Sleepy Hollow returned to form Friday night! Actually, I’d say it returned even better! Before I even get into what I thought, here’s what happened in the midseason premiere, “One Life.”

 

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Jessica Camacho, Tom Mison, Lyndie Greenwood, and Zach Appelman in the ÒOne Life" winter premiere episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Friday, Feb. 5 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.
Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

The gang is still reeling from the presumed death of Abbie. While Joe is pretty convinced Abbie’s dead, Jenny and Ichabod are still holding out hope that Abbie’s stuck in another dimension and needs rescue. Both Jenny and Ichabod are dealing with their grief in the same way—searching for artifacts and clues—but both have a different form of grief. Jenny’s is survivor’s guilt, having lost her parents, her father figure, and now her sister, and she feels it’s all because of her. Ichabod, on the other hand, is going through a unique kind of pain. In his words, his “better half” is missing, and it’s driving him insane. Ichabod’s so out of his mind that he’s looking at pictures of Abbie to figure out what she would do or say to him, looking for clues to jump out of thin air, and investigating artifacts he has no business investigating. Such as an ancient jug that seemed like it didn’t work, but it did, to horrible effect.

 

Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX
Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX

Foster, who thinks Ichabod is a person of interest, basically trails Ichabod throughout the whole episode, trying to see if he possibly murdered Abbie and stashed her body in the forest. It’s unclear if she even cares about Abbie’s death to begin with, since it’s apparent she’s only asking on behalf of Daniel, who is also crazy with grief (he and Abbie had a fight before she went missing, remember?). But eventually Foster becomes part of Team Witness when she and Ichabod are harassed by a spirit trying to get into the overworld. The spirit presents itself as Abbie, so immediately Ichabod kicks it into high gear to save his lady.

Of course, it’s not his lady! We forgot we were supposed to see a monster in the episode, and this mirror demon was possibly one of the scariest demons yet. Perhaps it was because the monster had Samara look to her, but that monster and her movements were terrifying. Ichabod and Foster (who, for this episode is Replacement Abbie) start tracking the demon, and after a talk in the car, Ichabod comes to realize that Abbie is, as Berry White would say, his first, his last, his everything, and that he is never his better self unless she’s right beside him. Also pertinent: we learn that Foster has an Abbie and Jenny-esque past, too. Her archaeologist parents were “killed,” but she always believed they were taken from her by demonic forces and that they, too, could be stuck somewhere. She had been trailing Nevins in order to find out if the spirit world and demons and spooky stuff was even real. Looks like she got her answer in spades this time.

Meanwhile, Jenny and Joe have been searching for a cursed map that would show where demons are at all times, like an evil GPS system. Of course, they run into trouble, trouble being Randall and his goons. Actually, first we meet Randall at the club, in which Jenny throws herself on him in an effort to get information, but it’s weird because Joe’s standing right there, watching it, clearly uncomfortable at the lengths to which Jenny will go to get what she wants from someone. Jenny thinks they’ve duped who she considers a stupid man, but Randall comes back when they get to the storage facility the map’s housed in. Randall’s crony takes Joe, and off camera, there’s a shot! Jenny thinks he’s dead, and she’s about to fall apart emotionally right as Joe comes back and threatens Randall with the gun the crony had. Joe knocks Randall out and both Joe and Jenny escape with the map.

Once they get back to Jenny’s trailer, Jenny goes in on Joe, calling him stupid for his heroics. But what she actually reveals is that she was scared that he had been killed, that everyone who she loved had been taken from her. Jenny/Joe fans get their wishes granted when Joe and Jenny kiss and start stumbling back into what has to be Jenny’s small bedroom.

Jenny and Joe make it back to the Team Witness hideout, and Jenny is startled to find Foster in Abbie’s position next to Ichabod. Ichabod gives a very weird reason as to why she’s there, saying she helped him out of “a sticky situation,” and gives a weird face to go along with this non-answer. Jenny scrunches her face, unconvinced and on the verge of anger, as she says, “Ooookaaaayyyy….”. I know what Jenny was thinking; she was thinking, “Did this fool go ahead and replace my sister?”

