SLEEPY HOLLOW Season 2, Episode 8 'Heartless'

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The relationship themes prominent in And the Abyss Gazes Back also form the basis of developments in this episode, be they husband and wife, friend and fellow Witness, the attempt to reconcile the belief in your son’s potential redemption with his actions as a black magic warlock and Horseman of the Apocalypse, or the brief encounters of a sexy soul-devouring demon preying on the romantically forlorn who harbour unrequited affections. More on that last one in a moment.

As we saw at the very end of the last episode, the Aurora Borealis explosion of chromatic vajazzling did not completely banish the Moloch demon baby from the earthly realm, but merely dispersed it into a cloud of glowing red neon that Henry has collected to nurture into physical form. To provide it with the necessary sustenance, he has summoned a succubus named Lilith to suck the souls of the perpetually horny in order to feed it.

While there’s no denying Lilith is rather easy on the eyes, her characterisation veers slightly from the usual portrayal of succubi as cleavagey slut-bombs preying on brainless manly-men who use their dicks like diving rods. She instead appears before each of her victims as a manifestation of their unfulfilled desire, an eerie facsimile of the girl for whom they yearn but despair of ever being with, be it an idolised friend, a glamourous lesbian crush, or Abbie herself (yep, Hawley’s back). It’s a credit to the make-up and costume design that Lilith stays recognisable in each encounter, yet at the same time convincingly morphs into a clear variation of the woman she’s imitating.

It’s good to see Katrina finally getting to be all awesome and witchy, her knowledge of magic and prowess with its use making short work of identifying the deaths as the work of a succubus and figuring out how to defeat her, although you can’t shake the feeling that this is exactly what she should have been doing all season, instead of wasting her time locked up in a mansion being next to useless. Despite previous predictions of relationship doom, it’s also nice to see Ichabod and Katrina finally get to spend some time as an actual couple after all they’ve been through, in this case lying in bed and debating the nature of romance while arguing over their favourites in The Bachelor. Although Katrina’s innocuous query of “Is there more television of reality?” is even more terrifying a question than anything relating to demonic forces or the encroaching apocalypse. The conviction Ichabod and Abbie have for one another is clearly the most stable of the show’s myriad relationships (as well as the one that anchors all its events), although the potential of a romantic entanglement is viable only in the minds of the shippers. If Abbie falls for anyone it’ll be the rakish charm of Hawley, and how that will affect the unstable trust she has with Jenny (who, yet again, is absent).

You would have thought that Ichabod would be immune to the charms of Lilith, as the object of his desire is finally back in his arms (and bed), but it seems his distrust is still yet to be removed. Lilith plays on his lingering doubt, her beguiling pseudo-Katrina form a corseted mockery of the guilt he feels for his misgivings about his wife. His unfulfilment comes from wishing that he and Katrina could have the relationship they did back in the 17th century when he believed in her without question and was blissfully unaware of all that she had been hiding from him, and it’s precisely this uncertainty that will ultimately lead to the inevitable confrontation of divided loyalties that the show is taking a … really … long … time … to get to.


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