All season long, Sleepy Hollow had me writing like a broken record, grieving the fun of the first season and trying to find joy in the wacky procedural nature of its second. Gone was the ever-present banter between Ichabod and Abbie. Gone was the town of Sleepy Hollow’s character, which was at first an integral aspect in the show but is now seemingly only a series of underground tunnels and after-dark chambers. Gone, too, were any real stakes, as the show’s ceaselessly paranormal takes on history seemed inherently opposed to any of the main characters facing any real, actual danger. A lot was gone, but it was still fun, at least. Well, this week, “The Akeda” changed that. Not all of it, but a lot of it.
The midseason finale finds us right where we left off. Ichabod and Abbie, racing toward Frederick’s Manor, hijack a motorcycle from a gas station after their SUV breaks down. Once at the manor, Ichabod, with the Sword of Methuselah in tow, quickly fells Abraham. Just as he’s about to die, Abraham interjects, says that any man who uses the Sword of Methuselah to kill will have his soul sacrificed to the sword. Research by Jenny proves Abraham right. This leads to a quick session of brainstorming, and the eventual conclusion that Irving, because Parrish has already taken claim to his soul, could use the Sword of Methuselah without any real repercussion. The only problem? Nobody knows where Irving is.
That doesn’t really matter, though, because, although Irving went on the run at the end of last week’s episode, he left Jenny a message with a code: 9231780. The series of numbers is a date that leads Ichabod and Jenny to an underground garrison. This discovery, and the eventual recovery of Irving, happens very quickly — two minutes, maybe? — and things move on from there. Irving makes Jenny and Ichabod promise to protect his family if he dies. They do, so he picks up the now-glowing sword, enters the circular chamber that imprisons Abraham, and gets him to leak information about Moloch. It’s not anything they want to hear: Moloch and Parrish are in the woods… blackening trees. This is, apparently, a gradual taking over of the mortal plane, and the process is this: The blackening of the first white tree brings lightning, the second brings blood, the thirds brings Moloch’s demon army, and the fourth tree will complete the formation of Hell on Earth, bringing to an end the world as we know it, etc., etc., doom fire.
It’s an epic series of events, one that necessitates an extreme artillery. And that means Hawley. The team gathers him and his weapons, Katrina enchants them, and Hawley is left to guard Abraham against potential torrents of demons. The rest of the team — the A-Team, as it were — heads into the woods, and faces an army of those risen demons. They’re all decked out in Colonial-era wear — apparently, Moloch stopped recruiting souls 250 years ago — and wield muskets equipped with bayonets. One quickly wounds Abbie, but the rest are quickly dispatched by Ichabod, a light-throwing Katrina, and Irving, who has warped into a sudden badass, wielding the Sword of Methuselah like some kind of Dynasty Warriors hero. He kills almost all of the demons single-handedly — even killing the Horseman of War, which was being controlled by Parrish. Unfortunately, he’s wounded, and Irving dies in the process. (Sadly, the resulting reaction shot of Abbie discovering his dead body is pure unintentional camp.) After the defeat of the Horseman, and the death of Irving, the A-Team regroups at a nearby church.
Moloch dispatches Parrish to delay Ichabod, Abbie, Katrina, and Jenny, and through very little trickery, and taking advantage of Ichabod and Katrina’s endless faith in him, he manages to capture them all. He takes the group to Moloch, where they’re rooted to white-turned-black trees. Moloch asks Parrish to kill Katrina. Parrish argues, says Katrina was promised to Abraham. But, Moloch continues belittling Parrish, reenforcing the fact, essentially, that no matter how much Parrish devotes himself to Moloch, Moloch will never see him as more than an expendable pawn. Somewhere, this leads to a break in Parrish’s worldview, and after a few minutes of Biblical babble (concerning Isaac and Jacob — this story gives the episode its name), Parrish turns his sword on Moloch. The demon dies, spectacularly exploding and bringing an end to the force that has driven nearly every episode of the series up to this point, and thank Methuselah for that.
The thing about this episode isn’t just that it’s nice to have some resolution. Sure, it’s nice to have the Irving plotline (somewhat) resolved, and it’s definitely nice to have Moloch out of the picture. There’s still Katrina/Abraham/Ichabod to figure out and there’s still the lazy writing of Hawley and Sheriff Reyes. But the thing about this episode is that it was firing on all cylinders so well (minus, maybe, the humor, and the fact that Abbie — the baddest woman on TV — was essentially relegated to a background player) that it made obvious just how good a show it could be when it wasn’t concerned with creating a mythical/historical creature to conjure up and kill. This gives me hope for the second half of the season, which will resume in January. But, that said, I’m sick of having hope for this series, and am ready for it to be good week-to-week, as I know it can be. Here’s to a new start with fewer demons and more of Ichabod discovering 21st century gadgets. (Maybe the show can morph into a sitcom? There are already about three love triangles to play off.)