The old “sowing discord between leading characters” trick is pretty standard for on-going dramas—it’s hard to have a show in which the whole ensemble always agrees all the time—but trying to turn a hero over to the dark side is a bigger challenge, especially if you want the end result of that transition to be a question of significant suspense. To whit: Katrina’s time with Abraham. I’m still not sure what good her staying with the Headless Horeseman has done for our heroes, but putting that to one side for now, her loyalties did not, at first, appear to be in serious jeopardy. Abraham wants to tempt her over to the baddies’ side, but given that Katrina loves her husband (so far as we’ve ever seen) and, just as importantly, knows that working with Abraham would literally be helping to bring about the end of the world—well, the temptation is going to have to be a whole lot better than a dingy house, proper manners, and the occasional snack.
“The Weeping Lady” finally gives us a glimpse of how Abraham and Henry might finally find a way to drive a wedge between the Cranes. Henry, going through a box of Katrina’s things, finally finds a sin he can use against her: long ago, back when Katrina was still engaged to Abraham and she and Ichabod were exchanging no more than meaningful, ambiguous glances, a woman from Ichabod’s past arrived in Sleepy Hollow, intent on bringing him back home to England. The woman (Mary) is fixated on Ichabod, and immediately realizes that he and Katrina have some sort of connection (or else she’s just a horribly jealous caricature and would’ve freaked out if Ichabod had been talking to a cow for too long; I’m trying to give the writers some benefit of the doubt, although in this case they probably don’t deserve it). She confronts Katrina about this, and during the confrontation, falls to her death, through no real fault of Katrina’s.
All of this comes out over the course of the episode, because the problem isn’t so much that Mary died (although that is rather sad), but that Katrina covered up her death, and faked a letter to Ichabod in Mary’s writing freeing him from whatever obligation he might have had to her. Henry powers up Mary’s ghost (already a local, harmless legend called the “Weeping Lady”), and the ghost starts attacking any woman Ichabod appears close to. She only makes one successful kill, a nice woman named Caroline who was deeply in love with colonial times. An enthusiastic historical reenactor and a talented seamstress, Caroline had been helping to provide Ichabod with clothes. She’s one of the episode’s brighter elements: Creating a completely new character (well, not completely; was Caroline in the camp from the first season?) who needs to be believably important to Ichabod so that her death can have have both narrative and emotional weight isn’t an easy task, and it comes off well enough.
A little too well, in fact. The knowledge that Ichabod’s been spending his spare time with colonial reenactors is a nice follow-up to the scene last season when he stumbled across a group and critiqued their props; it’s also a delightful and intriguing bit of characterization that here is used largely as background noise. Props to the show for trying to give Caroline’s death some meaning, and for not turning the colonial stuff into a once off gag, but the scene of Ichabod apologizing to her for an awkward earlier conversation had more authentic, unexpected sweetness to it than anything else in the hour. It set a tone that was almost immediately disrupted when the Weeping Lady struck, and we realized that everything had just been a setup for another murder.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be dying on Sleepy Hollow. It’s a crazy monster show, and you can’t really have a crazy monster show without some murdering. And the Weeping Lady effect looked absolutely terrific. Mary’s backstory wasn’t great; the script tried to ultimately make her out as a tragic figure, but leaned way too hard on the “she’s insanely jealous!” card early on. Plus, the reveal about her death was so contrived as to be almost comical—it’s the most obvious “We need to get Katrina’s hands dirty, but she can’t actually have killed anyone” twist imaginable. But at least it provides a clear sense of who she was, and the effort to let her be more than just an evil murdering ghost is appreciated.
Speaking of villains, the time we get with Henry is, if limited, exceptional; his efforts to ruin Katrina and Ichabod’s day go swimmingly, but Moloch still beats him up and yells at him for taking the initiative. The last shot of the episode finds Henry sprawled on the floor of his room weeping like a broken little boy, and it suggests a surprising complexity to his role in all this—an evil mastermind who really just wants someone, anyone, to tell him he’s done well.
The problem, then, lies with our heroes. Ichabod and Abbie are as fine as ever, but the attempts to build a good-guy world around them remain surprisingly off-kilter. No Irving this week, and Jenny only shows up for a scene at the very end, but we do get multiple servings of Hawley, and I don’t really understand why. I don’t despise the character; his Poochie-ness is undeniable, and I wouldn’t be sad if he was sent back to his home planet sometime soon, but the actor isn’t an embarrassment or anything. But he just feels so awkwardly grafted on, as though someone got a note about making sure there was another hot white dude on the show, and here we are. The core of the show remains, as ever: Abbie and Ichabod hunting creatures, trying to prevent the end of the world. But there are too many unnecessary distractions cluttering up the sight-lines. In five minutes, we met someone new who actually had a legitimate reason for being a part of our heroes’ lives—and then she died, and we were stuck with Faux Sawyer and his Van Helsing bullshit.
- Things Of Which Ichabod Doth Not Approve Of This Week: Texting apologies, emoticons (i.e. “A grimacing lemon caricature.”), the many, many lies his wife has told him, Hawley.
- Speaking of these lies, Ichabod listing just how many times Katrina has concealed things from him was a smart way to create tension between the characters. We could still use a Katrina-centric flashback episode, because her character still feels a bit fuzzy around the edges; unlike Ichabod, she hasn’t had a chance to go gallivanting about the modern world. But it’s clear she’s a mind of her own, and, to a degree, this helps justify her decision to stay with Abraham at the start of the season. She’s big on risks.
- Katrina contrives to send a note to Ichabod by blackbird? Very cool. The fact that the letter provides no useful information (apart from “I love you”) and exists solely so it can fall into the hands of the Weeping Lady and facilitate the plot is not so cool.
- Jenny kissed Hawley. This is the best way you can think of to get Jenny back on the show? C’mon.