WARNING: A SPOILER on both your houses!
This week’s episode is getting back on the horse again. But this time, we’re eschewing the Horseman of Death in favor of his spiffy (if inexplicably Samurai attired) riding buddy, Pestilence, who’s determined to go viral by scaring a little Elizabethan boy (Matthew Lintz, Banshee, Revolution) right out of his century and into modern day Sleepy Hollow. Never mind that the creepy little girl who lures him into a game of ghost tag is never properly explained, it’s an appropriately spooky opener, capped with the very nice CGI touch of Pestilence exploding into a noxious cloud of what looks like deadly airborne pathogens.
We’re not given any time to ruminate on that spectacle, however, as the very next scene gives us Abbie helping to move Ichabod into Sheriff Clancy’s now vacated and apparently squatting-ready cabin. The rustic and (thanks to last week’s ep) seriously bullet ridden ol’ place may not be to Abbie’s tastes, but it marks a big step up residence-wise for Ichabod, who clearly had had enough of the motel room; especially since no one seems to have given him any change for the Magic Fingers Mattress Massage.
The fact is, poor Ichabod seems more confused and irritated than dazzled by the modern world, and treats most of the 21st century marvels like a crotchety old grandad treats neighbor kids on his lawn. Even a poofy shower sponge leaves him perplexed and the plastic clam shell protecting a new razor nearly drives him to violence (though, to be fair, whoever designed that type of packaging was clearly a minion of the devil).
He does muse for a moment on the possibility that his look just might be a wee bit 232 years ago (not 250, as the premiere insisted, unless this show is set in 2031). But the point is cast aside and dropped. A pity, since: 1. An Ichabod fashion model montage would be awesome and 2. I realize that the rules for hygiene were considerably less stringent in Ichy’s time, but he was buried in that get-up and even by dicey 18th century standards, it must be getting really ripe by now.
My suggestion? Keep the sexy coat and boots and hightail it to the Sleepy Hollow Louis Vuitton outlet for everything in-between. Am I right? Show of hands.
I’m also beginning to wonder if the show will ever get around to addressing the fact that Ichabod has no ID, no money, no viable source of income, and in fact, no visible means of support beyond Abbie’s daily deliveries of doughnut holes, coffee and Red Bull.
It’s certainly not on the to-do list this week, as Abbie gets a call about an unconscious boy found on the road and our daring duo fairly swoops out the door to find out what’s what. Which, no surprise, turns out to be the kid from the opening scene, now stretched out on a gurney, surrounded by police and paramedics, and covered by a growing network of suspiciously pestilence-ish black veins.
Amongst the cops in attendance is Abbie’s stalkery ex and top soon-to-be-unwitting-tool-of-evil contender, Det. Luke Morales (Nicholas Gonzalez, Resurrection Blvd., The O.C.), who wastes no time making jealous snippyface comments to Abbie about her new and improved leading man accessory.
A cursory appraisal of the boy’s RenFaire cosplay duds, plus a sudden blurting of Chaucerian speak is enough to make a tallow candle flash over Ichabod’s head: Why, the tyke is speaking Middle English! He, therefor, must be from the Middle Ages! All of which is dandy and even kind’a cool from a dialectical quirk POV. There’s just one teensy little problem: Just two scenes later, Ichabod has a nice antique chit chat with the kid, in which it’s established that his name is Thomas Grey and he hails from Roanoke …as in the island in North Carolina …as in the infamous colony that went mysteriously AWOL in 1590 …about 120 years after Middle English went to the Great Linguistic Scrapyard in the Sky. Tommy should no more speak Middle English than Ichabod should speak Klingon.
Still, the Sleepy Hollow production company paid for that snazzy subtitling program and damn it, they’re going to find ways to use it if it kills them!
Abbie and Ichabod go looking for clues in their secret Scooby Gang library. All the while arguing whether or not Tommy could possibly be a time traveling disease vector, as if they hadn’t already filmed four previous episodes of USDA prime grade weirdness on the hoof. The debate is cut short by a call from Captain Irving, alerting them not only to Tommy’s worsening condition, but to the news that his black vein look is really catching on with the hospital staff. In particular, the paramedic who gave him CPR; now in the ICU doing an amazing impression of a topographical map of the Ganges. One last seizure provides the hapless fellow with a dying vision of Pestilence riding toward him between two oblivious hazmatted medics like a really pissed-off escapee from a Kurosawa movie.
As Abbie and Ichabod go traipsing through the woods in search of plague infested lost colonies, Detective Luke continues his sport griping about the mysterious Oxford professor horning in on his
girlfriend turf. Despite being told to back off and chill by both Captain Irving and his desk buddy, Jones, it’s pretty much written in the stars (or, better still, the script) that Detective Luke will be scratching that stalkery itch real soon now.
Back in the tulgey wood, Abbs and Ichs skip several steps in their relationship by moving straight to old married couple style snarking as they track Tommy’s steps back to his point of origin. Ichabod scores major Master Tracker points along the way by locating Tommy’s path via discovery of a nifty, if misanthropic, plant that closes at the merest human touch. He then loses them all entirely by asserting he got his super tracking powers by fox hunting; a “sport” that actually requires only the tracking skills necessary to follow a pack of hounds whilst not falling off a horse.
This info-dollop seems to have been ladled on more to clarify Ichabod’s high born upbringing, than boy scout skill set; a factoid that I suspect will come into some importance somewhere down the episodic line.
