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Sleepy Hollow - Tomorrow - Review: “Rebirth Of The Witnesses” + POLL

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Following the shocking twists that ended the prior episode, this episode of Sleepy Hollow had the potential to be exceptional, but one can never fully know what direction a show will take. Thankfully this episode not only lived up to expectations but far exceeded them. Sleepy Hollow was a brilliant show in its first season then got bogged down in its own mythology in its second and third seasons. Though, to be fair, this show has a very rich mythology so it's easy to understand why the writers wanted to get so deep into it. Even with the ups and downs, this has always been a very interesting series with exceptional chemistry between all the cast members that have come and gone. The exit of Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills) from the series forced an unexpected reboot as the show just squeaked into a fourth season. Thankfully the producers must have made a hell of a pitch to the network executives because the show defied the odds by earning this well-deserved fourth season despite that major shakeup. Choosing to keep Sleepy Hollow was a smart decision on the part of FOX and with any luck they’ll let it continue. This entire season has been a prime example of how a show can reinvent itself mid run and do it successfully. Janina Gavankar (Diana Thomas), Oona Yaffe (Molly Thomas), Rachel Melvin (Alex Norwood), and Jerry MacKinnon (Jake Wells) were all extraordinary additions to the series as they joined series veterans Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) and Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills). This team ended up being the perfect marriage of the new and old which helped to preserve the essence of the series while breathing much needed new life into it.

The big twist in this season was that the new witness was just a young girl. That was a creatively brilliant idea to change things up, but it also put a strain on how far the writers could develop the bond between the witnesses. Crane’s bond was arguably stronger with Molly’s mom, Diana, than his fellow witness, but he did develop a sweet relationship with young Molly. By the writers bringing in Lara (Seychelle Gabriel) they were able to preserve Molly as the witness, but allow her to get deeper into the action as Lara. To really ingrain Lara into the group they needed to spend a significant amount of time with her while sidelining Ichabod for a good portion of the episode as Lara came into her own. Some might call foul on this since Crane is the center of the series, but for the plot of the episode, it was necessary. Crane might have been missing for a fair part of the middle of the episode, but he was the driving force behind everything the team was doing.

As the episode opened, the show jumped forward to Lara’s time to give viewers a small taste of what Malcolm’s (Jeremy Davies) dystopian future was like. As terrifying as it is, that future with Malcolm at the helm isn’t all that improbable. They smartly chose to ground this future in realistic probabilities, you know, minus the demons and horsemen running around. Lara had a tough go at life after she lost her mom to Malcolm’s evil plan. What makes things worse for Lara is that by the time she’s able to open her eyes to the truth it’s too late to undo so many horrific things she’s done for Malcolm. Jenny says that she failed Diana as War kills her, but in truth, she actually succeeded in saving them all. By cutting open the mask of War she allowed Lara a quick glimpse at the truth and that’s when all the pieces started to come together for her. She is her mother’s daughter and sprung into action the moment she realized the truth.

Lara was already starting to seriously doubt Malcolm when she encountered Crane. That was the final straw that broke Malcolm’s elaborately weaved web of lies. He stole her life from her and Crane was giving her the knowledge to try and reclaim some semblance of it. Everything rested in her hands at that point and she made a very brave choice to charge full force into the temporal abyss to try to change the past. I think the fact that she saw that Malcolm was prepared to kill her made it clear to her that he wasn’t the man she thought he was. It was quite evident that at the end of the last episode, when she was pleading with him to pick another War, she didn’t entirely believe what she was saying about him being a good man under it all. She seemed to really want to believe it because he was like her father, but the damage done by his lies was irreparable. Her desperate plea was simply her last ditch effort to try to stop her future from happening.

Ironically, she succeeded, but not quite in the way anyone expected. The show made a very odd editing choice, as they cut back into the present day a few seconds before they had ended the prior episode and threw in an extra exchange where Lara notes, in awe, that she saved her mom. There is this nice beat where both Lara and Diana seem relieved. All short lived of course, as the scene picks up where things left off with Crane becoming War.

Interestingly, when Diana jumps back from Crane, as he fully transforms into War, she reaches her arm out to presumably motion Lara out of the way of danger. She’d allowed Lara to stand in front of her and take on Malcolm in the prior episode, but in her defense, she was in a bit of shock at learning the woman who had been giving the team so much trouble was, in fact, her own daughter from the future. In this episode, her motherly instincts were in full gear as the shock cleared away. The two of them slowly figured out how to work together, but not without a few bumps in the road.

