Welcome back to Sleepy Hollow, the show determined to condense a season's worth of X-Files Across America's monster-of-the-week episodes into the environs of a single town! In "Go Where I Send Thee", we get The Pied Piper and his bone flute. For serious.
When the show got a longer second-season order, there was concern that the breakneck pacing of the first season, which gave you very little time to worry about things like plot holes, would suffer with all this new room; more chances to stumble. And there's definitely some of that here, particularly Hawley, who shows up to Han Solo all over the place for the second time in two episodes, which seems like an awfully high ratio of suddenly running into a guy you never saw last season. But sometimes a monster of the week is just a monster of the week, and this was unabashed old-school X Files, from the word Go. Or technically, from the words, "This instrument belongs to a Pied Piper."
But before we settle into the plot, Abbie teaches Ichabod to drive. She knows he's been practicing—historical record shows Ben Franklin invented the odometer just to ruin Ichabod's fun—but encourages him to get over his nerves: "Make it your steed!" Madam, please! (This is only the beginning of the euphemisms this week; I am convinced this entire episode was scripted on a dare.)
Turns out that in between figuring out the coffeemaker and Netflix's search feature, Ichabod's been practicing driving with Jenny!
But this isn't just practice for driving to the beach for a long walk as they watch the sun set, hand in hand. No, this is because Abbie could be killed at any moment and she wants Ichabod to be independent. Ichabod isn't having it: "Hear me, Grace Abigail Mills. It is not our fate for one of us to bury the other. we will be victorious or defeated, together." (Reminder: We're five minutes into a monster-of-the-week. This is just their version of small talk.)
Abbie evades emotion by changing the subject back to his evasive driving: "I should arrest your ass for it." Ichabod: "Perhaps if you could catch me."
Romantic Lead Face is leaking off this guy like radioactive waste. He is having a BALL. Katrina staying in the cabin with Headless to wander slowly from room to room, listlessly patting the front of her period wardrobe, must be the best thing that ever happened to him.
The plot starts with an Amber Alert and Beth Lancaster, whose daughter's been abducted. Interestingly, Abbie does not register or believe when Beth says, "My family's cursed," which feels like as direct a path of communication as possible to someone who saw the Devil in the woods one day.
Abbie remembers Beth as her case-worker after she was shunted into the foster system, and though Beth insists she didn't do much, Abbie has clearly imprinted on anyone who has ever been kind to her, and carries Beth's advice in her heart as an example of kind adulthood at a time that was hard to come by. Meanwhile, Ichabod Crane, desperate to be involved, creeps around the bushes until he catches something he can name-drop: Daniel Lancaster's rifle.
The show, already losing steam on the historical tie-in front, gives us a very busy but incredibly convoluted story about his late entry into the Revolutionary fray, plus the Pied Piper he hired to lure Regulars out of his home to be murdered.
Still, it's a pretty smart call to shift the action to a location where Sheriff Reyes is marginally less likely to sneak up behind you and ask questions, and so it's into the woods, for a major discovery.
"This is a flute made of bone." A bone flute? I see. A fascinating instrument, if we're being mature about this. We're not being mature about this. The episode isn't helping, either; as soon as Ichabod takes hold of the ol' bone flute, it enchants Abbie, instantly luring her in. (I see.)
Back in the archives, after what had to be the world's most awkward cross-check for reference materials, Abbie settles in to let Ichabod drop names for a while, though her very first comment when Ichabod mentions the second Continental Congress is, "This is when Betsy Ross had the hots for you...because you were just the cutest Continental courier," which is an awfully specific angle on a Continental Congress that was just teeming with people he knew platonically.
Turns out the flute's pitched to Full Magic, which is only half as exciting to Abbie as the fact that Ichabod plays flute. Because he's Ichabod Crane, he name-drops cello.
One music recording later, they're back in the woods, Ichabod reminding Abbie he'll be right next to her no matter what, all the time, faithfully and for always, even when she's letting herself get lured into the Piper's lair to find the little plot child. "I can see for miles at my height," he assures her, with all the smugness of a flautist.
Much of the rest of this episode takes place in the woods, which was probably not particularly fun for the actors, since the air composition in North Carolina at any given moment is about thirty percent bugs. But it's too soon in the season for an indoor bottle episode. To the woods! Let the mosquitoes have you.
The bone flute quickly puts Abbie into a trance (not a euphemism), and they stumble around the woods until Ichabod sees danger and pulls Abbie up short by full-court-pressing her against a tree to make sure she's okay, an amazing moment too blurry to cap. 1. This show is lucky I didn't construct my MSR Feelsometer by 'ship cues. 2. Now that we're leaning into even more of those tropes, I look forward to the episode where they have to pretend to be married in order to infiltrate a fancy party.
But it's not the Piper! It's Hawley!
That's terribly soon to see him again! (Man, even when Hawley's choking out, "There's still time to save her," Ichabod's BARELY able to keep from rolling his eyes into the next county. "Oh, IS there? Wow, that's SO helpful.")
But for a guy we've never seen before this season, Hawley's brimming with local lore. Of course it's Lancaster who brought the curse on his family by refusing to pay the guy who had supernatural powers. Rookie move. Also, Ichabod continues his 100% streak of being relevant. Someday I'd like this show to have Ichabod reference someone who ends up unrelated to the case, and he has to sit quietly amid the magical maps of Lewis and Clark, frowning and shrugging.
Because Lancaster betrayed the mercenary he hired to lure these men with his bone flute, a little girl in every generation must be sacrificed, which is disgustingly unfair, but nobody mentions it. They're busy trying to determine why they're suddenly running into this treasure hunter constantly: "All you want is to procure his flute." (I see.)
