Friday, November 13, 2015

Sleepy Hollow 3x07 "The Art of War" (Knight Takes Rook) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Art of War"
Original Airdate: November 12, 2015

Sleepy Hollow is gearing up for the fall finale and all sorts of things are happening, people! Some of it's good, some of it's bad (JENNY, NO!), some of it's confusing –– but all of it is exciting! Seriously, I don't think I was bored for a moment in this week's episode (and Ichabod Crane's random love interests weren't so much as mentioned. Coincidence?) which is actually impressive when the episodes before finales (midseason or otherwise) are usually just used to set up the events of said finale. The concept of a "blindside" –– a surprise attack in order to overcome a difficult opponent –– comes up multiple times in the episode, and that's key because there was a lot of blindsiding going on this week. For the characters and the viewers.

While the plot was interesting, I feel like this episode had more to do with characterization, so I'm going to break down the review in a character-by-character format. The key players for "The Art of War" were Jenny, Ichabod, and Abbie –– which is as things should be, I think.


First and foremost: Jenny Mills. Wow, poor Jenny has had a rough time on this show –– and before it, I suppose. She started dealing with the supernatural side of Sleepy Hollow's world when she was... eleven, I think? She's been dealing with it for most of her life, at the very least. It started with her and Abbie meeting Moloch in the woods when they were kids, but since then Jenny has been possessed by demons and brainwashed by evil coins, and now she's glowing red because she made the mistake of touching a creepy mystical artifact called the Anubis Shard. Oh, and everyone thinks she'll probably die because of it. Jenny Mills, the world (and the writers) seem to be terribly mean to you.

By touching the Shard of Anubis last episode, Jenny has essentially "become" the Shard and now Atticus Nevins –– he of the gloomy lighting and villainous monologues –– wants to deliver her to his boss, who is someone bigger and badder than the big bad Pandora. He sends "berserkers" out to get her, but Team Witness manages to keep her away from them long enough to deal with the minions with some crafty "blindsiding" –– even if they're not able to stop Nevins, Pandora, whoever the new evil foe is, or save Jenny from the Shard's influence.

Beyond being targeted by a bunch of angry (and kind of dumb) creatures from Pandora's Box, Jenny has been going through some changes ever since she absorbed the Anubis Shard: she's faster, stronger, angrier... Oh, and her skin occasionally glows red and her eyes go Sleepy Hollow Bad News White™ and she ominously declares, in the booming voice of someone else, "Behold my glory, for I am coming." That's... not good. After that spooky event, Abbie and the other members of Team Witness have to surround her with wards while they try –– and fail –– to kill the berserkers with mistletoe bolts in their crossbows.

But there's good news, and that good news is named Joe Corbin because Jenny and Joe kiss! Yay! I do love when the flirty-flirting leads to something more than flirty-flirting, but I kinda wish it hadn't happened in the episode where Jenny apparently becomes a servant to the underworld and walks down to Pandora's lair in order to kneel before... Well, I thought it was Anubis since it was the Shard of Anubis that caused all these problems, but apparently it's Amun-Ra. Either way, it looks like Jenny isn't going to get to enjoy any more make-out sessions with Joe anytime soon. Sigh. That's a pity.


This episode gets some credit for bringing back a bit of Ichabod Crane's old simmering anger/frustration with being stuck in the 21st century. It's not quite on the same level as it was during the first season –– understandable, since he's had some time to adjust –– but it's still there. He still doesn't quite understand his place in a world that remains impossibly foreign to him, and much of his... offness this season can probably be attributed to him forcing himself to at least seem complacent in where he is and what time he's in. From his ability to traipse around Europe and navigate airports without Abbie Mills by his side, to his sudden interest in dating a woman who –– again, I reiterate but it needs to be said –– he has no long-term chance with, Ichabod's been kind of too acclimated to the modern age this season, in my opinion. There was a time jump between seasons, yes, but we still should have seen a lot more adjustment, a lot more of the exasperation and low-level anger he's displayed before.

But, I think this episode dropped a few hints that Ichabod's been trying to quietly deal with all the stuff he's afraid of and furious over. Is the revelation that Ichabod's usual irritation has been under the surface this whole time a retcon? Maybe, but it's a retcon I appreciate. Because I don't like Ichabod for his awkward flirting with random ladies or his ability to pull solutions to that week's apocalyptic problems out of thin air, I like him because he's a character that can be all proper and dignified and composed, and then fly into an axe-wielding rage at evil, bleeding plants when all that dignity and composure falls apart. There's something interesting and real about someone who tries to keep his cool on the outside, but does feel the darker emotions beneath that facade. It's the same stuff that Abbie tries to do: compartmentalize, control, and keep everything in line for sanity's sake. In Ichabod's case this season, all of his fear and thoughts have been wrapped up in the loss of the Archives (which represent his ties to the past), his fight for citizenship, and the possible loss of Abbie (who represents his present and his future).


