‘Sleepy Hollow’ S1 Ep 8 recap: Sympathy for the Horseman

Katrina’s love triangle with Ichabod and Abraham is revealed in the epic “Necromancer”. (Brownie Harris/FOX via FoxFlash)

Are you still picking up pieces of brain matter after ‘Sleepy Hollow’ blew your minds last night? We expected to learn all about the Headless Horseman’s past, but did you ever see that twist coming? Monday (Nov. 18) night’s “Necromancer” is by far the most intense, serious and game-changing episode to date. Chuckles at Ichabod’s expense were sparse because every single scene was extremely high stakes. Quite frankly, it is hard to conjure up loads of laughs when you are literally facing Death (even though Crane managed to have his moments and I love him more for it.) Still, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ went above and beyond our expectations with another magnificent, well-crafted, gripping, informative and jaw-dropping episode.

“Necromancer” starts with a super sweet moment between Crane and Abbie. They’ve successfully captured the Horseman and she wants to express her elation with a 21st century gesture: a fist bump. She places Crane’s hand in the proper position and they bumps fists. Ichabod pulls back when the bump is more forceful than expected, but he nails it on the second collision. He smiles and expresses excitement, but as soon as Abbie walks away, Crane sheds the fascade and reveals what a lot of us feel about the fist bump: it doesn’t make sense. Sure it is a cute, fun moment of bonding between partners and friends, but this moment means so much more than that. Despite the centuries of differences between them, Abbie and Ichabod strive to grow closer and gain a better understanding of one another. They each remain open-minded and want to find commonalities. Sure they’re Witnesses, but they try to find things outside of the Apocalypse that they can enjoy together. Whether it is eating donuts, heckling a baseball game, or celebrating with a fist-bump, Crane and Abbie are establishing a solid friendship grounded in trust and loyalty. (Sidenote: Tom Mison is brilliant. He always finds a way to believably be surprised by things that are so commonplace to us all. He exudes a child-like wonderment that is really difficult to pull off. He deserves critical praise for his work on this show. He is majorly raising the bar for TV actors.) As we see in this episode, when you face evil, you really need a partner you can count on.

Headless is on lockdown. Jefferson’s supernatural trap has been protected by Katrina’s hex to ward off evil, they have special candles and loads of UV light to weaken the Horseman, but all of this won’t contain him forever. The war has just begun and they need answers, so Crane wants to interrogate Headless, as one would do in the midst of war. Crane suggests using Andy Brooks’ unrequited feelings for Abbie as leverage to gain an upper hand on Headless. Meanwhile, Abbie wants Irving to tell Jenny that they have Headless in custody. Maybe her sis has learned something helpful during her years of travel and supernatural study. So the A-Team of misfits part ways.

Abbie and Ichabod find Brooks’ hide-out and makeshift home in the tunnels. As they go through his belongings, Crane finds an Egyptian tablet. Brooks startles them and Crane cuts to the chase. The hieroglyphics state that Brooks is the Horseman’s necromancer. Headless is keeping Andy around to be his voice. Crane says this can be Brooks’ chance at redemption. However, Brooks says it is too dangerous. He has been trying to help Abbie whenever he can, but once Headless has total control over him, Brooks can’t make any promises to thwart evil. Crane believes it is worth the calculated risk; this is their only chance to gain an upper hand in the war on Evil. Brooks once again warns them of the consequences. Andy couldn’t take back the mistakes he made while he was alive. Because of his poor decisions, his soul now belongs to Moloch. Once the Horseman takes over, Brooks cannot be trusted. I have to give Brooks some credit here. He is being honest and owning up to his mistakes. He will try his best to help Crane and Abbie, but you can’t blame him for assuming that this will not end well. What good can come from engaging in conversation with pure evil? While Abbie and Ichabod get Brooks on board with their plan, Irving fills Jenny in.

Irving sits Jenny down at the station and tells her about the Horseman’s capture. He knows Jenny doesn’t like authority, but she has a decision to make. Either Jenny can “got it alone” or help them out. Of course, Jenny is in and she starts helping right off the bat. When a report comes in about an attack at Adams’ Antiquities, Jenny says she freelanced acquisitions for the owner and knows the place. Jenny and Irving pay Adams a visit to see what happened. Given all the historical ties on this show, you can’t help but wonder if Mr. Adams is a descendant of Samuel Adams. Jenny walks over to a shelf and pulls Benjamin Franklin’s head like a level. It opens a door to a secret room and they discover that Adams has been shot. Hessians attacked Adams and stole a 16th century Druid scripture that can break the hex protecting the Masonic cell and weakening Headless. The Hessians are coming for the Horseman, so they’ll want to cut the power grid next. Jenny and Irving high-tail it to Sleepy Hollow’s power plant, hoping to stop them in time. Back at the Masonic cell, Ichabod proceeds with his long-awaited interrogation.

