Hot damn! ‘Sleepy Hollow’ knows how to make a comeback. After a World Series induced hiatus, Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills are back in action. “Sin Eater” gave us everything we could’ve hoped for at this point in the 13 episode season. We learn how Crane met his beloved Katrina and discover the sin he has been carrying with him for all of these years. We meet Henry Parrish (masterfully portrayed by John Noble), an enigmatic and tortured sin eater who is haunted by the transgressions he’s consumed over the years. We grow skeptical of Rutledge (played by resident TV baddie, James Frain). Lastly, we sigh and occasionally squeal with delight while watching the bond between Abbie and Ichabod grow stronger.
The episode opens on a lighter note as we watch Abbie take Ichabod to a baseball game. He is puzzled by her rambunctious behavior and constant heckling at the umpire. He doesn’t understand the appeal of the game, so she breaks it down for him. For Abbie baseball boils down to three things: tradition (the game never changes, providing a sense of safety,) teamwork (everyone has each other’s back,) and the lack of discrimination (everyone is equal out on the field.) Baseball captures the true spirit of democracy and shouting at the umpire is one way of expressing our freedoms. With that said Ichabod chimes right in and berates the umpire by calling him a basket face and-then-some. It is an epically adorable and classically Crane moment. Abbie applauds his efforts and tells him to wait for the umpire to make a call next time. After the game, Ichabod admits that he finally felt at home for brief moment while getting caught up in the game. Abbie sweetly replies, “You are home, Crane.” Cue the collective “Awww.” Ichabod looks forward to seeing the other ways in which Abbie will expand his horizons (I know it may sound like a euphemism, but Crane’s intentions are most honorable.) This scene captures their relationship so beautifully. It is deeper than a sappy crush or cheesy flirtation. Ichabod and Abbie share a very strong bond, one that cannot waver in the midst of the Apocalypse. They are kindred spirits who respect each other and have an unspoken understanding. He bids Abbie farewell with a bow (too cute!) and decides to explore a bit on his way home.
Ichabod visits Katrina’s grave and studies her tombstone when he is suddenly struck with a tranquilizer dart. The moment Crane gets kidnapped; Abbie has a vision in the car as she’s driving home. Abbie is psychically transported to an old-fashioned house. She hears a baby crying and sees a bassinet as she walks through the mysterious house (Did anyone else wonder if the Cranes had kids at that moment? That could make for interesting twist in the future.) The Headless Horseman shockingly appears and chases Abbie through the house. She runs into a room where she sees four black-veiled women chanting at a table (Are they casting the blood-tie curse?), then she notices a bird and Katrina appears. Katrina explains that this house is an echo of the home she shared with Ichabod. Katrina uses it as a doorway through which she can visit Witnesses like Abbie. She warns Abbie that Ichabod has been abducted and Headless is on his way back to Sleepy Hollow. She cannot see who took Crane, but she knows it was because of his blood-tie to Headless. When she cast the spell, she had no idea how deeply Ichabod and Headless’ fates would be entwined. If Ichabod dies, then the Headless Horseman will die as well and vice a versa. Katrina says the spell can be reversed by a sin eater. Ichabod’s sins are what fuel the Horseman’s bond. Abbie must find the sin eater and convince him to sanctify Crane before the Horseman returns at sundown. Luckily, Abbie doesn’t get into a massive car accident during this blackout and drives straight to Captain Irving.
Abbie tells Irving about what happened and he needs a moment to process it all. Orlando Jones is doing a spectacular job of staying on the fence. He listens to Abbie, accepts Crane into his department, yet he remains practical. Irving says it best: “There are two things you should hold onto for a while, virginity and skepticism. I already lost the first one, so I’m gonna hold on to the second.” (Hilarious! I’m beginning to trust Irving; I hope my instincts about him are right.) He helps Abbie out by giving Jenny a 24 hour furlough so they can work together to find the sin eater. When Jenny hints at Cranes’ importance to Abbie, she says he is important to both of them. Abbie also admits that Crane is a true friend to her. After she lost Jenny, Abbie felt alone and eventually turned to Sheriff Corbin for support. Fortunately, Crane turned up the same day Corbin died and gave Abbie a sense of purpose. Jenny understands and a lead on a possible sin eater, someone from an old case she worked with Corbin.
