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Sleepy Hollow - Spellcaster - Review: "Curb Thy Foul Stench, Unholy Minion!"

2.15 - "Spellcaster"
Directed by Paul Edwards
Written by Albert Kim
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Regular reviewer Romain Ossust cannot continue reviewing Sleepy Hollow for the rest of the season so I am now filling in full-time for this show. Due to the popularity of my preview of this episode, having the second most comments on a preview/review on this site for instance, I will start off by saying I welcome all comments that disagree with me, that is what the comment section is for just please respect the rules of the site when it comes to commenting. Thank you.

Season Guide

Click on the episode title to be taken to that review of the episode. Advance previews will be linked in paranthesis after the episode titles. Some episodes did not get an advance preview. Episodes 1-13 were covered by Romain Ossust.

2.01 - "This Is War" (Advance Preview)
2.02 - "The Kindred" (Advance Preview)
2.03 - "Root of All Evil"
2.04 - "Go Where I Send Thee..." (Advance Preview)
2.05 - "The Weeping Lady"
2.06 - "And the Abyss Gazes Back"
2.07 - "Deliverance" (Advance Preview)
2.08 - "Heartless" (Advance Preview)
2.09 - "Mama" (Advance Preview)
2.10 - "Magnum Opus"
2.11 - "The Akeda" (Advance Preview)
2.12 - "Paradise Lost"
2.13 - "Pittura Infamante"
2.14 - "Kali Yuga"
2.15 - "Spellcaster" (Advance Preview)
2.16 - "What Lies Beneath"
2.17 - "Awakening" (Advance Preview)
2.18 - "Tempus Fugit" (Advance Preview)

'Spellcaster' Recap and Review

'House Hunting With Abbie and Ichabod' - Coming Soon to FOX

The episode opens in an auction house where two of the staff are going through some of their intake and come across a very mystical journal that belonged to a Sorceress. One of the staff members leaves (such an opportune moment for him) and Solomon Kent appears. Even when a security officer comes, it's still not enough against a very powerful warlock. Instead of taking action against this mysterious man who appeared out of nowhere, the security guard decides to try and reason with him, which is of course his job but already I get chills from this guy. I would take no chances. It's a dog-eat-dog world and I would have just pulled the trigger, especially when Solomon pulls out a knife. He slits his own wrist and lets the blood fall to the floor, then does something that causes the poor woman and security guard to drop to their knees, blood pouring out of their eye sockets, nose and ears. Not a nice way to die at all. But this is a fantastic opening and it really sets up the ominous danger for the rest of the episode.

Ichabod has called upon Abbie at an unknown location without context, leading Abbie to a house that's part of a real estate showing. Ichabod claims it's a "scouting expedition" which leads into the real estate agent coming in. She gives them details about the house that Abbie translates for Ichabod (cosy toilets mean too small to live in, a backyard that's rustic means you'll need a landscaper). Ichabod catches on so when the agent says the bathrooms are in their original condition, Ichabod says "older than me". He is really getting this twenty-first century thing down and Abbie is a fantastic teacher to have. We then have a very charming and hilarious

"One cannot even buy a home without being bombarded with modern-day hucksterism!" - Ichabod

With a conversation about how people get degrees for 'marketing', something Ichabod obviously disapproves of, Ichabod is drawn back in by mini muffins. Who wouldn't be, they looked pretty tasty. Abbie and Ichabod leave and Ichabod realises he needs to find a place of his own, "preferably with granite countertops". Abbie tells Ichabod about the murders at the auction house - the two victims blood boiled inside their bodies. Ichabod recognises the book stolen, the Grond Grimoire, and the pair realise they need their specialist in the dark magic department.

Cue Katrina, first appearing in the episode by lifting a pure white flower and changing its colour to a red-purple colour. I think this is possibly symbolic of Katrina herself - turning from pure to dark judging by what happens towards the end of the episode. "200 years in Purgatory have dearly zapped my skills, but I'm gradually growing stronger." Makes sense, 200 years in that place would take its toll on anybody. She levitates a rock and smashes it into a nearby tree. Already that's more magic than we've seen her do so far in a while so it's a nice start. Even Abbie admits it's handy. They show Katrina the Grimoire and she thinks somebody may have summoned the book to Sleepy Hollow - but who? - and it's evident that killing Moloch still has its repurcussions. When Ichabod mentions Henry, Katrina can't seem to make eye contact with him - maybe she does know that Henry is still alive?

Walter Bishop is Alive!!

