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SLEEPY HOLLOW Recap: “The People Vs Ichabod Crane”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 6 years ago


By Clara Pullman

Last week’s Sleepy Hollow was a nicely paced “race against a baddie.” This week was more ruminative, as Crane grappled with his past and Diana with her future. Ultimately, the episode wasn’t so much about moving plot forward — although it did do that in two significant ways — but solidifying the team that makes up Sleepy Hollow season 4, and emphasizing the ties that bind them — with each other and all the others who came before them.

The episode’s action took place in two parallel stories – with Crane on trial in his own mind for his failures as a Witness and a friend, and the rest of the team working together to rescue him. This set up gave us opportunities for fresh pairings, as Jenny and Diana worked together, and Alex finally ventured out of the Vault to join Jake as a true member of team Witness.

By pairing up them up without Crane in the middle, Jenny can become the guide for Diana in accepting her daughter’s role as Witness — and to see that these strange people that have crashed into her life will help her with the challenges ahead. I’ve been hoping this season would start to let Jenny peel off onto her own storylines, rather than being teamed with Crane every week, so these scenes were welcome. Lyndie Greenwood continues to be the emotional anchor for the reboot and she can do so many things — she’s affecting in her scenes with Diana, talking about Jenny and Abbie’s traumatic and chaotic childhood, and then she turns around shows us Jenny kicking butt and taking names. Jenny playing the “dumb girl” after she’s caught breaking into a military base was one of the best things ever. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Of course, Jenny’s first attempt to get through to Diana starts on shaky ground, with Diana suspicious of Jenny and giving no quarter on letting her daughter learn she is a Witness. Jenny figures her conversation would have gone better with Crane there, with his gift of gab, but he’s missing. Which leads us to the discovery of the creepy baddie of the week: a demon spider that has entombed Crane in a cocoon that will drive him to take his own life … unless Jenny, Diana, Alex and Jake can save him, of course.

Without Crane around, it’s up to Jake to play the role of explainer in chief, telling the team that the demon spider sounds like a story written by one Grace Dixon, about the despair that overtook the Revolutionary army at Valley Forge. (They always seem to work out the complicated demonic force of the week quickly, don’t they? I mean, I get they only have an hour but man everyone on this show has a lot of arcane historical trivia at their fingertips.) This spider works on its victim’s mind, creating the illusion of a “spiritual trial” that feeds off the victim’s despair and regret and leads him to suicide. Once the victim succumbs, the demon spider is empowered to infect others around him.

This is the parallel story line: Crane facing a spiritual trial, created by his own mind from his own guilt, and presided over by his dead son, Henry Parrish. This scenario seems mostly concocted to give Tom Mison and John Noble a chance to go “mano a mano” again — and that is a perfectly sound reason.

In the illusory courtroom, Henry masterfully manipulates Crane’s over-developed sense of responsibility and his overconfidence in his own ability to argue his way out of anything.  Somehow John Noble makes us see Henry as the perpetually aggrieved child that he is, and Tom Mison effortlessly portrays Crane’s constantly shifting emotions throughout his trial – he’s alternately desperate, defensive, cocky, agitated, rattled and ultimately, is done in.

Tom Mison in the "People v. Ichabod Crane" episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW | Co. CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

Tom Mison in the “People v. Ichabod Crane” episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW | Co. CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

This is where we get to move the plot forward, as Diana understands that Crane needs an anchor to bring him back. And that anchor is her daughter. Janina Gavankar nicely portrayed Diana’s conflicted feelings as she realizes that she can’t keep her daughter from her destiny, and Molly saves Crane by uttering the word “hope,” bringing him from the brink of suicide back to the real world.

The second plot development in this episode concerns Malcolm. This week we FINALLY got the baddie we wanted – powerful, menacing, and lethal. I speak, of course, of Jobe, who is starting to look more like the boss than the consigliere. Malcolm was mostly busy spinning on his stationary bike in his one scene, but he did drop one big revelation: looks like he may have sold his soul for real. He is also still laser focused on those talismans and putting them together and I really hope that turns out better than the tree of dead roses that Pandora spent the first half of Season 3 collecting.

Oh and did I mention that Henry’s face mysteriously appeared in a jar of spider demon goo that the normally precise Alex carelessly leaves behind in the Not The Archives?

This episode feels like the end of a first chapter in the season, now that Diana has allowed her daughter to begin to take on her role as Witness. “We have much to discuss,” Crane tells her once he awakes from his spell, and with the first chapter ended, it’s not clear where the show will take them next. So far this season seems free of the filler that padded out the 18-episode long seasons 2 and 3. The shorter season works well for Sleepy Hollow – its best season, the first, had just 13 episodes too.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the storyline has been handled well so far. Having been not at all enthusiastic about a kid on Team Witness, credit to the writers: having the Witness be this child has been clever so far. By splitting off the “Witness” from “Crane’s partner in battling evil,” they’ve done two things. First, they avoid the problem of the Witness being compared to Abbie – which would have been inevitable and, let’s face it, would not have gone well – or being just Abbie 2.0.

But it also gives the show different character relationships to explore. Diana takes the role of Crane’s partner in battling evil, but she’s not the person who shares a Witness bond with Crane and indeed is the “gatekeeper” for the Witness. What’s not clear at this point is where they can take this scenario next.

Crane seems to have taken on a fatherly attitude toward her and my guess is he will act as her teacher in what is to come as a Witness. I hope Jenny plays a role here too — providing her insight from what she and Abbie’s experienced. The scenes with Jenny sharing the traumas of hers and Abbie’s childhood, were some of the most affecting of the episode.

Having sat through some pretty bad creative choices on this show in season 3, I’m not ready yet to come off the fence on season 4. But the first four episodes have been enjoyable to watch.

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