Friday, November 20, 2015

Sleepy Hollow 3x08 "Novus Ordo Seclorum" (Come What May) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Novus Ordo Seclorum"
Original Airdate: November 19, 2015

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Jenny got herself into some trouble with a glowy magic shard! Sophie revealed herself to be a member of the FBI! Pandora pulled a deep-voiced dude with a scythe out of her tree! All of these things seem like trouble. Well, other than Sophie being a member of the FBI. That seems all right, I guess. The other stuff? Totally trouble! It makes sense, though, because this week is the midseason finale and those always try to come with some exciting twists and turns. So, let's see how Sleepy Hollow manages to bring about the New Order of the Ages, shall we?


The goal is to save Jenny. Save her from Pandora, from Pandora's plans of world domination, from the Shard of Anubis –– doesn't matter; just save Jenny. Unfortunately, the creature they really have to save her from is... Etu Ilu? What? I thought we decided his name was Amun-Ra? Oh, whatever. He's "The Hidden One," which –– in Egyptian mythology –– is Amun, but in Sumerian he's Etu Ilu, and in every-way-that-matters he's an ancient god. Yeah, that's going to probably make killing him really difficult?

Team Witness –– down to just Abbie, Ichabod, and Joe, since Jenny's busy being Etu Ilu's Capri-Sun juice pouch as he sucks all the Anubis Shard energy out of her –– understand the difficulty of killing a god. Just because things sound hard, though, that doesn't mean they're not going to try doing them –– that's what makes them all heroes. After some investigation into old Masonic books and another display of Ichabod's perfect recall, they figure out that the ugly hunk of metal that had encased the Shard before Jenny touched it was once a (much cooler looking) staff and it could be used to draw the shard out of Jenny, if they can get close enough to her to do it.

Uh, well, since the whole "god" thing still applies regardless of bravery or strength of character, the mission to save Jenny basically devolves into a strategy of distraction while Abbie gets the Shard energy out of her sister. She succeeds but the metal casing for the Shard is broken, which means that its mystical energy is still capable of exploding and destroying a huge chunk of the city. Pressed for time and clutching an energy bomb, Abbie gets a stupid, heroic idea and carries the Shard into Pandora's creepy portal-to-another-world tree.

Where it explodes. Along with Abbie.



The show has been pretty clear about where it's wanted our two main characters to go over the course of the season (or, at least, the first half of the season). The first episode established Ichabod on a quest to find his place in the world, which has been revisited occasionally –– sometimes, perhaps, too subtly –– up until now. It also made sure we understood Abbie's mindset at the start, her life as a normal person whose existence wasn't entirely devoted to saving the world on a daily basis. Ichabod was struggling, while Abbie was content, and the episodes since the season three premiere have been showing the trouble that being Witnesses and fighting Pandora have caused in their lives. Ichabod has only grown more frustrated with his life in a foreign time, while Abbie has been fighting to fit the supernatural part of her life back into her world without sending everything into chaos.
Last week's episode was all of this coming to the forefront. Ichabod went on a whole rant about how he's been feeling helpless and lost, struggling with his place in the world and the fact that so much of himself was tied up with external forces (especially Abbie) that could change at any moment and cast him adrift. Then Abbie's concern for Jenny, plus the additional pressure from the FBI and the threat of Pandora's plans, had her straining under the effort to keep the careful barriers of her life in place, to keep them from crumbling and collapsing in on each other and ruining everything she's fought so hard and so long to accomplish. This week, both the Witnesses seem to be coming to terms with the fact that their worries from last week are far from over.

It's pretty freaking obvious that Ichabod's entire arc in season three has been him asking, "Where do I belong?" and then trying to ignore the blinking, neon arrow pointing to the spot right next to Abbie Mills. And I mean that beyond their partnership as Witnesses, beyond friendship, beyond romance... Abbie is the lens through which he views the world, his guide in everything, his best friend, his partner, and the person he loves the most. She's his safety net. The thought of losing her terrifies him and confuses him, as we learned last episode. It's only made more clear when a flashback of Ichabod back in the 18th century has Paul Revere telling him this bitter, mournful little bit of advice: "Don't let anyone in too close. When you lose them, it will break you." That's an absolutely critical sentiment, as sad as it might be, because Ichabod is absolutely too close to Abbie, and the loss of her will break him.

