Unfortunately I fell way behind on Sleepy Hollow, and that’s partially because the show’s second season has been a roller coaster of good, okay, and bad. Now that we know it’s been renewed for a third season, it seems important to finish out the rest of the episodes for DEADtime TV, if only in hopes that season 3 does get significantly better. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy Sleepy Hollow as it is right now, but at the same, it’s definitely not the same show it was in its premiere season.
With that said, both “Kali Yuga” and “Spellcaster” get back to stand-alone episodes, furthering the side-plots of this season while maintaining the monster-of-the-week procedural aspects of the initial premise. It’s nice, sometimes, to settle down with Sleepy Hollow without having to worry about all of the undercurrents of craziness, trying to keep track of the Headless Horseman and Moloch and the Horseman of War. With both of these episodes, those threats are still on the sidelines, but the more present threat is most important in these.
One of the biggest dilemmas for Ichabod and Abbie in “Kali Yuga,” though, is trust; they’ve recently had a falling-out after an argument about working with the angel Orion and whether Katrina should have allowed the Horseman to go free, and the episode first finds both of them refusing to admit anything is wrong. Eventually, after being locked in a huge safe, they’re forced to discuss the problems with their dissent – neither even discussed their options with the other, and as Witnesses, teamwork is a must. Otherwise, they will fall.
It’s a nice continuation of the previous arc that combines with a new enemy, this time someone from Hawley’s past. Carmilla returns to Sleepy Hollow to meet with Nick, needing his help to find an artifact literally locked away inside Fort Knox. It’s a statue of Shiva that will help return her humanity, she says; she had been turned into a terrible demon beforehand, and she uses this emotional turmoil to seek Hawley’s aid.
She’s also a surrogate mother to him, showing him the ropes of thievery early in his career before he turned into adult, douchier Hawley. He feels indebted to her, and Sleepy Hollow finally makes an attempt at characterizing Hawley besides the very tiny amount they’ve done up to this point. Unfortunately, it comes a bit too late – Hawley’s been an unlikable presence that the show has attempted to co-opt into the Abbie-Ichabod-Jenny-Irving rectangle, and it just hasn’t been working. Despite the fact we get a lot more development for Hawley in “Kali Yuga,” the end of the episode finds Hawley leaving anyway. It’s a pleasing goodbye exit, but at the same time it’s unfortunate that the show couldn’t do more with Hawley before all this.
“Spellcaster” introduces another new evil to the world of Sleepy Hollow with Solomon Kent, a blood magician from the 1600s that was the instigator of the Salem witch trials. In a lengthy flashback sequence, Katrina documents his fall from power, since her grandmother was there when it happened: as a priest, Kent fell in love with a woman named Sarah and forced himself on her, only to accidentally murder her (you know how those things go). So instead of doing the right thing, he incites a witch hunt and uses his blood magic to do so.
Now he’s back in Sleepy Hollow to get John Dee’s grimoire, a book of spells that will allow Kent to get Sarah back from the dead. Unfortunately, opening a portal to the dead also allows other, badder things to come through, and Ichabod and Abbie would rather stop Kent from forcefully pulling his love back from the dead than allow entities to slip into the world.
The magical aspects give Sleepy Hollow the chance to utilize Katrina, who has been working on her powers during the downtime. “Spellcaster” finds her facing off against Kent in a battle of magic as he tries to put the pages of the grimoire back together, but she’s no match for Kent’s heightened blood magic once he gets his hands on Dee’s book. Sleepy Hollow has this odd battle of what to do with Katrina: sometimes she doesn’t have any useful powers, and sometimes she does but they’re just not strong enough. It’s good that “Spellcaster” can include her in the proceedings, but her powerlessness is a big problem.
It all leads to a weird scientific conclusion that rushes everything just a bit too much. Abbie and Ichabod decide that with a combination of electricity and a chemical substance, they can zap Kent with a jolt and incapacitate him enough to grab the book. Why Katrina can’t use her magic to help in this is anyone’s guess, and it really limits how they use her as a character – though she seems to be an integral part of their ensemble, rarely does she have anything important to contribute besides backstory.
“Spellcaster” also brings Henry back from the dead in a few different scenes. He’s been living in a motel after Moloch’s death, and he looks pretty good, even if he does seem a little directionless. After seeing a bunch of guys bullying the nice owners of the motel, he uses his own magic to kill all three without laying a finger on them; later, he meets with Irving in the forest, promising big things to come now that he doesn’t have to serve Moloch. Using Irving as a spy is a good move for Sleepy Hollow, especially with its themes of trust. Even though Katrina analyzed Irving for evil, she must have been wrong, because he steals the grimoire to bring to Henry; his double-crossing means Abbie will struggle with trusting anyone later, and it’ll be interesting to see how the show deals with Henry’s return to power. Will he use it for good or for evil? Not sure, but hopefully Sleepy Hollow doesn’t attempt to continue its soap opera drama about bad parenting, because that’s kind of been played out by now.