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Sleepy Hollow - 1.06 - The Sin Eater - Review and Episode Awards

Note: Generally I write recaps but since the prevailing opinion is that people prefer reviews on SpoilerTV, I'll shorthand the episode into the good, the frustrating, and the nitpicky….plus a few other categories and episode awards at the end. Thanks for reading and be sure to add your opinions in the comments.

The Good:

By far, the best thing about this episode was the end of the mini-hiatus. I don't know about you but those few, short weeks felt like months. It's a sign of how good Sleepy Hollow is that I missed it more every week instead of starting to forget it. Plus, they brought it back in style with guest stars like John Noble of Fringe fame and James Frain, recently of Grimm. For me, Noble worked slightly better simply because Frain always plays the bad guy so I was leery of everything he said from the beginning. However, it was Tongayi Chirisa, whom I had not heard of before, that really made the episode for me. His Cicero was riveting, especially in the forest and dream scene where he tells Ichabod to let go of his guilt. Again I liked how they tied history into the story here as well with Tarleton. As one of the most notoriously cruel leaders on either side, making Tarleton a demon was a smart move. The way Sleepy Hollow spins actual historical people and events into the plot remains one of my favorite features. Another is the humor. While not near as funny as most episodes, the beginning baseball scene was an instant classic, on par with the On-Star lady from The Lesser Key of Solomon. While I was surprised Ichabod made no mention of cricket here, I loved how passionate Abby was about baseball. I'm not even a fan and I was inspired by her speech. No wonder Ichabod suddenly equated heckling umpires with the American way. What made it even better was that it highlighted how their partnership has grown from two chosen people destined to fight evil together into a real friendship. These little moments help sell the bigger drama that followed.

The Surprising:

What shocked me most was the high emotional content of the episode. While they have certainly had high drama scenes before, the scene where Ichabod chooses to drink the poison and Abbie refuses to leave him is the most emotionally fraught thus far. Starting actually in the flashbacks when Ichabod sees Cicero die and then collapses at Katrina's feet, the episode soars with themes of sin and guilt and personal sacrifice. Tom Mison does a phenomenal job of portraying a weight on Ichabod that for the most part wasn't seen in earlier episodes, making it all that more surprising. As the past of Cicero's sacrifice for the common good swirls into the present choice the Freemasons demand, the story comes full circle. However it isn't until Ichabod explains his decision to Abbie that the episode kicks straight for the gut. His matter of fact tone is offset by the determination in Abbie's. For one moment it feels like she has convinced him with news of Katrina and the Sin Eater, so it's doubly hard when he chooses logic. Separated, the horseman still lives. Watching Abbie come to terms with this is aching. Her face and resolve crumble as Ichabod says her name, and even as we all know he will survive, the emotion is palpable. Ichabod: "I've lived on borrowed time, more than any man deserves. I've seen wonders beyond my wildest imaginings." He continues to try to set Abbie at ease with his decision by saying that destiny led him to meet her, of which he is grateful. Abbie: "How can you be so calm about this?" Ichabod admits, "I'm terrified." From that admission on, Abbie won't leave his side, holding his hand for comfort. Abbie: "Too many people I never got a chance to say goodbye to. You are not going to be one of them." The background music swells as Ichabod drinks the poison, making the scene even more dramatic. Ichabod: "I'm so sorry." Yikes, even days later that scene is intense. It's one of those times when a commercial break is needed just to decompress.

The Interesting:

While I have heard of a Sin Eater before, I wasn't quite sure how they would work the concept into Sleepy Hollow. By changing the canon that Headless and Ichabod are actually linked by sin, or more accurately guilt, not blood, it opens up the mythology and tension. After all, if the main hero and the main villain cannot kill each other, the buildup loses intensity. Now if the blood is still a significant factor, then the Sin Eater is the only one still connected to Headless, which seems to be borne out in his final scene when he feels Death. I like this interpretation because it makes John Noble's return important to the story and not just stunt casting. Since the Sin Eater can feel the Horseman and presumably the Horseman can feel him too, he is a key asset who may be able to lead them to Headless and hopefully learn how to stop him. They would do well to keep him close. Of course that also means that the Freemasons should kill the Sin Eater immediately, since they believe to kill one is to kill the other. This would give Frain a reason to return as well and make Ichabod's choices much harder. He was willing to sacrifice himself to kill Headless, but would he also be willing to sacrifice another to the cause?

