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Sleepy Hollow 1×09 “Sanctuary” Recap

Previously on The Secret Life of Katrina Crane, Ichabod’s witchy wife is the object of the Horseman’s affection, Irving recruited Jenny to the good fight after she’s released from the nut-house, Zombie Andy is sweet on Abbie, and Ichabod is not very good at sword-fighting.

Lena Gilbert, a perilous name for any television character, is a white billionaire socialite visiting her ancestral family home in Sleepy Hollow. She and her black bodyguard/driver roll up on a house straight out of The Amityville Horror. “Looks haunted,” says the bodyguard. “Until we know it’s structurally safe in there, you are not going–” oops, too late. “It’s amazing,” says Lena, while the camera focuses on a most unfriendly crow of symbolism. While Lena explores the house, she opens a closet and gets pulled in by the tree roots from hell. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my least favorite part of Poltergeist.

Cut to Sheriff’s office… or the police station. I honestly still have no idea where Abbie works or what her job title is. She rolls in with Crane as if it were perfectly normal for him to hang around cops all day. Ichabod is in the middle of an entertaining rant about McDonald’s and the lack of sugar preventing the Pilgrims from making cranberry sauce when Abbie realizes that what’s really bothering him is Katrina. Crane is frustrated he’s alone and separate from his wife at a time of thanks and celebration. “I mean no disrespect,” he tells Abbie in the same breath. “Your company holds the greatest value you to me.”

“You have a right to be angry,” says Abbie, smiling at first and then looking uncomfortable when Crane talks about his marriage. Steady, Abbie, you do not want to get unrequited feelings until at least season 2.  Not that Crane is helping with the way he constantly tells Abbie she’s the most important person to him.

Captain Irving sets them on the case of the missing Lena Gilbert, who was researching “Katrina C.” when she tracked down her family home. Gilbert is a descendant of Lachlan Fredericks, an abolitionist, war supporter, and friend of the Cranes. When Abbie and Ichabod arrive at the decrepit mansion, Ichabod remarks on how different the modern ruin is from the “sanctuary” of two centuries ago.

Abbie and Crane go inside, and immediately find the body of Handsome Bodyguard, his face cut up and his corpse reclining on a sofa chair. Sam Calvern, formerly of private security, is no more. Abbie calls for back up, but her radio and cell phones are mysteriously without signal connection. All at once the doors in the house start to slam, locking them inside. Let the haunting begin!

Photo: FOX

Abbie is nervous, never a big fan of haunted houses, so while they’re stuck they decide to look for Miss Gilbert in case she’s still alive. For another scare,  Abbie is momentarily distracted by the ghost of a woman leading them deeper into the house. Crane assures her they can handle this. Moments later he finds a copy of Gulliver’s Travels that belonged to Katrina, with a note from him inside.  One creepy experience for me, one creepy experience for you.   Shaken, they continue to explore while Crane recounts his visit there years before. Lachlan Fredericks and his House Matron, Grace Dixon, ran the estate as a sanctuary from supernatural threats as well. Some demonic force must have attacked the house and turned it into the uninhabited wreck it is today.

Abbie opens a closet and they find Gilbert, shaking and ensnared by tree vines. When they cut out the vines to free her, blood leaks from the split wood. In the garden, a wooden scare comes to life.

It stands. It walks toward the house. There is an Ent coming to kill them. Yes, A TWO HUNDRED YEAR OLD ENT. I love this show.

Back at the prescinct, Irving leaves Abbie another voicemail while Jenny sits with a huge grin on her face. Jenny is finally returning the guns she stole when they faced the Horseman’s minions last week, which is definitive proof that someone, somewhere, is actually filling out police reports.

Jenny: “I thought it was a gift. You know, for helping save everyone’s ass.”
Irving: “Cigars are a gift. Jewelry is a gift.”
Jenny: “Maybe I’m a different kind of girl.”
Irving: “This conversation is over.”

The flirtation in this scene is friendly and smooth. Orlando Jones continues to have excellent game in the expressive face department, but Lyndie Greenwood wins for eyebrow suggestiveness. I look forward to more scenes between these two actors, regardless of the context. Jenny is really there to give the guns back as a peace-offering and to invite Irving to have Thanksgiving dinner with herself, Abbie, and Crane. “One night only, I promise. Then I go back to stealing from you.”

“Am I interrupting?” asks a woman from the door. Irving drops his laugh like a cold brick, because his ex-wife Cynthia (Jill Marie Jones) is here, with his kid daughter in tow. Jenny takes one look at this well-put together lady, realizes she’s been outclassed, and scampers. This is going to be good.

Before she can escape, Irving’s daughter chases her down in her wheelchair. Macey Irving (Amandla Stenberg, already starting to grow up from The Hunger Games) shares a little more than is really plausible for meeting a stranger, but the scene of her befriending Jenny is pretty cute.

