Tonight’s episode of Sleepy Hollow shares its name with a nonfiction book about a young man who walked unprepared into the Alaskan wilderness and wound up dying there, so you’d be forgiven for expecting the worst. Abbie certainly does. But the worst is about to get turned on its head; this has to be the most optimistic story ever to involve a bunch of people trapped in the woods with a monster. “Into the Wild” is not a “fun” hour, in and of itself, but it does argue that it’s possible and okay for Abbie to find the fun again someday, and that’s a big step in the right direction.
Abbie’s Demonic Symbol Detox gets an outdoorsy jolt when Danny arranges an FBI survival training weekend in the woods. Abbie welcomes the chance to get away from the supernatural and dig into her job — in the woods, where everything supernatural happens. Keep dreaming, Abbie. Sure enough, there’s a creature out there. It’s called the Verslinder — Dutch for “one who devours” — and it looks like what might happen if The X-Files’ Flukeman woke up one day and decided that the only thing better than being a worm was being 5,000 worms in human form. It can also regenerate body parts, and it’s very, very angry.
The Verslinder has spent the last few centuries imprisoned in a well. Did Pandora’s homing signal boost its power and help it escape, or did it just take that long to scale the walls? Does someone need climbing lessons from Abbie? In any case, it’s free now, and it wastes no time targeting Robbie, the group’s friendly wilderness guide. Abbie and Sophie fight off the creature, but Robbie is in bad shape. Joined by Danny, Team FBI fashions a gurney and begins the long trek out of the woods, which would be easier if Danny had any sense of direction. It would also be easier if Abbie would just tell Danny the truth about what they’re fighting. She refuses.
“Every time I let somebody into this world, their lives are ruined,” Abbie tells Sophie. “The truth is dangerous.” It might be a more convincing argument if she hadn’t told Crane her most dangerous secret just last week. This isn’t about letting “somebody” in; this is about Danny. And Danny has some secrets of his own — which probably have to do with whatever ulterior motive has him so desperate to keep Abbie active in the bureau. After setting up camp in a cabin for the night, Danny accuses Abbie of always flying solo. “There’s no room for supporting players on The Abbie Mills Show,” he snaps as I jot down, “Ichabod Crane as unseen narrator of Abbie Mills Show,” in my dream journal.
After playing the “I can have secrets too, you know” game, Danny heads toward town to get help, leaving Sophie and Abbie free to get down to the real business of fighting monsters. Sophie finds a journal from the English trapper who, along with his brother, imprisoned the Verslinder in the well, but their victory came at a cost. The creature gashed his brother’s hand, and the infection in the wound was enough to kill him. Now for the twist ending: The brother rose from the dead, reanimated as a creature like the Verslinder.
Right on cue, Robbie ambles toward Abbie and Sophie. Since he hasn’t fully transformed quite yet, Abbie manages to knock him out, then shows admirable restraint by opting to look for a cure when she could just as easily burn the whole cabin with fire and never look back. Abbie doesn’t quit. (See that, Danny?) Remembering what she’s learned from the books at the Archives, Abbie points out that most cases like this, in which a supernatural existence is passed down from creature to victim, can be reversed if the parent creature is killed. Sophie’s joke about antibiotics gives Abbie an idea: Kill the infection, kill the creature.
NEXT: Going once, going twice
If her time in the other dimension taught Abbie anything — aside from how to climb rock walls, play chess, and scream into the void — it’s natural medicine. She and Sophie dip their spears in an ointment that Abbie whips up from the herbs in the woods, and they’re ready to hunt. Like two self-aware horror movie characters trying to speed up the plot, they split up, pointing out that the Verslinder only attacks when they’re alone. The creature comes after Abbie first, then turns toward Sophie, who runs it through with a spear.
The ointment works, but not quickly enough, so Crane comes out of left field and fires a few shots, giving Abbie the chance to properly spear the Verslinder to death. And why is Crane here? Because Sleepy Hollow just CHANGED THE GAME, that’s why. While Abbie has been out here writing the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love (Eat, Pray, Love, Zombies), Crane has been on his own journey of self-discovery, investigating the pendant that captured Abbie’s attention last week.
The pendant turns out to be made of two pieces, not unlike the tablet Crane found in his homeland — which, he sees now, is marked inside with indentations matching the symbol. When he fits the pieces of the pendant into those grooves, Crane sees flashes of what Abbie is experiencing in real time. We have ourselves a Witness Mind Meld. The Mind Meld only takes him so far; he traces Abbie’s specific location using the map that locates demonic activity, which is hilarious, only because I don’t for a second believe that the Verslinder is the only supernatural creature causing trouble in the Hollow this weekend. But do we even care? WITNESS MIND MELD. Think of the possibilities!
For her part, Abbie is just overwhelmed to think that the symbol might be a force for good after all. Crane hits her with tonight’s thesis statement: “Sometimes the things we think will hurt us will actually save us.” As much as the supernatural has ruined Abbie’s life, it also brought her Crane (as Sophie points out. I think she ‘ships it). Abbie takes this optimistic spin to mean that maybe the truth isn’t all bad, so she tells Danny exactly what I did not expect: “I don’t think of us as something in the past tense, and I never will.”
The Abbie Mills Show just added another cast member.