Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Ichabod Crane learned his beloved Katrina was keeping yet another secret from him, this one involving the accidental death (or was it murder) of his long-lost ex-fiancé, who returned from the dead as a zombie naiad and killed a dear friend. Meanwhile, Crane’s evil son Henry Parish received evil demerits from his demon overlord Moloch for not submitting this petty revenge exercise through the proper evil approval channels.
In tonight’s new episode, “And the Abyss Gazes Back”, it’s time to meet yet another long-lost family member we never knew: Our Heroes meet Zach Appelman as Joe Corbin, son of the late Sheriff Corbin, for which Clancy Brown returns in another minute of new voiceover. Joe’s got a secret, Henry’s got plans, Hawley brings friends, Jenny brings organs, Captain Irving faces temptation, and Crane faces the sinister threat of backstabbing gamers. Also, there’s a monster.
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…
…most old people like me know about Daniel Boone and his famous coonskin cap (though Crane swears the man preferred beaver to raccoon), but not many people talk about his brother, Squire Boone. Legends from the Shawnee and Algonquin Indians, along with a few choice Marvel comics in my collection, tell the story of the Curse of the Wendigo, which strikes anyone desperate enough to succumb to cannibalism while trapped in the darkest wilderness. The curse transforms those individuals into a large, creepy, furry, man-eating monster, triggered by the scent of man’s blood and impossible to quell until its hunger has been sated. It’s rumored Squire Boone was among the most well-known victims, and that one Shawnee hunting party in particular went horribly wrong, ending with Squire alive but his companions having had their insides forcibly removed. In a related allegation, his brother Daniel wore that famous cap not to set fashion trends, but to hide wounds inflicted by his own brother. Presumably Daniel kept that hat on night and day, as he slept, while bathing, and maybe even in church where it probably got him dirty looks and stern lectures. Sure, it was inconvenient, but somehow legions of history writers bought it and that unfortunate chapter remains missing from Squire Boone’s story. Until now.
Fast-forward two hundred years later: Henry Parish, evil elderly son of Ichabod Crane, finds another way of invoking the Curse of the Wendigo to further his own plans. He implements some dark magics upon the crushed bone powder from the Pied Piper’s flute, slips some into an envelope addressed from “Frederick’s Manor”, and mails it to Joe Corbin while he’s on tour in Afghanistan. Joe opens the envelope without proper anthrax precautions, finds himself cursed, and — at the very next sign of blood — monsters up and kills everyone in his platoon without getting blamed. He’s honorably discharged and sent back home to Sleepy Hollow…just as Henry wanted.
Phase 2: Henry tempts Joe with the cure to Wendigoism, if only he’ll go fetch a special item from Corbin’s trove: a big bottle of jincan (also called “gu”), a vicious multi-predator supertoxin invented especially for No Good. Corbin naturally left behind documents with coded clues leading to the jincan’s hiding place, buried like a treasure under a spot called Pioneer Point. Joe has no choice but to go for it. He brings friends to help him dig. They stop for drinks along the way. What could go wrong?
Also at the bar: Abbie and Crane for a round of too many drinks. Crane’s still sore from his fight with his wife last week. Also, his first yoga lesson with Abbie didn’t go well. It wasn’t too weird since it reminded him of various Eastern practices, but for some reason it forced him to pick up new, unwanted terms such as “buns” and “double jugg” that his eidetic memory can never unlearn. Funny thing about that memory of his: he’s also working on learning the ways of our “super-heroes”, but he takes two tries to recall that Superman is Clark Kent, not Peter Parker. My guess is he isn’t really trying, not like he means it.
Joe’s as bitter as Crane, partly for his discharge and partly because of Abbie, whom he’s not excited to see again because he thinks his dad liked her best, back when Corbin was raising her as one of his own after Moloch ruined her childhood. Corbin never mentioned a son in any previous episodes as far as I recall, so maybe Joe’s anger at being his family’s Jan Brady isn’t totally unfounded.
Joe picks a fight with strangers and gets himself thrown out of the bar. He and his now-buzzing friends head over to Pioneer Point to get to work. They dig a little, but not a lot. Someone can’t excavate under the influence and there’s a nasty cut. Once again it’s Wendigo slaughterin’ time. Our Heroes are later called to the scene, where they find Joe unconscious and his buddies hollowed out like Thanksgiving turkeys.
While Joe nurses his bandages and his grudges, Abbie and Crane do their detective work. Research at the Corbin-Cave turns up the Wendigo story. A visit to Joe’s house turns up Corbin’s will, the coded directions to Pioneer Point, and video games, a new sight for Crane. Abbie explains they’re a form of unwinding, like yoga in their own way. Crane launches into a short tirade about how we modern Americans are doing unwinding wrong, because of course we are.
