Sleepy Hollow, Season 1, Episode 12, “The Indispensable Man”
Written by Sam Chalsen, Damian Kindler, and Heather V. Regnier
Directed by Adam Kane
Sleepy Hollow, Season 1, Episode 13, “Bad Blood”
Written by Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman
Directed by Ken Olin
Airs Mondays at 9pm (EST) on Fox
The two-hour Sleepy Hollow season finale is very difficult to write about due to the sheer amount of plot twists in the episode’s last fifteen minutes alone. Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman have been seeding little clues throughout the season, and they all pay off in a huge way in “The Indispensable Man” and “Bad Blood”. Even though its off-beat takes on American history and Christianity keep Sleepy Hollow entertaining, its biggest strength as a show has been its focus on personal relationships in the face of a larger struggle between good and evil. Throughout both episodes, Sleepy Hollow‘s writers explore the connection between Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and their struggle between their own personal happiness and the greater good. The revelation of George Washington’s Bible as being a map to Purgatory and the prophecy about Abbie losing her soul create an intense, high stakes battle between Moloch and the witnesses. Throw in the possibility of retrieving Ichabod’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) from Purgatory, and viewers are in for one hell of a ride.
At a base level, “The Indispensable Man” and “Bad Blood” are well-crafted horror adventure serials. In “Indispensable Man”, Chalsen, Kindler, and Regnier break out all their most outlandish theories about George Washington and lead Ichabod, Abbie, and the Sin Eater Henry Parish (John Noble) on a hunt that is part The Last Crusade with a hint of the best elements of National Treasure. Between the clue searching and grave finding, teleplay writers Kindler and Regnier inject some more humorous banter between Abbie and Ichabod while creating a huge moral dilemma about the map in George Washington’s Bible. The conflict between Abbie and Ichabod is organic and complements the perilous nature of the map, which could either destroy or strengthen Moloch. And the deeper they dig, the more complicated the plot becomes until everything that was once obvious becomes unclear. The nature of these episodes’ plot flows directly into the show’s major theme of free will versus fate and prophecy. By the end of the finale, this question is still left unanswered and will provide a lot of material for the next season of Sleepy Hollow.
Even if long forgotten abilities, like Ichabod’s eidetic memory, and some of Sin Eater’s actions, seem contrived and don’t make logical sense, the writers nail the relationship between Abbie and Ichabod and their individual fights against evil. This connection is the heart of Sleepy Hollow beneath the body count and cryptic prophecies. During a pivotal moment in “Bad Blood”, Ichabod and Abbie’s memories of each other save them from an extremely bad situation. But they’re not buddies the whole time. Ichabod’s desire to bring back Katrina drives a huge rut between them and leads to a lot of interpersonal tension. The Sleepy Hollow finale also makes effective use of flashbacks, like Abbie’s initial encounter with Moloch as a child, to show how much these characters have grown since “Pilot” and also set up some shocking plot twists.
“Bad Blood” and “Indispensable Man” have a plot that is labyrinthine even by Sleepy Hollow standards, but the writers build it out of elements introduced throughout the show. Even Abbie’s lessons about modern slang and technology have a role to play in the finale. But what makes the Sleepy Hollow finale more than a clever thriller is its two lead characters and the chemistry between them that has bloomed to full flower. Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie have humanized two characters that could have ended up as Mulder and Scully knockoffs with added anachronistic humor. Mison excels at the more emotional moments, including basically every scene where he pines or thinks about Katrina. And Beharie brings a real sense of conviction to her role as Abbie and owns the role of self-sacrificing hero. Sleepy Hollow has been one of the 2013-2014 TV season’s most surprising shows, and the end of “Bad Blood” takes it to even more strange and interesting places.