After cycling though almost every other premise with the potential for ridiculous awesome, Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow comes to a close with a bit of time travel, throwing Abbie into the past when Katrina uses John Dee’s Grand Grimoire to open up a doorway to the point right before Ichabod was put into his century-spanning slumber. Abbie’s emergence is a neat reflection of Ichabod’s awakening at the beginning of the pilot, down to the replicated details of wandering lost in a forest before stumbling onto an unfamiliar road and almost being mown down by the era’s traffic thundering along it, all serenaded by the BGM of Sympathy For the Devil.
Of course, Abbie’s presence upsets the established course of events, and not in an insignificant way. Declaring herself to have vital information and that she’ll only speak to Captain Crane, Ichabod is called away from the battle where he and the Headless Horseman had their fateful showdown, meaning Abbie’s barely been in the past five minutes before she’s mucked up the timeline. However, it was in the aftermath of this battle that Katrina was now intending to kill Ichabod instead of putting him into a 230-year magical coma, so in altering things Abbie also saved Ichabod’s life without either of them realising she was doing so, thus continuing the primary theme of their relationship.
As we were reminded right at the end of the last episode, 18th century colonial America is not the most welcoming place at the best of times, and as a black woman (and one in trousers, at that!) Abbie is doubly unworthy of consideration, landing herself in jail by little more than opening her mouth. While the ingrained racism is obviously an aspect of the era impossible to ignore, neither is it excessively focused upon. It’s been previously established that Ichabod was a progressive thinker for his time, so that aspect of things doesn’t really apply to him; it’s the whole ‘visitor from the future angle’ he has trouble getting his head around. It’s actually everyone’s favourite lecherous academic Benjamin Franklin who believes Abbie without question, in addition to being rather excited about learning which of his innovations survive into the future and pointing out that Abbie – an educated, articulate, intelligent professional of a race and gender marginalised at the time – is the embodiment of all that they are fighting to achieve for their nation.
During the time it takes to convince Ichabod that Abbie is telling the truth, there are a few wonderful moments where we see glimpses of the almost permanently befuddled Ichabod from the series’ very beginning, such as almost crapping himself when Abbie’s phone vibrates, or deadpanning “I’m here to save you,” after finding Abbie standing over the battered and unconscious body of a soldier who tried to assault her. It’s ultimately Ichabod’s realisation of what he and Abbie are to each other in the future that convinces him of her veracity, and it’s a warm and reassuring feeling that no matter what the situation, time period or even knowledge of who the other is, the two of them are always at their best when they are together.
Dark Katrina continues to be superlatively more interesting than her wishy-washy former self, and it’s a shame that more of the episode isn’t focused on her. With the grief over losing her son (for the second time) and somewhat justified in her anger over witches being denied the place in the new America they were originally promised, she has finally become a fully rounded character in her own right, as opposed to previously being largely defined by the state of her and Ichabod’s relationship.
TV show episodes using time travel as a plot device can be incredibly hit and miss, and when (such in this case) it’s established that any damage done in the past can be reset upon return to the present, it can be difficult to adequately maintain the tension. However, there is certainly no presumption that stopping Katrina and sending Abbie back to the future will be easy to come by or achieved without loss, and even with the knowledge it can be reversed, the death of characters you actually like still packs an emotional wallop.
The episode (and thus season) actually ends on a genuine resolution, acting as both a satisfying finale and also a point from which new story arcs can emerge. While Season 3 has yet to be officially announced, given Sleepy Hollow’s success with regards to viewership and audience reaction, it’s probably not premature to say there’s a high probability it will return. While Fox’s reputation for prematurely axing quality shows is as notorious as it is deserved (and applies to so much more than just Firefly), the casualties have mostly been those whose future was already in question after the network started dicking about with the scheduling and/or episode order, neither of which are in evident here. So, unless some catastrophic network executive logic fail is imminent, see you all in September.
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