Abbie and Ichabod chain Brooks into a chair. He warns them of the dire consequences and then initiates contact with Headless through a German incantation. Now we finally get to see Crane’s gritty side. He takes pleasure in taunting the Horseman. Does he have a name or should Crane just call him Death? How does it feel to spend eternity as a failure? Ichabod isn’t holding anything back and he gets in the Horseman’s face, so to speak. He grabs a hold of his collar and a necklace drops to the floor. The green jewel belonged to Katrina. Headless seizes Crane’s moment of weakness and activates Brooks as his mouthpiece. Andy’s eyes turn black and in a deep bellowing voice he says, “Death will not be silenced.” How does the Horseman have Katrina’s necklace? As Ichabod tells Abbie his tale, we learn of the necklace’s origin.

Katrina was engaged to Abraham van Brunt, Ichabod’s best friend. Abe gave her that necklace, but Ichabod was the one who picked out. He told Abe that the green gem “embodies Katrina’s elegance, simplicity, beauty and restraint” (Aw.) That night, Abraham gives Katrina the necklace and she says it is perfect. Katrina then walks over to Ichabod. She knows he chose the necklace because he knows her so well. Katrina plans to break off her engagement with Abraham. Crane knows an arranged marriage is not ideal, but Abe is still a good catch. Katrina does not care. When she marries, she wants it to be for love. They came to America to shed their archaic traditions and a loveless marriage is one of them. Katrina tells Ichabod that her heart belongs to him and she cannot marry Abraham when she truly loves Ichabod.

As Ichabod tells Abbie the story, he emphasizes the injustice of the “meager rights afforded to women” back in his day. Ichabod Crane the Feminist. You just love this guy more and more. Katrina was bravely going against all odds by following her heart. Sadly, she is still paying a dire price for the decision she made centuries ago. Seriously, Ichabod and Katrina were a couple of badass rebels in their day. Speaking of badass, Irving and Jenny team up to raise a little hell on the Hessians over at the power plant.

Jenny and Irving are able to take down a group of Hessians with the help of some tactical back-up. (Irving’s “Adolph” quip here makes me wonder if we’ll see any parts of history after the American Revolution. On ‘Grimm’ the Nazi movement involved Wessen. Given the Hessians’ Germanic brute force, WWII would make for a sensible backdrop for their ‘Sleepy Hollow’ mythology.’ What do you think, Sleepy Heads?) Their Hessian take-down helps buy Crane some extra time with the Horseman while he’s still weak from the UV lights.

When Crane jumps back into the interrogation, the tables have turned. Headless taunts Ichabod saying he knows all of Katrina’s secrets, as well as her destiny. Ichabod fights back saying the Horseman is nothing more than Moloch’s puppet. Headless promises to kill Crane. So Ichabod asks the obvious question: why does Headless want Crane dead? Clearly Ichabod is the Horseman’s downfall. His bloodlust for Crane blinded his judgement and kept him in Sleepy Hollow. So the Headless Horseman finally tells his story.

Washington’s prized soldier and the Hessian mercenary spent their military careers searching for each other. Crane was always his number one mission. When Crane lays dying, Headless wants him to think of all the bloodshed on his hands, beginning with Abraham. Headless warns Abbie not to trust Crane because he betrayed his partner in the past. Just when Headless gets into the juiciest part of the story, a bomb goes off at the power plant and the UV lights cut out. Brooks reminds Crane of his warning. Abbie learns that will be at least two hours until the power comes back on. Irving is on his way, but with every minute, Headless slowly regains his strength. Abbie sees that the Horseman struck a nerve and she asks Ichabod for the whole story while they wait.

Abraham was devastated when Katrina dumped him. In 1774, Abe and Ichabod were sent into enemy territory when they were instructed to take the precursor of the Declaration of Independence into Pennsylvania. During their journey, Abraham tells Ichabod about the break-up. Crane defends Katrina’s desire to marry for love and then he tells Abe the truth about Katrina’s affections. Abe demands to know how long Crane has been wooing her. Ichabod says they wish for Abe’s blessing. Abraham responds by drawing his sword and initiating a duel. (Yay!) Crane yields and tries to deny the duel, but Abe won’t have it. Awesome swordplay ensues and Abe surprisingly wins. Suddenly a bullet pierces through Abraham and a group of Hessian Redcoats attack. Abe lays dying and commands Crane to leave and continue their mission. As Ichabod leaves, the Hessians get Abraham.

Crane tells Abbie that he never meant to hurt his friend. It wasn’t his fault that the Hessians killed Abraham. Ichabod’s frustration culminates to a boiling point and he gets pissed. Abbie tells him to get a grip. He can’t confront the Horseman when he’s out of control. Headless is just trying to get in his head and Ichabod has to fight it. While Crane tries to regain composure, Irving and Jenny arrive at the cell.