We know that Abbie compartmentalizes. It's been a clear and consistent trait of hers since the first season –– since the first episode, really, when she was able to push aside the mourning of Sheriff Corbin and just continue doing her job –– but it can't be easy for her to keep up. In "The Art of War," Abbie's careful delineation between her personal, work, and supernaturally-guided roles started to blur. She had to sacrifice some of those well drawn boundaries in order to help her sister (personal) and stop an evil plot (supernatural), and there might be some (professional) consequences for her later on because of it. Abbie likes control –– she even calls herself a "control freak" –– and, in this episode, it looks like she's losing some of it because of the convergence of the different aspects of her life.

This must be especially terrible for her because she actually does love her job, and I'm sure she loves that Agent Reynolds trusted her with some responsibility/command while he was away in Washington. Abbie is, after all, a born leader –– being in a position where she can see what's going on and move all the pieces is where she should be. But she broke some rules in taking advantage of her new authority to order a few FBI agents away from the Nevins bait shop property so that Ichabod could snoop around, and even though I know Abbie is capable of seeing the rightness in things that are technically wrong, I'm sure she's afraid that the supernatural and personal parts of her life might lead to a loss in the professional domain.

But as it turns out, Abbie's professional life and her supernatural life were already mixing without her even knowing it. Because Sophie Foster –– protégé of Atticus Nevins, who is definitely on the "supernatural" side of things –– was an FBI agent working under orders from Daniel Reynolds to spy on Nevins. So does Sophie know about the supernatural stuff Nevins gets up to? Does Reynolds? Questions, questions, questions! Hopefully we'll get some answers soon.

Other Things:
  • Abbie winning against Ichabod at chess? I'd like more of that please, show. If only because it sheds a little light on what Abbie and Ichabod do to pass time as roommates when they're not fighting evil.
  • Daniel Reynolds knows chess, too! Does everyone know how to play chess? Should I learn how to play chess?
  • "Oh, I think my kettle's boiled –– tea? No? Tea? No, no? Tea?" Ichabod's so embarrassed that he failed to be a chess master.
  • "I gotta say, I still don't get that dude." Oh, Daniel.
  • It's weird that English works for ancient spells.
  • "I think I would remember developing mutant powers."
  • Abbie starting to rant at Jenny and Ichabod interrupting her, thereby making her do that "I better walk away before I do something I regret" intake of breath was so subtle and perfect, and I just love Nicole Beharie.
  • Hey, just a side note: I fixed the bass on the speakers attached to my TV and the Sleepy Hollow theme song is hella cool, guys.
  • "There's gotta be some kind of spell, or –– shardectomy we could perform?"
  • I loved the Abbie/Jenny and Ichabod/Joe conversations that happened in this episode. I want more of them.
  • I also want to know what was up with the vague gesture Ichabod makes in Abbie's direction, when he's talking to Joe about "helplessness" in his life –– the context of the conversation was definitely romantic, but we're expected to think that it only means Ichabod's afraid of losing Abbie to an FBI promotion? Sleepy Hollow, there's an elephant in the room and its name is Ichabbie: deal with it, please, and in a way that's understandable and believable considering everything that's happened between those two. Tip-toeing around it, saying it's not something you're thinking about that much –– all of this nonsense is losing you desperately needed viewers.
  • And no, you cannot placate Ichabbie fans with Joe/Jenny. It's not going to work.
  • What is Reynolds up to?! Who was that guy he met?!
  • Whoever he was, he called Abbie a "diamond in the rough" and I'm torn between Aladdin references and Hamilton references, here.
  • "You talk as if I've never climbed a mountain before... Right, I've never climbed a mountain before." Difficulty after difficulty this episode, eh, Ichabod?
  • Wait, did Sophie use her real name while undercover? And Nevins didn't check that? Jeez.
  • "He didn't tell you." I really like that Ichabod just knows that Daniel not telling Abbie about Sophie's role in the Nevins operation will upset her.
  • For a fun game, see if you can figure out the subtitle to this week's review (beyond being a Hamilton lyrics reference). I use chess symbolism! Because I can't play chess, but I do know its value in symbolism.


  1. DID the fbi boss call Abbie a diamond in the rough? Or was he actually talking about SOPHIE?

    1. Good point! I have no idea. That whole conversation between the boss and Reynolds was very mysterious and vague and probably could go anywhere.