Hawley’s back! So, happy news for all those Hawley-heads out there. And with Hawley comes a subplot that I’m struggling to care about: Hawley wuvs Abbie. I get why he’s into her. Any sane person with a heart is into Abbie Mills. What I don’t get is why that desire has suddenly become something that’s supposed to matter. A few weeks back, Hawley was making out with Jenny, which made sense, considering she was the one responsible for pulling him into the show in the first place. Now, Hawley’s apparently forgotten about Jenny (or maybe he decided to trade sisters, which, ugh) and is crushing on Abbie so hard that the succubus Henry sends out into Sleepy Hollow to harvest souls for baby Moloch is able to manipulate him by exploiting that desire. Hell, even Ichabod figures it out, and by the end of the episode, he’s doing what he can to nudge Abbie in Hawley’s general direction. All we need now is some sort of crisis with Katrina so the two men can fight over Abbie’s affections, and everything will just be the worst.

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It’s not that I object to Abbie having a love interest. I don’t, and given how much time Ichabod has spent this season mooning over his wife (even when he’s complaining about her, he’s mooning over), it makes sense to bring in someone else to give Abbie some sexy romantic tension of her own. But there’s no real spark between Abbie and this new guy, just like there wasn’t much of a spark between Abbie and that guy from last season who, um, did he die? I’m going to pretend he died. The design is too obvious, too schematic; there’s no chance for anything organic to develop between these characters before the writers rush in and start jamming their relationship down our throats. It doesn’t help that the person with the strongest emotional risk in this situation is the character we barely know. Abbie is largely indifferent to Hawley’s advances, although I’m sure at some point she’ll be a bit more interested as time goes on—but we shouldn’t be watching the story of some random guy trying to woo one of our main characters. This should be happening from Abbie’s perspective, and it isn’t, and in a season that’s keeps threatening to crowd her out of the action, that’s a problem.

Another problem: these discussions about whether or not Henry has any good left in him are boring, repetitive, and dramatically moot. If this was a situation where we saw our heroes routinely forced to make choices where their opinion about Henry actually affected their actions, things might be different. As is, every argument, no matter how passionately Katrina makes her case, is practically irrelevant. Abbie can roll her eyes all she wants, but so far, believing that Henry might be saved has really only lead to a single conversation between him and Ichabod—a conversation that helped neither side, changed nothing, but at least gave us a chance to watch John Noble sneer at Tom Mison. This debate will, I’m sure, become crucial at some point down the line. Noble has done the groundwork of giving Henry just enough depth to make it possible that he’s not completely gone. (Although given the number deaths he’s been responsible for, at a certain point you have to wonder if his capacity for good really matters all that much.) But until that point arrives, it’s filler in a season that keeps making bad choices when it comes to character development.

As for “Heartless,” it’s yet another mix of good (Ichabod and Katrina watching reality TV! Abbie saving the day! Monsters!) and the not so good. The forced tension between Katrina and Abbie isn’t convincing, and Ichabod’s supposed doubts about his wife are too conceptual to make for effective drama. The basics are still here—the monster kills, the cool special effects, the great quips, the creepy twists—but there so many other unfortunate decisions being made that it feels like we’re on a terrific ship that is somehow, despite our best efforts, deeply in love with icebergs. I don’t think that Sleepy Hollow has completely fallen apart; I still look forward to the show each week, and if somebody ever managed to bottle Mison and Nicole Beharie’s chemistry, you could probably save the world. But man, things need to get tighter. Bring back Jenny, stop trying to push empty romances, and come up with better reasons for our heroes to stress out.

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Oh, and give us some more creative monsters. A succubus? C’mon. I want weird shit that makes a hash out of well-known history, not an attractive women using desire as a weapon. The scene where she seduces a woman who turns out to be a (gasp!) lesbian was hilarious, but apart from that, this was sub-par, first season Supernatural crap. Even her efforts to seduce Ichabod, while apparently successful (our brave investigator somehow thinks it’s a good idea to follow the creature alone into a dark room before he knows it’s vulnerable), were unconvincing. The best that can be said of the creature is that Katrina got to help track it down and kill it, or at least she did right up until the moment when she failed and Abbie had to take over. I’m glad to see Abbie kicking ass, but as a witch who was powerful enough to save her husband from the grave, Katrina really needs to step up her game. And by “stepping up her game,” I don’t mean “deciding to go back to the Headless Horseman,” although that is exactly what happened. Sigh.

Stray observations:

  • Modern Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve This Week: Reality TV, specifically The Bachelor (although Katrina is apparently into it); dance music. Ichabod is, however, a great fan of dancing, and if the writers don’t find some excuse to make him dance before the end of the season, the world will be a sadder place.
  • The scene with the doucebaggy dude telling Becky that he wasn’t into her (because he assumes she’s hanging out with him because she wants him, even though she’s actually into his girlfriend) was hilarious. Awkward, and I’m not sure it was all that well written, but I wish that guy had died instead.
  • Why the hell would Katrina bring up the fact that the demonic creature who, once upon a time, tried to murder her husband and kidnap her against her will, also gave her that tea she likes? It makes her seem petulant and stupid.
  • Abbie’s effort to explain “getting lucky” to Ichabod was swell.

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