To establish Lara it was important for the episode to spend a lot of time with her and Diana, and the show did that by thrusting them into a situation where they were forced to work together for a common goal. Diana effectively went from the mother of one to a mother of two, because as Lara pointed out she and young Molly are the same person, but yet still different. While it’s an awkward situation, Diana was a class act throughout. She let Lara speak freely without judging her and even tried to absolve her daughter of the evil acts she committed for Malcolm. It's obvious that a lot of dark and awful things happened to Lara after her mom was ripped away from her. Hopefully, the season finale will elaborate a little more on exactly what she did for him.

Lara seemed genuinely ashamed as she vaguely confessed about some evil acts she’d committed for Malcolm, unable to look at her mom when talking to her. It’s not until Diana firmly states that she’s just glad that Lara survived, that her daughter is able to look at her again. This seems to be the turning point for them where Lara really starts to let down her guard with her mom. By the time they reach the cabin she’s even teasing her mom much like young Molly does at times. There is a growing yet still somewhat tense bond forming between them at this point. They are each trying to figure out what sort of relationship they can have given their new dynamic.

When she was injured in Crane’s memory Diana didn’t hesitate even a second before pulling Lara into her arms. The moment Crane was free from his confines he immediately ran to Lara and also wrapped her in his arms. In both realms, Lara was safely secured in the arms of the two people who arguably care about her the most of anyone. Both Diana and Crane could care less that she wasn’t the Molly they knew. She was still Molly and they both embraced her as such letting her know that she wasn’t alone anymore and never would be again. It’s quite ironic that Lara literally gave up everything to try to save her mom and in return, she got everything she didn’t realize she wanted.

The transition from Lara being in Crane’s arms to back in her mom’s was a powerful image as the bright white light consumed all. In that moment she was effectively reborn in her mom’s arms. Once Lara regained her senses, she was quick to fall back into an old rhythm with her mom even trying to secure her younger self a new phone and fancy earrings. Should young Molly and Lara ever actually meet Diana is in serious trouble. It’s hard to deny one, but both might be impossible. They needed that very light and humorous mother/daughter moment, after all, they’d been through. They still have a lot to work through, but it’s clear that Lara is kind of stuck in this time since she doesn’t really have a future to go back to, so they’ve ironically got time. The show, perhaps not, but with any luck, the season finale will leave them in a good place where fans can imagine what Lara’s new life looks like with her mom and her younger self.

Janina Gavankar and Seychelle Gabriel look a lot alike and even have a lot of similar mannerisms. The way that they each smirk is very similar and the way they move is eerily comparable. It would be very easy to buy them as sisters, but mother and daughter isn’t what first comes to mind. Yet, when Lara and Diana were having their deep chats, Gavankar exuded a very motherly energy when acting with Gabriel, which really helped to build the dynamic between their characters. While Gavankar is an exceptional actress, Gabriel can’t be dismissed for the critical part she played too, not just in the Diana/Lara aspect of the story, but the episode as a whole. Anyone who saw her on Falling Skies can attest to her immense skill. They found this brilliant middle ground for their characters to operate within as they found their rhythm right along with the characters. Should a miracle happen (one can hope against the odds) and the show get renewed Seychelle Gabriel had better be made a series regular in a hypothetical Season Five. There is so much the writers can do to dive into this new dynamic that Lara and Diana have found themselves in. It would also be quite interesting to see young Molly and Lara interact at some point. Will Diana invite Lara into her home or would that be too weird? Will Lara end up crashing with Crane? With Jenny? In the vault? I think Diana will go all overprotective mom on her and force Lara to come home with her. No matter how old Lara is, or what her name is, she’s still Molly and Diana won’t let her daughter ever feel alone again.

The growing bond between Lara and Diana was in stark contrast to that between Henry (John Noble) and his father. It was kind of disappointing that they didn’t really get to interact, but there is always the season finale for that. This episode could only handle one reunion between a parent and grown adult child. Though, it’s clear that Henry’s reunion with his dad wouldn’t have gone nearly as well as Lara’s. Even the Henry born of Crane’s memories is a psychopath hell bent on doing the complete opposite of what his father wishes for him to do. Henry and Crane can’t have the relationship that they both want because Henry won’t allow it. Crane has an immense capacity to care and love if only his son would find a way to be open to that. Now that he’s free, there is no telling what diabolical stuff he’ll get into with Malcolm. One thing is for sure, no good will come from it. Still, any chance to see Noble at work is worth having diabolical Henry around. Noble is without a doubt a phenomenal performer and an absolute pleasure to watch work.