Cue the much-anticipated reappearance of Henry. I really have missed him and his evil ways. The last thing I expected him to be doing when he returned? Flicking through channels on a television watching the ads. The motel manager (who uses a crutch) comes in after Henry's hot water went out and she offers to get her son, Ronnie, to fix it. She also offers to send for a cleaning lady but Henry just wants his privacy. He seems very depressed and reserved in his peacefulness. The auction house story comes up on the news and the woman asks if he'd seen anything like it. Rhetorical, I'm sure, but Henry admits he had and he wants to forget about it. He sounds very remorseful in saying that I had this feeling that he wanted to be a better man. That theory was proved wrong very quickly.

At the Archives, Abbie and Ichabod are going through what they have found out about the case. The blood on the floor doesn't match the victims (as we saw it belongs to Solomon Kent) but it contains an interesting ingredient - Jimson Weed (or if you're a Harry Potter fan like me, Devil's Snare - deadly fun but can sulk in the sun). Witches call it moonflower. Abbie points out it's like "steroids" and Ichabod says he uses blood magic. Magic comes from different sources - Katrina's from nature, others from elements like fire, the moon and the stars. Blood magic is just that, it draws from blood and evil forces. We see Solomon Kent in an unclosed location sniffing a substance that turns his eyes white. The security cameras are then available to Ichabod and Abbie and Abbie explains some things to Ichabod.

"Oh, pixels! Pixels, thank you!" - Ichabod

Katrina comes in with a few books about the Grimoire just when Abbie gets a clear image of the villain. Katrina recognises him instantly. "He's the warlock all witches fear." What an introduction, definitely bigs the villain up as being this omnipresent fear for all witches and now he's been unleashed. We see him perform more dark magic with the grimoire as Katrina says "wherever Solomon Kent goes... terror and death are sure to follow."

Abbie finds Solomon Kent in one of the books and we are told that he was one of the leaders in Salem. He was beloved by all and we are then brought into a flashback of Katrina's grandmother, also played by Katia Winter. Abbie really shows off her witch knowledge and concludes that the woman Katrina is speaking of is her grandmother. Fortunately I think Katia looks different enough in this flashback that I can believe it's not Katrina here, which is what I thought at first until Abbie pointed it out. Her grandmother was part of a very strong coven that was led by Solomon Kent. We also see Katrina's mother as a young girl and it appears the events that unfolded left such an impression on her that she would pass it on to Katrina so she would never forget.

Abbie wants to know what happened and it's revealed Kent lost his way as he became transfixed on a woman named Sarah (Sara?) Osbourne. Solomon uses his magic to heal her hand and they share a moment, but the feelings weren't reciprocated. Kent asks Sarah to meet him in the church and he gives her a gift and leans in for a kiss, but she refuses. He accidentally kills her and transforms her face to look hideous so he would get away with it, but it started a panic of witches. "There are witches among us!" Katrina's grandmother meets him alone in a barn (silly mistake) and she tries to reason with him but gives him an ultimatum. Deciding his life is worth too much, Kent turned on Helena. He gives the townsfolk a show when slaying her. It was a very creepy moment seeing her floating with her arms outstretched and the blood streaming down her face. Very creepy indeed. They hang her along with two other witches, sparking the Salem Witch Trials. Abbie points out the modernism of the Salem Witch Trials, how it was really about the mass hysteria. Ichabod shares another moment with Abbie as they bounce off each other, Abbie being impressed that Ichabod has been catching up with his History. Back to Salem, we see Kent banished by the surviving members of the coven to Purgatory.

A Race Against the Clock Makes Their Deaths a Matter of Time

At the Auction House, Abbie, Ichabod and Katrina are looking around when Katrina gets a vision of Solomon with the Grimoire. She realises the book is not whole and it's a good thing as accessing its power won't work without the missing pages. It's now a race against Kent to find the second half of the book. Outside, Abbie phones Leena while Irving approaches her. Irving has been trailing her (quiet as a ghost!) saying she is losing her edge. Irving says he was pissed she didn't trust him, though we can't blame Abbie for doing so and she states her reasons. They have a nice little conversation about moving forward and he is about to leave when Abbie stops him. She knew he was trailing her and she details it, showing she isn't losing her edge. That, my friends, is how you do it!

