Sleepy Hollow recap: Incommunicado
The Witnesses forge unexpected alliances when Crane is trapped in the Archives
Pour out a cup of coffee in memory of the Witness Mind Meld, a short-lived dream too pure for this world. But treat yourself to a cruller in honor of something even better: the melding of season 3 and season 1. This has been a good year for Sleepy Hollow, but it’s also been a heavy one, especially in the wake of Abbie’s trip to another dimension. “Incommunicado” injects a sense of fun back into the show without sacrificing emotional resonance or lowering the stakes, and I’m so jazzed about it — in the style of Duke Ellington — that I’m ready to riff on the usual recap format.
Presenting … drum roll from a dad in a garage, please … 10 Times I Knew I’d Mind-Melded with “Incommunicado”:
1. That Screaming Cold Open
The episode gets off to a perfectly ridiculous start with a group of middle-aged guys dad-jamming in a garage. When one of them rebels against their “post-punk indie rock” style, he gets a stern lecture from his friends: “We talked about this, Kyle. If you want to shred, you’re in the wrong band.” Kyle almost walks out, but, like, can’t they just go one practice without Kyle quitting the band? Come on, Kyle.
Kyle agrees to stick around, and the men get back to dad-jamming, only to find that they can’t make any noise. For a minute, “Incommunicado” is Buffy’s “Hush” — a dead-silent world where voices have no power — but that silence isn’t meant to last (which is one of the episode’s few real disappointments. Can you imagine Crane miming everything to Abbie?). A white-haired woman with a cracked mouth materializes in the room and lets out a piercing scream, and the rockers’ brains literally bleed out of their ears. That’ll teach them to agree on post-punk indie rock.
2. Crane Wants a Doughnut Hole
They grow up so fast! The same man who once rejected doughnut holes is now a connoisseur, and his standards will not be compromised. “This is a crime against pastries,” Crane declares when Abbie returns from the bakery with a summertime squash muffin. He asked for a bear claw and an almond beignet, thank you very much.
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3. Trapped in the Archives
While Abbie investigates the dead band members, Crane welcomes an unexpected visitor: the Hidden One. He’s here to kill the Witnesses, and he’d really appreciate it if Crane would help him out and let him know where Abbie is, just to save him the few seconds it would take to omnipotently divine her location. Crane refuses. He’s died before, and he isn’t afraid to do it again, though his bravado erodes the minute the Hidden One promises to make Abbie’s death extra painful. The Hidden One aims his deadly blue light and fires — and the pendant that connects him to Abbie flies out of Crane’s pocket, catches the light, and hangs suspended in midair. The light shoots out of the pendant, surrounding the Archives in a kind of force field. Pandora sighs in the distance.
NEXT: It’s not a force field
4. Pandora Is Done with Everything
Pandora and Abbie win Friendship of the Day for their reluctant alliance, forged when they band together to get their respective partners out of the room. Neither one of them is happy about it. Pandora speaks to Abbie like she hates the entire concept of shared language. “I have not done anything,” she sighs when Abbie accuses her of locking Crane in the room. She’s also very intent on labeling the phenomena properly: Only “impenetrable barrier” will do. It’s not a force field, and it definitely isn’t a fence. It’s a “barrier of mystic energy” or it’s nothing.
5. The Symbol Has a Name
That impenetrable barrier is all thanks to the Emblem of Thura, otherwise known as the symbol from Abbie’s trip to the underworld. The emblem feeds on the power of the being it imprisons; if the Hidden One keeps raging against the barrier, he’ll destroy everything in his wake. And he will rage. Pandora speaks from experience — this is the same emblem that her fellow humans used to lock him away for millennia. And while she may not have her full box at her disposal, Pandora can think of a way to heighten its powers. They just need a living, breathing creature from another world, which isn’t all that hard in Sleepy Hollow. Let’s go catch a monster.
6. Never Take a Banshee to a Beethoven Concert
The guys in the band recorded their jam sessions, making it easy for Sophie and Jenny to identify the monster of the week. They’re dealing with a banshee, a female spirit from Irish mythology. Jenny, of course, knows an Irishman in town. She introduces Connor as an “ex-Belfast gunman and smuggler turned bon vivant, brewmaster, and whiskey blogger.” I for one would really like to see his business cards. Like a belated St. Patrick’s Day gift to us all, Connor can be bribed with blood sausage and speaks almost exclusively in whiskey-soaked similes. His advice? “I’d run like the only bottle of 75-year-old single malt whiskey you had were on fire.”