All the same, Abbie wants to bring him with. "We cannot work with this callous brigand for hire," Ichabod aghasts, even though frankly that sounds like a pretty fun 1970s show about an ex-mercenary trying to make good; I bet it ran for four seasons and at one point he had a crossover with Starsky and Hutch.
But Abbie makes a deal – Hawley's help for the flute. Ichabod's deeply suspicious, but says nothing; honestly, for me this episode exists for these moments, reminding us of their status quo from last season when they'd hit their partnership stride.
I am always going to be a sucker for silent tension between people on the job.
They rescue the kiddo, tangle with the Parkour-deploying Piper, and escape as they blow up his lair, which is a distinct advantage of having Hawley around, since most of last season they just made exits by clutching each other and running.
Once they're safe above ground, Abbie starts making tactical arrangements to come back and finish that Piper off, a plan with which Hawley quite reasonably wants nothing to do, and demands his bone flute so he can get the hell out of the way. "You two want to get yourselves killed, that's where I get off." This episode was a dare.
And I was wondering how Abbie was going to justify this powerful object going into the wrong hands for the second time in two weeks, but it turns out I didn't need to worry, because Abbie snaps it in half and drops the mic on it.
While I agree that flute should not have gone to Hawley, I also wonder why they told him they had the flute to begin with. It put Abbie in the position of breaking her deal with a dude who has a lot of resources and now has a literal bone to pick with them, all for the sake of some explosives and wry asides in a brief altercation. Where was Jenny if they needed another body? This all seems really weird.
Hawley is furious. Ichabod and Sarah don't give one shit, and thousand-yard-stare him back home.
Back at the archives, Ichabod has Abbie "perform the logging ceremony" to open up police records on the Lancaster family:
Hat-tip to the intern who spent an entire summer digitizing the records from the 1800s muttering, "Who will ever NEED these?" Your day has come.
Turns out if the Lancaster girl is recovered from the Piper, all the kids in the family sicken and die. Just pay your supernatural mercenaries, how hard is this. Beth adopted all her other kids to try to avoid the curse (not having kids was apparently not an option), but Sarah was an accident. Now Beth has to decide the moral acceptability of sacrificing one of her children to a malevolent supernatural being, or risk losing all of them. We know enough about the Mills sisters that this is an extremely relevant dilemma. As such, I can't believe Jenny's missing this episode.
As the rest of the Lancaster kids get sick, Ichabod and Abbie head for the woods just in time to stop Beth from dropping Sarah off as Piper bait. "Abbie, haven't you ever prayed for something in your past to just...go away?" Your mom, for example? Just saying. Probably your mom, right?
Sarah Lancaster is going to spend the rest of her life in some awkward therapy sessions. (This family makes Abbie's seem functional, she must be stoked.)
But the Piper attacks in a blur of motion, and they run after him in a blur of motion, fencing him and shooting him respectively, and they race for a showdown in an underground cellar lit by a single candle that makes it laughable to screencap. When Ichabod's noise-canceling earbuds fail him, all seems lost, until Abbie saves the day by running the Piper through with the biggest bone flute she can find.
To celebrate, they leave Sarah with the mother who was going to Hansel and Gretel her for the sake of the family curse, and head back to the marina for a coffee date. Ichabod's rant about how expensive coffee is is silenced with actual coffee, which is a cycle I recognize too well to make fun of. And he gets foam all over his moustache (rookie), a mishap that colleague Abbie finds professionally amusing. "I can't with you," she says, and wipes his mouth, as one grown adult often platonically does for another grown adult.
Meanwhile, a these two are busy having extremely platonic coffee and being proud of themselves, Irving, desperate to escape his subplot, has done some research and found out the prognosis for accidentally signing away your soul is not super great!
(I guess I get why we'd have the Bible in the library of Tarrytown Psychiatric, but what are the chances of having a book about the End of Days in an institution that regularly sees people who have very intense, often physical feelings about precisely that event?)
Not that Irving should worry. Irving's going to be fine.
I mean, I get that he's evil in this vision, but he's also efficient as HELL.
He confronts Henry with the truth (this entire collection of heroes is not great at subterfuge), and Henry says he's happy to stop being Irving's lawyer, if Irving doesn't mind his family losing their health insurance. (How much do I love that the mundane signifiers in this world so often get in the way of the supernatural?) But he assures Irving that despite owning his soul now, it's for the best, because war is just another word for justice, you know? Everything's going to work out.
Irving's right; this whole place is a mess. Hawley sells the broken flute to John Noble at the same tavern as last week, from which he apparently conducts most of his business:
Mabie's Tavern: Where you're never sure if your friends are joining you there or not.
Back at home, John Noble tries desperately to tie this week into the larger arc by suggesting Lancaster bone marrow is crucial to raising Hell, as he takes a mortar and pestle and crushes what sounds like a vat of glass Christmas ornaments and steel pecans.
He brings the powder to his lips, and as the episode closes, he murmurs: "It's perfect." Best bone flute he's ever tasted!
So, though there's a definite parental parallel here that feels like we're building ground for the Return of Mom, none of those punches really land. (Plus, this is the second time the show has used the adopted-kids-aren't-of-the-blood thing as a plot point, which seems awkward.) However, it all exists to remind us of the Ichabod and Abbie partnership. Next week we're probably in for tortured hugging and desperate apologies, but this week was driving lessons and actual, literal coffee dates.
You earned it.
Next week: Halloween! If it were up to me, Halloween in Sleepy Hollow would be an uneventful day in which everything that happens is totally benign. Given the Weeping Woman shrieking on the previews, I think we're in for something else.