At Henry's motel room, Ronnie is fixing Henry's water when he comes home. Ronnie left a model he made after seeing Henry has been carving. Ronnie's mother was clipped by a drunk driver and Henry thinks of her as a strong woman. It's actually a really nice thing for him to say and I really wasn't expecting him to be so open and friendly. "Who needs a dad, right?" Ronnie says. "Indeed," Henry replies. "Fathers are never what they're cracked up to be." Obvious reference to Henry's hatred of his father. Ronnie lets Henry keep his model and it's a really nice, touching moment. Damn it, I'm having the feels. Abbie and Ichabod find out where the shipment has been relocated to a Distribution Site tonight. They then discuss Irving and it's really nice to see them sharing everything with each other again. No secrets between these two anymore and that's what I've been missing from Season 2. They think that Solomon wants to resurrect Sarah Osbourne but if he opens the gates to the Afterlife, more than just Sarah's soul will enter their realm.

"The world of the living will be overwhelmed by the dead!" - Ichabod

At the centre, Abbie and Ichabod are together creeping inside the warehouse. Ichabod mentions "spidey senses", and Abbie says he's been catching up on his reading, but Ichabod corrects her - "only the classics". Very good interaction. Abbie points out that Ichabod is like Kent which Ichabod takes offence to at first, but Abbie has a point. They talk about life as witnesses and their futures, which Ichabod delivers a very sentimental line - "but we do not fight against something, we fight for something... for love, family, for life." A noise disturbs them and they investigate, leading to Kent. They see him rummaging through the deliveries and surround him, about to attack but he sees them and blasts them both back.

Witch Whispering Wars

Enter Bad-Ass Katrina. BAM! Take that you warlock scum! Katrina moves herself to be positioned in front of Abbie, protecting her as she appears unconscious. Solomon thinks Katrina is Helena but she corrects him. It's clear she wants vengeance for her grandmother. Katrina thinks he's gone mad from the magic, but Solomon Kent says "they've given me powers you couldn't possibly fathom... or could you? Do I sense seeds of darkness within? Have you wondered why your powers betray you when you need them the most? You are walking the wrong path." I never really paid attention to think Katrina always whispers, but fair enough her voice is so soft it kind of sounds that way, and Kent begins to whisper too during his speech about darkness within her. Katrina still tries to reason with his morals as he broke the sacred vow of witchcraft.

Now comes the blood demons. It's true, Katrina could have whooped his ass again right now before he had a chance to summon them, but then she would have robbed us from a truly great moment. The blood is horrifying and the creatures that rise from them are scary! Abbie kills one like the bad-ass she is but one chases them through the maze of shelves. Solomon finds the other book with the heroes distracted. Katrina says she will stop Kent if Abbie and Ichabod can fight the blood demon. Katrina uses a spell to stop Kent from performing the magic he was doing. It causes a sort of tornado around him. Ichabod draws out the demon with trash talk before Abbie kills it. "You really need to work on your trash talk!" Haha, I don't know, I thought he was pretty bad-ass right there. If you get my point by now, I think they're all being bad-ass in this episode.

Back with Kent, Katrina is about to blast him again but Kent quickly fights back. He tells Katrina she resists her full potential. "Give into the darkness, there you will find your true self." As Kent is walking away, Katrina's eyes turn white like his did when he snorted the magical substance. She seems shocked and a little scared by it. When Abbie and Ichabod come, she reveals she is no match for him as he now has a complete book. They go to the Cabin where Katrina needs to recover. Abbie leaves, hoping Ichabod and Katrina can come up with a Plan B. Ichabod notices his wife is shaken. He knows Katrina was abused by Kent's power and he vows to take vengeance on him. I saw some criticism about Katrina needing to rest. I think there's a couple of answers. One, she did say her powers are only gradually getting stronger so they'll take its toll on her. And two, it's deliberate because this show is about the witnesses - Abbie and Ichabod - and if Katrina could defeat Kent, then there'd be no purpose for the witnesses. Plus, she saw the evil that has roots in her, she most likely didn't want to risk it taking hold of her even more.

Naked and Afraid

Abbie meets with Irving at the tavern. "You know there's a show where people go on dates naked?" I absolutely love Irving, after all the tension of the past 10 minutes of the episode, that's what he wants to talk to Abbie about first. Haha. Abbie is totally game though. "Yeah, I saw it after the one where they cook naked." Brilliant banter. "I should have stayed dead." Oh Irving! Abbie asks about Irving's experience with being undead but Irving can't really remember anything about it. He notices Abbie is feeling defeated and we get an amazing glimpse into the Captain Irving we have sorely missed. "You keep fighting. You don't back down, you don't make excuses." Abbie totally needed to hear that. It honestly feels like normality again. Abbie even says it's good to have the Captain back and leaves. For a second, I was laughing along with them, totally happy Irving appeared to be back for the better. But that shade! Irving, what are you keeping from us? That is not a look of goodness.