Pioneer Point is their next logical stop, but Joe got there first, finished digging, and found the chest. Chase scene ensues, interrupted when Crane cuts his hand. Cue Wendigo.
Chase scene resumes, but Abbie cuts it short with three tranquilizer darts to WendiJoe’s chest. They lock him up in the same underground Masonic cell where they kept the Headless Horseman a while back. Sister Jenny brings in stolen donations from an organ bank so the Wendigo can feed benignly and power down. After he does, he and Crane talk soldier-to-soldier. Crane apologizes for his son’s “rebellious phase”, and confesses he still loves Henry even if he’s wrinkled and evil and murderous and apocalyptic and changed his perfectly good name to something he saw on a stupid street sign. As a son who felt ignored and unloved, Joe advises Crane to tell his son he loves him. Maybe not now, mind you. Maybe in the season finale he can find an opening for small talk.
A quick review of their reference materials also reveals that anyone who turns into a Wendigo four times will remain a Wendigo forever, and Joe’s one scraped knee away from the end of his humanity. After a short convo to confirm that Katrina’s witch powers are useless this week, Hawley connects Crane with a local Shawnee biker gang, dissatisfied customers of his who ‘re surprised that white outsiders know about Squire Boone. Their leader is a guy named Big Ash, but their shaman Frank (Victor Gage) is the one who lends them the winning formula: an obsidian knife and a skull with a spell carved into the temple.
Meanwhile back at the Corbin-Cave, Joe has a heart-to-heart with Abbie in which they basically take turns saying, “No, he loved YOU!” until their hearts melt and they bury the hatchet. In pop Henry and a pair of his armed Hessians to pick up the jincan and to tempt Joe into leaving with them for that promised cure. Joe is new to TV and thinks he has no choice, so he appeases Henry on all counts. Outside, Henry “frees” Joe by slicing his arm with a blade so he can be “free” of humanity. Cue sad trombone. Henry and his guys leave; Joe has betrayed-face and bleeding arm. Once again: cue Wendigo.
Abbie and Crane apparently spend hours looking for Joe after that, because one moment they’re both cutting their hands as Wendigo bait, and the next moment it’s nighttime, then Joe catches up. Crane performs the required ceremony: he uses the knife to slash at the Wendigo, gets smacked around into a wall (that step’s optional), catches Wendigo blood inside the skull, and recites the carved words. It doesn’t take till after the next commercial break, but it does take. Once again the day is saved thanks to weird rituals!
Joe is rewarded with a scenic tour of the Corbin-Cave, which he’d never seen before, and fancies thoughts of maybe going to Quantico someday and making something of himself, just like Abbie had planned to until Death and War happened. Meanwhile, Crane winds down with his first attempt at online gaming — some kind of FPS zombie co-op game that has him on edge. His temper boils over when he’s shot dead by his own teammates, who obviously have much to learn about gaming ethics.
In a brief subplot, Henry has been double-tasking by dangling a new offer in front of the jailed Captain Irving: Henry will return his soul to him if he agrees to murder the convicted drunk driver responsible for running over li’l Macey Irving and leaving her wheelchair-bound forevermore. Irving has second thoughts until he meets face-to-face with Gil Everett (Michael Harding), who makes it easier on him by being an unrepentant major jerk. Irving nearly commits the deed with gusto, but second-guesses his morality just long enough for the guards to find an opening, peel him off, and add more charges to his docket. Now, even if he’s acquitted of that other demon’s murders, his aggravated assault on ol’ Gil will ensure he’s not walking out a free man either way. Henry just laughs.
Later, Henry celebrates an episode well won with his newly acquired batch of jincan by pouring some into a baking sheet, adding still more poisonous critters, letting it all boil, and using dark magic to condense everything on the pan into a single, menacing spider…which he immediately sends out to go crawl inside Katrina Crane’s mouth while she sleeps. With this move, Henry Parish is now the meanest old man on network television.
Before we go: if you’re looking for something to do this weekend after Halloween is over, consider taking a road trip and visiting Indiana’s own scenic and very much real Squire Boone Caverns, located just half an hour west of Louisville and a little south of our original state capital of Corydon. Squire Boone Caverns is open 361 days a year for tours of their numerous caves, underground areas, waterfalls, and the actual, final resting place of Squire Boone himself, who was interred there in 1815 and had a new tombstone installed in 2012. Come on down, bring the kids, see the sights, and for the safety of the staff and other guests, pretty please for the love of God, don’t bleed anywhere.
To be continued!
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If you missed any previous episodes of Sleepy Hollow, you can see what’s available online at Fox’s official site, or check out MCC’s own ongoing recaps. Visit our season-one recap checklist, or this season’s recaps linked below for handy reference. Enjoy!