Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sleepy Hollow 3x09 "One Life" (Desperate Times) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"One Life"
Original Airdate: February 5, 2016

This week on the midseason return of Sleepy Hollow: The search for Abbie Mills begins (or continues, since a month has passed in-show since the last episode) and we explore themes of desperation, hope, guilt, denial, and acceptance in the face of loss. The show not only plays these things out in-story, but also seems to go the meta route regarding the absence of Abbie and how the fans are feeling about it. Also in this episode: Ichabod realizes he's totally in love with Abbie but won't admit it and Jenny realizes she's in love with Joe but admits it, and things get bow-chicka-bow-ow for them. See what happens when you admit you're in love, Ichabod? You get the bow-chicka-bow-ow. You admitted nothing so all you get is an evil, murderous mirror ghoulie and a frozen lasagna for dinner.


Ichabod isn’t in a good place at all, people. He’s gone into full-on Obsessive Detective mode and he’s got the bulletin boards covered in maps and photographs of Abbie to prove it. All he needs is some red string tacked up there and he’s set. Even Joe and Jenny are giving him the worried side-eye when he shows up with an ancient jug that was supposedly used by Orpheus to contact his love, Eurydice, when she was trapped in the Underworld. Yeah, no romantic undertones in that little tale or anything (but let’s ignore the fact that it ends in tragedy).

It doesn’t look like the jug or the spell that’s supposed to call Abbie back to him works, much to Ichabod’s obvious frustration, but whatever spell might have been cast would have been interrupted by the arrival of Sophie Foster, who’s looking for Abbie as well. Under different assumptions, of course -- she thinks Ichabod did something to her and he’s a person of interest in her disappearance. To Agent Reynolds, he’s pretty much the one and only suspect. Ichabod doesn’t have the time or patience for… anything that’s not "trying to find Abbie," essentially, but he especially doesn’t have the patience for suspicious FBI agents following him around and implying that he might have murdered his best friend.

This little scene sets up the Fighting Evil plot of the episode, as later Ichabod and Sophie are both contacted by what Ichabod assumes is Abbie’s spirit. You can’t really blame him for thinking that, though, because the demon -- a Japanese usually-vengeful spirit called a Onryō, currently more attracted to desperation than vengefulness -- uses Ichabod’s thoughts and feelings and desire to find Abbie in order to trick him. I don’t think that it’s ever fully explained how the Onryō figures out what its victim is thinking or feeling, but there’s no other explanation for how it knows the most perfect way to get to Ichabod. Also, he’s desperate for it to be Abbie’s spirit.

And this is the watchword for the episode: desperation. The desperation Ichabod feels about trying to get Abbie back is driving him insane and worrying the people who care about him. I think it’s interesting that Jenny, who clearly feels some level of guilt over Abbie sacrificing herself for her, isn’t nearly as frantic or obsessed with finding the missing Witness as Ichabod is. But Jenny is capable of compartmentalization -- a Mills family trait -- while Ichabod is utterly consumed by that single thought: find Abbie. It’s implied that he’s been constantly searching for the past month, while Joe and Jenny had slowly tapered off and started think about the bigger picture: namely, Pandora and the Hidden One and what they could be plotting.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but I can’t help thinking that Ichabod’s fixation on Abbie in “One Life” is representative of the viewers/fans of the show. Over the hiatus, there was an -- understandable -- buzz of worry over the fate of Abbie Mills, who is undoubtedly as equally important to the heart and soul of Sleepy Hollow as Ichabod is. There is no show without her, just as there is no Ichabod and destiny and Witnesses to the Apocalypse without her. Ichabod is lost without Abbie by his side, and even though Sophie makes an okay partner in a pinch it’s not the same and never could be the same. Yeah, they defeat the Onryō and yeah, they have a bit of a heart-to-heart and seem to be friends now, but Sophie isn’t Abbie and she could never replace Abbie in Ichabod’s heart or the viewers’.

Under other circumstances I’d tell you that the show would never try to replace Abbie, but I have to admit I was a little suspicious of the Revolutionary War flashbacks with Betsy Ross and Ichabod dealing with the loss of one of their partners, Nathan Hale (you know: the "One life to lose for my country" guy every American schoolchild learned about in history class). There’s a definite theme of "letting go" that crosses over from the flashbacks to the present day, culminating in Ichabod remembering -- and taking to heart -- this quote: “Sometimes you must accept that there aren’t going to be any miracles. The best you can do is continue your mission.”

