Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Agent Abbie Mills has now followed Mulder and Scully into the ranks of the FBI; our man Ichabod Crane strongly believes the second Tribulation is nigh; sister Jenny was among the few to survive the great cast-pruning of 2015; Crane has flashbacks about his old colleague Betsy Ross, American Action Spy; and good ol’ Tarrytown welcomed a new Big Bad, the scheming Pandora. (No, not the music service.)
In tonight’s new episode, “Whispers in the Dark”: Abbie and Crane reveal some new secrets, the show adds a few replacement male characters, more tidbits are revealed from the nine-month time-jump, Crane throws himself into some intense household chores, and there’s a Dementor on the loose with an oddly specific serial-killing fetish.
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…
…at some point in the past year, while Crane was overseas on hero sabbatical, Sheriff Corbin’s old cabin down by the lake found itself a new tenant: son Joe Corbin (a returning Zach Appelman, now officially recurring), who’s apparently free of the Wendigo curse that complicated his one previous episode. Joe’s still jealous that his dad was kinder and more honest to the orphaned Mills sisters than he was to his own flesh-‘n’-blood. Now that he’s been exposed to the weird magical world that the sheriff had to navigate, he wants to know more, and what better guide than Jenny, who’s like an irritated foster sister to him. Joe visits Jenny at her trailer and tries to convince her that they could team up and fight magic-crime together. As a peace offering and as a pretext to talk to her, he brings over some of her belongings from the cabin, which is usually something you do when you’re kicking out a roommate, not when you’re trying to connect with them.
Jenny’s not so keen on partnering, especially if it means being honest with him all the time. UGH. To convince her what a dynamic duo they’d make, Joe gets himself unwittingly kidnapped by a fellow relic hunter named Randall Martin (Anthony K. Hyatt), who’s been sent by mysterious employers to retrieve the mysterious black shard that Jenny’s been coveting ever since she found it last week in Our Heroes’ secret library. (Her shard investigation so far consists of image searches for the Egyptian god Anubis.) Jenny gets in a few solid blows against Randall, but he pulls the hostage card and threatens to kill Joe. She gives him the shard, saves the boy’s life, and for some reason agrees to team up with him in future episodes. Fox’s preseason press materials kept referring to Joe as a “fan favorite” based either on his single appearance or on their desperate need for us to accept him. We’re told here that he’s an ex-Marine who now has a job as an EMT. So far, though, he’s about as useful as Xander from Buffy season 1 and nowhere near as funny.
With Joe settled in the cabin, that leaves a returning Crane without a place to stay, so Abbie puts him up in a spare room at her place. In exchange, he does all the household chores with a zealous panache, though a burnt casserole attests that competent cooking remains beyond his grasp for now. Alas, homefront chatter gives way to a new case as Agent Mills is summoned to Sleepy Hollow city hall, where a comptroller accountant named Paul Everett (Ethan Henry) is dead from an apparent heart attack. Crane spots a fleeting shadow in a window across the street, has a funny feeling, and concludes this was no mere coronary — this was magical murder. Later they find security recordings picked up voices from the moments that flashed before Everett’s eyes. Some were his coworkers all but confessing to their pension embezzlement scheme; one is a wicked rasp fixated on secrets and killing. Sleepy Hollow’s businesspeople spent a fortune to equip their cameras with high-end microphones, and they were worth every penny.
Crane quickly narrows down the potential monster identities using a combination of Grace Dixon’s infinite journal of peculiar incidents and a personal flashback to this one time when he and Betsy Ross, Undercover Super-Patriot, infiltrated a gathering at the mansion of Redcoat Commander-in-Chief/General William Howe (voice actor Nicholas Guest), only to come face-to-face with a killer demon made of shadows who once was a traitor named Marcus Collins (stuntman Alexander Ward, who previously played a demon on American Horror Story). After his misdeeds that grieved a budding America so, he somehow became a “whispering wraith” that thrived on killing people who harbor enormous secrets, preferably before they could reveal them. The only victims we see in the flashback are a pair of horses, and I’d love to know what they were hiding. As in several other fantasy works, we learn Names Have Power, and so Betsy chases away the wraith by saying “Marcus Collins” a lot. It’s his one weakness.(The “whispering wraith” never seems to settle on an official mythological name. Crane refers to him once as a Dire Wraith, but fans of ROM Spaceknight know that one’s already taken. “Ringwraith” is likewise spoken for, and labels containing the word “shadow” are so played out. And speaking of “spoken for”, Marcus Collins is also the name of a former X-Factor contestant.)
