“Sleepy Hollow” 11/24/2014 (spoilers): Requiem for Methuselah

Sleepy Hollow Swords!

Abigail Mills and the Next Crusade after the Last Crusade, Which Turned Out to Be the Next-to-Last Crusade, Unless This One Isn’t the Last Crusade Either, In Which Case That One and This One Each Turned Out to Be Just *A* Crusade.

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Abbie and Jenny’s dead mom finally earned release to the next life by saving them from the clutches of a raging Cynthia Stevenson, who used to be Bob Newhart’s merry daughter on Bob; Captain Irving escaped Tarrytown Psychiatric in hopes of avoiding Henry Parish’s evil clutches and somehow breaking his soul contract; and an ailing Ichabod Crane learned the common cold hasn’t changed much in 250 years.

In tonight’s new episode, “Magnum Opus”: a MacGuffin quest, a mythical monster, deep thoughts about the life decisions we let others make for us, and more fun with Crane’s phone, as he uses it to play Who Am I? with Abbie, Google “sunrise times”, and view creatures through the camera so their looks won’t kill him.

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

…which includes me this week. As recounted yesterday, watching this last night took backseat to other priorities whether I wanted it to or not. With that in mind, onward:

The journal that the late Mama Mills kept among her personal possessions at Tarrytown Psychiatric actually belonged to ancestor Grace Dixon, and, as promised, provided details on a unique magic item that might inflict damage upon the demon king Moloch himself: the Sword of Methuselah. Based apparently on references from Enoch 91 (Jewish text set apart from the Bible), the world’s oldest man possessed some sort of Excalibur prototype that’s actually survived through the ages. Fortunately those upright Knights Templar got their hands on it first and devised an elaborate plan to keep it safe. Now you, too, can borrow their plans and create your very own one-item treasure room like the Knights Templar did, if you follow these easy steps like a good home-improvement specialist:

* Dig an underground cavern in upstate New York at the very end of a long, winding river. The entrance would be a spiral staircase, leading to winding halls and at least one room.

* Place a dais in the middle of the room. Set a large stone basin in the middle of it. Fill the basin with translucent, flammable oil. Instead of using the Sword of Methuselah to smite all your enemies and bring peace across the land, jam it into the oil-filled basin.

* Cast a hex on the sword so it stays invisible until and unless the oil is set on fire. Cast another hex on the oil so that it’s fireproof unless two honest, pure-hearted protagonists attempt to light it with torches at the same time. If only one tries to light it, nothing should happen. Also, they have to be confident of who they are and why they made the choices they’ve made. They must have agency, identity, and a teammate secured before proceeding. This is an excruciatingly specific hex because no one wants just one wishy-washy loner hero claiming the sword and saving the day. If Indiana Jones had stormed this cavern solo and braved all the challenges, he would’ve left empty-handed and had no new exhibits to bring back to his museum.

* Stab a whole bunch of unnecessary swords into the dais. Maybe use epoxy to hold them in place. Cast a hex on them so if anyone touches any one of them, they all turn into long, icky, listless snakes. They don’t even have to be venomous. They can just lie there and shimmy a little so they won’t look fake. The expectation is that most unworthy adventurers will run away screaming at the very sight of them, so don’t waste resources cultivating these magic sword-snakes into overachievers.

* Hire a guard who can live sealed inside a catacomb for at least 250 years without regular grocery deliveries. Luckily for the Knights they nabbed themselves a live gorgon (played by Derek Mears, who’s suited up as Moloch in previous episodes), complete with snakes for hair and a gaze that petrifies victims upon making eye contact. Dixon’s journal didn’t say if the gorgon was a volunteer or a hostile captive of the Knights. The Tarrytown chapter of PETA could not be reached for comment, nor was Animal Control available to verify if its living conditions had ever been inspected.

* Cover the entrance with a pair of metal doors with round handles, each shaped like an ouroboros, because that’s how Knights Templar roll. Cover the entrance with white bricks so no one stumbles over the handles. Wouldn’t want stray children injuring themselves on the gates to that special obstacle course you probably spent years building and bewitching.

* Build part of a brick building next to the entrance. Don’t bother finishing it. If you must finish it, construct most of it from biodegradable materials such as straw, hay, cardboard, lunchmeat, or whatever else a Little Pig would use. (Mama Mills showed this particular set of bricks to Abbie in a dream last week. She recognizes it, but Mama didn’t give her any other dream-hints to help her along.)

* Hang a plaque on the brick wall next to the entrance as a subtle reminder that something important is exactly right there. Secure it tightly enough to the wall so that no one short of a Horseman of the Apocalypse could yank it off.

