“Sleepy Hollow” recap: “What Lies Beneath”

Do my eyes deceive me? Did we actually have an old-school episode of Sleepy Hollow?! This episode, “What Lies Beneath” was full of scary monsters and tons of teamwork with Abbie and Ichabod in the A-story, and even some heavy lifting by Jenny and Irving in the B-story! Even Thomas Jefferson’s presence (Steven Weber) didn’t bring down the episode for me. Let’s get into it.

Abbie and Ichabod, back in action: It’s been so long since we’ve seen Ichabod and Abbie solving mysteries together without the interference of Katrina. It’s almost enough to break out into a praise break, but let’s save the praising and speaking in tongues for when Katrina finally goes evil in the upcoming episode.

Seeing the duo go through the standard beats that became the signature for Season 1 and the very beginning of Season 2—having a fun outing, getting called to duty, saving the day with some witty banter and heartfelt moments in the middle, and ending the day with a job well done—was such a welcome sight. I was glad to find Ichabod and Abbie inexplicably on a warship, taking a midday tour. I was happy to not know what Katrina was doing or where she was, and it seemed Ichabod couldn’t care less either. Even the beat of having the show begin with a cold open featuring folks who are destined to be killed was comforting. When was the last time the show has started out like that?

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The more and more we see the changes to the later episodes, the more I believe Dana Walden is right in saying  less serialization is better, particularly since it’s just code for “less internal Crane family soap opera.” Without that black hole of drama, the show flows like it’s supposed to. It’s a fun hour of television once again instead of All My Children. However, I’ll say that if it wanted to be All My Children, it could have at least made Katrina an Erica Kane character from the beginning. I’d be willing to watch that.

Jenny and Irving’s heart-to-heart: Orlando Jones nailed it once again with his heartfelt emoting as Irving explained the truth to Jenny, the only one on Team Witness who really wants to hear what he’s got to say now that he’s undead and soulless.

Poor Irving’s been through the ringer. Who would have thought that this would happen to him when he came on as the new police chief? He certainly didn’t, I’m sure. But even though Henry has his soul, Irving made sure to save himself just a little bit by raiding Henry’s compound and getting a tailsman to keep the evil at bay for a while. But, as we saw in the last episode, the evil’s taking over. Soon, Irving won’t be able to contain it, and in order to set his family up for life after he’s gone, he wanted to get info on all the money Henry’s been funneling to evil sources. It always amazes me how much Henry’s evil relies on red tape and bureaucracy. That’s such a great character point for him as a villain.

Currently, Jenny’s the only one who knows the truth about Irving’s actual fate, and I believe that Jenny’s going to be the one who will do the most in trying to save Irving from himself. I’m certainly here to see that go down.

Thomas Jefferson and Ichabbie’s Witnesshood: Thomas Jefferson’s hologram was useful in that he told Ichabod and Abbie that there was an actual rhyme and reason as to why they were chosen as Witnesses, with specific emphasis on Abbie’s calling. However, he very easily filled the Katrina spot with the rest of his uselessness.

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He didn’t give us any more specific information about anything, except that he had to keep Ichabod at bay to keep him from knowing the truth (no interference, he said, was part of the rule about knowing the fate of the world) and that the fenestella was filled with priceless books and scrolls about everything Witness. It’s information Ichabod and Abbie could have certainly used, but they had to blow it and Jefferson Hologram up to stop the Reavers from escaping and killing the injured workers.

It’s also apparent that Jefferson was a big fool, since Jefferson Hologram felt that saving the books was more important than saving people’s lives. He’s also heck-a shady for looking at Abbie like he wanted to devour her.

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We know the real Jefferson was a real piece of work—quiet, shy, and ish, wanting to give rights to everyone except women and minorities, and keeping slaves, most notably Sally Hemmings, with whom he had a dubious (in my opinion) relationship with and fathered several children. He also thought black people were less intelligent, even though he supported free blacks making their own colonies. He’s a complicated fellow. He’s a right fool who may have been “book smart,” but he wasn’t a real free thinker like history likes to paint him. I think he thought he was smarter than the rest of his founding father friends, but he was just as much of an a**hole like Benjamin Franklin. All of them are a**holes, really.

If there’s any place where the writing fell down in this episode, it’s during the interactions with Jefferson, specifically Abbie’s interactions with him. It’s clear already that she didn’t like him, but I’m surprised none of the Jefferson conversation from Season 1 was brought up during this episode. Instead, Jefferson was retconned a little. He was still a shady fool, seeing how he had to keep Ichabod at bay by brushing him off, but nothing was brought up about his rampant idiocy and hypocrisy. I know if I was Abbie, I sho’ would have said what she said to Calvin, “One, stop looking at my face.”

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So, does this Jefferson not think Abbie’s intellectually inferior? Does he really respect her the way he infers? What turned him around to the idea that a black woman would have to save the entire world? When he said that Abbie would be able to “win a war [the founding fathers] could not,” what exactly did he mean? I think he meant that Abbie, a black woman, wouldn’t have been able to help them if she were born back in the day. (She’d probably be owned by the lecherous Jefferson or someone even worse than him.) The fight had to continue to the present day, in which Jefferson’s kind (and some of their ideas about non-whites) would be dead and—to paraphrase the Bible—Abbie and the other members of the “meek” could “inherit the earth” and run things. So does Jefferson Hologram’s layered phrasing indicate that Jefferson realizes that he’s an awful person who didn’t do enough to live outside of his time and actually make the world a better place when was writing the Declaration of Independence? Just thinking out loud.

