“Sleepy Hollow” 2/2/2015: Salem Witch Trials and Tribulations

Sleepy Hollow!

And men shall call this villain…Power Pilgrim! Colonel Colonial! Professor Puritan! The Thanksgiving Thaumaturge!

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Our Heroes kept Hawley’s vampire godmother from using a Kali statue inappropriately; Crane learned karaoke works better when Abbie picks the songs; the Ford Motor Company revealed their hopes and dreams for your future; and the resurrected Captain Irving emerged from Purgatory but couldn’t see his reflection, which meant four more weeks of evil.

In tonight’s new episode, “Spellcaster”, another Purgatory fugitive teaches us a new kind of magic; Crane goes house-hunting and works on his trash-talk; Irving’s problems make strange bedfellows; Katrina’s witch powers work for a while; and we finally catch up with Henry Parish — slayer of Moloch, a Horseman no more, still a diorama maker extraordinaire.

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…

…this week’s special guest villain, Solomon Kent (Johnathon Schaech, lead Oneder from That Thing You Do!), dates back to 1692 when he led the infamous town of Salem seemingly as a man of God. One fateful day when his flirting with the goodly Sarah Osborne (Lindsey Garrett) is rejected and makes him freak out because he can’t understand why a good-looking girl like her would say no to a nice guy like him, in his humiliated overreaction he slips and accidentally murders her. He decides in the heat of the moment to create a complicated alibi by turning to the Dark Side, using top-secret blood magic to frame her as a witch who deserved to die, and declaring all other witches must also die, so everyone get out your torches and pitchforks ’cause it’s persecutin’ time. And that’s the real story of how the Salem Witch Trials began, as a sinister black-ops cover-up for a sensitive misogynist who couldn’t take rejection like a grown man.

Not everyone in Salem was so easily suckered. Enter Dutch immigrant and Salem resident Helena van Tassel, not-too-distant ancestor of Katrina van Tassel Crane, also played by Katia Winter in a dual role. You’d think the two women are one and the same unless you look for the subtle nuances, such as Helena’s blond hair. Helena threatens to call him out, but she’s too slow on the draw. Kent has her arrested for witchcraft — accurately so, in a bit of double-irony — and tried and executed. The Sisters of the Radiant Heart, Katrina’s coven, retaliate and take him down, then send him to Purgatory. Why he wasn’t simply boarded on the straight track to Inferno isn’t explained. And so the Sisters leaves Salem, including the woman who would become Katrina’s mom, though if my wife’s math is accurate (and I’m better at math than she is), in order for a woman living in 1692 to have a thirtysomething daughter alive during the Revolution, she would’ve been quite an elderly mother at the time of Katrina’s birth, in stoic defiance of the short life expectancies of the era. Or maybe Katrina’s mom vainly used witchcraft to extend her lifespan and looks. And who could blame her?

Solomon Kane #3!

Solomon Kent’s good twin brother Solomon Kane. Art by the great Bill Sienkiewicz.

Fast-forward to the present: Solomon Kent is one of the zillions of prisoners freed a few episodes ago when Henry Parish killed the demon lord Moloch and tore open the gates between Purgatory and Earth. Solomon Kent was one of the gen-pop inmates and now he’s free. He has a plan, and he has an uncanny resemblance to the adventurer Solomon Kane, an unlikely hero created back in the 1920s by Robert E. Howard, best known as the father of Conan the Barbarian. Granted, I’ve never read any of Howard’s novels. I’ve had the recent Solomon Kane movie in my queue for a few months and I’m afraid to fire it up. But I still own all six issues of the forgotten Marvel miniseries that was published back in the ’80s. Solomon Kent and Solomon Kane share Puritan fashion sense and apparently their mothers used the same ancient baby name book. But they’re easy to tell apart because Kane saves lives by stabbing monsters while Kent summons power by stabbing himself.

Kent’s fiendish plan requires him to retrieve the Artifact of the Week: the Grand Grimoire, an enchanted volume from the Time-Life-Necronomicon Library with useful Dark Side spells. Kent has his sights set on just one: time travel. He means to go back to 1692, stop himself from killing Sarah, rewrite himself into a better person, convince her to give him a second chance somehow, wed happily, have lots of little Kents, save Salem’s historical reputation, and while he’s in the temporal vicinity maybe save a high school dance by showing off some fancy modern piano licks that a bedazzled Marvin Vivaldi can share with his more famous cousin.

