This week, Halloween comes to Sleepy Hollow via a terrifying revelation. No, not the Headless Horseman. No, not the demon possessions. No, not the sick kid who staggered into town and disrupted the hospital. No, not the pipers in the woods. Not even this week's ghost! You guys...Katrina did something.
Yes, yet another figure from Ichabod's past has come back to haunt him. Literally. However, unlike most figures from Ichabod's past who are called to mind as their most beloved artifacts are destroyed, I am perfectly fine with Mary. In part, it's because she has a personality that isn't Devoted Servant of the Cause or Total Evil, which is a refreshing departure. But honestly, I would have been fine with Mary if all she'd ever done was use her panniers as a flotation device and peace off out to sea, because through Mary, Katrina does something at last. Even in an episode with as much tonal whiplash as this one has, that's saying something.
But there's no monster without victims, so the cold open reminds us where Ichabod's been getting his new duds! Also his freshly churned butter, and lingonberry preserves, and his pillow collection of "I C" pillows that could also, with minimal fuss, be adjusted to read "I + C," I am just saying, I see you, Caroline.
Caroline's the sweetie from last season's battle reenactment, who's been nursing a serious crush on old Crane ever since the first time he nitpicked everybody and bought some shirts. Ah, love.
The thing is, Caroline gets placed here like a longtime friend of Ichabod's, which naturally means she's first to die (this show is a trope playground, and the "you remember my good friend here" characters are doomed), so I get it. However, what a shame. Imagine how helpful she could have been about who owns what seeming-innocuous eighteenth-century object? Imagine their hand-cobbling seminars. Imagine she and Ichabod having a fevered debate about buttons as Abbie stares into her pad thai praying for death to come.
You will not have to imagine Caroline making her move, with all the bravery of someone who did it eight times in front of the mirror first, only to be told he's married! She's justifiably surprised. "You live alone, you never talk about her, there are no photos of her around." Wow, Ichabod's friendship with Caroline enters for-real territory at the very last.
And who walks in, because portions of this episode are a gift?
"Mrs. Crane!" "Mrs. who now?" Abbie loooves all this awkwardness. When Caroline's bolting, Abbie is just barely able to restrain herself from calling Caroline back in for a reenactment she can get behind. She'd eat it whole if she wasn't already holding a bag with a single egg roll weighing it down, for later.
(Last week, when we were innocent and young, I joked that if they were going to go Full Trope, I looked forward to them pretending to be married to infiltrate a fancy party. SO CLOSE.)
Ichabod is, of course, totally flustered. It's all so sudden! Abbie's not having it. "Anyone could tell that girl had a case of Crane on the brain." Oh my god, how long has Caroline been around? Has Abbie been dropping Crane off on the hills and dales of New York State for month? He gleefully runs around correcting people, hair floating in the sun as he fulfills his life purpose, and Caroline sells shirts with proper underarm gussets and slips the old guy a spool of handmade thread in Crane Navy? Does Caroline keep a diary of all this? This is a tie-in waiting to happen. (Call me.)
But Crane doesn't want to talk about amazing friendship times with Caroline. All this has just reminded him about Katrina. *sad trombone*
You know, Katrina's situation is both creepy and cheeseball hilarious. Her own son handed her over as a sexual prize, which is preeeetty terrible, and Headless wants her to be the queen of hell - "And you know that I want you to make that choice willingly. But I will not wait forever" - which is not great. However, it's hard to take it seriously, even when he has a head and a shirt. You're destined to be Queen of Hell, Katrina! Enjoy this bowl of free berries and a dress with unnecessary tassels as you call birds to carry messages for you like a witchy Disney princess!
Apparently there's a spell on the house preventinig her from using magic. (A "spell.") Sensing trouble, Headless goes to Henry to complain. Henry eats one of Katrina's sins in a book something something plot something it doesn't matter.
Speaking of creepy, Ichabod and Abbie sit outside Caroline's house as he preps his apology, which oddly is not an apology about sitting outside a woman's house at night assuming your feelings are more important than her right not to be staked out; Ichabod, this is not great. Caroline forgives him anyway, mostly because we all know that as soon as she goes back inside she's going to be drowned by the Weeping Lady and she should end on an up note.
