This week’s episode is called “The Root of All Evil,” and you’d be forgiven if you’d expected a revisiting of Season 1’s “Sanctuary,” in which a colonial house’s evil past actually comes to life in the form of… roots. Alas, no plant monsters this week. The title instead refers to the seeds of evil within us all, and the cursed Roman (or Tyrian) shekels that help those seeds take root and overcome our otherwise naturally sweet dispositions.
If that sounds out there, that’s because it is. And like all of the head-scratchingly plotted episodes of Sleepy Hollow, the thrust of “The Root of All Evil”‘s plot is a famous figure in American history. This time, it’s every elementary school history teacher’s favorite traitor: Benedict Arnold. Ichabod Crane’s version of Arnold’s treachery goes like this:
Crane, Arnold, and other American soldiers were dispatched by George Washington to foil what the soldiers thought was a British plot to flood the American market with counterfeit currency in an attempt to delegitimize the then-burgeoning American economy. What the soldiers instead found were Roman shekels. Thirty of them to be exact. And do you know which other famous historic figure once possessed exactly thirty silver Roman shekels? Judas! So, of course they have evil powers. And one of those evil shekels happens to have fallen into the possession of Henry Parrish, Crane’s evil, Horseman of the Apocalypse son.
This whole thing is discovered when a bank teller goes bad and robs her own workplace. Lt. Abbie Mills and Crane happen to be across the street as shots are fired, and when Lt. Mills charges in, she sees the woman’s face darken as it’s overcome by, uh, evil. They later discover, through security footage, that Parrish planted the evil shekel near the teller. From there the coin falls into the hands of the frustrated son of a shop owner, who builds a bomb that — in one of the show’s most explicit scenes of violence — destroys both the father and his business. The son is arrested and Parrish, of course, shows up to the police station as his attorney. It’s then that Parrish collects the shekel from the evidence room and, later, plants it near the once-again “free” Jenny, who is busy scowling as she scours graffiti from a brick facade as part of her community service. Parrish flips the coin into Jenny’s peripheral vision, and happily, the coin implores Jenny to go hunting — for Sheriff Reyes.
Once Lt. Mills and Crane discover the plot about the coin, they seek out the help of Jenny’s friend Nick Hawley (Matt Barr), the mystically hunky expert of mysterious artifacts. (Hawley, a newcomer to Sleepy Hollow, does all of his business “down by the water,” so obviously he looks like a surfer.) Luckily, Hawley is not only a babe, but a smart babe, so he knows that glass — hallowed, stained glass — is capable of containing the evil energies of Judas’ Roman shekels. And so, once Hawley chips some out of the windows of the local church, (while Crane is confessing, how ungodly!), the team heads to a beautiful, wooded area to the northwest of town, and intervenes just as Jenny is about to bring her reenactment of the “Most Dangerous Game” to a close, Sheriff Reyes in the sights of her rifle.
That brings us to what is quickly becoming the worst part of Sleepy Hollow: Sheriff Reyes, who continues to be mostly a pain in the ass. “The Root of All Evil” opens with Reyes comparing Jenny to a bad dog that never learns from its mistakes and gets run over by a car. She also bars Crane from the police department until she can prove that he actually “exists” — a clear, perhaps too on-the-nose reference to the fact that she will not be down to believe that Horsemen of the Apocalypse are running around town, murdering folks.
And, later, Jenny finds out that Reyes was responsible for putting the Mills’ mother in a psych ward way back when. This is ultimately what inspires Jenny’s urge to kill, but it’s also what inspires Lt. Mills to maybe change her — and our — opinion of Reyes. In a rare act of transparency, Reyes gives Lt. Mills her mother’s Tarrytown file, proving that maybe she isn’t that bad after all. There’s the slight chance that the reality of the Mills’ mother’s case, should it be revealed, will justify Reyes’ hard-ass behavior, but there seems to be too little left of that storyline for her redemption. At any rate, I’m far from convinced that she will be an ally to the supernatural crime-fighting team of Mills & Crane.
My prediction is this: Reyes will probably find out what is actually happening in Sleepy Hollow, and she will either be killed in the process or her “strictly business” attitude will be shattered and she’ll be forced to leave town, returning the post of Sheriff to Frank Irving. But who knows what’ll happen to Irving, who is still in Tarrytown and trapped in a blood-bound contract with Parrish. Crane manages to weasel his way into the common room of the psych ward and tells Irving that, yes, his attorney is the Horseman of War, and also, yes, he is Crane’s son. Luckily, as the show’s history in dealing with purgatory has shown, spiritually, eternity-long punishments can always be reversed.
But, there’s more! Let’s not forget Katrina, the love of Crane’s life, who is barely mentioned aside from Lt. Mills’ sudden lack of trust in her. Could she actually fall for the Headless Horseman and betray Crane and Lt. Mills — and, ultimately, the whole living world — because of her maternal love for Parrish? Maybe! It’s not likely, because this show, with all of its ridiculous plot reveals, has yet to challenge the base motivation for its main characters. To take Katrina from Crane would be to remove the catalyst for most of his world-saving actions. So, I don’t think that will happen. More likely, Abraham will turn on Parrish, and one of the horsemen will die in an epic, end-of-season battle. But then again, who knows: That is the best and worst part of this show. So many engines are moving at different speeds that it’s difficult to predict what will be important from week-to-week.
On that same note, the procedural aspect of this show is starting to feel a little tired. There are plenty of real-world problems to be resolved, and they shouldn’t all be reserved for the end of the season. We need to get Irving out of Tarrytown. We need to figure out what the real deal is with Reyes. We need to see whether or not Hawley — who steals the Roman shekel — is worth caring about at all, even though he is hawt. We need Katrina to not be in peril. And we need to find out just what happened to the Mills’ mother, and how that relates to everything going down in present day Sleepy Hollow. Luckily, the final minutes of “The Root of All Evil” show Crane reviewing all they’ve got to deal with, so maybe the show is gearing up for some mid-season plot resolutions. And they better be coming, because, at this point, this season’s overarching plot lines are either uninteresting or undeveloped, and if that continues for too much longer it’s going to be a real problem.
Oh, and, just a shoutout to one of the show’s best humorous asides, which, among all of the stuff happening this week, could easily be missed: As Lt. Mills and Crane are waiting for Parrish to show himself, Crane points to a gay couple eating at a restaurant and asks if what they are doing is considered acceptable. Lt. Mills launches into a rant about legalizing same-sex marriage, etc., etc., but Crane stops her, saying, “I know about homosexuals, Lt. Mills. I was asking about the fact that he is wearing a hat indoors.” That Ichabod Crane, so progressive.