Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Katrina von Tassel Crane, occasionally functional witch and former member of the Sisters of the Radiant Heart, let her son’s machinations and his death sway her over to the Dark Side, then hopped back in time Quantum Leap style into the body of her 1781 self so she can secure his gestation and childhood, even if she has to kill her own husband to do it. The goodly Lieutenant Abbie Mills time-jumped behind her Army of Darkness style and was swiftly imprisoned by Redcoats for the crime of Unsupervised Blackness.
In tonight’s season finale, “Tempus Fugit”: it’s a time-travel episode! And one of the series’ best romps to date, featuring a new kind of Abbie/Crane team-up, the return of the Hessian, a visit from a Founding Father, a selfie that saves the day, and bittersweet closure in case of unfair cancellation.
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…
…the episode wastes no time, and neither does Abbie. She convinces the Redcoats she has info that will win the war against George Washington’s rebel alliance, but she’ll only talk to Captain Ichabod Crane, who’s working for Washington behind their backs. Fortunately Crane has already seen some crazy, supernatural things in his time, but a visitor from the future is quite another story. Her demand creates the first change in the timeline: by having Crane summoned away from the battlefield, he’s absent from the skirmish that originally saw him die in combat against the Hessian, a.k.a. the Headless Horseman’s first evil form. That’s technically a good thing if it doesn’t destroy reality. The initial prognosis is promising.
Abbie tells Crane a great deal of what she knows about him and his wife Katrina, but refrains for as long as possible from telling him about her witch status, her conversion to Dark Katrina, and her pregnancy with his son (which Crane originally never knew until his awakening in our times). Once Abbie is backed into a corner, she finally lets all the puzzle pieces drop and blows his mind.
Those revelations about his dear, sweet wife are a deal-breaker, but he’s later convinced once and for all by irrefutable evidence:
1. A reunion with Katrina at their home, where she hadn’t expected him to show up alive. She’s left incriminating clues on the kitchen table — e.g., ingredients needed to treat pregnancy symptoms, a nasty-looking dagger, the Grand Grimoire left open to a couple of pages with evil-chalk-circle how-to instructions.
2. A video on Abbie’s phone, taken by present-day Crane, of the two of them horsing around and trying to take selfies, as friends do. Crane is devastated to learn of his wife’s treachery, but Crane is as intelligent then as he was now. (Pardon my time-travel tenses.) He figures out how to work the phone more adeptly than some older adults do today, accepts the truths presented to him, and adapts because the situation requires it. The Two Witnesses are a dynamic duo once more. Thus the day is saved, thanks to selfies! And special thanks to Abbie’s phone battery retaining a charge for so long, because who knows when she last had a chance to charge it during last week’s episode. Even if she kept her charger in her pocket, who has time to charge a phone in the 18th century by attaching it to a key on a kite string during a thunderstorm? (Okay, okay, so we know Abbie would make time.)
During the trust-but-verify process, they consult with an old acquaintance: a returning Timothy Busfield as Benjamin Franklin, recently returned from one of his diplomatic trips to France. Franklin is no stranger to the supernatural (cue special cameo by the Frankenstein project from Franklin’s previous episode) and he requires virtually no effort to believe Abbie’s story and point of origin — so little that his acceptance happens offscreen between scenes. Franklin knows exactly what’s needed: a counter-spell that will reverse the effects of the Traveler Spell, send Abbie home, and erase anything and everything that’s happened or will happen soon in the past before she heads forward to the present. (Ow, my tenses. Ow ow ow.)
Basically, if this works, the episode will never have happened, and the consequences don’t matter. That seems like a cheat to us fans who are much happier when the show is at its craziest, but it’s a luxury Our Heroes soon find they’ll need. The Hessian tracks them down to Franklin’s house and attacks. They fight and fight and fight. History goes off the rails a second time when the Hessian succeeds in beheading Benjamin Franklin, ruining a lot of history books and TV miniseries, and leaving a lot of his critical but as-yet-unpatented inventions in legal limbo.
The combatants are dispersed when a Franklin hand grenade (patent pending) brings the house down around them, but Franklin fortunately referred them to a good witch who can assist them: Abbie’s ancestor and local witch Grace Dixon (a returning Onira Tares, who had a bit part in the recent film Project Almanac) over at Fredericks Manor. There’s a minor annoyance along the way when Crane’s British commanding officer Sutton (Generation Kill‘s Marc Menchaca) tries to have Abbie shipped off to slave camp and Crane brought up on treason charges, but Abbie overpowers him hand-to-hand and chokes him into unconsciousness. She tells his KO’d self, “Now that’s true American strength!” and walks coolly away. Yay America!