(I see this Laura Palmer homage makeup job, show. Howdy.)
Ichabod is torn up about it.
Ugh, this is so sad! Why giveth Caroline and then so quickly taketh her away??
Also, let's take a moment to recognize the tonal whiplash of this episode and Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie's skill navigating it. Here, mourning, fighting back tears. Literally sixty seconds later, he's explaining he knows a Lover's Lane is where engaged couples walk hand in hand under adult supervision. He's not new, Abbie.
Tough gig. Good job, guys.
Through some unimportant high school plotcakes – featuring the only making-out teens in horror-TV history smart enough to peace out of a horrible surprise without getting out of the car to investigate – they end up in the library. (The Archives is short on lore about local ghosts? Really? Man, this Halloween episode is scarier than I thought.) Abbie does her best to avoid having to talk to Hawley, who is somehow also at the library and has officially worn out his welcome. Meanwhile, Ichabod manages to give Romantic Lead Face to a corvid as he takes his missive from embedded spy Katrina, revealing:
A letter a sixth-grader would send home from camp to parents she was sucking up to for money. She's supposed to be getting the dirt on all this! She should be pretending to nap while Headless is on the mirror-phone or tongue-deep in Headless's ear by now seducing plans out of him and passing them on! Half this letter is explaining that it's a letter. This marriage is fired.
However, we're distracted from that by the Weeping Lady showing up in the library (creepy), and trying to drown Abbie. Ichabod is not about to let that happen.
After Ichabod manages to drag her out, Hawley does the CPR honors, but literally no one cares, since Ichabod cradled her face and called her "Abbie for the first time, and Hawley's help is just an excuse to have Ichabod and his condor arms lurch for her while she's still coughing up water. (SHOW.)
Abbie, whose first reaction to a ghost is just to plug it with lead, isn't even flustered. (Abbie's theory of danger by now: "Am I dead yet? No? Welp, let's keep working.") In fact, she snatched part of the Weeping Lady's veil while she was not-dying in the water. Ichabod recognizes it, of course. It belongs to Mary! You remember Mary! They were betrothed once before he went to the States and got caught up in the Revolution and all, and in this flashback, Mary has come to collect.
You kids take a chaperone with you when you head down the Lane, okay?
Mary's played by Heather Lind, who's at least used to the dresses, having been on Turn, and who does a great job with both the flighty-camp and the heartbroken aspects of poor Mary, who just wants Ichabod back and doesn't understand why he switched sides or why he wants to stay.
"Our lives must remain on separate paths." Oh my god, this guy has been feeding women lines about paths for two hundred years.
Abbie speaks for all of us.
Mary is, of course, the Weeping Lady, which Ichabod thinks is strange since he got a goodbye letter from her severing the engagement. But here she is, and she's after "those for whom I most deeply care." In a hard-to-screencap moment, Abbie visibly decides not to process that.
Of course, now Mary has hold of Katrina's letter, and they wonder what in heaven's name she'll do. (Fall asleep, probably.)
For literally no reason, they go see Useless Hawley in a set that was clearly given the thumbs-up at the last second — it's a random pier rather than, say, a houseboat that fell through. It's a great glimpse of how you try to add interest and depth to a space on a tight turnaround. It is certainly more interesting than Hawley.
Sure, those two barstools belong to nothing and if you sit on them you'll fall backwards right into the drink, but damn if those layered lamps don't make that corner better defined. He can't turn them on, but that's fine, nobody cares what he's doing.
Now, for the moment we've been waiting for. Katrina saves herself from being drowned by summoning weeds to drag Mary to the depths – amazing! She casts a spell to send Mary's spirit off the earthly plane!
Thrilling! (Please note Abbie gave exactly zero shits about diving into the deep end of soul-ensorceling dark magic. "Am I dead yet? No? Welp.")
And Ichabod goes to face down Mary, where Heather Lind manages to make Mary both campily wretched soggy-ghost hilarious:
("This is an Alaïa!")
And then suddenly, deeply sad and dignified:
Within sixty seconds. Nice. Sure, then she points to Katrina with one seaweedy finger right before she dies, because this show doesn't trust eye contact when you can make eye contact and then point and cough and then die, but still, the acting matters!
