“Afraid? You haven’t begun to know fear. Or sadness.”
Now we’re back in the swing of things, the next attempt of the agents of Moloch to sow violence and recrimination amongst the populace of Sleepy Hollow involves a coin. Of course, this is not just any coin, but a millennia-old one infused with the power to make all those who hold it betray their deepest loyalties; and with the next in the show’s regular associations with middle-grade American history, it also caused Colonial General Benedict Arnold to defect to the British Army during the American Revolutionary War.
If you were to guess that this treachery-inducing Roman piece of silver was a Tyrian shekel, and that it was one of a very particular set of thirty, you would be galloping down the right track. However, despite its Biblical notoriety, compared to some of the other artefacts and events our heroes have faced it’s relatively small scale. A key that can fling open the gates of purgatory; a book that can release 72 demon lords from the depths of hell; or the re-emergence of the lost colony of Roanoke complete with Pestilential plague, each effectively had the power to bring about the end the world in a tsunami of carnage and destruction. The coin, on the other hand, is only capable of affecting one person at a time, and while its influence would doubtless leave a trail of death behind it, its potential as an artefact of Armageddon is nowhere near as great. Subsequently, largely stripped of supernatural shenanigans, Root of All Evil is far more focused on character development and the dynamics between the central cast.
While the bond of trust built up between Ichabod and Abbie after saving each other countless times has strengthened to become nigh unbreakable, Abbie’s conviction in no way extends to Katrina. She believes that Katrina’s maternal instincts from being Henry’s mother (biologically and emotionally if no longer in any realistically practical way) will ultimately win out over the danger he poses as the Horseman of War, and should the time ever come that something can be done about him, the question remains of which way she will swing. Although Ichabod’s comment about “allowing” her stay with the Horseman does provoke an amused reaction from Abbie of “Allowed? She’s one: a grown woman; two: a witch; three: a redhead. You couldn’t have stopped her if you tried.”
Jenny has now been temporarily relegated to a sentence of community service after Reyes arrested her in the previous episode, and there’s a certain inescapable indignity in watching a highly-trained ass-kicking mercenary reduced to scrubbing graffiti off the walls of public buildings. Her coming under the coin’s influence provides an interesting counterpoint to its stated ability: while it induces people to act against their loyalties, it evidently can also convince them to retaliate against feelings of betrayal. It’s now revealed that not only did Reyes know Abbie and Jenny’s mother, she was the one responsible for incarcerating her in the mental hospital, a “hellhole” that was most likely a contributor to her suicide. The friction between the sisters over the new captain’s actions all those years ago is unlikely to be put to rest with the episode’s resolution.
Even Henry get a little character development. The final two words of the initial quotation above were spoken with the slight inflections of someone experiencing it, meaning that perhaps the anger and resentment that drives him to serve Moloch is not enough to make him fully turn away from the person he used to be. Although whether he sees this spark of humanity as something to be nurtured or extinguished remains to be seen.
To aid in locating the coin is the roguish Nick Hawley (Matt Barr, Harper’s Island) a freelance purveyor of magical relics (or a “privateer,” as Ichabod refers to him in his ever-wonderful archaic manner) who bears a distracting resemblance to Sons of Anarchy’s Jax Teller. Although he predictably disappears like the proverbial thief in the night, determined to restore the “complete set” of the coins for the gargantuan profit it will doubtless bring him, there’s no way this self-serving walking enigma is not going to reappear later if not sooner.
While you wouldn’t go as far to call Root of All Evil a subtle episode (Sleepy Hollow is a long way from even a passing acquaintance with that word), it’s largely absent of the constrained histrionics that have thus far been the show’s hallmark, and shows that as well as regular stoic lunacy and hunts for supernaturally-charged articles of war, it’s also capable of some meaningful exploration into the precise dangers that constant exposure to supernatural forces can pose, as well as the toll it takes, both physically and mentally, upon those regularly on the receiving end of them.
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