And for Abbie herself, the stress and frustration she's feeling as her worlds come crashing down around her is obvious throughout the episode. She's snapping at everyone, she's impatient, she's desperate. She has to save her sister –– she has to save the world –– but she keeps getting distracted by her duties as an FBI agent and she doesn't have time to deal with any of it. Daniel and Sophie are asking questions she can't answer without raising even more questions, and possibly getting thrown into a psychiatric facility. The carefully compartmentalized Abbie Mills is trapped, stuck in a place between her delineated worlds, and she has to sacrifice one in order to make a difference in the others.

In spite of how much Abbie loves her job, of how happy it makes her to be putting her skills to use at the FBI, there's no debate on which "world" of hers she's going to sacrifice. Abandoning her sister is out of the question. Abandoning her duty as a Witness would mean letting Jenny down and, therefore, is just as impossible as abandoning Jenny directly. So Abbie does the only thing that makes sense at the time and gives Agent Reynolds her badge and gun.

Here's something that I really loved, though: at the end of the episode –– and I emphasize the end of the episode, not the end, because if Abbie isn't back for the next half of the season I'm flipping a table –– the only role that Abbie is fulfilling is that of a dedicated, loving sister. The role she failed to fulfill years ago, when they were both just girls who saw something terrifying in the woods and Jenny wanted to tell the truth and suffered for it. Abbie didn't want to run the risk of getting in trouble, didn't want to risk the uneasy-but-steady life they had found, and she lost her sister for thirteen years because of that fear. Now, Abbie sacrifices herself to save Jenny, even though it means taking away a Witness and putting the world at risk. Is that kind of dumb? Well, yeah –– Abbie's destiny as one of the saviors of the world should come before any sisterly devotion, before everything.

But it doesn't. Because, beneath all of Abbie's compartmentalization, beneath the sharply split and divided parts of her life, beneath her identity as a Witness or as FBI Agent Mills, she is just Abbie Mills. Jenny's big sister. Forever.

Other Things:
  • I find Pandora and The Hidden One's total disregard for the Witnesses (as opposed to being all, "We must defeat them!") really nice and a change of pace from other shows with a Big Bad vs. The Heroes plot. Pandora even calls them "useful."
  • Whenever Sleepy Hollow shoots in the forest, it looks so pretty. The opening with Pandora, The Hidden One, and Jenny by that lake was also super gorgeous and creepy despite the fact that it was happening during the day.
  • At this point I don't even think Pandora's constant rhyming is her casting any spells. I think she just likes poetry.
  • "For you, I would break Eternity." Romantic evil gods!
  • "I believe we are facing a living... breathing... god." Jeez, Ichabod, deliver that news more dramatically, won't you? You're going full Shatner.
  • For real, though, the Eye of Providence is creepy. Why would you put that thing on the United States Seal, Franklin?!
  • "Okay, I'm still not used to the way you name drop." Oh, Joe.
  • I really love Pandora and I can't figure out if it's the actress or the way she's written, but she's just so great at being charmingly evil.
  • Love the flashbacks to previous seasons this episode. We got some Young Abbie and Young Jenny and some Wendigo-Joe!
  • I love how Abbie just hands over her badge before Daniel even finishes his ultimatum.
  • "The asset we were cultivating… we just lost her." Um, I'm sorry, what does that mean? Who are you, Daniel? What are you doing? WHAT'S HAPPENING?
  • So cute that Abbie's got a special message for Ichabod on her voicemail, because he still hasn't figured out how voicemail works.
  • "I knew her at Quantico. If the situation calls, she's trained to wage war." Abbie Mills: Confirmed for Badass.
  • Loved the rundown of all the evil beasties Abbie and Ichabod have defeated.
  • "You ready to fight some bad guys, Crane?" "Indeed." "My man."
  • "Don't."  Whup, well. That line was delivered with such exquisite brokenness that I think I'm what the kids call "Ichabbie trash" now. Is there a mailing list? Do I get a t-shirt? A button to pin to my lapel? What's the induction policy, here?
  • It's not totally clear, but I think Abbie absorbed some of the Shard's power through the broken hunk of protective metal? Her skin was kind of glowy like Jenny's had been, and it's the only explanation I have for why she just didn't toss the Shard into the tree and run for it.
  • We end on Ichabod saying "Abbie?" like his whole world just ended. Which it did. (See: above review.)

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Ichabbie Trash club. We have a home over at Tumblr where we post angsty, mean, optimistic, nsfw stuff. This review is excellent btw and Nicole Beharie is truly phenomenal in an outstanding cast