* Start a campaign within the Knights Templar to make “As above, so below” a popular catchphrase to one and all. If they can keep this pithy apothegm squarely in mind at all times, then if they ever do need to retrieve the Sword in case of Armageddon, somehow “As above, so below” will clue them in that, when they walk up to the random plaque on the random brick structure in a random New York field, they’ll know to look down. And then they’ll fist-bump because they’ll know they finally Get It.

* Treasure maps on parchment with large red X’s on them are for chumps. Have a famous colleague such as Ben Franklin cleverly disguise your official treasure map as a political cartoon. If you incorporate a snake theme, those ophiophilic Knights will even give you extra credit. This, we learn, is what the famous “Don’t Tread on Me” image was really about: not our Founding Fathers thumbing their noses at the King of England, but hiding important information in plain sight, and then praying that Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure guy wouldn’t decipher it first and do something stupid with it.

* As the key that unlocks this entire side quest, have someone like Grace Dixon hand-copy the cartoon into their journal, except distorted so that readers can tell what it is only if they recognize your tactic of mirror anamorphosis and hold the page up to a reflective surface. Beneath the picture, come up with a coy caption that sounds like a grand prophecy. Grace Dixon’s winning entry was, “Know thyself completely or you will perish when you try to see.” That way, puzzle-loving tomb raiders will have convoluted advance notice of both the gorgon’s turn-to-stone gaze and the basin’s two-torch authentication system.

Presto! Once you have all that up and running, you’re an official wizard or witch who’s storing their most precious item in a short but deadly LARPing dungeon!

That’s pretty much the episode. Our Heroes want the weapon; they go get the weapon. Henry learns of their plans because they make the mistake of discussing it with Katrina Crane, Spy Witch, through a magically wiretapped magic mirror. He sends a heavily armed Abraham “Headless” van Brunt to go fetch the Sword first. He aborts his first attempt when he wastes too much time trying to kill Abbie and Crane when he arrives. He’s so distracted that his fatal weakness, a super-speedy sunrise, nearly sets him ablaze.

For the Horseman’s second try, Abbie and Crane secretly let him follow because they realize he’s the perfect opponent against the gorgon: he has no head, and therefore no eyes, and is therefore immune to eye-contact super-powers. They have a fight; Headless wins.

Then Crane and van Brunt fight. Thanks to yet another hex that forces entrants to “wear their truest face”, Crane can see, hear, and talk to his former best friend. An earlier flashback harkens back to their fencing days in merry olde England, before Bram moved to the colonies and talked Crane into enlisting and following along. Back then, Bram taunted his indecisive history-professor pal, “Were you meant to teach history or make it?” Now, Bram and Crane trade blows that aren’t merely practice, and take turns sniping at each other for influencing each other’s personal decisions that complicated their respective lives. At first they blame each other for all the bad, but then they decide to own their decisions that they think made them the awesome guys they are today. Only one of these guys is correct, though Neil Jackson, as van Brunt, meets Tom Mison speech for speech and makes a convincing case that he coulda been a contender, but he’s fine with his evil choices.

Important part: they get the sword. Bram’s not around to see its glowy goodness because he’s called away by another magic item: the Shofar, which is every trumpet or horned instrument mentioned in every Bible book ever, from Gideon to Revelations. As the story goes according to its current wielder, that darn Henry Parish, once it’s blown three times, the Endtimes begin.

From the grounds of Fredericks Manor, Henry blows the horn once, loudly enough to be heard in the faraway Templar treasure room. He knows their plans. He’s found and tossed the baby poison Katrina intended to use on baby Moloch before he turned into Kid Moloch and then Teen Moloch for a split-second this week. And now Henry’s outside in the night with a fully grown Moloch standing in a magic circle with fire and whatnot. At Henry’s side in the final moments are Bram, now back in silent Headless Horseman mode, and Henry’s Blazing Sword Armor Golem we haven’t seen since September. Evil is officially afoot.

Meanwhile in the only other subplot, sister Jenny offers to take the escaped Captain Irving over the Canadian border and away from the manhunt. He hangs out with her and discusses the quaint idea of “safety” in their crazy world, until a police checkpoint forces him to bail out of Jenny’s truck and make his way on foot. Later he calls her on a burner and tells her he’s staying in town. He’s got a family to save, a soul contract to break, and some lost screen time to make up.

To be continued in next week’s fall finale! See you then! Hopefully in the usual time slot and without the interruption of real-world horrifying breaking news!

* * * * *

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!

9/22/2014: “This is War
9/29/2014: “The Kindred
10/6/2014: “Root of All Evil
10/13/2014 “Go Where I Send Thee…
10/20/2014: “The Weeping Lady
10/27/2014: “And the Abyss Gazes Back
11/3/2014: “Deliverance
11/10/2014: “Heartless
11/17/2014: “Mama

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