MCC Live-Tweeting: The “Sleepy Hollow” Season 3 Finale

Sleepy Hollow!

In which Ichabbie bids us a clumsy, ill-conceived Ichabbye.

Okay, after a self-mandated 24-hour cooling-off period, I think I’m ready to tackle that Friday night fiasco.

Once upon a time, Midlife Crisis Crossover provided same-night recaps of every episode of Sleepy Hollow. I’m not a pro reviewer entitled to advance copies of any TV shows, so every recap was an intense, on-the-fly, two- to three-hour marathon writing session, thinking and typing as quickly as I could to combine plot summary with top-of-my-head commentary in 1500- to 2000-word bursts — partly to see if I could do it, partly because sometimes there’s an audience for such a thing. This formerly fun exercise became a thankless chore if I paid too much attention to the competition from actual pro websites given days to prepare their material so they can click “Publish” mere seconds after each episode ends. It’s a nice luxury if you can work your way into it and don’t have to worry about sleep deprivation disrupting your full-time day job.

When Fox moved Sleepy Hollow to Fridays for the back half of season 3, I figured it was the perfect time to pull the plug on that ongoing MCC feature, not only due to diminishing returns but also because we have a family commitment every other Friday that precluded same-night recaps. Past experiences have taught me that delayed recaps are a waste of time and bandwidth, so that wasn’t an option, and that’s why this entry is not a straight-up recap. My wife and I still followed the show as fans, and every other week I’ve been live-tweeting it, which turned out to be a much better format for me. All of the MST3K-style improv joke-writing, none of the boring golf-commentator filler.

The timing worked out so that I could live-tweet last night’s season finale, “Ragnarok”, an astoundingly disappointing episode that encapsulated all of this season’s flaws to date, then one-upped them with the most poorly orchestrated mistake in series history. And after it was all over, I was there to watch the internet burn. Not just once, but twice.

(SPOILERS from here on out, in case you skipped the last day’s worth of entertainment headlines.)

This season has been overstuffed with new characters that never mattered to us. We thought our Big Bad would be the mythical, pompous Pandora, who acted as ringleader for this year’s first several monsters because reasons that varied month-to-month, but then we learned she was just a moll for the Hidden One, an old-fashioned nihilistic one-dimensional evil god who wanted Earth to perish so he could be happy and presumably really lonely. He didn’t even have the pleasure of an evil laugh, and evil gods without evil laughs are the kind of nemesis that populate many an unpublished fantasy novel.

Because our heroes Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills had amazingly, creatively fun will-they/won’t-they chemistry, the new showrunners felt compelled to ruin this with a love triangle. Indecisive about which way to draw the triangle, they threw in multiple potential vertices and hoped any one of them would stick to their graph. We had Abbie’s old flame/new boss, FBI Agent Reynolds; we had Agent Sophie Foster, basically a spare Abbie; and we had the intrusive insertion of the legendary Betsy Ross, purportedly an old flame of Crane’s, revealed as a double-secret action spy and an eighteenth-century Forrest Gump who magically showed up at every major American historical point in time between 1760 and 1800. The producers apparently loved Betsy to pieces and thought we would too if she showed up in flashbacks again and again and again and again and again and again. Never mind that her tales beg the question of whether Crane hooked up with her before, after, or during his marriage to his once-beloved wife Katrina, who died near the end of season 2 and never appeared in a single season-3 flashback even though her death in no way wrote her out of existence.

Meanwhile in the background, Abbie’s sister Jenny remains a steadfast reminder that the show used to have cool costars until they killed or exiled them all. Instead of finding an individual purpose in her life apart from “Abbie’s sister”, she spent season 3 in forced romance with li’l Joe Corbin, which the early Fox press releases insisted was a “fan favorite” based on the one season-2 episode in which he turned into a Wendigo and really missed his much cooler dad. He brought to this team all the vaunted skills of hostage, gofer, worrywart, first-round fight loser, and cheerleader. Every other episode the writers would throw him a new trait that was supposed to make him more useful. (Did we mention he’s an EMT? Did we mention he’s ex-military? Did we mention he’s filthy rich? Did we mention we’ll keep approaching the male Mary Sue vanishing point until you promise to like him?) By my recount, the only fight he ever ended successfully this year was that time he smashed a fire zombie to smithereens with a big hammer, except he had to wait for Jenny to freeze him first, and then Joe hit him from behind and the day was saved. YO, JOE.

