After what felt like a whole season of treading water, Sleepy Hollow revealed its huge end-of-season twist in "Awakening," the first half of a two-part finale. Is the second part going to be a disaster? Maybe. Is it still the biggest move of the season? Totally.
That twist, of course, is the reason this episode exists – even with a major character death, the rest of this episode feels like a pile of tissue paper around a very small present, which turns out to be a knife you're not sure you even want to risk picking up. The band's back together, and there are some open questions settled, and Katrina finally becomes what we all assumed she eventually would, but a lot of the episode was best expressed by John Noble.
("Your A-plot for the finale opener is that the Liberty Bell awakens witches when rung, unbeknownst to anyone before, and needs to be blown up? Interesting.")
The cold open was actually cool, as three people glaze over and lash out, because of witch-blood and whatever frequency the Liberty Bell hits when rung. My favorite: the woman who Force-chokes the guy who gambled the family money. Serves him right.
The cause of this chaos?
John Noble, here to marry couples outdoors and/or create an army of zombie witches.
You might have questions about how this bell thing works. Why do they blank out? Surely that's suboptimal for building a useful coven? Even once you amplify the bell to include all of Sleepy Hollow in its horrible tolling – which should have been audible much wider than the town square in the first place – are you willing to risk everyone's powers activating at random when the bell rings? Wouldn't that just create more problems than it solves?
Never mind. We'll keep going.
Henry loops Katrina into his big plan to recreate the heyday of Sleepy Hollow covens by awakening everyone in town who has witch blood. He's excited they won't be hunted now...? Someone needs to hand him a Pyramid Catalog and tell him this is about as much as anyone thinks of witches any more in the States before he starts this campaign.
This coven conveniently excludes Daddy Ichabod (because everyone in town who isn't a witch is doomed, maybe? There is a lot I don't understand the rules of ringing this bell). Katrina's mildly aghast about it, but only needs about three seconds to get over that, which is quietly hilarious foreshadowing for the sheer lack of damns she'll give about Ichabod after he's repeatedly shot at their son. At the moment, though, she's mostly excited about finally living up to her full career potential in Evil Witch Program Management.
Henry's excited about the Oedipal family bonding opportunities. Actual dialogue: "We're together now. We shall create what we both desire most."
("Mom, I'm so excited you want to help me ring my bell." - A show that was not really thinking about this subtext at a time when it might have behooved them.)
Abbie and Ichabod figure out about the bell thing after an afternoon at their local bookstore we've never heard about, talking about time travel (I should have known) with a bookseller who has some questions about their hunt for those Jeffersonian reference materials.You remember, the ones they blew up last episode for no real reason.
Clearly they're having second thoughts. You can just tell they're going to reaffirm their bond for the fiftieth time as soon as they walk out.
The bookseller's very nice, as per usual for the Sleepy Hollow day players, of which only Rudy Noble has ever really recurred. (I know the X-Files mold means we only run into peripheral characters when the plot requires. However, it's strange that a show so rooted in place hasn't made more of this town. Big Ash at karaoke night? A coffeeshop employee conspiracy theorist? Caroline's the closest we've come. Ringing a bell and controlling everyone with witch blood would have been incredibly ominous if we knew anybody it might affect! Still, since this whole thing is an enormous Macguffin for the last five minutes, I suppose that's not something anyone was overly concerned with.)
After a little Bell Whispering, they know the Liberty Bell and its witch-singing power is the culprit, and in its ongoing quest to pack in all the things it realized people were desperately missing, it sends the pair of them to the hardware store to get explosives for the bell, and mostly so Ichabod can discover lawn flamingos and garden gnomes. (Impossible to screencap: Tom Mison doing a sympathetic head-bobble.)
"Which holiday requires monopedal pink birds and an army of Barbate pygmies?" he demands. Abbie, way beyond being fazed by this dude any more: "Arbor Day."
God, remember when he hugged you incredibly tight and then left you behind in Purgatory to take his wife's place while you dealt with a series of insurmountable evils in a place you could never escape? Just asking, no reason.
Naturally, Henry and Katrina aren't about to let these two just take out the bell. Enter Frank, who's gone full evil, and is carrying a shotgun, a handgun, and a katana just in case:
And gets to shout evil exposition at Jenny as she debates what to do.
The answer is "Reload and shoot him a lot," which I respect, and one of my favorite moments in the episode is the fake-out score where He's Dead strings kick in, and then he gets demon-eyes and we're right back to the chase. I'm not falling for that, Sleepy Hollow! Fake-kill him in a finale once, shame on you, fake-kill him in a finale twice, shame on me.
This chase actually continues for the rest of the episode. It ends with Jenny preparing to use the Gorgon's head on Irving (I cannot believe they brought back the Gorgon's head before they brought back the Horseman,), and Evil Frank asking about his family, who need to hear that bell (why? Are they witches? What are the rules of this bell?), and even lays down the evil shrug of guilt: "You didn't even come visit me in Tarrytown."