Jenny and Abbie pour over old records and recognize a pattern. The sin eater traveled throughout the world, visiting death row inmates and sanctifying them. They quickly realize that he has been taking on the identities of the dead inmates. After some digging, they track Henry Parrish down in Connecticut. Abbie threatens him with imprisonment if he doesn’t talk to them, so Henry lets the Mills in. Abbie is honest about her situation straight off the bat. She needs his help as a sin eater, but he doesn’t do it anymore. Parrish explains how sin eating has taken a toll on him. A sin eater sees a person’s heart, he takes someone’s sin upon himself and carries them with him. With each sin he eats, Parrish loses a piece of his identity. If he continued eating, he would’ve disappeared completely. Abbie reminds him that his gift provides him with a sense of responsibility and he must help. They have a little Bible quote-off and Abbie alerts him to Death’s presence in Sleepy Hollow. Henry says he might be able to locate Crane if her bond with him is strong enough, but that is all. She begs him to break Crane’s blood tie and reverse the curse. After all, the Headless Horseman is an abomination and pure sin. Abbie grabs his arm and Henry has a vision. He can tell that Ichabod is underground and sees the image of a compass and square. Jenny says that is the symbol for Freemasons and Abbie remembers the secret underground tunnels Ichabod showed her. The Mills run off to save Ichabod before it too late. Meanwhile, Crane has been confronting his own demons when he is forced to tell his story.
Ichabod has been captured by the Freemasons. After a snappy Sherlock-esque shtick, Ichabod deduces that his abductor is a descendent of Edward Rutledge, the youngest signor of the Declaration of Independence and a Freemason. Rutledge tells Ichabod to prove his identity because they have faced demons and shape-shifters in the past. He asks Ichabod about the term or Freemason password “ordo ab chao,” meaning “Order from Chaos” and we learn the story of Arthur Bernard. Cue the flashback!
Ichabod was a lieutenant in the King’s army. He was sent to capture a man accused of treason and leading the American rebellion. Ichabod interrogates Arthur Bernard, a freed slave accused of printing rebellious propaganda, and asks him to reveal the identity of Cicero, the person spearheading the rebellion. If Ichabod breaks the case, he will be promoted to Captain. While Ichabod questions Bernard, Katrina (a Quaker) steps in to tend to Bernard’s wounds. Katrina looks at Ichabod and sees right through him. “Your eyes betray you,” she says. She urges Crane to listen to his conscience. She tells him that the “love of power is the demon of all men.” She says there are demons all around them. Days go by and Bernard’s interrogation yields no results. Ichabod watches as three men are hanged for treason in the town square. He sees Katrina comfort the son of one of those men and asks his Captain to stop public hangings. The Captain disagrees and for a second, Crane sees the vision of a demon in the cruel man’s face. Later that day Crane speaks with Katrina by the riverside. She noticed what happened in the town square and tells Crane, “Your conscience revealed what you refused to see until now.” Ichabod and Katrina have just met, yet they both feel like they’ve known each other. She officially introduces herself as Katrina van Tassel and shrugs off of Crane’s romantic notion of destiny bringing them together. She believes destiny is a choice, it isn’t mere chance. She studies Crane and says that he is the one they’ve been speaking of, the Witness. He can see what others cannot, kind of like a Grimm. She says they need Crane to fight on their side. Katrina parts with motivational words of wisdom, “Evil gains strength when good men do nothing. You are a good man.” (That’s what Crane told the Shaman at Geronimotors in “The Triumph of Evil.”)
Ichabod returns to his post at Bernard’s and the Captain gives him a new order. Crane has one path to redemption: he must kill Bernard and prove his loyalty to the King of England. Crane takes Bernard out into the woods and finally listens to his conscience. He fires a shot, but it doesn’t hit Bernard. He does not let evil take him over. Bernard tells Crane that Cicero represents everyone in the rebellion. He instructs Ichabod to see Katrina and tell her “Order from Chaos,” that way she will know that Ichabod has joined their fight for good. Suddenly, the Captain shoots Bernard dead and comes after Crane. The Captain’s face transforms into a demon and he stabs Ichabod. When other redcoats ride by, the demon takes off. Wounded Crane goes to Katrina and breathlessly utters, “Order from Chaos.”
Rutledge hears the story and it matches the accounts in Katrina’s ledger, so they trust that Ichabod Crane is the real deal. Ichabod still carries his sin, the thing that has been eating away at him for all of these years: he couldn’t save Arthur Bernard. But they don’t care about his guilt. Rutledge says that Katrina betrayed the Freemasons when she cast the spell and hid him away in the cave. The Freemasons wanted Crane dead because that was the only way to stop the Headless Horseman. Rutledge hands Crane a box and says he knows what he must do. Will Crane take his own life to stop Death?