Last week Our Heroes were still treading water while the Hidden One crept ever closer to non-Biblical endtimes, in keeping with how the show has stopped hewing to the Book of Revelations ever since season 1 ended. Abbie and Jenny had brought in NYPD Blue‘s James McDaniel as Deadbeat Daddy Mills, who of course turns out to be a former best friend of the late, awesome Sheriff Corbin. Our Heroes teamed up with a scorned Pandora, but in the midst of foot-dragging chaos, a price was paid: Fan Favorite Joe Corbin reverted to killer Wendigo state and had to be killed before killing them. Oh, darn.

My live-tweets started with the usual intermittent chat-along, made more sense if you were watching the episode, and read as calm and reasonable at first…

Up to this point: after a stiffly staged showdown that largely consists of everyone standing still and yelling at each other across an empty room, the Hidden One has his power stripped, then Jenny caps him with a single bullet to the head, in such a delightfully simple way that would make Scott Evil proud (“I have a gun in my room…”). Pandora then reneges on the truce and decides now’s good for taking over the world. Crane brings back the Headless Horseman, who’s been incapacitated since the season premiere. He barely makes a difference, but eventually Pandora is stopped and her magic box destroyed, but at a price.

In order to save the world and make season 3 go away, Abbie sacrifices herself. The show kills her. One of its main characters. One of its two best characters. One half of the niftiest dynamic duo on current network TV. One of the two stars that put the show on the map and drew solid ratings in season 1 against all expectations. One of the precious few minority stars of a currently running fantasy/sci-fi show. It kills Abbie Mills dead.

As a parting gift, she gets an afterlife chat with special guest Clancy Brown as the late Sheriff August Corbin, who reminds us how much we’ve missed him since the pilot and his too-few flashbacks. And then he, Abbie, and Fan Favorite Joe Corbin all enjoy the afterlife in a way that’s meant to convey this is the kind of afterlife that forbids easy TV resurrections. The show all but reprises the Monty Python “dead parrot” sketch in making sure we know that Abbie has passed on. Abbie is no more. Abbie has ceased to be. Abbie’s expired and gone to meet her Maker. Abbie’s a stiff, bereft of life, resting in peace. Her metabolic processes are now history. She’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible. Abbie Mills…is an ex-protagonist.

It took a while for me to work through the denial stage.

And so all the secondary characters move on, with Crane finding out that the “Witness” role now transfers from the late Abbie to another new Witness TBD, whom he’ll have to find and partner up with if there’s a season 4. So they’ve turned the show into a cut-rate Doctor Who in which the companion will regenerate every few seasons instead of the Doctor. Yay?

Crane tries to conclude the episode with something like a dignified, bittersweet farewell speech to Abbie’s headstone. But the showrunners decided they couldn’t bear to end on a moment of grieving or good acting, so in drives the Shadowy Government Conspiracy that we’d seen some boring interludes allude to in previous episodes. They cart Crane off in their evil SUVs for questioning or whatever, and the show ends on this bewildering, anticlimactic cliffhanger.

I was not happy. And I’m just some aging white guy. I had nothin’ on Black Twitter rage. And I don’t disagree with them.

Nicole Beharie!

Our pic of Nicole Beharie when we met her at Wizard World Chicago 2014. Such happy, innocent times.

I tried to work through it for the next few hours, with limited success…

By this time the entertainment sites had already been clicking “Publish” on their prepared post-show headlines, most providing verbatim quotes from separate official statements by the showrunners and by former star Nicole Beharie, each containing the same painstakingly worded sentiments that were approved by Fox and the PR reps of all involved parties. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety were more honest and troubling in their articles, in which her departure is officially confirmed and we’re just now told that Beharie had been unhappy for quite some time and wanted to exit the show months ago, but the producers took all year long to work up an exit strategy, only to throw up their hands and pretty much fail everyone on both sides of the TV screen in the end.

This was a terrible way to learn that during this mediocre season, meanwhile behind the scenes, things were falling apart.

For a while I just sat there reading through fans’ vitriol and heartbreak under the various hashtags — #SleepyHollow, #SleepyHolla, and the decidedly unhappier #ShadyHollow. ‘Round midnight I decided to say hi to west-coast fans when the Pacific Time Zone airing of the finale ended…

…and then, despite the typo, my phone exploded with notifications for the next few hours at the responses to this and subsequent tweets as the fury of both coasts united into a single, aggrieved, sustained roar.

Eventually I decided to head to bed early, skipping both writing and my usual Friday night gaming.

It didn’t help.

I spent most of today off-grid doing family stuff out of town. The break helped immensely. The finale still sucked, but the urge to type about it in all-caps has passed.