Abbie snaps at Irving for bringing her sister into harm’s way. They say the Hessians are coming to break Headless out. Irving considers calling in some back-up, but they don’t know who can be trusted. Tactical can stay in place outside of the building, but it is better to keep headless a secret. Abbie doesn’t like leaving Crane alone with Headless, but she must reluctantly help Irving and Jenny bring more weapons to the cell. Ichabod wishes them all “God-speed.” Before Abbie leaves, she tells Crane not to lose his cool. She also tells Crane to decapitate Brooks if he causes any trouble. But it may be too late for that.

Moloch has taken control of Brooks. He disgustingly yanks a gold skull-covered phial out of his gut and summons Moloch’s minions. The creepy demons attack Irving, Jenny and Abbie in the tunnels. Surprisingly, the minions are not immune to bullets. One shot shatters them into ashes. (Hmm, were those regular bullets?) Meanwhile, Crane resumes his interrogation.

Ichabod asks Headless about his personal agenda. What is his unfinished business? The Horseman breaks free from his shackles and picks up his blade. In a kick-ass sequence, the Horseman recreates Abraham’s duel with Crane. Flashing back and forth between the past and present, the Horseman’s snazzy maneuvers parallel Abraham’s. Crane duels in disbelief. This is impossible, he watched his friend die. How can it be? Abraham says his death was only the beginning.

As Abraham was dying, Moloch appeared to him. The Hessians clothed him with a Redcoat, shaved his head, and put on the black mask. His eyes turned white, just like the ones in the skull, and they branded his hand with the mark of a bow. Abraham made a deal with the devil to get what he always wanted. Revenge on Crane? Nope. Katrina! Abraham eerily says, “Her soul will be min once more.”

Suddenly, Brooks summons Moloch’s minions into the cell. This is not what their master wanted. Moloch forbids Crane’s death. The minions take Abraham and Brooks away. At least Brooks succeeded in saving Crane’s life. I wonder how much of it was Moloch’s doing and how much was of Brooks’ own will. Once the dust has settled, Crane has a chat with Abbie.

Ichabod feels responsible for Abraham’s fate. He was blinded by his love for Katrina and he didn’t realize that he created his own nemesis. Abbie calls him out on being arrogant and giving himself too much credit. Crane used to think Abraham was arrogant and muses, perhaps “he was a mirror to myself.” The power finally turns back on and Ichabod admits that he still prefers the candlelight. Abbie agrees that it sets a certain mood (Ooh, should we be reading into this? The writers love throwing in little winks at Ichabbie shippers.) Back to the matter at hand: Moloch spared Crane. Why? Who is Crane meant for? That mystery can be solved later, right now Ichabod is more worried about his wife. When he briefly saw her in Purgatory, Katrina said she knew why she was trapped there. Now that Ichabod knows the reason, maybe they can find a way to get her out. Katrina will be stuck in Purgatory until Death completes his mission from Moloch and rides with the other Horseman. Ichabod says, “Now more than ever we need Katrina.”

Will Abbie and Ichabod be able to initiate contact with Katrina? Must they always wait for her to establish contact through visions? Is there another way to get in touch with her damned spirit? How can you free a soul from Purgatory?


  • The Headless Horseman twist: This was a brilliant backstory for the Horseman. I had my suspicions when I saw the first flashback with Crane helping Abraham choose the necklace and then Katrina saying she chooses Crane over Abe. Love triangles never end well. I still don’t understand how a human can become Death. I really didn’t expect that. I assumed the Four Horsemen always existed as they were. It really makes me wonder where the other Horsemen came from. War, Famine and Pestilence/Conquest could’ve been human too. Will we learn their stories? Do they have history with Ichabod? This revelation really is a game-changer.
  • Katrina: It was great to see more of Katia Winter in this episode. This show has fantastic female characters. Katrina was a strong woman who tried to pave a new path in life for herself. She wanted to embrace the freedoms of the New World and she started by following her heart. Learning more about her character explains why she and Ichabod are wonderful soulmates. They both have noble qualities and they are a pair of feisty freedom fighters. I hope we get to see more of them together.
  • Moloch: The horned demon is still pulling the strings. Who does this puppet-master answer to? Does he report to Lucifer directly? He has enough clout to have his own minions even though it was surprising to see them defeated so easily. What does it take to destroy Moloch? Is he Hell’s primary deal-maker?

Next week, Abbie and Ichabod enter a haunted house. We’re in store for a good old-fashioned ghost story! I hope they pack some rock salt and keep the Winchesters on speed-dial…

Needless to say, I loved “Necromancer.” ‘Sleepy Hollow’ has been the only show of the season without a single sub-par episode. Absolutely phenomenal story-telling. Another job well done!

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