Hey, no Hawley this week. Plus an episode focused almost entirely on Ichabod and Abbie trying to crack a case, and a chance to spend some more time with Katrina; plus a scene with Tom Mison and John Noble acting like hell at each other. On the down-side, the “women impregnated against her will with a demon baby” is a hard plot to pull off, for reasons we’ll get to in a moment. Also, as solutions to a crisis go, “Benjamin Franklin replicated the Aurora Borealis in a prism he hid in an ancient tablet about raising a demon!” has novelty on its side, but not a whole lot else. Still, “Deliverance” felt solid and streamlined in a way that recent episodes have struggled with, and, while its conclusion was arguably too easy in the end, the struggles and angst leading up to that conclusion had some powerful weight behind them. This was a pleasure to watch, despite its flaws. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good voting booth scene.
Still, let’s deal with the flaws first. Namely: what’s tricky about “woman impregnated against her will with a demon baby” is that it’s a trope that looks to exploit a seemingly female-centric fear (it’s not like dudes have to worry about getting knocked up by Satan), while at the same time reducing the victim to a screaming, suffering prop. Rosemary’s Baby, by far the highpoint of the genre, avoided this by making Rosemary’s passivity both part of her charm and her tragedy, having her slowly develop a spine as she discovers the whole world really is out to get her, only for her courage and determination to come too late to stop them. In “Deliverance,” Katrina, still the least developed of the show’s leading characters, doesn’t get to do a whole lot. She does escape from Henry and Abraham’s clutches early on, but once free, her agency kind of disappears. She does manage to create a hex that warns our heroes of the arrival of Henry’s men, but once again, her witching powers are largely shoved to the side; and her one big victory, convincing Ichabod to try and change Henry’s mind, doesn’t accomplish much of anything at all, at least in the short term.
Don’t get me wrong: a character can be passive or ineffectual and still be an interesting character, and it’s not like Katrina doesn’t have quite a lot on her plate at this point. It’s just that the show still doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with her. Her plan to stay with the Horseman as a spy hasn’t really led to much of anything, and this week, she’s a victim who isn’t even able to aid in her own salvation. It’s frustrating, because otherwise this show has done well by its major female roles. Jenny (when she’s around) is edgy and fun, and Abbie is, of course, The Greatest. (Reyes, well, at least she gets to help this week.) But Katrina is like a remnant of another era of television storytelling, one where the women were long suffering and not much else. This is the lady who made Ichabod’s survival into present day possible. She should be kicking ass and taking names, not writhing on a church floor, showing off special effects on her belly.
Also, as mentioned, the bit with the prism was a little too convenient, especially after all the build-up where it seemed like something very serious had to happen. That’s always a challenge for an on-going storyline like this one; to make the audience believe that lead character might actually die, and then find a way to let them survive that doesn’t play like a goofy cheat. I don’t think “Deliverance” quite pulls that off, but hey, I didn’t want Abbie to shoot Katrina in the head or Moloch to get born (which would not have left Katrina in a well state), so I’m willing to let it slide.
Those points aside, this was fast-moving and enjoyable throughout, managing to get some classic Ichabod and Abbie banter in at the start (I could easily watch a show that was just them wandering around quipping about modern life), and being nicely topical in the bargain. Tuesday is Election Day, after all. The conversation between Ichabod and Henry really was terrific, and it’s a sign of how good John Noble is that Ichabod and Katrina’s determination to try and win their son back doesn’t come across as foolish and hopeless as it probably should. Really, I don’t care if Henry ever becomes a good guy again (I doubt he will, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a noble [ha!] sacrifice at the end of the season), but any excuse to get him on screen looking pissed off and troubled is aces in my book. The tag at the end of the episode suggests that everything that happened, up to and including Katrina’s salvation, may have been part of Henry’s plan after all. Or maybe not. Sometimes it really is better to just go along for the ride.
- Aw, sexy naked Ichabod and Katrina in bed together, chatting about their future. Sure it turns into a horrible dream, but it’s nice to see them as a happy couple, however briefly.
- Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve This Week: Low voter turnout, signs prohibiting campaigning at voting booths, and a certain proposition on this year’s ballot that is an absolute travesty. Also he’s probably not fond of his son impregnating his wife with the demon that wants to destroy the world, although that’s more implicit.
- “I must Internet. Immediately.” -Ichabod (And then, a dial-up modem! Man, that horrible cacophony takes me back.)
- The reveal that Katrina was “bearing” Moloch wasn’t as shocking as the show seemed to think it was. Although “the Horrid King” is a swell nickname.
- “They’re a friggin’ evil club. Try 666!” -Abbie, who doesn’t have a lot of patience for passwords. (I gotta side with Ichabod here; you’d think an evil cult striving to bring about the end of the world would be a little more imaginative when it comes to security.)
- Oh, and it looks like we’ve got a new status quo with Reyes: it’s a bit of a stretch, but Abbie manages to use her knowledge of Henry’s Hellfire Club associates to get into the Sheriff’s good graces. Also, Ichabod has a new “modern” identity, calling himself a “criminal profiler with an emphasis on acts of historical presentation.” That works.