I mean, we knew season 3 would be a dicey proposition after season 2 wrapped up all previous plot strands with such a pretty bow. At best we’d be in for just another paranormal procedural. Maybe call it Grimmnatural X-Fringe. The important thing was we’d get more Abbie/Crane synergy, repartee, and tongue-in-cheek jabs at things that amuse or irk Crane. We got that on occasion, except for the numerous episodes in which they were separated, the episodes where one of the actors was on vacation that week, the episodes where Abbie’s personality was warped by her ten months in catacomb limbo, and the episodes where none of the show’s writers could figure out how to draw three straight lines and connect themselves a single love triangle.

We got a scant handful of always-lovable Abbie/Crane convos, and we got last fall’s creepy Tooth Fairy episode directed by Guillermo Navarro, more or less the highlight by default. Season 3 was largely a waste of hopes, but now the showrunners think in all sincerity that there’s a reason why Fox should let them keep their jobs. And they’re counting on us loving Tom Mison unconditionally with or without Leftenant Mills at his side.

Too bad they forgot what they wrote in their own scripts.

Ichabod Crane!

If you adored that final season of X-Files starring Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish, maybe you’ll love whatever Fox has in store next for Sleepy Hollow. Probably not six seasons and a movie.

20 responses

    • I remember watching Buffy seasons 5 on tv and being wrecked. This is NOT the same. Buffy season 5 dropped clues and hints all season that this is something Buffy wanted. Death was her gift after an adult life of unwanted slayer responsibilities and the heavy burden of being the family rock after her mother’s death. She hated it all. I was wrecked, but was also relieved for her.
      Abbie had no such send-off. Pandora only once told her,” you don’t crave mortality but fight like you do”. Whatever that means. Then, they had her show PTSD via that weird addiction to that symbol, which turned out to be a good thing?…But didn’t pan out to anything more than a brief and random witness psychic link, and an opportunity to shield Crane from THO’s razzle dazzle before disintegrating with those similarly underutilized witness tablets. Thanks for accessorizing the mythos with disposable artifacts, writers! We fans totally have short term memories and do not require you to carry forth a storyline through an entire season!
      In the penultimate episode, Abby is going to tell Reynolds the truth because she wants to continue the positive change in her life and is opening up to possibilities of a life of actually being a normal person in addition to being a witness. And then in the end, she’s like “my life has come full circle”, “Abbie Mills has done all she can do”, “Crane, whatever you do, I do. That’s the deal…but let me do this thing over here and you keep doing you over there” and “I know they said seven years of tribulations, but I’m out!”
      I keep hearing this finale being labeled as having a twist ending. There was no twist here, just non-nonsensical lazy writing that tried to manipulate viewer emotions in the end by dropping lines like, “be brave, be strong, honor our bond.” Yeah. No.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well said, and I appreciate the sharper recollections of Buffy season 5. Joss & Co. were much better long-term planners, actually setting goals and working toward them. It’s obvious the Hollow ‘runners were making up most of this as they went and hoping the results would be slightly better than Lost. Along with your perfect examples of dead-end subplots, I’d also point to the finale’s parting scenes with Betsy Ross, in which her presence in the catacombs served no purpose and wouldn’t have been hard to delete. Much like 90% of her participation in this season, I have to wonder why they even bothered. After a while I’m not even sure THEY knew why they were bothering with any of this.


        • Absolutely true! Betsy and, really, none of the new characters had any real contribution to the main plot line (I’m struggling to figure out what that even was). So what if Sophie was a “turncoat”? So what Reynolds was in love with Abby and secretly spying on her? And Joe, as you so aptly pointed out, was used to plug plot points left and right. It was frustrating because they kept introducing characters and little details all season which we expected to fuse into something significant, but were just abandoned in the end. No piecing the puzzle pieces here. Felt like they were playing Abbie in the catacombs: put the makeshift pieces on the chessboard and then just knock it all over onto the ground!


            • I really didn’t get why they waited till the last minute to bring in Ezra, especially if they knew the Mills sisters weren’t sticking around. Unless someone in the brain trust thought season 4 would be all about him and Jenny enjoying some father/daughter catch-up in the distant background while Crane gets used to having a new sidekick instead of an equal partner. Another head-scratching decision to add to the long, long list.


  1. Ok….I’m better now.
    I saw an article online this morning that began with something like: Major spoilers. Do not read ahead if you didn’t see last night’s episode. But, before I could scroll away fast enough my eyes still caught the next sentence announcing the death. Bummer.
    This is a series I’ve slacked on getting going with just because there’s so many TV series to keep up with. I kept saying I would get to it. I looked forward to it and meant to catch up last year. Now I’m already disappointed by the show’s finale move & everything you’ve written about this season in this recap. Should I even bother?


    • Season 1 is still great overall, but ends on an impressively jaw-dropping cliffhanger. If you get that far, you’ll be dying to know what’s next.