Back with Henry, we hear a commotion outside. Henry comes outside to see Ronnie and his mother get some abuse from a few gangster kids staying in one of the rooms. Ronnie's mother wants them gone but they refuse. They notice Henry watching and challenge him to come down "for a better view". The music hits a crescendo and instantly fades, building up to... Henry walking back inside his motel room. I actually loved that moment. You'd expect him to go crazy on them, but that privacy he wanted is just too important at this moment in time. But that look Henry gives them. He's definitely not letting them get away that easy.

At the Cabin, Ichabod confirms to Abbie that Katrina will have to sit out for Round 2 against Solomon Kent. Ichabod wonders how to do it without her, but Abbie makes a good point. "Before Katrina was here, we took down all kinds of supernatural threats without magic." They're the witnesses, they can do anything they want as long as they're together. Abbie has been a busy girl checking for the undead but there have been no reportings so she ponders what Solomon's plan really is. Ichabod remembers a phrase Solomon said against Katrina. "I am the traveller". Abbie whips out a book and locates a traveller's spell, allowing the user to jump into the past. Kent isn't trying to resurrect Sarah but instead go back to that time to her. Everything will change as history will rewrite. Very, very dire indeed.

We're Off to See the Warlock

As Abbie and Ichabod gather weapons, they remember Katrina saying about her powers being heightened at this time. When the moon is closest to the Earth, which will occur at midnight (of course), it gives Abbie and Ichabod a timeframe of when to defeat Solomon. Ichabod worries their weapons will be fruitless against Solomon's magic, and that's when Irving steps in. "Then we'll have to make our own magic." The team back together. Abbie reveals why Jenny has been missing in this episode - she's chasing down an orb of some kind - so they need an extra person to help. They realise they need the elements to help them and Abbie concludes she has to face Kent. Ichabod disagrees and says he must face him. "You don't need to prove anything to me." Abbie says, which is just beautiful to hear. It's clear Ichabod is pissed with Kent. Expect a shit storm.

In the woods, Solomon Kent begins his spell. A portal to his village in that time opens but our heroes show up and use a minor explosive to distract him. Ichabod struts out and tells it like it is - "you do not belong here" - and shoots him with an arrow before running for cover. After some talk of his own, it looks he's about to do some dark magic when Irving shoots him in the neck. I actually laughed out loud at that, it was just so dryly done, I found it very humorous. The dart contained the compound he used before which causes him to step in a puddle. "In the twenty-first century, we make our own lightening." Abbie powers the generator that shocks Solomon Kent to the ground. Then Ichabod lets out his anger on him and defends Katrina. It's so awesome to see Ichabod really lay into Kent, using his fists in a way we've never seen before. Abbie even has to hold him back to stop him.

They go looking for Irving but he walks to Kent when they're gone. He picks up the book and snaps Solomon's neck, causing him to disintegrate. I was totally shocked by this when I first saw it. I mean yay, he killed the bad guy, but it's the way he did it. He was so sneaky and ruthless about it. He didn't show any emotion whatsoever. Abbie and Ichabod catch up with him as he hides the book on his person. He explains Solomon has gone along with the Grimoire. I knew something was up with Irving but I didn't expect him to be so ruthless. I think this probably confirms that his soul is gone and somehow that was hidden from Katrina when she performed her supernatural exam on him in the episode prior, though we could tell from her expression that she thought something wasn't right.

Prepare to Be Stabbed In the Back!

At the Cabin, Abbie and Ichabod talk about their win. Abbie was surprised by Ichabod going Rambo on Kent, "remind me to never lay a hand on Katrina." We go back to the comparison Abbie made of Ichabod to Kent and we realise he was more than just defending his wife, but also his morals. Abbie suggests going for a couple of beers and the pair head out. Ichabod asks for Abbie's opinion on his "trash talk" to Kent and Abbie agrees it wasn't bad. She offers to take him to a Hockey game for practice. Love that moment. Katrina walks out of her bedroom and notices that flower she picked at the start of the episode. She raises it up and it explodes. I knew that flower would be symbolic of the darkness inside of her. Her nose begins to bleed too. It's pretty awesome and it shows Katrina is BACK!