Together, Team Witness hunt down the demon, which is currently hunting folks who are desperate to find Abbie, such as Daniel. Luckily, Foster called Daniel back in on a case (using the fact that Abbie’s disappearance has left a surplus of cases to be worked on by too little of staff). The team head to the cabin, the place Daniel was currently residing in to get his mind off of Abbie (that plan wasn’t working anyway, since he was still pacing the floor). Ichabod and Foster manage to trap the demon in the mirror, and Foster issues the final death blow, smashing the mirror with a crowbar.

That mission is complete, but the overriding mission of saving Abbie is still an open case. Ichabod thinks back to Betsy Ross, who allowed their partner, Nathan Hale, to die at the gallows. Ichabod was angered that she forced them not to find a way to save him, but Betsy said that sometimes, death is unavoidable. She didn’t want their cover blown, so he had to die. Cold, but pragmatic, so I can’t be mad at her reasoning. Neither can Ichabod, to a degree, but he clearly didn’t agree with her then, and he certainly can’t agree with her now, not with Abbie still out there. He tells Foster that he’s not giving up the fight for Abbie, but he’s got to keep his mind on the other problems at hand, which is keeping Pandora and the Ancient One at bay. For now, Replacement Abbie is holding down Ichabod’s sanity as Team Witness reforms once more to fight evil.

 

 Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.
Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

Meanwhile, two problems are unfolding. First, Pandora is about to get sacked by her true love (or is he?) because the Ancient One is unimpressed and cranky. He’s still not up to full power because of Abbie’s sacrifice, and to get the talisman thing back that he needs for recovery, they need to get Abbie back. Jenny said earlier that there is no alternative for not getting Abbie back, and that’s the same logic the Ancient One is going with. Pandora has to get Abbie back, because if they don’t, it’s Pandora’s head. I have to give credit to Pandora for acting cool under pressure, but you can see she’s silently quaking in her boots. Also, I wonder how close to the Joker/Harley Quinn dynamic we’re going to go with Pandora and the Ancient One’s relationship before I start feeling uncomfortable. I currently like the Ancient One; I don’t want to have to dislike him for what he could do to a woman, especially a woman he’s supposed to “love.”

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Second, ABBIE’S ALIVE! We knew this, of course, but it’s still good to get confirmation that she is, indeed, alive. I know some folks are probably annoyed that Abbie didn’t make it back into action this episode, but I’m going to tell you why the setup for next week is a good thing. First, though, where in the world is Abbie? I’m guessing she’s in the same place the Ancient One was in for millennia. Just how is she going to get back? This place isn’t like stupid Purgatory, in which there are instructions written on mirrors (which lovely writer wrote that piece of nonsense, by the way?), so it looks like this place is going to be a tough nut to crack. But Abbie’s cracked worse, so she’ll crack this.

Okay, here’s what I thought as I watched the episode:

Hysterical Ichabod: I had been waiting to see Ichabod finally be beside himself with grief, and I got what I was looking for. Ichabod has finally let go of some of his decorum and is now outwardly showing his feelings for Abbie. Well, by “outward,” I mean telling wedding vows he usually reserves only for talks with Abbie to someone else. It’s probably because Foster indirectly reminds Ichabod of Abbie that he was able to say how he actually feels about Abbie, and it could also be because Foster’s a stranger; I still think he’d have enough decorum to not blurt this private talk to Jenny. But the fact that he’s willing to confess to someone else that he truly believes Abbie is his better half, the person that makes him better just by being in his life, means he’s got a more complete handle on what his feelings for her are. Sometimes the person you love has to go away in order for you to realize what they mean to you, and even though Ichabod has generally shown how much he appreciates Abbie, this seems like the first time he’s realized exactly how important she is to him. It’ll be highly interesting to see how he acts when they finally get back together. (Just to put this out there—according to promo pictures, Abbie only shows up once. Of course, we might see her more throughout the episodes, but looks like Abbie won’t be back in our world for two weeks, which is two weeks too long for many fans. The show is doing some risky business by having Abbie out of commission and using Foster as an Abbie replacement, but let’s see what happens before we grab pitchforks. The stage is being set for something good, I can feel it.)

