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SLEEPY HOLLOW’S “Dark Mirror” Proves to be a Wild Ride

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 6 years ago


By Chris B.

Buckle up, Sleepyheads; “Dark Mirror” is a wild ride.

While relatively benign, brunch at the Mills/Crane home reveals two relevant items.  First, Crane’s citizenship has hit a snag; he’s missed a critical interview while rescuing Abbie, but Jenny’s assurances of solving this problem the American way (i.e. throw gobs of money at it) thanks to Joe’s inheritance, quell his concerns.  Also, Crane and Jenny both know that something is off with Abbie, but both are smart enough to realize that pressing her to talk will only cause her to retreat further.

The normalcy is quickly disrupted by a call to a crime scene where two professors were murdered with a “menagerie of evil” which Crane deduces is from a legend of his time, the Jersey Devil.  Though Abbie laments, “It would be nice if just once, the story were just a story,” this one has apparently come to life, complete with “the skin of a snake, the head of a goat, and the sting of a scorpion.”  Japeth Leeds, a scientist and Franklin rival, was the Colonies’ answer to Victor Frankenstein, with a bit of Hawthorne’s Aylmer thrown in.  But while Aylmer used his wife, Leeds experiments on himself.  He drinks one of his own potions, convulses, then emerges as the lethal conglomeration of animal parts.

Truth Takes Time

“Dark Mirror” has both of the Witnesses coming to terms with a difficult realization.  Crane’s is definitely the milder of the two: despite years of raging against Benjamin Franklin as a “blowhard, braggart, and gasbag,” he is forced, in his own way, to give the devil his due.  During the brunch, Crane firmly declines Joe’s spoon-to-the-nose trick as it had been “Franklin’s parlor trick. Not always on his nose…”  This Founding Father seems to have frustrated and embarrassed his young apprentice no end; still, we see a younger Crane blanch at Leeds’s harsh criticism of Franklin and at Crane’s choice to remain under his tutelage.  Later, our Crane pronounces Franklin correct that Leeds is little more than “an amoral abomination.”  Ultimately, he gives Leeds a satisfying send-off in the old boy’s name:  “I was mentored by one of the greatest minds in history; Benjamin Franklin sends his regards.”

Abbie’s battle is far more profound.  Her obsession with the symbol from the Catacombs reaches a breaking point.  First, when she is flooded by images on her morning run, she hurries home with apparent desperation, draping herself across the wall shrine, as if its presence is the only thing that staves off the tumult of flashbacks.  Then, she deftly sidetracks Jenny as the latter is about to pull aside the shrine’s curtain.

Yet it is not until Crane has been stung by Leeds’s scorpion tail and lays dying on the floor of the alchemist’s lab, begging for her help, do we see how greatly she suffers.  Nicole Beharie does a superb job of juggling a huge range of emotion in a very short time.  While Crane writhes in pain, whispering, “Lieutenant, please…Abbie,” she has gone numb, entranced by the golden symbol on the table.  Critical seconds pass before she returns to herself; just as she had when Crane is stabbed by the Ripper, just as she did in The Catacombs, she orders him firmly, “Stay with me!”  She remixes the antidote and feeds it to him.  But in her panic, she has grabbed for the charm, clutching it and Crane to her chest, silently praying.  When he rouses, she can barely look him in the eye.  At long last, she confesses to him the encompassing need that has plagued her for months, that tracing it was one of the few things during her isolation that gave her peace.  It was her drug, her one distraction from the torture of a never-ending day, one without the gift of sleep or dreams.  And her addiction to it almost cost her partner his life, again.

Later, when Crane apologizes to Abbie for not exhibiting enough understanding for her plight (and no one can tell me he did not start to reach for her hand when he sits down), Abbie is finally ready to show the real depth of her inner strength by allowing herself to admit to vulnerability.  She will no longer take refuge in the lies that she recited inside her head.  She effectively enters the 12-Step Program for symbols and admits that she has a problem, hands over the pendant, and finally utters the words that we have longed to hear her say: “I need your help, Crane.”  What Abbie has endured is heavy, and the weight of it can only be carried together.  And though he scarcely moves a muscle, Tom Mison’s subtle expertise makes evident a final truth: Crane has needed to hear those words, too.

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