We’re not only given this message through the flashbacks and this one scene, but through Joe Corbin, who is kind of a Negative Nancy all episode? I can’t say I agree with Joe basically telling Jenny to give up on the search for her sister, or implying that Ichabod’s can-do spirit is unhealthy, but I get why he said those things and took on the position that he did. Someone in the group has to act as the balance to Ichabod’s constant search and manic desperation, and that person is Joe. Jenny, by the way, is somewhere in between the two -- she does want to find Abbie and still clings to the possibility that she’s alive, but she’s also a realist and treats Abbie’s sacrifice like it was a sacrifice of life, not just one where Abbie’s trapped in another dimension for a little while. She feels survivor’s guilt because she thinks Abbie is dead, while Ichabod is always of the mind that Abbie is still alive and waiting for them to save her.

At the end of the episode, Ichabod is seen dismantling his Obsessive Detective bulletin boards and we can only assume he will later unsubscribe from his Google Alerts for "creepy ancient artifacts that might contact people trapped in the Underworld." Even though Ichabod says he’ll never give up the search for Abbie, it’s evident that his desperation has waned and he’s more willing to approach the subject with a level head. Jenny and Joe present him (and Sophie -- she’s on the team now, I guess) with a magical map that tracks demon activity, and it looks like there’s a demon party happenin’ in Sleepy Hollow sometime very soon. With this and the larger threat of Pandora looming over them all, it looks like the search for Abbie must end.

Ha! Just kidding. Next week, Ichabod totally separates his soul from his body or something just to find her. I don't blame him. Find Abbie, Ichabod, or I’m going to start flipping tables.

Other Things:
  • Tom Mison is doing some really great agonized loneliness acting throughout this episode and just -- applause, Mr. Mison. Applause.
  • "We're all taking this thing with Abbie hard, but he is really flailing."
  • “He looks through his books, walks through the woods, shouts at the sky.” I’d like a montage of Ichabod’s sadness, please.
  • After that scene with Ichabod trying to cook a frozen lasagna, frankly I’m surprised he hasn’t starved to death. You need Abbie back for more than just the friendship and demon fighting, my dear.
  • So the demon tried to get Ichabod to rescue it, and clearly used Ichabod’s memories of Abbie to trick him into thinking he was rescuing Abbie… and one of the key elements it left as a lure was Abbie’s lacy nightshirt? Um…
  • “I have no earthly idea what you’re saying. In more ways than one.”
  • “It was not long ago that I, too, was in the dark.” Ichabod, it was over two hundred years ago.
  • Ichabod's expression after Sophie does her "buy a girl a drink first" joke is like, "Excuse me we are trying to save the totally-platonic-I-swear love of my life, can you chill with the flirty-flirt?"
  • “You wanted to find Abbie so badly you allowed a demon to play you.”
  • I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single scene with Ichabod in which Abbie wasn’t hinted at or mentioned.
  • Ichabod starts talking to himself as if Abbie were there answering him and I am so done.
  • Ichabod calls Abbie his "better half" and I am done times two.
  • I don't hate Sophie and I don't think the writers would try to make her the Abbie "replacement" -- that's literally impossible to do, as I said in the above review -- but I don't understand why the heart-to-heart couldn't have come from Jenny? Ichabod barely knows Sophie; Jenny and Ichabod are not only friends, but are both hurting over the loss of the same person -- a person who, I might add, told them to “take care of each other” before possibly sacrificing herself.
  • I guess they had to allow Jenny and Joe to go off and have their Moment™ in the B-Plot.
  • Note: I'm not opposed to Jenny/Joe, either, but... come on, show. This relationship's like, eight episodes old. We're not that invested.
  • Pandora and the Hidden One look to be going through some rough times. I kind of feel sorry for Pandora?
  • There was no "one month earlier" title card, but I'm assuming that the end scene of Abbie waking up in that cave actually took place right after she entered the tree, since she's wearing the same clothes she was wearing when she blew up.

1 comment:

  1. Great commentary. Agreed with every thing you've written but wanted to add:
    Nice points for me was the continuity casting in pawnshopbroker guy, now with creepy moustache ; the reappearance of Randall and Joe's total discomfort with Jenny's flirting.

    Lyndie Greenwood was curiously off for me. Her emotional beats with Joe just didn't register. Must be me not being that interested in Joenny, especially since they were being pushed and promoted to fans
    Can't wait for the reunion episode. I'm so stoked!