While Crane was fighting his internal demons, and Diana and Lara were off on their bonding mission, the others were left to quite literally fight a war against zombies. Alex and Jake have grown so much as characters this season. They've both become exceptional and important members of this team. They had a mission and none of them backed down. They were fighting right down to the moment where it looked like they’d been overpowered. Their fight sequences were not only fun to watch, but they were visually stunning. The battlefield with the ghostly soldiers and the eerie setting made the scene play very well. Jenny led them well in this fight, but they held their own.

The Jenny that was first introduced in Season One is so different from the woman she has become. She has been a great mentor and her belief in the others was their inspiration before they charged head first into a battle where the odds weren’t even remotely on their side. She’s been through a lot and lost a lot, but through it all, she has remained loyal to Crane. She might not be a witness, but she’s the person that every witness should want at their side. There is a strong temptation for Jenny to leave and run off back to her old life of collecting, but hopefully, this battle helped her realize how much the team needs her. Not just for her incredible fighting skills and magical know how, but because she’s a part of their odd little family and for them to succeed they all need to be together.

She has a drive to never give up no matter the crazy odds. That was proven in the glimpse into Lara’s future. That was about as dark a future as possible, yet Jenny was still fighting the good fight. She was still desperately trying to save the world and Diana, but more importantly, she was trying to do right by Diana and Crane as she tried to save Lara. At this point, Jenny had probably accepted that they’d lost them both and was just trying to find some salvation in the whole horrific situation. As noted at the start of this review, future Jenny may have lost her life in the end, but she did ultimately succeed as she kick-started Lara down the path that led her on her epic time traveling journey. In a roundabout way, Jenny was actually the hero of this episode, because none of it would have happened had future Jenny not set off this series of events that led to the good guys having a shot at winning.

Crane was instrumental in everything as well. Jenny set Lara down the path to redemption, but future Crane gave her the tools to get to the future. As Lara admitted, she tried to deny her bond to Crane, but she could never fully suppress it. They have something truly special that can only be shared between two witnesses. Mison and Gabriel had a very good dynamic in the scenes they shared in Crane’s mind. She can easily hold her own with him and he very quickly worked out a really strong witness bond with her. Lara isn’t Abbie, but she has a strong will and incredible energy just like her predecessor. She is a worthy warrior to fill Abbie’s witness spot at Crane’s side. With her fighting for him, he was able to break free as their combined strength was too much for even War to subdue. Luckily Crane was able to maintain control over War long enough to help the others in their brave fight. Crane and Lara were both effectively reborn as they burst back into the fight. The witnesses are reunited as capable warriors and ready to confront whatever comes next as a united team. Which given what Henry and Malcolm are up to promises to be quite a major fight.

The last Sleepy Hollow episode was one of the best of the season, but this one was perhaps one of the best of the series. The sad reality here is that this mother/daughter across time reunion and the return of Henry really kicked the show up a gear just in time for it to possibly get canceled. While the ratings don’t appropriately reflect it, this has been one of the best seasons of the series to date.

This was a reboot that many were skeptical about, but as all the pieces have flowed together it has proven to be an exceptionally executed one. Hopefully, FOX will have one of its odd generous moments where it renews the show just because it can. At the very least it would be nice for the network to give the show at least one final season to end the show appropriately. The odds aren’t great, but not great isn’t impossible. Sleepy Hollow likes to continually defy the odds, so who knows, but if this is the penultimate episode of the series at least it was an exceptionally strong one.

Be sure to turn into the season finale next Friday, March 31st at 9/8c on FOX. Maybe it’ll be the series finale or perhaps Sleepy Hollow will turn into a phoenix and rise from the ashes of the ratings abyss for one final swan song season. Either way, the season finale is one that surely can’t be missed.

Hit the comments with your thoughts. Do you want Lara to stick around? Did you like Lara and Diana working together? Will being War somehow connect Henry and Crane? Will Molly and Lara ever meet? Will Jenny stick around and not leave the team? Do you think this is the end of the series?

Special thanks to Donna Cromeans, freelance editor/proofreader (@DJRiter on Twitter) for editing this article.

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