Abbie arrives in the nick of time and Crane asks for a moment alone with her. He says he must finish what he started and honor his oath to sacrifice his life to protect the world. He accepts what he has been chosen to do, but Abbie believes there is another way. For the first time Ichabod calls her “Abbie” and says there is no other way. He has been living on borrowed time as it is. Abbie starts tearing up as he says, “Through these centuries, against the impossibilities that we would find each other…we did. And I am most grateful for it.” Crane admits he is terrified of dying and tells Abbie to leave, but she holds his hand and stays. At least this time she will be able to say goodbye. Ichabod drinks the poison and apologizes. Way to tug on all of our heart-strings, Sleepy Writers. What a beautifully acted and wonderfully written scene. Well done Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. Okay, now it is time to dry those tears because we all know Ichbod Crane isn’t going anywhere.
Henry Parrish is here to save the day. It seems as though this was some kind of test. Henry has been unsure of his identity, is he an angel or a demon? Now he knows his true purpose. He has hoped for the day that would reveal his calling in life and it turns out to be Ichabod. Crane is Henry’s reason for being a sin eater. Henry stab’s Ichabod’s hand to remove the poison and he tastes the blood, confirming Ichabod’s blood tie to the Headless Horseman. Henry tells Crane to summon his sin. Suddenly, Henry transforms into Bernard and Ichabod has a chance to apologize. Interestingly, there is nothing to be sorry for. Bernard says that his death saved Crane’s soul because that was the moment when Crane chose Good over Evil. Ichabod’s regret has been fueling his blood tie with Headless. Crane must rid himself from this sin in order to be free. The power between Crane and Abbie will be strong enough to stop Headless for good. Ichabod chooses absolution over death and repeats after Parrish: “I purge the wicked from my blood…spirit is severed…soul is sanctified. Death, leave me now. I command you.” Ichabod’s pool of blood parts on the table, severing the blood tie. Henry dips a piece of bread into the blood and eats it. Eww, but phew!
Crane rejoices, “I feel him no more.” Ichabod and Abbie hug. While they embrace he says she was right, there is always another way. So sweet!
As the episode ends, the Headless Horseman tracks Ichabod’s steps through the cave and gets closer to Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman is coming for Crane!
“Sin Eater” was a phenomenal and mesmerizing episode. The storyline was gripping, clever and thought-provoking. The introduction of new characters was very well done. The flashbacks nicely revealed an epic, life-changing moment in Ichabod’s life. Ichabod and Katrina’s first encounter was fascinating and unexpected. Plus, we got a sweet dose of gush-worthy Ichabbie milestones.
- The Sin Eater: I love the addition of Noble’s Henry Parrish. The sin eater can be a very helpful ally in this war on evil. I’m glad we got a complete understanding of how he operates. I look forward to seeing him again.
- Free Masons: We already knew Katrina was a witch, now we learn that she was at the core of the Free Masons. She brought Ichabod into their secret society. Unfortunately, she pissed them all off when she cast a spell, interfered with their plans and hid her husband away. Clearly, the Freemasons are still active in America and Rutledge plays a key role. But, is he a trustworthy Freemason? Will he be on Ichabod’s side after this or will he hold a grudge for what happened in the past? I’m so used to seeing James Frain as a baddie that I can’t trust him quite yet.
- Katrina reaches out to Abbie: I think it is awesome that Katrina can speak with Abbie too. Maybe next time she can pick a safer moment to chat. It will be cool to see if the ladies ever have a chance to talk about how quirky Crane can be.
- Ichabbie: This episode gave Ichabod and Abbie shippers a lot to squeal over, but don’t immediately jump to conclusions. Show-runner Mark Goffman once again assures fans that Ichabod is a devoted husband to Katrina and is simply friends with Abbie. Entertainment Weekly reports: “I think it’s important that Abbie and Crane have a connection. I think it’s important that they become friends,” he says, “but at the same time, it’s a very uneasy friendship, because also dramatically, you need to realize that they come from very different worlds. They’re together through fate, and because they have an important mission that they have to go through together.” As for Mr. and Mrs. Crane: “That instant, immediate spark between them, that there was a connection well beyond the physical — that she really played a role in his turn, and bringing out the best in him. I think that’s important,” he says. Let’s remember that Crane’s mission is to stop the Apocalypse and free his wife from Purgatory.
What did you think Sleepy Heads? Did you love “The Sin Eater”? Were you surprised by Ichabod’s past with Katrina? What did you think about the sin that was haunting him? Do you trust Rutledge? Are you excited to see more of Henry Parrish?
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‘Sleepy Hollow’ airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.