"Sleepy Hollow": Analyzing the Season Finale

I’ve read the season finale of Sleepy Hollow, “Tempus Fugit.” I already have seen several fans on Tumblr go off about the finale description, but take a look at the description for yourself and then read what I have to say about it.

In the wake of Katrina’s magical escape from modern day Sleepy Hollow, she and our heroes find themselves transported back in time to the 18th Century. With Ichabod in the midst of an epic battle we’ve witnessed before, he searches among his enemy’s ranks in hopes of finding a certain red-coated Hessian soldier with the distinct bow-shaped mark on his right hand. Unfortunately for Abbie – who is assumed to be a runaway slave and now sits in a Colonial prison cell – this iteration of Crane has no recollection of her or of their friendship. But her knowledge of him and his secret mission, as well her knowledge of events that have yet to occur, piques Captain [Crane]’s interest, earns her her freedom, and may have already begun to rewrite certain historical events and timelines. Meanwhile, Katrina, seduced by the recently discovered power of her black magic and in possession of the Grimiore, remains determined to rewrite her own history and kill Ichabod in order retain her relationship with her as-of-yet unborn son… and she enlists an unlikely ally to aid in her quest. The Two (future) Witnesses working together in the past, Abbie and Ichabod seek out Benjamin Franklin… the one trusted contemporary of Crane’s who may be able to confirm Abbie’s unbelievable story of time travel, and offer a solution to reverse it and the damage it has done… but the forces of evil remain hot on their trail.

(Spoiler TV via Foxfast.com)

Time travel plots are generally confusing, so if you got lost in all of this, here’s the gist of what’s going to happen (I think).

• Ichabod and Abbie go back in time

•Present Ichabod goes off to find Hessian Horseman (before he’s Headless Horseman), while Abbie gets caught

•Past Ichabod frees Abbie and Past Ichabod and Abbie go to Benjamin Franklin to get back in the right timeline

I’m guessing this is what happens, since it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if Ichabod and Abbie go back in time, but there’s only one Ichabod in any timeline. What I’m trying to say is that if I went back in time to last year, I’d find myself, not lose my memories and become the Monique I went back in time to see…if that makes sense. The rule is that if you go back in time, you can’t find yourself, so I would assume that Ichabod can’t go looking for himself either, which might have led to Abbie getting mistaken for a runaway slave—she could have tried to get whatever info they needed by herself.

This leads me to discuss what seems to be something that some people are having trouble with—seeing Abbie in prison, thought to be a slave.

I’ll admit that I had a bit of a jolt when I read this as well, but I think like a lot of people, the jolt comes less from the storytelling element and more from not wanting to see slavery in primetime television. However, I thought about it and realized that using a knee-jerk reaction as my only reaction is not the best road to take.

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If you’re having trouble swallowing this episode description, maybe what I have to say will help.

• Time travel has been a possible storyline for this show since the beginning. The show began with time travel, in a way. And we’ve seen Ichabod flail about in our century for two seasons now. It would only be a matter of time before the show would send Abbie back to the past. Of course, Abbie will be doing more than flailing in the 18th century (to say the least), but this storyline was bound to happen at some point.

• Abbie going back in time doesn’t mean the writers have gone AWOL. I understood the vitriol that fueled #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter—everyone could see that Abbie (and other characters) were getting shunted just to promote the failed Katrina storyline. But before anyone starts making more hashtags, think about it.

The writers heard the fans’ pleas for Katrina to become a stronger character and for Abbie to stay the main character. They’ve corrected themselves as much as they could with the remaining scripts they could fix or write over. Now, we just have to get through the season finale so they can begin work on Season 3.

Also, if we go by the description and my breakdown (if it’s correct), it seems like Abbie will be the focus of the episode after all. She’s the one that has to secure her freedom, and she’s the one that’s got to work with Benjamin Franklin to get back to the timeline. It would seem like she’ll be doing a lot of heavy lifting in this episode, so it’s not like Ichabod’s going to be the man of the hour.

And since time travel has always been a possible storyline, let’s not act like we didn’t think Abbie wouldn’t be considered a slave in the 18th century. This is not the writers trying to put Abbie in a box; this is them being historically accurate. I know slavery isn’t a thing people like seeing on their TVs, especially black people, but this kind of harrowing situation will not only push Abbie as a character and Nicole Beharie as an actress, but will also push the writers to make sure they give the storyline the justice it needs. Slavery’s nothing to take lightly and I don’t think the writers will handle the subject matter horribly, especially since I’m sure they won’t be staying in that territory long anyway.

To reiterate, the writers have heard the criticisms. But, they also have to give us a show that has drama. They have to be allowed to tell the story they want to tell without fear from small pockets of fans. They are not supposed to write Ichabbie fanfiction as a method of appeasement.

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• Time travel actually makes Katrina a real threat. One of the main critiques about Katrina’s characterization is that she’s never been a really good witch or an actual villain. But by introducing time travel, coupled with her guilt as a mother, it makes Katrina both relatable and deadly. What mother wouldn’t go back in time to erase their mistakes? Of course, most mothers wouldn’t kill their children’s father to get closer to them, but you get what I’m trying to say.

Because it’s clear Katrina’s acting out of pure selfishness, that makes her really dangerous. She’s willing to erase everyone out of existence just to secure her bond with her son. This makes me think that 1) the goal for Abbie and Ichabod is to stop Katrina for good and not do any Dr. Who time jumps for all of Season 3 and 2) Katrina might not be dead by the end of the episode, but she might be stuck in the past once Abbie and Ichabod destroy the Grimoire (if my theorizing turns out to be true). Once Ichabod and Abbie get their hands on the book, they can go forward in time to the present, destroy the book, and seal off the past forever.

That would also mean that Ichabod would really be choosing to permanently forge his fate with Abbie, since his last opportunity to live in his own time would be lost forever. We know he wouldn’t want to live in a world without Abbie, anyways.

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• It’s not like Season 3 will be completely set in the 18th century. Fox exec Dana Walden already said that they’re looking towards taking a more “procedural” approach. The writers know that people love seeing Abbie and Ichabod together in the 21st century having fun together; there’s no way the writers will keep them in the past for long.

• It seems like the time jump will be for the one episode. Again, I can’t see them sustaining the 18th century time jump for more than just one episode. Two tops. To go back to the first episode of Season 2, we started in a time travel-ish scenario with Ichabod and Abbie in “the future.” But we didn’t stay in the fake future for long; it only lasted about 5 minutes into the episode.

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In short, I don’t think a big freak out and another hashtag campaign is necessary. I think we just need to watch the episode and assess afterwards. Of course, as LeVar Burton said, you don’t have to take my word for it.

What do you think about this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

EDIT: Aaron Baiers of Kurtzman/Orci took to Twitter to say that the synopsis that was released isn’t the actual synopsis.

So what does this mean? I’m not quite sure, except that the synopsis was poorly written. Still, regardless as to whether Abbie is taken back to the 18th century, let’s just support the show as fans and actually watch the episode before condemning it.

Photo credit: James Dimmock, Brownie Harris, Fred Norris/FOX. Screencap:  @TVTagSH

  • I’m looking forward to this! My inner SciFi/Fantasty geek is squeeing right now, and I’m only not squeeing out loud because I’m at work, and there are people around. This episode sounds like fun! And of course they HAVE to speak about slavery if they take the characters- ESPECIALLY Abbie. With as many liberties as this show takes with historical facts, it would be wrong and insulting for them to retcon something as big as that.

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