“Sleepy Hollow” 11/25/2013 (spoilers): the Stalker Made of Stalks

Tom Mison, Sleepy Hollow

Only one network show is daring enough to bring you a haunted-house episode for Thanksgiving. (No, not Hawaii Five-0.)

On tonight’s new Sleepy Hollow episode, “Sanctuary”, the Horseman had the evening off, but that doesn’t mean Thanksgiving is a federal holiday for all evil. Moloch’s handprints are all over this sordid tale of a haunted house, a fictional founding father, a family secret, the Pilgrims’ available culinary options, and the impersonal touch of the McDonald’s drive-thru.

For those who missed out, my attempt to streamline the basic events follows after this courtesy spoiler alert for the sake of time-shifted viewers.

As usual, the roots of the story reach back to the 18th century, deep into a mansion owned by Lachlan Fredericks (improv comic Craig Trow), a Continental Congress participant (made-up), abolitionist, job creator for freed slaves, and certified warlock. While the lovely couple of Ichabod and Katrina Crane were invited guests to the occasional dinner party, Our Hero had no idea that his wife and Fredericks had paranormal talents, let alone that they belonged to the same coven. Thus was Crane kept so far out of the loop, he wasn’t invited the last time Katrina visited the house in need of asylum from evil.

Largely because she needed somewhere to give birth to Baby Boy Crane. Surprise!

With the aid of a voluntary servant named Grace Dixon (Onira Tarés), Katrina’s a mom in no time, but her actions beget questions. Why did Katrina hide her pregnancy? How did Crane not notice that telltale bump? Whatever happened to the son Crane never knew he had? At least one of these questions has an answer: Moloch. Fredericks’ hexes safeguarded Katrina and his estate until Moloch exploited a magical loophole by growing a wooden minion inside the hexed area, resembling a man-sized Ent with stabby hands. By the time its rampage ends, Fredericks is dead, Baby Boy Crane is MIA, and the house is deserted for the next two centuries, its ownership tied up in red tape and its invader holed up in a closet with only a murder of creepy crows for company.

Fast-forward to the present: years of paperwork disentanglement secure its ownership for a billionaire Fredericks descendant named Lena Gilbert (Erin Cahill, once known as the Pink Power Ranger!). When the Ent imprisons her in a closet, high-society friends in Washington DC notice her absence and notify the authorities. Enter Crane and Abbie, sent by Captain Irving in response to political pressure from other billionaires. They weren’t doing anything with their downtime after last week’s fiasco anyway — just hanging out and complaining about their uneven meal schedule.

Upon arrival, Our Heroes’ first clue that the seemingly abandoned house is anything but innocent is a forgotten copy of Gulliver’s Travels that Crane recognizes, which even contains the very last letter he wrote to Katrina hours before his final 18th-century battle against the Hessian who would become the Horseman who would be Death. Their second clue: the ghost of Grace Dixon appears before Abbie and transmits mental video of Katrina’s birthing experience.

They otherwise have a standard haunted-house experience: the doors lock behind them. They rescue Lena from the closet. They wind their way through hidden tunnels beneath the house. The Ent chases them around. One “action” scene is a blur of flashlights and black swaths and yelling. Also, ghost. And ominous crows.

Once an exit is located, Crane grabs some flares and an ax from the trunk, returns to the house, and goes all righteously Paul Bunyan on him, fueled by his rage at finding out the hard way about the son he never knew he had. After one final ax-blow to the Ent’s head, the evil is purged and the crows flee into the night sky, with no guilt about the fact that they just left their pal to die, none of them lifting a single feather to help him out. This is why crows are terrible allies.

Back at their office afterward, Our Heroes toast with a bottle of Barbadian Best Amber Rum (made-up), which Crane recalls was quite a boon at Valley Forge. Abbie also receives a package from Lena, with copies of her ancestral research…which includes a family tree that traces Abbie’s lineage all the way back to Grace Dixon. Surprise! Even in ages past, their families banded together against the forces of evil — and probably toasted afterward with the same rum, too.

Meanwhile in the episode’s B story, Cool Captain Irving and Abbie’s sister Jenny compare notes on the most recent solo mission he gave her, without actually telling us what her assignment was. She awkwardly invites him to the first Thanksgiving dinner she’s cooked since leaving the asylum; their bickering is interrupted by a pair of guests — Irving’s ex-wife Cynthia (Jill Marie Jones) and his wheelchair-bound daughter Macey (Amandla Stenberg — poor li’l Rue from The Hunger Games!). While Jenny gives a disappointed Macey a quasi-pep talk about her absentee father (who obviously can’t tell his daughter that he’s been skipping visitations because of magical evil), Irving and Cynthia have a stern argument comprised entirely of argument clichés about his failure at quality time versus unmentionable things she can’t possibly understand. Cynthia solemnly threatens to have their joint custody agreement amended to full custody for her, which isn’t much of a threat if he’s not spending time with her anyway. He’d still legally be entitled to visitation regardless, assuming upstate New York custody laws resemble ours here in Indiana. “Full custody” doesn’t mean “You’ll never be allowed to see your daughter again.”

Just the same, he really should try harder to find some downtime. If Abbie and Crane can take a break from hunting the Horseman to fight a demon tree, surely Irving can spare a few hours to take Macey to see Disney’s Frozen or something.

Anyway: To be continued! In two weeks, because holidays. See you then.

* * * * *

If you missed a previous episode of Sleepy Hollow, the last few episodes can be watched online at Fox’s official site, or MCC recaps are listed below for handy reference. Enjoy!

9/16/2013: “Pilot
9/23/2013: “Blood Moon
9/30/2013: “For the Triumph of Evil
10/7/2013: “The Lesser Key of Solomon
10/14/2013: “John Doe
11/4/2013: “The Sin-Eater
11/11/2013: “The Midnight Ride
11/18/2013: “Necromancer

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