      Season 2 sagged in the middle and one character undergoes changes that felt forced…but the next-to-last episode is a fitting resolution to all that. And THEN the season-2 finale is one of the series’ best episodes, a really fun done-in-one time-travel romp that skips a lot of cliches but is more worthwhile if you’ve been following and liking the series in general. It ends nice n’ neat, probably on the assumption that they’d be canceled.

      As for season 3, I’d recommend waiting to see if someone puts up a season 3 Ichabbie-only supercut on YouTube that’s just them bantering about donuts and coffee. Otherwise, pretend the show was canceled after season 2.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to go for it but it’ll be a bummer after 2 is done. How did they manage to mess up something that, from what I’ve heard from many people, was great and on the right track.


        • The premise was so out-there that I’m not sure they thought it through far enough when they first started out. Season 1 was pretty tight, kicked off with a top-notch pilot, and was mapped out well in advance. You could tell by the finale that they’d set up a lot of dominoes, and it was a pleasure watching them fall right in lockstep.

          Season 2 had ideas for how to finish it up, but weakened a bit when the episode order was expanded and they had to stall for time.

          Unfortunately they came to season 3 empty-handed and kind of desperate to find a new purpose. After 16 episodes of false starts, dead ends, irrelevant detours, and too many new characters added more quickly than we could learn why we should care about them…bottom line, there were just too many cooks in the kitchen working without a meal plan, so everyone threw everything in the dish and then tried to pass it off as gourmet catering.


          • Such a shame. Bleh. Double bleh to the last X-Files with Robert Patrick & the reboot…I can’t remember did you watch and recap the reboot? It was a let down mostly😦

            PS: I’m franathoning Dollhouse & it’s the “Aunt Sheilaaaaa!” episode. Good TV/nightmares for days.


            • Back in the day, I watched and really liked the occasional standalone X-Files episode, but the alien “mythology” left me so bored and confused that I skipped most of them and never considered myself an official fan. I saw the first movie, hated it, skipped the second. New series: my friends were all excited, but I was the skeptic who actually remembered how everyone used to complain. I did tune in for the “Were-Creature” episode (thumbs-up), but skipped the rest and then did a little “TOLD YOU SO!” dance in my head when my friends griped about the finale.

              (Anne and I met Dean Haglund at a convention once, so we got that going for us.)

              Liked by 1 person

              • I watched from the first episode on until I abandoned it at the end. I still remember my family gathering in the living room to watch. I sat on the floor by our coffee table. I was also, like, 10 or something so maybe that had something to do with my liking the alien stuff–perhaps it didn’t need to make sense to my childbrain. I loved the standalone episodes too! Those are the ones I still rewatch the most. And the episodes, often those standalones with creatures/monsters, that had a lot of humor. Specifically, one of my favorites is “Bad Blood” from, I think, season 5 with Luke Wilson playing the goofy country cop that turns out to be a vampire.
                The first two episodes of the latest/reboot were not good. Everyone kept saying, online, that Mulder and Scully had so much chemistry. I noticed their total lack of chemistry. They had familiarity but not chemistry. Those are two different things. It almost felt like an X-Files parody with awful writing. The second episode was a little better than the first and by the end of it it got WEIRD in an X-Files way (which I like) but overall–Blar!!
                I was most excited for the werecreature one too!! Especially with Kumail guest starring. I haven’t even finished the series because it otherwise hit so low of my hopeful expectations. You can “TOLD YOU SO!” me if you want. What a let down. I’m babbling, goodbye.

                Liked by 1 person

                • No “told you so” here. Honestly, I think it’s cool how the show was a big family gathering event for you. I had a few of those with my mom and grandma, but it tended to be stuff like “The Golden Girls” and “Little House on the Prairie”. I have warmer memories of those shows than 98% of all males worldwide, but not much chance of Hollywood giving me an opportunity to revisit them.

                  I thought about adding X-Files to my queue and cherry-picking the standalones at some pount, because I missed a lot of them. One question while I’m thinking about it: is the second X-Files movie worth a look?


                  • Hey, The Golden Girls was great and is still one of the best shows around if the reruns are on. I liked Little House too! Reminds me of my grandmother. I even read Melissa Gilbert’s bio a few years ago.
                    How about Highway to Heaven? That was one of my favorite at-grandma’s-house shows when I was little.
                    I loved the second X-Files movie but a lot of people didn’t for reasons I don’t recall. For me, it was a movie that was like the best 2 hour long episode. It was much darker than the first movie and doesn’t have much action. It is creepy. There’s a pedophile priest helping an investigation with his psychic abilities. I’m letting you know in case that bothers you because it’s not the most comfortable topic. I own the DVD so I recommend it and I think it’s quite different in tone and storyline than the first movie. They don’t share many similarities other than: Mystery!


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