"Sleepy Hollow": My Opinions on Betsy Ross

Disclaimer (which I’m only putting here since this is a fraught time in the Sleepy Hollow community): If you’ve got something to say in response to this article, be respectful in the comments section. Otherwise, your comment’s getting deleted. I know a lot of fans are keyed up, so I just want it known that  I am a critic and a fan, and my opinions are generally that of a critic who also happens to love the show she’s watching.  If this notice doesn’t apply to you, please ignore it. I just have to put my foot down preemptively.

Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get on with the news of the day, Betsy Ross. 

Betsy Ross (to be played by Nikki Reed), is a regular character, now, unlike what I (and some others) believed she would be. The original description of her really sounded like she would just be a background character. So already, I’m annoyed, because I was wrong.

But putting my ego-centric annoyance aside, I thought about Betsy Ross again and thought, “A lot of people are going to be totally angry about this.” Understandably so; her description of being an edgier, sexier version of the flag seamstress who is now a spy in Washington’s army sounds suspiciously similar to Katrina, who was a nurse-turned-spy who should have been sexy and edgy and whathaveyou.

I’m of two minds about this. The first opinion (and probably unpopular with staunch Ichabbie supporters) is to just wait it out and see just who Betsy Ross is and what she’ll do. The other big thing people are worried about is that she’s not just a potential New Katrina, but she’s also Ichabod’s former love interest. I know a lot of fans are feeling like they won a huge battle just to be back in the same position they were in before Katrina died. Believe me, I get that. I would have preferred that the new character announcement was about Abbie’s ancestor who’s frozen in stone, not Betsy Ross.

But, some of this is a knee-jerk reaction. Again, I understand why the reaction has happened, because the fandom has been burned in the past. However, we still don’t know 1) who Betsy Ross will actually be and 2) what she’ll actually do. By that I mean, we don’t know how attached Betsy still is to Ichabod, if Betsy even wants to rekindle anything, or if she’s more dedicated to the cause. Seeing how the writing team still has to prove themselves from last season, I doubt they’ll be engaging in romantic things in the first episode. I especially doubt it since Ichabod just killed his wife and saw his son die at the hands of Abbie. I doubt he feels like getting back in the swing of relationships any time soon. And, if my theorizing is right, Betsy’s not going to be someone who feels like being attached to a man the moment she gets to the 21st century. As we have seen, I can be wrong. But I really don’t think that the writing team are interested in repeating the errors of the past.

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The second opinion, of course, is that Betsy Ross better be an awesome character, because I really wanted to see Abbie’s ancestor. (Unless, in a wild turn of events, Betsy is supposed to be Abbie’s ancestor? This is a wild theory that even I barely believe, so please no one put this on Tumblr because I don’t want this spreading like wildfire.) Betsy had better be as proactive and amazing as she’s being built up to be.

If I’m thinking of this from a writing room perspective, the plan seems to be that there’s Team Witness and the Link’s Fairy Helper character (if you don’t know about Legend of Zelda, the fairy is always the one who helps you navigate the game). This plan has always been in effect since the beginning of the show. In the last two seasons, the Fairy Helper was Katrina, but she was ineffective as a character from the beginning and eventually just turned into Zelda, the ineffectual princess Link has to constantly save.

So now, we have Betsy, but I doubt she’ll be a Fairy Helper and she certainly won’t be Zelda. Sure, she’ll help Team Witness navigate through their tasks and fill in certain loopholes Ichabod might gloss over or see from a man’s point of view, but the door is open for her to develop into her own character apart from anyone else. She could become a partner-in-crime with Jenny, someone she might have a lot in common with since they both seem to have militant qualities. She could possibly adapt better to the 21st century since she’ll be able to get a job, wear pants without recrimination, and vote. She could help Abbie realize any feelings she has for Ichabod and possibly actively push them together. One joke in the series could be that she’s a Hillary Clinton supporter. She could even turn into a villain later on. All I’m saying is that the sky’s the limit as to who Betsy Ross is and what she could do.

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Personally, I’m going to wait and see what happens. From a writer’s perspective, it’d be ludicrous to push any shipping angles right now anyway; it’s only the third season, after all. The main focus I have is just that the show gets back on track and keeps Abbie and Ichabod as the core two characters. Just because Betsy’s coming on board doesn’t mean that Abbie’s not going to get any character development.

Adding another character doesn’t have to mean another character’s going to get shafted. You have to remember that last season was poorly managed; this season is under new management and, from what I’ve seen, it’s very competent management. Some fans are calling for the show’s cancellation, which I think is horrible. Just as I said toward the end of last season, we have to give the show a chance to get back on its feet if we plan on calling ourselves fans. Asking for it to get cancelled because Betsy’s coming is all-or-nothing thinking that doesn’t help anyone or the show.

All right, I’m done here. I’ve said my piece. Now it’s up to you. What do you think about all of this? Give your opinions in the comments section below! And be respectful!

Nikki Reed in In Your Eyes. Photo credit: Bellwether Pictures