‘Sleepy Hollow’ Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: “And the Abyss Gazes Back”


The episode begins with Lt. Mills and Crane turned on their heads — yes, Crane is finally learning yoga. And he hates it. But let’s not overlook the important part of this whole scene: Crane is, for the first time in the series, wearing modern clothes. Pretty soon, dude is probably going to be rocking head-to-toe Lululemon. Surely, it would be pretty convenient for chasing down supernatural creatures, as he and Lt. Mills do week after week, including this one.

But, just as downward dogs must at some point be turned upward, so, too, must the yoga session end. The two head to a bar where a brawl quick breaks out. When Lt. Mills goes to break it up — because of course she does — she discovers she knows one of the participants in the brawl: Joe Corbin (Zach Appelman), son of the late Sheriff Corbin, home on honorable discharge from the military. Lt. Mills is happy to see him, but he’s not so happy to see her. In fact, he’s downright sullen about the fact that his dad spent so much time with her, pouting over the time his dad once spent too long teaching Lt. Mills to shoot while he was supposed to go fishing. Oh, daddy issues.

The night after the bar fight, Lt. Mills and Crane get a call that Joe has been involved in an altercation in the woods. Lt. Mills and Crane arrive to find his friends’ torsos have been hollowed out — just, as they soon find out, how the men in his military unit were hollowed out. Hm.

Crane researches the Wendigo, finds that it’s a curse put on humans and is activated when blood is drawn in its proximity. They come to a conclusion: Joe is the Wendigo. Or, rather, as Hawley later puts it: Joe is a Wendi-Joe. Once they discover the Wendi-Joe, they track him down by following the coordinates left to him in secret by his father. The coordinates lead to Pioneer Point, which is where Joe digs up an ancient Chinese poison of unspeakably convoluted power. After a second transformation to the Wendigo, Crane and Lt. Mills capture Joe and chain him to their walls. (They have chained a lot of people to those walls.)

Through talking to the imprisoned Joe, they discover that the attack on his unit came shortly after he received a letter in the mail. The letter was coated in a white powder — bone, Crane quickly exclaims, and indeed bone it is. Not just any bone, but the bone of the flute of the Pied Piper, which we saw Parrish grinding up last week.

Speaking of Parrish, he soon shows himself when he ambushes the group, forcing Lt. Mills and the gang to unlock Joe and hand over the Chinese poison. Once he has what he wants, Parrish leaves, and he promises to cure Joe of the Wendigo curse — only, instead, he cuts Joe’s hand, forcing him to transform for the fourth and, as legend has it, final time.

Meanwhile, Hawley and Crane set off to figure out how to reverse the curse on Joe. Hawley’s appearance here is a little inexplicable, and not really plagued with the same sort of characteristic inconsistencies that the character was introduced on. He’s basically a member of the hunting party when they all go out to find Wendi-Joe, and only really serves as a vehicle to get Crane to a group of Shawnee Native Americans so that Crane can get an engraved skull and dagger that are needed to cure the Wendi-Joe of the Wendigo curse. This happens, it should be noted, only after Crane makes the revelation that Daniel Boone, he of the coonskin cap, was the victim of a Wendigo — his own brother, Squire Boone. This is why he wore said cap: to hide the scars from his brother’s attack.

Eventually, the hunting crew tracks down Wendi-Joe. Crane stabs him with the obsidian dagger, drops the blood into the mystical skull, and begins to chant. (He’s done so much chanting this season.) There’s a commercial-break cliffhanger that leaves Joe’s fate in doubt, but it doesn’t last very long: Before we know it, Joe is back in human form and fully clothed and saying goodbye to the gang as Crane screams at a video game in the background.

The episode ends with vignettes that fold two over-arching narratives into an otherwise self-contained episode. First, it’s Parrish and Irving. Earlier in the episode, Parrish tells Irving that, in order to retrieve ownership of his soul, he must kill someone. Parrish suggests the drunk that paralyzed Irving’s daughter, and at first Irving resists. (Even after Parrish quotes some Nietzsche at him, giving the episode its title.) But Irving can’t resist for long, nearly killing the man before he realizes he’s playing into Parrish’s plan.

Irving finally calls Lt. Mills to tell her everything that’s happened. She promises she’ll get his soul back, but who knows how that’ll happen. Who know’s what’ll happen, too, now that Katrina has eaten the Chinese poison, which Parrish somehow turned into a spider. The average human eats one poison-infused spider while they sleep, right?

And who knows what happened to Sheriff Reyes, who seems to be the shortest lived pain-in-the-ass character of all time, but that’s not a major issue, because her absence — and the general absence of all of the Horsemen and Irving and Katrina — made for a pretty tidy episode. The scenes with Irving seem so out of place, and take up probably around five minutes of screen time. It’s coming off as a weak storyline because of the way its plotting has been revealed, but it’s not!

These tidy episodes have been great to watch, and much more cogent than this season’s earliest episodes. But they’re doing very little for the overall story. Maybe that’s because there’s not a whole lot of an overall story anymore, but, if that’s the case, there certainly needs to be.