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Abbie and Ichabod face off against an old friend

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So that was good, right? Solid character work, a steady sense of pacing, and a fun, loopy story about re-animated monsters and the women they want to love. It doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny (if nothing else, Ichabod and Abbie’s nonchalance at releasing the Kindred and Kindress into the wild borders on negligence; given what he was willing to do for a wife, what did they think would happen if the couple ever wanted children?), but scrutiny has never really been the goal here. By and large, “Kindred Spirits” is the sort of solidly entertaining and likable hour that makes me glad the show got a third season; whatever its faults, this is something I don’t regret watching.

But let’s get those faults out of the way, all right? The hour has us check in in on Pandora and the Hidden One, who’s very excited to have the Kindred serve as his second in command, and these scenes continue to be something of a drag. They aren’t as terrible as they could be, and the growing rift between Pandora and the Hidden One is potentially interesting (anyone want to bet she seizes power back somehow before the end of the season?), but these aren’t scary or exciting villains. That’s not a disaster, but it does rob the show of a good part of its tension.

I’m still not a fan of Betsy Ross. The show has been smart in its use of historical figures in the past, using famous names from the American Revolution as cameos to give Ichabod’s past texture and import. Ross has been positioned as a replacement for Katrina, and the effect borders on ludicrous; she isn’t simply a badass spy (which, sure, fine, why not), she was apparently involved in nearly every plot thread running this season. Crane’s past has become less and less effective as the series goes on, and Ross can’t really be blamed for that. But she’s such a generic figure that it’s hard not see her as a distraction from the people we actually care about.

Speaking of, Abbie is back! And she and Ichabod are bonding again, albeit it with some awkwardness, as Abbie struggles to deal with the stress of returning to her old life. This stress is a smart choice, for both character and story; while Abbie’s time on the Other Side was short to us, it ate up months of her life, and by having her return so quickly while still suffering the effects of her isolation means the writers get to have the cake of her and Ichabod’s chemistry, while still eating the delicious tension of the mid-season twist. (That is a terrible sentence.) The end of the episode suggests that Abbie saw things we weren’t privy to, and that suggests potential story outlets. So despite my minor qualms last week. the whole “what other dimension can we throw our heroine into?” plot is going well.

The return of the Kindred is a decent call-back, although neither Ichabod or Abbie show much in the way of regret for the multiple deaths the monster has caused; hell, they even decide that the best way to fight a monster they brought to life to fight another is to, well, bring another monster to life. That it works, and that the Hidden One destroys the Kindreds in a fit of pique, is more luck than anything else. But at least we got some closure.

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Better still is the show’s handling of Zoe Corinth, Ichabod’s love interest from the first half of the season. Ever since we first met Zoe, I’ve worried she was going to be brutally murdered in a misguided attempt to shock us, but while that possibility is still technically on the table, if this is the last we see of Miss Corinth, it will be a fitting, and effectively bittersweet, conclusion. In the wake of Abbie’s disappearance, Ichabod let other concerns slide, and that meant not letting Zoe know what he was doing, or even that he was still alive. (She accuses him of “ghosting,” which leads to some surprisingly funny dialogue.) This makes sense for both characters, and it’s refreshing to see a protagonist’s love interest so willing to stand up for herself and refuse to take any shit from the protagonist. This also leads to a terrific struggle for Ichabod, forced into a situation where he really does have a legitimate (if not entirely exculpatory) excuse, but can’t explain himself for fear of being labeled a lunatic.

Anyway, it all leads inevitably to Zoe getting kidnapped by the Kindred, but at least she doesn’t end up dead, and her exit is about as well-realized as you can hope for when it comes to “secondary characters we present as potential romantic partners but let’s be honest, it’s not going to last” types. Really, the character work was by far the strongest element of the episode, with all of the main cast getting at least a moment or two to shine. And that’s important, arguably even more important than the show’s ability to generate scares or offer thrilling villains again. At this point, Sleepy Hollow’s best chance for survival is to embrace the warmth and charisma of its leads, and provide them with ample, likable support. The scares and monsters are always going to be somewhat hit or miss (it’s’ like an anthology show in that regard), but so long as Ichabod and Abbie keep getting room to do their thing, there’ll be reason to tune in.

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Stray observations

  • Modern Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve Of This Week: He’s not big on our houseplants, although this might be because he accidentally killed all of Abbie’s.
  • We could use some better cold opens. Having the Kindred interrupt a rape by murdering the rapist was fine, but then having the women be so delighted by her escape that she decides to hang around the scene and get some info on the hulking stranger who just murdered the guy who was attacking her shows a fairly immense misunderstanding of how we react to violent assault. (Honestly, this plays like someone saw the Biff/George/Lorraine fight in Back To The Future and thought, “What if George was an undead monster?”)
  • “You’re my Wilson.” -Abbie, to Ichabod, re: his imaginary presence in the other place.
  • “When did you learn to read Franklin?” “You were abroad for a year and I got bored.” Abbie is awesome.
  • “And that’s off the bucket list.” -Joe. Have I mentioned I like Joe? He and Jenny are fun together, and he’s a lot more likable than Hawley.
  • The Kindress? Seriously? Seriously.
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