Grace Dixon is even easier to persuade than Franklin was because (a) witch and (b) they met before, when Grace’s spirit gave Abbie valuable intel via the present-day abandoned but still-haunted manor. For the record, it’s absolutely refreshing to have a TV time-travel episode that doesn’t waste 75% of its running time on characters trying to convince other characters they’re not lying or crazy. Kudos to the writers for letting Crane, Franklin, and Grace keep their wits about them instead of dragging out the 1781 experience into a season-long Fringe-style arc.
Abbie is happy to meet the relative she’s named after in person. (Her full name is Grace Abigail Mills.) Grace shares the feeling and knows just the spell to fix the timeline and override Katrina’s meddling: it’s called “Abiero”, which in Latin translates very loosely as “I will have gone away”, whose future-perfect tense makes it ideal for anti-time-travel use. Slight complication: Katrina uses a fleck of Abbie’s blood she left on Sutton to track Our Heroes down. She murders Sutton, and she and her new partner in crime show up on Grace’s lawn. She smashes Grace’s house-protective hex with a spell of “Cadete”, which I think is Latin for “fall” or “cease” or “die”. While Grace and Abbie work the spell, Crane rushes outside to stall for time, ready to lay down his life because if their plan works, his death will never have happened anyway, though it’ll probably sting really badly.
Once more, Crane and the Hessian fight and fight and fight. Katrina throws an electro-bolt sort of thing once, then stands back and watches them duke it out, maybe because honor dictates it and this is something the Hessian has to do for himself. Sure, she could be using this moment to go inside and lay waste to her enemies, or just turn the house into a giant bonfire, but she’s transfixed because this fight is just so darn cool to watch and she really wants to know how it turns out.
Milliseconds before the Hessian’s fire-ax can plunge through Crane’s neck as ’twas written in Washington Irving’s original prophecy, the Dixon family spell works. Katrina screams, remembering she had one job. She and Abbie are returned to the present, Ben Franklin’s death is undone, and Jeremy Crane’s childhood continues on its previous doomed course. Also, cranky Officer Sutton lives again and his future children exist after all, and his distant descendant Frank Sutton goes on to costar as the equally cranky Sgt. Carter in TV’s Gomer Pyle, USMC.
Katrina is not happy. She’s all set to murder Abbie with witch-telekinesis, and flings a quick “Accio dagger!” in Crane’s direction to yank her dagger away from him. She’s about to win and ruin everything when Crane comes at her, the two collide, and the dagger thrusts into her chest.
Crane is horrified. The woman he loves — probably still loves — lays dying before him. Before them appears the ghost of their son Jeremy (one last hurrah for John Noble), who’s now like a redeemed Jedi spirit that guides her onward from her body, which disintegrates Buffy-vampire style like his did last week.
Katrina is dead. The day is saved. Ichabod is not happy.
Abbie tries to reassure him he had no choice. He tells her, “Yes, I did. We all did.” It’s either his way of saying he did the right thing fully knowing the terrible cost, or it’s one last bitter, shell-shocked snipe at Katrina for choosing evil.
Jenny Mills and Frank Irving show up just in time to say hi and confirm they’re safe and his soul’s free of Henry/Jeremy’s thrall. Our Heroes’ work is not done, though. It was foretold the time of tribulation would last seven years, and so far it’s only been two. More evil surely waits in the wings for its time to rise, but their team will stand together and ready to fight.
For they are…the Four Witnesses! Or, uh, the Sleepers! Or, say, the Hollowers! It’d be cool if they picked a team name, but maybe later. No rush. They have plenty of time.
Well, until the Headless Horseman learns his worst enemy just killed the woman he loved, anyway.
Thus concludes season 2 of Sleepy Hollow. Until and unless we find out if season 3 will happen…thanks very much for following along.
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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 feature-length 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”
11/24/2014: “Magnum Opus”
12/1/2014: “The Akeda”
1/5/2015: “Paradise Lost”
1/19/2015: “Pittura Infamante”
1/26/2015: “Kali Yuga”
2/9/2015: “What Lies Beneath”