries; though the angel recognizes Abbie and Ichabod as Witnesses fighting on the side of good, he’s not exactly receiving them warmly. Maybe we should blame his difficult upbringing—as the new guy, Orion, tells our heroes, Moloch had him trapped in Purgatory for over 200 years. Orion escaped only after the Big Bad met his end six weeks ago—and now he’s trying to make up for lost time by hunting down the other, more malevolent beasties that slipped through the cracks when Purgatory and the world of the living briefly kissed.

NEXT: A new addition to the Scoobies? Not so fast…

But wait: There’s more to Orion’s mission than simple demon search and destroy. His goal is to cut down the monster to whom these lesser demons are trying to pledge their loyalty, now that Moloch is gone: the Horseman of the Apocalypse known as Death. A.K.A. AbraHead, a.k.a. Katrina’s pet project.

Which means, sigh, that it’s time to turn to the witch—who’s also thrown herself into a new project in the wake of Moloch’s defeat (and Henry’s subsequent mysterious disappearance). Instead of insisting endlessly that her son can be redeemed, Katrina is now applying the same logic to Abraham—going as far as proposing to perform a spell that will separate Abraham’s human aspects from the avatar of Death, rendering him mortal once more (and giving the Witnesses an unambiguously evil monster to kill, once and for all… at least until Katrina decides that he might have a spark of good buried deep down).

Predictably, this causes quite a bit of chafing when Orion enters the picture. He wants to kill Death, a proposition that sounds eminently sensible to anyone whose last name isn’t “Crane.” But because the episode (and maybe season 2) would be over pretty damn quickly if the angel got his wish, Katrina decides to do what she does best (read: muck things up) by releasing AbraHead from his subterranean prison. Don’t worry, guys; she got the guy whose name is Death to totally pinky swear that he won’t kill anybody while he’s on vacation. Because an apocalyptic horseman’s word is just about as good as a witch’s.

Orion’s livid. So is Abbie. So is Crane, though he’s mostly mad because Katrina took a few precious minutes to manipulate him some more before breaking Abraham’s chains. There’s no real choice now but to find Abraham so that Katrina can attempt her person/demon bifurcation.

Except as Jenny and Hawley—yep, they’re in the action tonight as well, albeit barely—soon inform Abbie, Headless is currently making nice with another crew of demons who have escaped Purgatory. Which indicates that he might not be planning to stick to the bargain he made with the Red Baroness. So the Leftenant makes an executive decision: She calls on Orion, leading him right to the Horseman’s hiding spot. Game, set, match, right?

Wrong. Because scanning apocryphal literature has informed Ichabod of another wrinkle: Orion isn’t exactly a Boy Scout himself.

As it turns out, the angel’s had a habit throughout history of showing up in doomed civilizations (Antioch, Byzantium, Pompeii) right before terrible disasters (earthquakes, plagues, Shirtless Jon Snow) strike. And this is no coincidence: Orion is a fiercely self-righteous zealot, the kind of guy who considers a bruised apple (or a civilization that isn’t purely wholesome) irreconcilably tainted. He doesn’t just want to kill the Horseman of Death—Orion wants to use his halo to take the Horseman’s power for himself, then employ it to create some horrible, biblical disaster that’ll level Sleepy Hollow, leaving only the “good” (meaning, uh… Abbie) standing. I am not at all on Orion’s side… until he suggests that after Headless is taken care of, Katrina will be the first person to go.

NEXT: Let’s be Frank

So yeah: In order to avert the deaths of thousands of innocents, Orion must be stopped. And Ichabod and Abbie manage to do just that, destroying his boomerang halo with Headless’s ax… then giving the ax back to Headless. Dudes—even in a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation, you don’t take pains to re-arm your first enemy. What hath Katrina wrought?

Okay, maybe her interventions haven’t been entirely for naught; the witch’s influence manages to keep Abraham from immediately slaying Ichabod. Which means that Operation Horseman-ectomy is officially underway. In the meantime, Ichabod and Abbie are going to get back to the demon-fighting grind, the Cranes are going to keep up their trial separation (thank God), and the rest of us are going to steel ourselves for the return of Orion, whom we certainly haven’t seen the last of yet. (Bet he’s biding his time by playing Parcheesi with The Kindred and Henry somewhere deep in the woods.)

Oh, and speaking of returns: Who’s that wandering shoeless into a convenience store, staggering glassy-eyed toward the refrigerated beverages section, and chugging from a carton of milk like the newly reanimated Selina Kyle in Batman Returns? Why, it’s none other than good old Captain Frank Irving—who doesn’t really look the worse for wear, considering he died a month and a half ago. Maybe he’s been getting undead skincare tips from Zombie John Cho?

Doughnut Holes

— Things Ichabod Is Appalled By This Week: The concept of “organic” food (“I should have thought all produce organic by definition”), the existence of hybrid fruit such as the “grapple,” modern society’s general tendency toward continually trying to reinvent the wheel.

— Why is Orion the Angel British? Who knows, but he can speak perfect English because to angels, all languages sound the same. Does that mean he’s fluent in pre-Babel?

— Naturally, Abbie can’t resist asking the celestial visitor a few burning questions—what’s the Man Upstairs like? Does heaven exist? Did creation really take seven days? Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? Naturally, Orion is thoroughly unhelpful in providing answers—even when Abbie lobs this gem: “How about dinosaurs? You ever seen a dinosaur?”

— This Week in Jenny and Hawley: The former spends the episode in big-haired Going Out mode, thanks to a call to duty that comes when she’s making eyes at a cute bartender. The latter spends it acting jealous, then telling the younger Mills that he’s still into her. Even though when last we saw him, Hawley was totally butt-crazy in love with Abbie. What a difference six weeks make.

— The story of Asag, the Sumerian demon mentioned by Hawley this week, is pretty damn cool. “Asag is a monstrous demon, so hideous that his presence alone makes fish boil alive in the rivers.”

— Orion has tangled with the Horseman before: They fought at Valley Forge over two centuries ago. According to the show, Washington spied Orion there—a reference to an actual legend about our first president.

— Seems like the show’s next episode (airing in two weeks) will be a Monster of the Week one-off rather than a mythology-builder. I can hang with that, as long as the monster wasn’t sent here by Henry Parrish.

Episode Recaps

Sleepy Hollow

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  • Fox

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