A quick snick back to the hospital for some expository rambling brings us up to speed about the spreading disease, the complete lack of defenses against it and the results of little Tommy’s blood panel, which reveals no common antibodies and no sign of any vaccination. A fact Captain Irving reacts to with deep concern as he realizes that the boy might really be a time traveler. Or else, a previously unknown offspring of Jenny McCarthy.
At last we reach a watery impasse. Tommy’s footprints end at a shoreline across from a cute little mini island with no possible means of access – except for the secret path marked by a couple of trees that Ichabod notices with those super fox-tracking powers, ’cause foxes are known for marking their hidden dens with elaborate wood carvings.
Eerie music, soft-focus filters and tilted camera angles borrowed from this season’s American Horror Story clue the viewer in that our twosome are crossing some kind of reality barrier before finally stepping into the heart of Contagion Williamsburg. It’s not quite the happiest place on earth, what with the black vein disease being all the rage with the locals. Still, nobody seems to be dying and there are no poofy bath sponges or plastic clam shells anywhere to be seen, which immediately brings a smile to Ichabod’s face. More importantly, exposition needs to be doled out and the subtitle editor has been cleared for overtime.
With no further adieu, the village elder explains how the Horseman of Pestilence blazed through their settlement infecting everyone and killing off the youngest colonist, Virginia Dare, who then spirit guided the lot of them to the safety of the islet. Bringing Tommy back to take the cure, he insists, is the only means of saving him and stopping the plague in its veiny tracks.
After a brief stop for Ichabod to accept thanks from Tommy’s dad and Abbie to refuse a little girl’s gift of a nasty shrub (which Abbie doesn’t seem to react to, but which alert viewers may recognize as a fully flowering sample of that human hating weed Ichabod pointed out on the trail), the two return to the hospital trying to work out just how to get Tommy out of the clutches of the CDC. They don’t get much time to mull on this, however, before Ichabod realizes he’s been infected and gets taken down and hauled off by fascist medical personnel.
On the upside, no sooner does Ichabod fall unconscious than he finds himself whisked off to Katrina’s forest purgatory where she greets him with the cheery news that he must be dead.
Back in the hospital, Detective Luke is busily being a dick by answering a return call from Oxford U about Ichabod’s professorial and police loaner creds. To his and the audience’s surprise, an unknown British female’s voice confirms he’s on the up and up. This might allay conspiratorial fantasies in Luke’s head, but it sends them spinning into orbit for the viewers at home.
Abbie is devastated. And after having her “capture and release” suggestion for Tommy and Ichabod shockingly rebuffed by Captain Irving, she retreats to the hospital chapel to have a heart-to-heart with the Big Guy. Having already gone through the first two stages of grief, denial and anger, she moves straight to bargaining, then blows through depression and acceptance, all in less time than it takes most people to order a pizza. A reminder that Sleepy Hollow does not dawdle around.
On the way out, Abbie notices the font of holy water and has a Eureka! moment, realizing that the cure must be in the waters of the village spring! Ironic, coming in the wake of recent real world news of researchers finding holy water contaminated with bacteria and fecal matter. In other words, holy water was full of – well, you know.
Back in the forest of Arden, Ichabod and Katrina are having the world’s dullest romantic reunion. This scene should be awesome, but Katrina just hasn’t been developed into enough of a character to care about her. Factually, we may know she’s the love of Ichy’s life, but practically, she’s just a weepy woodland chick in black colonial lingerie who shows up to deliver exposition. This time, it’s that she’s trapped by Moloch for a particular, awful, haunting, damning, omg, you sooo won’t believe it when I tell you reason. A reason she hints and teases and dances around telling until oops! Too late! Ichabod is dragged out of pergland and back to consciousness, none the wiser. Screw you, Katrina.
Armed with new wild supposition that the spring waters are magical, Abbie is able to convince Captain Irving (who is surely either a secret, all-knowing sorcerer or the most gullible dupe on the face of the earth) that Ichabod and Tommy must be smuggled out of the ICU for a dip in the village spring. The Captain actually concocts the very plan involving patient transfer and Abbie hijacks the ambulance.
This episode wanders back to the woods more often than a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and lo, we soon see Abbie, Ichabod and a semi-conscious Tommy staggering through the trees. Ichabod almost quits, but Abbie spurs him on with a pep talk and a very convenient shot of adrenaline, which Ichy takes to even faster than doughnut holes.
Off they sprint, only steps ahead of Pestilence. Ichabod has just enough time to dunk himself and Tommy in the spring and come up again before the horseman roars into town and bursts into a disinfected germy mist.
But before Abbie and Ichabod can crow about being right, they’re blinded by a white light which sweeps away the village and its inhabitants and leaves them standing in the forest, alone. “We’ve seen dead people” is pretty much the takeaway and Captain Irving phones to let Abbie know that all the sick people have recovered completely. Well, except for that one paramedic guy who, I think it’s fair to guess, is still dead. Sorry, bit player symbol of the futility of modern medicine in a prime time series! Sucks to be you!
As they wander out of the Hundred Acre Wood, Abbie tells Ichabod that she was afraid he wanted to stay in the village of the doomed, and the look on his face confirms she was right. Forget that this makes about as much sense as a typical 21st century person wanting to live – for all eternity – in a 19th century Hawaiian leper colony. The point is, Abbie uses the moment to convince Ichabod that he’s wanted and needed in the here and now and he seems to grudgingly accept that. As he voiceovers the plans they must make to steel themselves against the evil to come, the evil, well, comes. Popping up out of the lake where he’s apparently made himself a cozy, if damp, bachelor pad, the Headless Horseman mounts up and rides through the woods, bar-b-cueing as he goes and proving that even the heralds of the Apocalypse overdo the lighter fuel.
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