In a conference room Cynthia confronts Frank about his unavailability as a parent. This is a good bit of development for Irving, as we get greater context for why he moved to Sleepy Hollow in the first place. Of course he can’t explain about the supernatural curses afflicting the town, and finding his answers unsatisfactory, Cynthia threatens to take him to court for full custody of Macey if he cancels any more visits. The discussion of parental responsibility is a nice thematic lead-in to events later in the episode.

In the house, the three explorers are wandering the hallways. Ichabod barely lets them get ten feet before he interrogates the shivering, traumatized woman about his wife’s involvement. Katrina was the person who came to Lachlan’s house for sanctuary before the manor was abandoned. According to family legend, Lachlan was involved in witchcraft. This whole conversation Ichabod has his hands on Lena’s shoulders in a way that is less about comfort and more about preventing her from escaping his questions. As I said before, he can be somewhat dickish to people he’s not immediately beholden to.

Photo: FOX

A mysterious shape startles them all, and Abbie’s solution is to climb into the servant passages between the walls. Yes, because only the most terrible plan imaginable will suffice. They’re immediately separated, and Crane guides Gilbert into one of the rooms of the house. In a pretty excellent gag he reaches back into the walls, says, “Give me your hand!” to Abbie, only to have the giant tree monster take his hand instead. They scream and bolt out of there, but Gilbert is snatched by the Ent monster.

On her own, Abbie meets her ghost again: Grace Dixon. “It’s coming, hurry,” the ghost says. She shows Abbie a vision: Katrina on a bed, going into labor with Ichabod’s child. Abbie’s face is a big ole’ WTF to this presentation, especially when crows start throwing themselves against the windows. The child is a boy, but he’s barely out when a full-scale magical attack rains down on the house. The scare-crow Ent grew within the property to sneak past the house’s protective hexes, and slaughtered Lachlan while invading the home.

Crane and Abbie find each other in the halls, and she explains her vision. Katrina came to the estate for sanctuary to give birth. “No, she would have told me,” says Crane, and Tom Mison’s confused heartbreak in this moment shows the brilliance of good casting. Whether Katrina was keeping the pregnancy a secret or if she didn’t know at the time of Ichabod’s death remains a mystery. Abbie doesn’t know if Katrina or the child escaped the creature, but that disaster caused the house to be abandoned to the darker forces. Clearly the child of a Witness and a powerful witch has some mojo worth killing for.

They hear a scream, and find Miss Gilbert again, serving as a lure to bring them to the scare-crow. Whoever did the make-up on that monster would go far on Face Off; it’s pretty creepy. The fantastic crackling sound effect every time it walks on roots and branches adds to the illusion. Abbie starts shooting the roots of the tree monster, and the ghost of Grace Dixon leads them out. Lt. Mills has levelled up: “ghost whisperer” achievement unlocked! They escape the house, Ichabod going straight for the axe in the back of Abbie’s car.

She tries to talk Crane out of going back into the house, but no dice. “Heed my words,” she says, “Do not follow me.” Making judicious use of some flares for red lighting, Crane grabs his axe and goes River Tam all over that monster. “Did you think could attack those I love without consequence? Huh? That you could come for my wife? My child!”

After planting it in the head with his axe (it helps to be 6’1″ when fighting monsters), blood-soaked Crane walks out of the house, and they drive away as birds circle the decrepit mansion.

A day or two later, Abbie finds Crane in their lair, and baits him with rum. Ichabod and Abbie continue their weekly game of matching hair: both his and hers are down in soft, loose waves. They reminisce about childhood. Abbie wanted the big holiday dinners but never had it; Crane did have it that as a child, and one day hoped to offer his family the same.

Abbie offers him consolation, “I’m guessing that’s what the point of this is: a time for reflection. You see what you have now, and you embrace what’s in front of you.”

They open a parcel from Lena Gilbert, happy to discover copies of Gilbert’s research on the Fredericks estate. Included is a family tree for Grace Dixon. At the bottom: Lori Roberts, Abbie’s mother. “My ancestor brought your son into this world.”

“Quite heroically,” he agrees. “I see the family resemblance.”

They smile, they drink, and they toast to family. I hope the show ever stops having these little moments at the end of the episode. They are usually the most poignant scenes of the weekly program, and give us real reason to bond with the partnership building between Abbie and Crane.

I liked the episode overall, particularly the expansion of Irving’s family context as a tragic balance to the loss of family Crane suffered. While Captain Irving still has a chance to bond with his child, the best Ichabod can hope for is the opportunity to meet one of his descendents. Abbie’s personal connection to the house and the history of Sleepy Hollow is expanded her as well. I am getting a little bored of Katrina being used repeatedly as a device for furthering Crane’s “man pain” while adding little to her overall characterization. It’s reaching the point where they either need to give us some scenes where she’s acting with agency for herself, or they need to drop the character. Her continued existence as a plot device is a weak point in the series narrative, and a waste of what could be a promising witch concept.

I doubt we’ll get to see it, but I’d like to think Irving, Crane, and Abbie made it to Jenny’s Thanksgiving Day party after all.