Fast-forward 250 years and Pandora has summoned the wraith from her box to sow chaos in Sleepy Hollow. Phase 1 of this new plan involves using her magical illusions to create a fake coffee shop at city hall for one day only, disguising herself as a barista, latching on to what Everett’s hiding during the workday, and siccing the wraith on him. This plan may or may not be related to the giant blue trees she’s growing in her secret lair. It helps pass the time until the trees are ready to become evil Ents, maybe.
The wraith takes one more victim fellow embezzler Richard Williams (Juan Pablo Veiza) before Our Heroes begin to get their act together. Abbie’s first impulse is to shoot it. Bullets pass through harmlessly. Crane tries swinging a big metal pipe at it. It dodges instead of letting the pipe pass through harmlessly. The wraith has assimilated the combat techniques of George Reeves’ Superman. The wraith also doesn’t like light, but somehow its stabby, shadowy, non-corporeal limbs have the power to short out a fuse box and thereby turn off any such nuisances. Crane’s sources say it can be felled by an arrow blessed by a priest of Angkor. They refuse to pursue this option because Cambodia is really far away and they’re lazy quitters who just assume none of the local relic hunters have one in stock.
Crane saves the day by remembering his flashback and saying “Marcus Collins” a lot. Then he stabs at the wraith with the pipe and it dissipates, which I guess is supposed to count as dying. Case closed, even though Abbie can’t put half of what they just experienced in her report. Everett and Williams are denied innocence in their passing, though, because Our Heroes saved the life of a third conspirator named Susan James (Charlene Amoia, a.k.a. Wendy the waitress from How I Met Your Mother), who thanks them by confessing to the entire scheme.
During their altercations, the wraith made full use of his power to summon flashbacks to people’s dark secrets. (All the worst villains never, ever prey on your light secrets, such as that one time a McDonald’s cashier gave you an extra dollar bill with your change and you walked off without admitting it. SHAME ON YOU, but consider yourself lucky that not even the most vengeful boogeyman is bored enough to care.) Whereas the embezzlers focused on the obvious sins at hand, Crane recalls another scene that shames him: this one time when General Howe’s men captured him and he came thiiis close to ratting out his fellow American spies. Crane sees this moment of temptation as a sign of weakness and/or sinfulness, but later Abbie helps him work through it. We’re all tempted to do wrong from time to time. Temptation isn’t a sin in and of itself; it’s how you respond to temptation that proves your character. Ultimately, Crane resisted. And in so doing, he won. Crane smiles and breathes more easily as he feels “the weight of a secret lifted.”
Abbie, on the other hand, refuses to talk about what the wraith showed her, and therefore learns nothing this week. Lesson deferred, perhaps. We do learn of another time-jump development: while Crane was away, she had a romantic dalliance at Quantico with fellow ambitious classmate Daniel Reynolds (Lance Gross from Tyler Perry’s House of Payne). They broke up before the season began, but with last week’s tragic death of C. Thomas Howell, Reynolds has now moved to Sleepy Hollow and taken his job. He’s her new boss! And potential love interest! Because who doesn’t love an old-fashioned love triangle? He and Crane exchange side-eyes, but luckily for Crane, Reynolds doesn’t really do much except tell Abbie “Good Job!” and “I hope we can still work together despite this total conflict of interest.”
One more new character is barely introduced in passing. With the centuries-old building that houses their secret crimefighting library soon to be demolished, Crane files a petition to have it declared a historical landmark and therefore immune to commercial progress. However, such requests are generally only taken seriously if they’re filed by an American or by a legal immigrant with all the proper documentation. Crane receives the conditionally bad news in person from a representative with the local historical society (Maya Kazan from The Knick), who in a recent EW article is said to be a new potential love interest named Zoe Corinth, and may be sticking around for a bit.
Meanwhile across America, Ichabbie ‘shippers throw heavy objects at their TV sets and call the writers terrible, unprintable names.
To be continued!