In any event, Jefferson’s statement gives an inkling as to why Ichabod was chosen. A lot of Ichabod’s Witnesshood rests on him being a person who is unique among those he considered “the open-minded.” While his contemporaries like Jefferson and Franklin fronted majorly about being “smarter than the average bear,” Ichabod truly is an open-minded spirit. He’s able to welcome a black, female police officer into his life as his friend and companion. He’s able to use cell phones and play Halo with people across the world. He doesn’t even judge gay relationships, noting to Abbie that one of his teachers was in one. He’s got the ability to truly roll with the punches and see everyone for their merits, strengths and talents instead of their race, sexuality, or gender. From the beginning, Ichabod called Abbie “Lieutenant” or “Miss.” He’s always called Jenny “Miss” as well, and Irving and Reyes have always been “Captain.” He’s never once called them anything below what they deserve, and for someone from the 18th century, that’s commendable.

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I assume we’ll learn more about Abbie’s Witnesshood as we learn more about Grace Dixon and the Dixon/Mills line. It was nice to hear Grace’s name once again as we learned that she took notes about Jefferson’s dealings with the witches and occult. I’m sure there’ll be more in her book about why the second Witness will be destined to come from her line. Grace knew more than what she let on, and I think she knew Ichabod was the first Witness the whole time.

Calvin Riggs tags along: I was all right with our Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist friend Calvin (Sharif Atkins). Maybe it’s because he was written with some punch or maybe it’s the simple reason of him just being another black face among a sea of black faces, but I felt he added something much more interesting than Hawley did. We’ve seen Hawley’s character in other shows, and done better as well. Calvin 1) has a concrete job 2) has a purpose—looking out for his brother, who was one of the trapped workers, and getting the scoop on the craziness in Sleepy Hollow, and 3) seemed to mesh better as a character with Ichabod and Abbie than Hawley ever could.

I’m sure some are also about Calvin because he could easily make Ichabod jealous. I wrote on Twitter that Ichabod hates it when he’s got to compete for Abbie’s attention when there’s more testosterone in the room, and it’s true. He was true to form tonight, “tut-tut”ing Calvin, silencing him with that “don’t test me” finger, giving him The People’s Eyebrow-18th century style, and breaking his beaucoup expensive camera (for the good of the mission). Ichabod doesn’t play around when there’s another man on the scene.

Katrina and Henry:  Henry has finally figured himself out and has come to the conclusion that he killed Moloch to save his mother after all. But how is he going to really lure her over to the dark side? Were the black roses just a way for him to steal her soul since she pricked her hand on them? Was Katrina in a trance before or was Henry really in her mind? What was going on there!? I’m surprised I’m intrigued at this, but I am. It’s sad Katrina only got interesting towards the end of her life on this show.

So that’s the recap! I don’t remember writing this long of a recap in several weeks. This shows just how much I loved this episode, Jefferson notwithstanding. For the most part, Sleepy Hollow is back in my book. What did you think of this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Brownie Harris/FOX

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3 thoughts on ““Sleepy Hollow” recap: “What Lies Beneath””

  1. I both liked/hated this epi because of the weak/strong points.

    Good:
    1. Great to see our Witnesses having each others’ backs again, without too many romantic scenes. (i’m firmly on the Ichabbie ship, but don’t need it shoved down my throat each week).

    2. Frank/Jenny: Orlando Jones is selling it! His plight with good vs evil is so compelling and acted so hearbreakingly well, I’m extremely keen on where this is going. And calling out to Jenny’s past with demon possession was very smart. Lyndie Greenwood also bringing it in those scenes.

    3. Great opening, suspense, and liked Calvin’s intro. Although I’m Team Ichabbie, Abbie should have some fun while Ichabod gets his house in order. Anytime you want to ride the Calvin train, Abbie hun, go for it!

    4. MOTW: Really creepy, and the cannibalism was an added touch of gross (but still good)

    Bad:
    1. While it had all the elements of SH of old, one (big, major) thing took away from my enjoyment: the plot. It. Made. No. Sense! Holographic Jefferson was fine, but having to blow up the chamber because of the Reavers – who weren’t exactly posing a threat to those 300m Americans btw – was stupid, esp when you factor in that the chamber housed all the info needed to win the war.

    I liked the initial moral dilemma with collateral damage, but this whole storyline would have been more compelling if – after the hatch is disturbed – the Reavers were actually making it out to the tunnels because they wanted braaaiiinnnnsss! As it was, the Witnesses had time to go back down (supposedly with more weapons, but it sure looked like the same guns to me) AND NOT TAKE ONE DAMN BOOK! As I said, it made no damn sense, and our Witnesses are not stupid. They should have sealed the chamber, gone back with Jenny, shot the hell out of the Reavers, then gotten the info!

    2. Jefferson: Like you said, no mention of his dubious past, esp since it was brought up in S1? And Ichabod was a Founder too? Uggh. This NEEDS to stop. Yes, Ichabod was there but come on, writers! He can’t have been that behind-the-scenes with every major FF!

    The writing has been very uneven this series. I don’t know why, but the ratings were especially bad this epi, a series low. That makes me nervous, both for the show and the quality of writing. One thing’s for sure – can’t blame Katrina for this one…

    Like

  2. I must say that I concur with your wary distaste for Jefferson; while definitely a genius, he DID begin his affair with his dead wife’s half-sister when Sally was just 14 and Jefferson was in his 40s. After 7 kids together, she still did not become a free woman. Nice work, TJ. I am disappointed that, now knowing about Sally, Ichabod would not have found a way to confront him (or, at the very least, for stealing his line about the press…)
    I also agree that destroying the fenestella–intact, none the less–seemed excessive. Could the reavers no have been subdued permanently and the hatch concealed by our Witnesses? There could have been a more long-term solution, something far short of C4.

    Like

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