First of all, Jenny never has to set foot in Tarrytown again because that place ruined her life; free pass to steer clear for eternity. Second of all, since it's not like the topic ever came up and that's the reason she gave to get out of going, I am not sure you get to blame characters in the season finale for what you couldn't bother to make them think about in the previous sixteen episodes, show.
Anyway, Frank ends up barfing up all his evil and he's fine. The Gorgon head ends another day of gearing up only to be put back at the last second, and they all just sit quietly in the tunnels thinking about how the entire second half of Frank's arc this season has been about how you can't trust the show's only dude of color because he's probably under the control of the Devil.
That's about right.
Meanwhile, Henry and Katrina break the news to Ichabod that Katrina's evil and she loves it.
I am so over Katrina I'm essentially writing this from the moon, but man, good for Katia Winter for finally getting something fun to do.
Together, they pledge to awaken all witches in the name of that promise George Washington broke! You know, the one about witches that has apparently been really pressingly neglected and now they're raising a whole coven to insist on it! That one!
Ichabod does not know the one.
Hurled into the tunnels by Katrina's Katrina Beam, Ichabod makes a serious promise about killing Henry: "I will not hesitate. Not again." Sure, he hesitated the first time. And the second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth. But not AGAIN, and that's the important part.
They get armed and hit up the new bad-guy HQ to take down Henry.
It goes fine until Katrina blows up Abbie's car (yikes). Ichabod's furious: "I pulled you from purgatory, Katrina! This path will set you back." Okay, first of all, big talk for a guy who has no magical car-exploding projectiles at his disposal. Second of all, you did not pull anyone from anywhere, buddy, we have talked about this. It doesn't happen often, but in the instant of this utterance, I'm Team Katrina.
He and Abbie – who as it turns out was actually inside planting the bomb on the bell – get tied up and monologued at. Abbie can barely handle it. Death is near, and she'd be fine with it if it just kept this dude from talking.
If this show doesn't get renewed, I will understand why, but I will miss Abbie Mills so much.
The accursed/blessed bell rings! People turn into witches left and right!
Both of these women look awesome and are welcome to stay witches if that's cool with them!
Honest question: Why didn't Abbie turn into a witch upon the ringing of the bell? Why not Jenny? Are you telling me Grace "The World's Most Useful Magical Journal" Dixon did not pass down any of that witchery to a Witness who has already helped dispatch the dead through magic and a woman who can see demons and summon her mother from beyond the grave?
Given her level of Doneness, it's got to be nice for Abbie that, thanks to a pair of flintlock pistols nobody bothered to pat Ichabod down about because Katrina is not any better at being evil than she was at being anything else, Abbie gets to deliver the killing blow.
Ichabod and Henry get a moment of tearful reunion. "He was a man, take him for all in all," Henry Shakespeares out of nowhere. Ichabod, magnanimously for a guy who only moments ago stopped him from making an army of witch-zombies and making out with his mom: "I shall not see his like again."
("That's not...quite...the line..." Henry chokes as his lungs turn to magical cinders.)
Katrina's heartbroken! Katrina grabs John Dee's book and shouts she'll go back in time to when she was pregnant and Ichabod was about to die and she'll just let him STAY DEAD! The spell's working! Ichabod does absolutely nothing! Abbie leaps into the time vortex! Ichabod screams her name! Everything vanishes!
...and Abbie wakes up in 1781 and gets immediately thrown in the slammer.
I mean, look, is it a great hook? It's an AMAZING hook – reversal of fortune, a chance to show their connection across time and space without constantly paying lip service to it and then wandering off into another subplot disaster, and a great cliffhanger. They'll end up resetting as much canon as they need to before they haul ass back to the modern day. We'll get to see different work from Tom Mison than quick flashbacks allow, we'll get to see Katrina the Evil Witch finally getting to spread her evil wings and evil-soar, and Nicole Beharie will undoubtedly be great in a story that's put her in a super awkward position. (Sending a black woman back in time to slaveholding periods of American history is a bold move that requires some follow-up; the first season of this show could have done it, maybe. This season? Eesh. Still, we'll assume it won't last more than another 42 minutes.)
The question now is how they plan to treat the way 1781 would treat her, and so far, it's not overly impressive. Why does she wander into the town square in broad daylight without a cover story? She's smarter than that; as soon as she realizes it's the past, she is hiding the hell out until she can put a plan together. If she must march out to read the banns, then why, when questioned, are "Grace Dixon" not the first words out of her mouth? The only free black woman she knows is a direct relative, a powerful user of magic, and local! GRACE DIXON, COME ON.
She can't hear me, it's fine.
Still, we know it's all to get her asking for Ichabod Crane, and I would be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to the rest of the season finale more than I've looked forward to an episode of this show in a long time. Bring it on, Sleepy Hollow.