Captain Irving continues to be an intriguing character as well. He is still the most mysterious and this episode did little to shed light on him. Instead, he is even more puzzling. When Abbie tells him that Ichabod was kidnapped and that horseman is about to come back, he barely bats an eye. I loved the measured look he gives her and the dialogue was fabulous. Captain Irving: "Would that be the Headless Horseman?" Bwah! Still he is remarkably calm for someone whose detective spins a tale told to her by a ghost witch, one that got her sister locked in an asylum. He is even more matter of fact when Abbie wants to take said sister out to track down the sin eater that can separate her de facto partner from Death. Only in a world set in the everyday paranormal does that conversation fly at all. It's further proof that Irving knows far more than he is saying. I find it particularly interesting that the only real emotional response from the stoic captain comes when Abbie says that hurting the horseman will also hurt Crane. He seems startled, but it is no crazier than anything else she said. Hmm. I can't wait until the Irving-centric episode airs and gives some answers.

The Nitpicky:

While some mystery is always good, the Freemasons baffle me. Ostensibly they have spent centuries trying to track down Ichabod in order to kill him and release the threat of Headless. First off, how can they be sure that by killing Ichabod, Headless would die? It seems a huge chance to kill off one of only two people who can stop the Apocalypse on the hopes that your information is good, especially information passed down like telephone presumably. Second, if they did know for sure their info was credible, why in the world would they not try to stop the Sin Eater then? Let's say they believed the Sin Eater really could separate Ichabod from Headless. What good does that do them? They still have Headless on the loose and even fewer options to kill him. Not exactly the goal. They should have been fighting the Sin Eater's plan the whole time because now they are back to square one. Nothing about their motives make sense as logic left in favor of more intense emotion throughout the episode. Now what do they do and if they did have an alternative, why try to kill one of their "brothers" in the first place? If the Freemasons don't immediately try to kill the Sin Eater, then what was the point? Not to mention, Freemasons are pretty easy targets for a show that relies more on innovative storytelling. I was a bit sorry they didn't go for something a bit more esoteric.

The Poor:

This was a great episode but still some things were frustrating - the biggest of which was Abbie's "remnants" speech. In each of the last several episodes, the writers have included some version of it. Yes, Abbie feels like she doesn't belong anywhere. Yes, she and Jenny were split apart by their reactions to the paranormal. Yes, they had a sucky childhood. We get it already. Move on. Not only is this filler, but the episode mishandles a Jenny appearance. Really nothing happened with Jenny that couldn't have taken place in the asylum or through a phone call. Her big scene was to exposit sin eaters. I really like Jenny so using her as scene wallpaper doesn't work for me. Katrina also had her moments. Seriously? No trancing and driving should be a PSA. Katrina came close to killing one of the 2 chosen people just to deliver her message. There ought to be some kind of witch radar for really bad timing. She's also far too dire, recap-y, and cryptic in her pronouncements. Like all prophetical beings, she's too vague to be helpful in both the present and the past. Also, what was up with her first meeting with Ichabod? They both stand around gaping in a cheesy nod to love at first sight. Hopefully it will be explained as Katrina realizing his importance to the cause, but what is Ichabod's excuse?

Episode Awards

Grade: B+

Best Reason to Watch - new episode! No more hiatus or reruns.

Best Scene - Cicero tells Ichabod that his death led to a bigger purpose and for him to let go of his guilt

Best Humor - Abbie explains why she loves baseball and Ichabod gets into the spirit of things

Best Moment - Abbie's face after Jenny says they don't have a warrant

Best Emotion - Ichabod chooses to drink the poison and Abbie refuses to leave him while he does

MVP - the flashbacks
-They helped us get further into Ichabod's head and clarified how a former British soldier would have access to someone as high up as Washington. They also gave background into Ichabod and Katrina's story, which was a nice addition.

Best Kick Butt Moment - Abbie pulls a gun on the Freemasons and demands entrance to see Crane

Most Anvilicious - The dramatic "bah-bohm" music when Frain gives Ichabod the box with poison in it

Biggest Twist - tie - Katrina's coven aligned with the Masons / Ichabod's guilt not blood tied him to Headless

Best Re-Appearance - Headless returns and tracks Ichabod's not-so-final resting place

Most Shocking Moment - tie - Sin Eater stabs Ichabod's palm / Ichabod in a British uniform

Cheesiest Moment - The blood divides into two pools

Most Gross Moment - Sin Eater eats the bloody bread

Best Quotes:

1. Abby: "Exercise your heartfelt right. Free speech. Just next time wait for the ump to make a call."
2. Captain Irving: "You know there are 2 things in life I believe a person should hold on to for as long as possible - virginity and skepticism. Surprisingly I already lost the first thing so I'm going to hold on to the second one for as long as possible."
3. Jenny: "Well the next time you see that witch in a dream, tell her to be more specific." - Amen, Jenny. That goes for every cryptic person in genre shows.
4. Ichabod: "You were right. There's always another way." Abbie: "Next time listen to me, okay? I can't go through that again." Ichabod: "My ears shall remain eternally open to your admonition." Abbie: "I don't know what the hell that means. Just say yes."

Screencaps by Kiss Them Goodbye.net

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