Their relationship down the road will get really, really fascinating, seeing how he still hasn’t broken up with Zoe. We completely forgot about Zoe in this episode. That says a lot about her character. (Full admission: I had to go back and edit this article to write “Zoe” instead of “Caroline.” That shows just how much I forgot about Zoe and how much of an impact Caroline made. She’s still effective, and she’s been dead since Season 2. We still miss you, Caroline! Zoe’s an evil replacement!)

Jenny pours out her heart: Jenny’s speech to Joe reminded me a lot of what some fans had complained about when it comes to the Mills sisters. Some fans felt that Jenny and Abbie were being set up as stereotypical “strong black women,” and that they should have some nuance. I wrote a while ago that, barring some questionable tactics taken by the writing direction in Season Two, Jenny and Abbie did have nuance, and that their outward tough appearance showed how they were trying to protect their vulnerable sides from harm because they have been hurt before. Jenny’s speech said exactly what I had written in a much more succinct form. Jenny has loved before, and all of her family and friends, from her parents, to Corbin, to Abbie, have either died, left her, or sacrificed themselves for her. She carries survivor’s guilt and in order to protect the people she loves, she tries to distance herself from them by being the girl who, as she says, doesn’t have relationships and is the artifact runner for the team. When she thought Joe had been killed, she thought that once again, because of her, someone she loved had been lost. Abbie deals with pain in the same way; she blocks it out and tries to protect people by not getting to close. I got reamed by the aforementioned few for suggesting that these two women deal with pain the way many of women do (including me sometimes); by shutting it out and pretending everything’s all right in an effort to protect themselves. Is it healthy? No. But sometimes, it’s the quickest way to deal with a situation, even when you know there will be emotional ramifications later. But Jenny stated her case better than I could have for her, because she said it, not me.

Let’s see what folks have to say about Jenny’s admission, since she admitted she swallows her feelings. Will it be wrongly considered as a writer’s ploy to make her a Strong Black Woman, when she said she’s anything but? I don’t know, but I do know that I liked Jenny’s speech, and it portrays her as a human being with flaws, not some character retrofitted to appeal to a hyper Tumblr aesthetic of what the right and only interpretation of a black woman should be. There are many types of black women, and as such, there should be many types of black women characters exhibiting emotions in the way they see fit, and Jenny and Abbie are just two of those characters. However, with all of that said, there needs to be more black women characters out there so that Jenny and Abbie (and Annalise, Olivia, Michonne, Mary Jane, Iris and the handful of others not mentioned) don’t have to carry the brunt of the weight of representation and the hyper-awareness a lack of representation can cause in an audience.

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(If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Where did this attitude come from?” you’ll have to forgive me. I’m venting, but it’s over now. Moving on.)

The longevity of Foster, Betsy Ross and Zoe: I mentioned Zoe earlier. She belongs in the pile of characters with indeterminate lifespans. How far can Zoe, Foster, and Betsy Ross last before they start feeling like wastes of paper and ink? What I wrote is harsh, I know. But seriously, what’s the plan for them? Foster can only go so far before she starts really feeling like a bad Abbie replacement. I’m assuming she has about two more episodes before she goes her own way, unless we’re now supposed to assume that Team Witness is going to help her find her parents too, on top of the laundry list of things they have to do to avert the Apocalypse. I don’t see how we have the time, so Foster might just have to find her parents by herself. I’m sorry, but we’ve got to move on with the story.

Ditto for Zoe. After Ichabod’s “There’s no one else for me but Abbie” confession, I don’t see any purpose Zoe holds, unless she is actually a demonic avatar of Pandora or something. Zoe was the fun thing to do while Ichabod got his life back together after Katrina and Henry. But Ichabod’s got his life figured out now, and that life involves nothing but Abbie Mills. So goodbye, Zoe. It was fun knowing you. Unless you turn out to be evil, then it’ll be fun to see your true self.

(I will say that Zoe comes back Feb. 19, according to the promo pictures, so be prepared. But everything between Zoe and Ichabod looks conciliatory and awkward, which has been the trajectory of their relationship so far. I’ll hold out on what I’m thinking is going to happen. I’ll just say we’ll see what goes down.)

Betsy Ross…is already dead, so we don’t have to worry about her turning up. But the memories of Betsy have to have reached their end, right? After Betsy basically says she’ll leave a person for dead for the sake of the mission, it seems Ichabod has come to an impasse with Memory Betsy, right? Memory Betsy is all about separating the wheat from the chaff to brutal (but practical and reasonable) effect, while Ichabod is all about saving everyone on the team (which can be unwise, since you can kill your whole squad just to go after one straggler). Technically, Betsy is the smart one in this equation, but Ichabod thinks with his heart just as much as he does with his head, and the heart is what’s keeping Ichabod’s hope for Abbie alive. So bye, Betsy. You don’t think with your heart. Plus, Betsy never liked Nathan Hale anyway and thought he was a dunce who could ruin them, so perhaps she was more than happy to see him go. He did, after all, prove Betsy right and got caught by the British. She let him die because of his own stupidity. Again, separating wheat from the chaff in a cold-blooded fashion. If she could team up with Peggy Carter somehow, they could really do some damage. I’d watch that show.

Friday nights: Traditionally, Friday is thought of as the death knell for shows. But I think Friday just might be what Sleepy Hollow is made for. Actually, when the show was in its first season, I would wish that it was on Friday because it would have been a great way to end my work week and ease me into the weekend. On that level, I’m selfishly glad it’s on Friday. But to look at it on a macro level, I think having Sleepy Hollow and Second Chance on Friday will give what is traditionally one of TV’s dead days some pep. NBC is still doing well with Grimm Fridays, and that show was thought to be a goner once it moved from earlier in the week to its current time slot. In many ways, Grimm gives a look at what Sleepy Hollow can be when left to its own devices. Like Sleepy Hollow, Grimm has a devoted fanbase that followed it through its timeslot changes and, combined with NBC probably assuming the show was kaput, the show was left by itself to blossom into the solid sci-fi show it is today. All FOX needs to do is leave Sleepy Hollow to grow and get comfortable in a slot that’s not dominated by Gotham or Scandal. I think Friday is going to be the blessing Sleepy Hollow’s been asking for. Just my opinion. But I will say this: #SleepyHollow was trending at the top of the leaderboard, which it hasn’t done in a long while. Sounds like it’s a winner to me.

I also think the back half is, as has been advertised, the best half of this season. This episode alone was fantastic, and Abbie wasn’t even in it! There was tons of pacing, lots of character moments, and frightening sequences. Props again go to the makeup and SFX departments, because there were some moments that really creeped me out. When the mirror demon walks in silhouette with those talons sticking out? SCARY. So scary and so good. It’s those moments when Sleepy Hollow gives me pleasant Season One flashbacks. I’m of the mindset that this first half of Season 3 was the transition out of Season 2. Season 3 really started when Abbie went missing. Now, I feel, we’re back into the dynamic of what made Sleepy Hollow great. I’m excited. I hope you are, too.

What did you think of Sleepy Hollow? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

UPDATE: I forgot that next was the week Crane releases his astral form to find Abbie in the netherworld, so disregard what I wrote about the press photos. I blame the excitement surrounding the NAACP Image Awards for causing me to forget all about this. In case you haven’t seen the promo (because of last week’s awards or otherwise), here you go!

 

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Monique Jones is an entertainment blogger/journalist. She’s written for Entertainment Weekly, Black Girl Nerds, Racialicious, and many others. She runs JUST ADD COLOR (originally called COLOR) and has introduced a new online magazine, COLOR BLOCK Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter at @moniqueblognet and the official Twitter for JUST ADD COLOR and COLORBLOCK Magazine,@COLORwebmag.