Sleepy Hollow, Ep. 2.02, “The Kindred”: Franklin-stein walks the earth

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Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 2, “The Kindred”
Written by Mark Goffman and Albert Kim
Directed by Paul Edwards
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on Fox

Abbie: “This is insane!”
Ichabod: “So much of my life can be classified under those auspices.”
Sleepy Hollow, “The Kindred

It’s a rare show that can inspire fits of giggles simply by reading an episode description, and “The Kindred” certainly meets that bill: “Ichabod Crane concocts a daring plan to rescue his wife from the Headless Horseman by resurrecting a Frankenstein-like monster created by Benjamin Franklin.” It’s a sentence that reads like a pitch for a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knockoff, rejected for being too absurd. And yet, not only does Sleepy Hollow embrace this idea for a story, they do so in a manner that makes the action plausible in the universe and turns it into fist-pumping excitement.

With the Witnesses united after the events of “This Is War,” Ichabod and Abbie turn their attention to freeing Katrina from the clutches of the Headless Horseman. Recognizing that none of their team can take him in a fight, Ichabod pours through their reference library and finds reference to “the Kindred,” a golem constructed of human body parts possessed of a superhuman strength. The search for the body is a fairly standard Sleepy Hollow treasure hunt of pouring over ancient texts and digging through the catacombs, but livened up with a series of great comedic moments. Ichabod’s pre-Occupy Wall Street rant to the bank employee is a thing of beauty (“These people entrust you with their forture, you cannot entrust them with a simple inkwell!” he rails against pens on chains), Timothy Busfield returns to insert a moment of flirtation before Franklin starts stitching up the dead, and there’s some amusingly thwarted expectation as the incantation sputters out the first two or three times they do it.

The search for the Kindred also returns Death’s head into play as the key ingredient for the golem—interestingly enough, doing so as he’s found a way to simulate his own. The decision to increase the Horseman’s personality with visions of Abraham has been an interesting choice, one that makes Death more of a character than a haunted house attraction. Neil Jackson’s performance is a mix of rage and desperation, and paired with John Noble’s similar emotions creates a more tangible force for our heroes to oppose than the shadowy form of Moloch. Not that this makes the Death and War aspects any less important, as the brawl between the Horsemen and the Kindred is everything that could be hoped for, less a battle scene than a clash of elemental forces.

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“The Kindred” also establishes that while Ichabod and Abbie’s commitment to each other is unshakeable, this doesn’t mean that there’s going to be a lack of friction. Abbie’s argument that they shouldn’t be creating monsters is a valid one—albeit one resolved fairly quickly—and more important is her argument that Ichabod may consider Katrina more important than their mission. That idea’s been floated before, and now that Katrina is out of Purgatory Ichabod’s actions take on a frantic quality that proves Abbie’s fears aren’t unfounded. It’s particularly apparent when the two reunite, as both Tom Mison and Katia Winter fully convey the pain this extended separation has taken on both of them.

While there are a lot of exciting moments in “The Kindred,” there are also a few warning signs that pop up for the rest of the season. First, there’s a literal new sheriff in town, Leena Reyes (Sakina Jaffrey, who played Linda Vasquez on House of Cards). A former Border Patrol officer, she declares early on her intention to “bring some sanity back to this town,” a goal that largely translates into being an obstacle for our heroes: locking Jenny up for weapons possession, firing Ichabod as a police consultant, transferring Irving to a psych ward to go through a medieval level of treatments. Although in some ways it’s satisfying to see a character finally throwing up their hands at all the weirdness, a show that’s as dependent on lunacy as Sleepy Hollow walks a tightrope when it comes to introducing a character whose stated purpose is to be a buzzkill.

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The other major concern that comes up is Katrina’s groan-worthy decision to remain a captive of the Horsemen so she can spy on their plans. Her escape from Purgatory last season raised hopes that she’d become a more active player in the fight against Moloch, and this only feels like the show’s stepped to the side instead of forward. While it does allow for more human moments from Abraham, her rationale that she can save Jeremy is a cliched reason to keep her away from the Witnesses and keep the show from answering the questions Abbie rightly asked about Ichabod’s priorities.

Thankfully, the episode manages to compensate for those concerns in its last few minutes. First, it keeps the Kindred in play as he rides off without a trace, meaning that all future episodes will now be buoyed by the promise that a horse-riding monstrosity could appear at any moment. And in a move that’s rich with narrative potential, Henry appears to Reyes and Irving and smoothly presents himself as Irving’s new lawyer. The show still doesn’t know what to do with the Irving character, and finally using his ignorance of events to their advantage is a highly promising development. While “The Kindred” doesn’t solve the problem Ichabod and Abbie set out to solve, it does prove that like its titular monster, Sleepy Hollow’s disparate parts pack quite the punch when assembled.

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