Sleepy Hollow recap: The Art of War
Much like Abbie Mills, Sleepy Hollow is not good at biding its time — but very good when the clock is ticking. As the show works toward its own endgame (the upcoming fall finale), the members of Team Witness rush to save one of their own, giving “The Art of War” a sense of direction that even this season’s best episodes have lacked. Also, everyone descends from the trees in harnesses to sneak up on some monsters, and that is exactly the kind of urgent nonsense that I signed up for.
I was worried about this story; haven’t too many of our own already changed sides? Haven’t the Mills sisters been through enough? But their experience makes them wise — if nothing else, they know better than to try to solve problems this big on their own. When Jenny goes all demonic in the midst of an adorable sparring match with Joe, they go right to the Witnesses to tell them everything, even if it means admitting that they went against Abbie’s wishes to make contact with Nevins.
Abbie isn’t thrilled about that, but there’s no time to argue; “someone who makes Pandora look like a homeroom teacher” is after the Shard, and Nevins intends to deliver. He summons from Pandora’s Box three Norse Berserkers, which are not only legendary for their single-mindedness — they’re also virtually indestructible. When the Berserkers come for Jenny, she double-fists some knives to fend them off, but they come back even stronger than they were before the fight. Even worse, Jenny is weakening; the human body isn’t meant to hold the Shard’s power, and it’s killing her from the inside out. In the Archives, it takes hold of her again — eyes white and skin glowing, she bellows in a voice that isn’t hers that they’d better behold her glory.
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While Abbie watches over her sister in the demon-proof dungeon, Joe and Crane head out to test a theory. Berserkers, like the rest of us holiday softies, have a weakness for mistletoe. Unlike the rest of us, they also like metal caves, which in Sleepy Hollow translates to a junkyard garage. Crane and Joe find the Berserkers there, so that’s one hypothesis proven, but that’s about where their luck runs out. Arrows dipped in mistletoe do nothing but anger the creatures. Our guys make a run for it.
Since the mistletoe was a bust, it’s safe to assume that Nevins made an alteration to the spell, but finding out what he changed requires going behind the FBI’s back. The good news is that Reynolds had to go away for a few days, and he left Abbie in charge. The bad news is that Reynolds left Abbie in charge. This is her chance to prove herself, and if anything goes wrong on her watch, they’ll have no one else to blame. She doesn’t want to waste her shot, but Crane makes his most sympathetic eyebrows at her and reminds her that even though he knows what it is to be “pulled between two worlds,” they have no other option if she wants to save her sister.
Abbie relents and pulls surveillance on Nevins’ place, giving Crane enough time to sneak in and take a rubbing of the spell Nevins used to call the Berserkers. (For those keeping track at home, maybe don’t write down your darkest secrets with quite so much force.) Nevins replaced Odin with Pandora, which doesn’t actually tell them anything new about what the spell is; they just know what it’s not. It’s not a spell that can be undone with mistletoe. Great. They found the 9,999th way not to make a light bulb. Thomas Edison would be thrilled.
NEXT: Serious spy business
Betrayed by magic, the Witnesses turn back to history. Crane calls upon the wisdom of old pal Daniel Boone, whose coonskin cap I have never been happier to see because it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross. There’s no Obligatory Betsy Ross Tie-In this week: just that cap and the scoundrel who wore it. Boone outsmarted the British and Hessian troops by turning them against one another, staging an attack on the Hessians that he blamed on the Redcoats, then doing the reverse in the British encampment. Why take down the enemy when you could let the enemy do the hard work for you?
Then again, that’s also the Shard’s plan. Knowing that its powers could take Jenny at any moment, Joe doesn’t waste time — he takes Crane’s advice and tells her how he feels, a confession that fortunately is light on the telling and heavy on the feeling. He kisses her, and she goes in for more. It’s honestly a miracle that he even manages to pull himself away, but they’ve got Berserkers to set to self-destruct.
Leaving Jenny unguarded (WHY DON’T THEY KNOW MORE PEOPLE), Joe, Abbie, and Crane summon the Berserkers to the woods with Jenny’s blood. They then lower themselves down from the trees holding more vials of blood (Crane holds his in his mouth, as if this James Bond parody couldn’t get more glorious) and dump it on the Berserkers’ backs. The creatures turn on each other like “hyenas from hell,” and Crane finishes them off with one stab of his sword.
Team Witness proceeds to take its sweet time getting home, as if Jenny wasn’t still waiting on the cusp of death. Crane even pauses for a heart-to-heart talk, admitting to Abbie that he’s ready to love the 21st century, but he worries that it doesn’t love him back. What if the Archives are destroyed? What if his citizenship is denied? What if Abbie gets transferred in some “wretched federal promotion”? He doesn’t want to lose her. But this demon can destroy itself, too; Abbie reminds Crane that she and his other friends represent the 21st century every bit as much as the forces that would keep him down, and they’ll help him fight back.
Honesty Hour is interrupted by Sophie and Nevins, who order them to lead the way to Jenny. Nevins puts a gun to Joe’s head, and Joe is ready to die to protect her, but Sophie doesn’t let that happen. She’s actually FBI. That explains why she let Crane get away with the spell so easily. She blows her cover to save Joe (which is nice, but hasn’t she probably had to kill other people to maintain that cover? What makes Joe different?), but the trouble still isn’t over. When Abbie, Crane, and Joe get back to the dungeon, they find it covered in drawings straight out of Jenny’s nightmares. She broke the lock from the inside.
Jenny, now fully controlled by the Shard, makes her way to everyone’s favorite cavernous lair. Pandora reappears, joined by a friend who’s dressed like the Ghost of Christmas Future from The Muppet Christmas Carol. Jenny kneels before them both, and the figure in the shroud takes her hand — and then raises a scythe. “Behold my glory,” the figure bellows. “I have arrived.”
- Who at the FBI has eyes on Abbie? And did they see this?
- Reynolds vouches for Abbie, but he didn’t let her in on Sophie’s operation. What is his game?
- Has anyone ever struggled more to summon a demonic-rage creature than Nevins struggles to summon a demonic-rage creature?
- They’ve only just met, and I already support a Crane-Sophie hookup more than I support his relationship with Zoe.
- “You look like the bass player from some British rock band.”
- “You talk as if I’ve never climbed a mountain before. Right. I’ve never climbed a mountain before.”
- Professor Crane would never keep office hours.