Running is not an option for our team, so Connor offers another suggestion: The banshee’s weakness is pure iron, the older the better. Jenny steals a few fence posts from an old cemetery and loads them into everyone crossbows, Joe makes a racket with an ambulance siren, and then before they know it, they’re in a fight with an old Irish spirit. Just as Sophie is about to fire, Jenny gets a text from Abbie asking her to bring the banshee alive. What, like it’s hard?
Jenny slashes the banshee in the neck with the fence post, and the spirit runs off, giving the team time to formulate a new plan. With the help of Beethoven’s Fifth (!!!), they lure the banshee onto an amphitheater stage, then hogtie her with an industrial sound blanket and iron cables. (“It’s always the darndest things.”) It works until it doesn’t, and Joe is forced to shoot the banshee to save Jenny. The important thing here is that the banshee got a little culture before she died.
NEXT: It’s culture
7. Culture Class With Professor Ichabod Crane
The arts are also the name of the game back at the Archives, where Crane is busy defending humanity’s achievements to a god. (“I take it you’re not a reader.”) Serenading his reluctant cellmate with the musical stylings of Duke Ellington, our 18th-century Witness shows off how much he’s learned about pop culture. Crane name-drops artists from Frida Kahlo to Nina Simone and celebrates works that run the gamut from the poetry of Yeats to “the sublime squiggle of Charles M. Schulz.” Tom Mison revels in every line.
The Hidden One is unimpressed, but Crane joins forces with him anyway. He’s sure that his partner has forged the necessary alliance with Pandora (“the lef-tenant is nothing if not adept”), and he wants to help her along from the inside. The Hidden One points out that the writing on the Witnesses’ tablet has been translated using the wrong cuneiform alphabet and agrees to scribble out the right one, essentially cutting out all interference in Crane’s connection with Abbie. Crane locks the tablets and the emblem together, allowing him (and the Hidden One) an unobstructed look at what’s been going down outside the Archives.
8. Wendigo No More
It’s not going too well out there. Joe puts his life on the line to replace the banshee in Pandora’s spell, reasoning that if he survives the ordeal, he might finally be free of the Wendigo inside him. He almost loses control as soon as he transforms, but Jenny talks him down, telling him that she loves him (her first time saying the words) and promising a key to her trailer. But they’re not in the clear yet — Pandora doesn’t have enough of her box to direct the spell effectively, and it’s killing Joe.
Abbie calls Pandora’s bluff, suggesting that she orchestrated all of this to get another piece of the box, but Pandora insists that her only ulterior motive is her guilt. She blames herself for her husband’s imprisonment: She’s the one who told the humans about the emblem’s power, not realizing how they’d use it. Even worse, Pandora knew that Abbie had the emblem, and she didn’t tell the Hidden One. She cries a single tear to sell her pain. Abbie gives in, and Jenny retrieves the piece of the box that she and Joe bought at auction. Pandora finishes her spell.
All’s well that ends well: The impenetrable barrier is destroyed, Pandora doesn’t have to worry about people calling it a force field anymore, and Joe survives. He’s pretty sure that the Wendigo has finally left his system, a fact that he and Jenny celebrate with a new trailer key and a lot of making out.
9. Trouble in Paradise
When Pandora set out to reclaim her agency last week, it looked like she wanted a clean break from the Hidden One. The truth turns out to be a bit more complicated: She still loves him (WHY?), but she’s also been undermining him for weeks. The Hidden One saw her confess that she already knew the Witnesses had the emblem, and he confronts her about it when she gets home. Assuming that they don’t just patch things up, I’m a little bit disappointed that he gets to be the one to end the relationship — I’d rather see Pandora walk away — but at least she’s about to get out from under his shadow. Pandora deserves better.
10. A Twist for the Witnesses
Back in the Archives, Abbie and Crane reunite with a hug. After thanking her for saving his life again (“I am keeping count”), Crane fills in his partner on a surprising bit of Witness trivia, courtesy of the Hidden One: “Even your role as Witness was inherited through your bloodline.” Have all of their ancestors been Witnesses, too? Crane makes a noise like his mind is exploding, and I’m right there with him. He also calls Abbie a “very good person” for suggesting that they get doughnuts. I’m right there with him, too. The tablet and emblem may have been destroyed when the barrier came down, but mind-reading is best limited to doughnuts anyway.