Speaking of, check out this screencap and then think for a second about how, baked good tariffs and bottled water aside, Ichabod Crane has been unable to ever leave the past behind because it keeps showing up just long enough to betray him or die on him. (You're welcome. Happy Halloween!)
And why did Mary point her ghoulish finger at Katrina with her undying breath? Ichabod would also like to know. Katrina gives him the "this isn't the time or place" stall she used all first season, and Ichabod is not having it, and it is a wonderful and intense moment and if they had dared to cut to Abbie she would have been crabwalking out of the vicinity of that argument as fast as the terrain would allow.
Turns out Mary met with Katrina to argue about who Ichabod belonged to!
AND KATRINA THREW HER OFF A CLIFF.
I literally covered my mouth with glee as a totally disgusted Ichabod and a totally unapologetic Katrina snipe out the details. (Mary "slipped and fell" off the cliff; Katrina merely pushed her body into the water and let it sink to the bottom to cover her tracks. Better and better!) Whether Mary was dead instantly or Katrina just opted not to revive her for stone-bitch reasons is unclear ("unclear"), but absolutely clear is that Katrina forged that letter because she didn't want Ichabod going back to England and abandoning the cause.
This is amazing. Not to Ichabod, Ichabod looks like he's getting foot surgery with no anesthetic, but I am having a BALL. And this is BEFORE she tells him to his face she knew he was destined to be a Witness before he even died fighting the Horseman. Just before Ichabod's face can collapse in on itself, Headless shows up, and Katrina defuses the situation and tells Headless she's ready to go home, which is a tactical move as much as anything, but definitely puts a nail in that marital coffin.
Fun game: Show these two shots to someone who's never heard of the show and ask them 1) who's dating and 2) what's going on literally at all.
Is this too late to actually make us care about Katrina? Certainly. Is it welcome? Absolutely. What a marvelous reveal. I hoped she'd be a Horseman, but I will take a ride-or-die Quaker who pushes snitches off cliffs. That is eight million times more fun than anything else she's been. (I mean, we all read that letter, right?)
Elsewhere, in a subplot that breaks my heart, the show hints at a love triangle between the Mills sisters, who do not need a love triangle to have amazing conflict, and Hawley, who does not need any screentime ever again.
(This is a pretty chaste show; this was the first flirty kiss we've had and we're on episode 18.)
Next, enjoy a tonal-whiplash shift to Caroline's funeral, where Ichabod is wearing his most formal coat and telling his reenactment friends Caroline belonged to "A richer, truer moment in history." Wait, what? I mean, I know it's a funeral, but there's no need for that line, Ichabod. You have been a forward-thinking abolitionist Quaker-in-law for two hundred years, you are better than this.
Maybe he's just shaken by the events of the last forty-eight hours. He thanks Abbie for arranging the memorial (very sweet, even though it's odd she was the only one planning anything, reenactment friends). Then, awash in guilt that the people in their lives will always risk harm from those out to punish Witnesses, Ichabod tells Abbie: "Our duty must be to one another, before anything or anyone." Nicole Beharie makes about ten faces about that.
Here's to you, Not Ichabod's Wife.
"Study for Whistler's Mother (If Whistler's Mother was a Stone Bitch)," 1779
Katrina, resentful of the ghoul that rose from the grave to tattle on her to the husband she's lied to for centuries, hopes Headless is happy with what he's done. Headless, in full Angsty Lead Face (pictured in mirror above) and backed by romantic string music: "I'm never happy to see you unhappy, Katrina."
Oh my god, they're going to make us do it, aren't they. Her son is in Purgatory this very second being yelled at by the Devil about how she's a Hellfire shard vessel something something achievable object to reach the next level of game play, and they're going to try to make this happen between Katrina and Headless so we have feelings about it when shit goes down. Which, I mean...is she still a compulsive liar throwing people off cliffs? This is important.
Going down through the events of this episode made me realize how inadequate my feelsometer was to calibrate a situation like this one. So, show, here's your feelsmeter for the week, okay? Okay? You earned it.
Happy Halloween, everyone! This year, don't make out in remote locales, stay away from tall ledges of any kind, and whatever you do, don't embroider pillows for anyone unless you are absolutely positive you are already dating them. Otherwise, they're not worth it.
And if you're wondering what Ichabod and Abbie are going as: