Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for episode 1.09 of FOX’s Sleepy Hollow, “Sanctuary.”
I don’t want to get all New Age-y on y’all, but there are two things about friendship I pretty strongly believe. The first is that we meet the people we need to meet when we need to meet them. I moved to where I live now about 16 years ago, and before I settled in the city I now call home, I lived in apartments in a couple other cities. As it happens, one of those apartments was in a city where two of my best friends (offline) lived. I’ve talked with them about living there, and we’ve realized there were times we were probably in the same place at the same time. But I didn’t meet either of them until high school, which is good as we might not have been friends if I’d met them when I was younger.
The second thing I believe pretty strongly about friendship is it’s necessary to be a teeny, tiny bit in love with your friends. There’s no long-term social expectations associated with friendship the way there usually is with family, so noting your friends’ awesome traits and attractive qualities makes you want to spend more time with them.
It’s Thanksgiving week on Sleepy Hollow, and this episode’s A- and B-plots were all about timing. In the first, Capt. Irving assigns Abbie Mills and Ichabod Crane to investigate the disappearance of Washington, D.C., billionaire and socialite Lena Gilbert, in town to visit her family’s ancestral home. Mills and Crane determine Gilbert might be related to Crane’s wife, Katrina; or to one of his friends, Lachlan Fredericks, who may also have been part of the epic battle between good and evil that’s been brewing in upstate New York for centuries. They arrive at the Fredericks-Gilbert home, only to discover Gilbert’s bodyguard is dead, Gilbert herself is trapped by some kind of evil vine, and the house itself is full of ghosts.
Back in the safety of the SHPD’s archives, Mills and Crane rifle through documents Gilbert sent them after she returned to D.C. Among them is a family tree starting with the free Black woman who was Fredericks’ house hostess and ending with Mill’s mother. The Two Witnesses realize their meeting wasn’t simply predestined but carefully orchestrated across multiple generations.
The B-plot featured Irving and Jenny Mills, who
bicker discuss flirt over the topics of guns and Thanksgiving dinner. (Jenny offers to cook for her sister, Crane and Irving; Irving is both surprised and doubtful at her suggestion, assuming she might give him food poisoning.) Their moment is interrupted when Irving’s ex-wife, Cynthia, and daughter, Macey, arrive. Macey, who clearly inherited her dad’s wry wit and unlimited capacity for sass, prods Jenny to find out if she is dating Irving.
They bond over the need to give parents a break when they can’t manage to balance work and home. Meanwhile, Cynthia interrogates Irving about why his ‘easy country gig in the middle of nowhere’ is keeping him so busy, then tells him if he bails on another weekend with Macey, she’ll sue for sole custody.
This was another solid entry in this show’s freshman season, and managed to add new layers to the ongoing mystery and mythology without losing momentum. We learned both Mills’ and Gilbert’s ancestors were likely part of the same Good coven as Crane’s wife, while also discovering Evil can be surprisingly pragmatic when it comes to circumventing the rules by which Good works.
Of course, the big reveals were the existence of Crane’s son with Katrina, and the new connection Mills has with her partner and his past. Mills and Crane met not only because they were destined to, but when their meeting made the most sense. Imagine for a moment if Mills had already left for Quantico when Sheriff Corbin was killed, and she reluctantly returned, only to discover Crane then, when she had practically no reason to stay. Imagine if Mills hadn’t come upon the Horseman immediately after Corbin’s death. Or even, perhaps, imagine if the cave where Crane was buried had been discovered earlier, whether by the Hessians, the Masons, a random hiker or maybe an adolescent Abbie and Jenny.
As for Jenny and Irving, their interaction early in the episode demonstrates the characters’ potential to be a splendidly sarcastic crime-fighting duo. Jenny, in particular, has lived a life of isolation: From society, from her sister, from their mother, from a “normal” adulthood, but she never chose to be alone. Contrarily, Irving is shown, through his conversation with his ex-wife, to be guilty of putting his work before his family, even if he does adore his daughter. Initially, he found himself alone because he worked in a bustling urban precinct, and now because he’s learned his department stands between an unsuspecting world and the Apocalypse. Whether the show runners and writers decide to make theirs a canon ship, Jenny and Irving’s dynamic is in the gray zone between flirting and friendship. (Though Jenny’s defense of Irving to his daughter veers more into friendship, especially as Jenny is a character in need of a hug and reassurance more than a romance set amidst the final battle between good and evil.)
This week was about timing – Is there ever a good time to tell your best friend news that could destroy him? Is there a way to recapture a ‘moment’ with someone, especially when the ‘moment’ is interrupted by that someone’s daughter? – as much as it was about time (Crane dying before his child was born, Gilbert disappearing for days before anyone reported her missing, the span of generations between Mills’ ancestor and herself).
However, I am left with one question: Does the town of Sleepy Hollow suffer from the same sort of systemic obliviousness that plagues Sunnydale and Haven? Does no one notice the dead bodies? The strange occurrences? The shoot-outs? How many times can the local paper (assuming there still is one) be fed a line from SHPD about gas leaks before someone starts to question the weirdness that came to town around the same time as the old-fashioned professor, visiting from England? When a show is as eager to wink at the audience as this one is, I can’t help but wait with baited breath to see how this is addressed.