By Clara Pullman
It was perhaps not as high flying as last week’s episode, but Sleepy Hollow’s “Freedom” finale afforded much needed time for emotional beats among the characters. And if the predicaments we found our heroes in were resolved a bit too easily, it’s not surprising given how many storylines needed to be wrapped up in one short hour, with time for commercials. It’s a relatively minor quibble, because having tied up most the season’s mysteries, the finale seemed designed to leave viewers satisfied if we never get to see these characters again, and to leave open some intriguing possibilities if there is a season five.
The finale was also a chance to let long time viewers experience a few of Sleepy Hollow’s greatest hits one last time. Crane having an odd encounter with the modern world? Check. Spectacular creatures from hell? Check. Twistory flashbacks? Check. Wanton destruction of property in the pursuit of supernatural weapons? Check.
And, the episode allowed Tom Mison to show his great range with this character. After having been oddly absent for the last several episodes, Crane was a featured player for most of the episode’s key scenes. Crane with Lara, with the devil, with Henry, with Malcolm, with Jenny, and with Diana and Molly – if this was the last time we saw Mison as Ichabod Crane, it was a fitting finale, with him showing all the different layers of this odd character he helped bring to life.
The episode title, Freedom, was neatly played out for Jobe, Henry, Molly, the country itself, and even Lara, who left the episode heading out on a walkabout to find her place in the world. Sound familiar? The shift from a child Witness to the grown up version, but one that is now out of time and in a world not of her own making, was one of the season’s cleverest moves. And one that left us with two Witnesses who share this fate of being adrift.
The scene between Lara and Crane in hell – Molly’s and Crane’s different hells – was one of the best of the finale. It did feel odd and bittersweet at first to see Ichabod and his fellow Witness standing together, reciting a strange incantation and disappearing into an alternate world. But their conversation in hell – switching back and forth between Crane in a wintry Valley Forge and Lara in the institution where Molly was sent – was a terrific bit of filming. We see Crane continue to act as a guide and protector for the grown up, out of time version of Molly – while she continues to be emotionally guarded and wary.
And on the subject of hell…one of Sleepy Hollow’s strengths has always been its ability to snag highly respected veteran actors for guest or supporting roles. John Noble, Bill Irwin, Clancy Brown, Peter Mensah. And we can add Terrance Mann to that list. His version of Satan was, ahem, devilishly fun. I love the conception of hell as a gleaming white, coldly modern space. It looked like a hyper modern, high tech hotel lobby (which, erm, it possibly was, if I recall my Atlanta hotels…). The glowing red tectonic plates on the devil’s face was one of the creepiest effects I’ve seen on Sleepy Hollow. The show has always had stellar visual effects and that was certainly on display one last time. I could have spent much more time with Crane and the Devil facing off against each other, but what we did get was tantalizing if the show does return for a 5th season.
Meanwhile back at the NotTheArchives, the gang’s focus was on how to battle the Four Horseman who had finally been loosed as Dreyfuss’s supernatural henchman. Which, does seem a bit of comedown from serving Moloch but Jobe could probably comment on how that feels. Malcolm and the Horseman invaded Camp David and took the president captive. There was also a nice visual callback with Headless’ red hot broad axe slicing through the door to the inner chamber where the president was captured.
The gang’s research led to another gift from the writers to long time fans: seeing the creation of the Archives by Benjamin Banneker and George Washington. We even got to see the Crossing the Delaware painting, at the moment when they painted over Betsy Ross but left her tricorn hat. So many great sets on Sleepy Hollow, but Archives, I think I’ll miss you most. Oh, and we learned the origin of the phrase E Pluribus unum. Turns out it was Banneker’s suggestion to George Washington. Who knew?
I didn’t expect to see much humor in this episode — what with all the major storylines to tie up and the averting of the Apocalypse and all — but we did get a few. Crane telling Diana that he’s successfully managed to return from purgatory, the catacombs and New Jersey. The cable guy showing up to install “Itchy-Bob’s” high speed internet. Jake’s usual adorable awkwardness.
I do wish we had seen a little more of Jenny and Crane in this episode, and more about whether Jenny will follow her wanderlust or remain with Crane and the rest of the agency 355 team. Fortunately, Jenny and Crane’s bond with each other is so clear that it doesn’t take much to show it. The opening scene of them, in a trance state together; their happy embrace when he makes it back from hell, and the two of them facing the president as she appoints them official members of agency 355 — those were enough for Mison and Lyndie Greenwood, who has given another lovely and layered performance as Jenny this season, to convey the bond these characters have developed.
But back to the action, which takes place, naturally, in the woods. Crane, once again confronted Henry, convinced as always of his ability to talk his way out of a situation. He finally found success this time, but Henry’s decision to choose “freedom” over War seemed a little unconvincing. Then he and Diana are off to save the president, who is being held captive inside Camp David, where finally everyone’s favorite demon Jobe got his freedom from Dreyfuss. After a season of us all wondering why, as Lara put it, he was satisfied with running Dreyfuss’s errands, Jobe finally realized — hey, I’m a badass, smartly dressed prince of pain and….he’s Malcolm Dreyfuss. And disappeared back to hell with Malcolm in a ball of fire.
Oh and also the gang defeated the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.
That was a little anticlimactic, to be honest. We did see Alex finally confess her feelings to Jake right before battling the Four Horseman, as one does. And Lara and Diana had a moment together in which to bring some closure to that relationship. But the Horseman, while they did look spectacular, were fairly easily dispatched in the end.
Continuing on the thread tying up, I found Molly’s release from being a Witness a bit abrupt. One minute she was this special kid who would be trained and protected by Diana and Crane and the next she’s back to a normal grade schooler with a talent for drawing. I didn’t totally understand why the Witness mantle would be removed from her other than it’s convenient?
Of course, there is one person who doesn’t get his freedom in the end. Crane, who bargained his soul to the devil to secure the philosopher’s stone, setting up an intriguing dilemma for Crane if the show does return for another season. But what Crane did get was his long-coming citizenship. Continuing with season four’s attempts to tie up loose threads from previous season, Crane was finally made a U.S. citizen, with the ceremony performed by the president herself. (Can a president just do that?)
It was a treat to see Crane back in his apartment briefly, relaxing after averting the Apocalypse with some old school jazz (I never really bought that Crane was an aficionado of 80’s English pop) and filling out his voter registration. (Although he may be unimpressed when he learns that as a resident of Washington D.C. he doesn’t actually get voting representatives in Congress.) And the final scene with Crane and Diana gave us one last very cool monster, and ended with Crane seeming to be settled into his new world. Which is not a bad place to end things.