Kent homes in on the auction house where the Grimoire is being kept, murders two of its keepers, and steals away with it to do his evil time-travel research using his blood magic, which we learn is a very different thing from Katrina’s brand of nature magic. (Blood magicians like Kent also depend on Jimson weed, known in some circles as “moon flower”, because reasons.) The Grimoire has some pages stashed in another part of the auction house, and some centuries-ago hex work by the scholar/sorceror John Dee acts a safety lock preventing any evil Grimoire usage unless the entire work is collected once more within the same binder. This basically means Kent has to make two trips because the auction house management has no magical precautions of its own in place, other than to have the extra pages delivered in a separate package, and then left in another room. End of security measures list. It’s worth noting the auction house is in White Plains, which is seven miles east of Sleepy Hollow. I’m sure White Plains is pretty new to the whole end-of-the-world black-magic thing, but hopefully they’re awake now and will prepare to do better next time they’re invaded by a wizard from beyond.

Abbie and Crane are on the case with some help from FBI-designed “Let’s Enhance!” imaging software, Katrina’s witch magic while it lasts (round 1 only), references to “the Traveler Spell” in the journal of her ancestor Grace Dixon (cf. previous episodes), and an eager-to-please Captain Irving, who swears he’s totally not evil and Katrina’s sporadic magic proved it last week and he’s still a nice guy and they should all totally go back to being friends now. Abbie blinks twice, and then she’s cool with him again.

Round 1 is fought in the auction house backroom, where Kent stabs himself to make a pair of shiny liquid blood golems who happen to be weak against bullets and seem like a fair waste of conjuration to me. Abbie and Crane spar with them and Crane practices his action-hero trash-talk (“Curb thy foul stench, unholy minion!” is worth maybe a C-plus). Katrina zaps Kent with a rare lightning-bolt attack; in return he tries to tempt her to the Dark Side with promises of magic powers that actually work more than once a month. After an earlier scene in which a flower-colorization charm stymies her, it’s easy to see why Katrina might stop and listen to what the evil man has to say.

Sleepy Hollow!

Would you take wizarding advice from Grungy Jim Morrison here?

Crane and Abbie have to face Kent alone for the final showdown because some light tracking and the one lightning bolt used up all of Katrina’s Magic Points. Crane despairs at first, but Abbie speaks on behalf of the Viewers at Home when she reminds him of how many times they’ve saved the day without Katrina’s powers — i.e., virtually all the previous episodes. The pep talk works.

Round 2 is in the Sleepy Hollow enchanted forest, where all the best ley lines meet, and Kent can take advantage of the power boost afforded by the Perigean tide, which on Earth-SH is at midnight that very night, though this differs from the tide schedule on our Earth. Too bad for Kent he doesn’t realize Our Heroes know Kent’s one weakness: all the elements! And too much Jimson weed! Irving shoots him with a blowdart full of Jimson weed extract that gives him an atropine overdose and ruins his concentration. Then Abbie uses a generator to electrify the wet ground around Kent and fries him pretty good without shocking anyone else present. Then Crane delivers the coup de grâce by punching him in the face several times for messing with his wife. Crane insists on taking the action-hero thing to the extreme. It’s also a reminder to himself that while both he and Kent are dignified men of times past who would sacrifice much to save the women they love, Kent’s current course of ostensibly life-saving action began in the first place as a result of his own evil.

Kent is unconscious and the day is saved! Abbie and Crane wander off because they think Irving got lost. Once they’re gone, Irving emerges from plain sight, snaps Kent’s neck, hides the Grimoire in his jacket, and watches Kent’s remains turn to dust. Nope, nothing suspicious there.

Meanwhile back at Sheriff Corbin’s cabin, Katrina retries the simple flower-colorization spell, except this time she accesses some of the deeper, spookier magic that Kent was chatting up with her earlier. This time the colors change more swiftly, more malevolently. Thus do we see the early baby steps of Katrina Crane transforming into Dark Willow from Buffy season 6.

Meanwhile in the episode’s B-plot, a weary Henry Parish hides out at a motel where he sort of befriends the crippled manager (Andrea Powell, Ender’s mom from Ender’s Game) and her young repairman son, who also likes to make dioramas and dollhouse-sized things like Henry does. Henry puts up with them, but hanging out with muggles still isn’t his thing. When a trio of white gangstas bother the manager and her son, Henry waits till the two nice people are gone, then flexes his magic muscles and kills the Jesse Pinkman wannabes telekinetically — not because they were mean, but because they’re prey and he’s a predator and he feels like it.

Later he meets up in the enchanted forest with his new best friend Captain Irving, who’s happy to serve and looks forward to working together. Henry regrets getting so maudlin about killing Moloch, but he realizes he’s much happier not to be under someone else’s thumb anymore. Now he’s not just a high-ranking henchman. Now Henry’s free to be his own super-villain. Whether Irving’s role is as minion, partner, or tool remains to be seen.

To be continued! Until next week, if you’re interested in value-added on-topic fun, be sure to check out our photos of Salem, MA, from our 2013 road trip, here and here!

* * * * *

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
11/24/2014: “Magnum Opus
12/1/2014: “The Akeda
1/5/2015: “Paradise Lost
1/19/2015: “Pittura Infamante
1/26/2015: “Kali Yuga

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