At the motel, Henry decides to greet those punks that disrupted the peace the night before. Henry seems to be back to his usual self when he talks to them - that smile that really hides a threatening purpose underneath. Henry tells them he killed his father (referring to Moloch, not Ichabod) and he has felt regret ever since but when he saw them threaten Mary and Ronnie. He was intrigued by their simple lifestyle but it made him realise there's a natural order in the world. "There will always be sheep... wolves... and I... I am a wolf." Amazing. He goes all black-eyed on them and starts killing them one-by-one. Some of them try to run away, others try to fight. No matter what, he's not letting any of them leave alive. The scene is pretty fantastic and shows Henry is BACK! Henry leaves very satisfied.

In the woods, Henry stops at a clearing. Here comes the ultimate betrayal. He's meeting Irving and they shake hands. He tells him the witnesses trust him again and hands Henry the book. Shock. Horror. So what is Henry's game? "Moloch is dead and so are his plans. No longer am I the Horseman of War. No longer will I be defined by someone else. From now on destiny bends to my will!" So he has his own agenda and I'm not surprised, he basically was Moloch's bitch yet he definitely deserved better than how he was treated. He's evil and that's what he'll always be. Not sure of his endgame just yet but it involves the book so there's a high chance it has something to do with changing history. All I can say is this is definitely a tense twist to the plot that will lead to an explosive final three episodes of the season.

"You were wrong Captain Irving when you said this is where it all ended. This is where it all begins..." - Henry

Episode Verdict

This episode's theme was very much about alliances and betrayal. We are reminded a few times about darkness and light and that fine line between them. It appears several characters are going the dark route - Henry (who seemed to redeem himself after killing Moloch) and Irving (who seemed to redeem himself after moving forward with Abbie) both demonstrate the betrayal that has been discussed. Katrina is now struggling with that darkness that could very well lead to her betrayal of the side of good. If there's anything we learned in this episode, it's that Abbie is a fantastic judge of character. She was totally right to be wary of Irving, and even more so of Henry, and now even Katrina. It's all coming full circle with where these characters' paths are heading. The future does not look bright at all but I am hoping the power of the witnesses will prevail.

I found this episode so totally enjoyable. I was thrilled to see an episode that focused on witchcraft and the subject of the Salem Witch Trials. I was excited to see Katrina really start gaining her strength and fighting back with magic that I found was very entertaining. She really is a strong witch she just has to reach her full potential and the writers are now leading to something with her that should be interesting to watch. I am so glad to see the return of Henry and his introduction was so on point. He was very sinister and brooding and his evil potential just reached new heights in this episode. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, ay? And that twist with Irving?! I think we all knew something was up with him but to actually be working with Henry. He's playing the heroes like instruments in a much bigger game than they realise. I hope they do soon. I sorely missed Jenny in this episode but it was good to be able to focus on Abbie, Ichabod, Katrina, Irving and Henry here. Too many characters would have been a bit of a headache so I can't wait for Jenny to come back next week. Abbie and Ichabod's relationship was back to being insanely good since they have been so distant lately. They worked so well together, bounced off each other like they usually do and helped balance an action-packed episode full of twists and turns.

While I loved this episode, I do admit there was a bit of lost potential here. Those blood demons were very easily defeated. That's fine but Solomon should have summoned an army of them and really used their full potential. Solomon also didn't turn out to be the most formidable foe, even though his introduction promised a very lethal stay on Sleepy Hollow. As awesome as I found the witch war between him and Katrina, I would have loved to have seen a bit more magic-throwing and trash talking. I think that's all I can think of that could have been improved. Another thing this episode has made me is excited for the rest of the season. I love that this wasn't a filler episode to shed light on Katrina's witchy ancestory, but it really did kick-start a whole new world of possibilities for the show. I am so excited again in Sleepy Hollow as I found some of that excitement lost its way recently. Here's to one hell of a ride in the last few episodes of a pretty rollercoaster season.

Please note: All views expressed in this review are entirely my own. A review is a piece of work that reflects the reviewer's personal opinion on the episode. If you have a different opinion, that is what these comments are for. I appreciate all comments as long as they are kept respectful and do not belittle others for their opinion, good or bad. Please remember that when leaving a comment that this review is just the starting point for discussion on this episode. Disagree with me? Excellent, please let me know in the comments, just please keep comments tasteful without resorting to personal attacks. I thank you in advance for keeping comments clean.

Ichabod doesn't really need to work on his trash talk, right? Are you surprised at Irving's alliance with Henry? What's happening to Katrina? What did you guys think of 'Spellcaster'? Let me know in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode of Sleepy Hollow on February 9th on FOX at 9PM!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem and Sleepy Hollow in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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