"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.

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.

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

  • Amanda

    I get what you are saying… BUT… how in the world did they think dropping this tidbit was going to go down? Have they watched their own show… because I have.

    This is nothing but a supposedly new and improved Katrina 2.0.

    Why can I say this without reading the script… because they told me so

    Think more Angelina Jolie than frumpy Martha Stewart — a kickass Mrs. Smith to Ichabod Crane’s Mr. Smith. … [Betsy] is ruthless, smart and fearless, adjusting to blend in to whatever the situation demands, from demure handmaiden to honeypot to cutthroat spy.
    ….

    AKA Katrina just switch wife for ex girlfriend and probably written a bit better.

    They also told me that Tom Mison has been invited to the upcoming ComCon and not Nikki Beharie… well in fact they have not mentioned Nikki at all.

    So this whole wait and see bait and switch trick is not going to work AGAIN.

    Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

    They got a second chance they still they are indifferent to the fans.

    This is not about Ichabbie… did they not see the AbbieMillsDeservesBetter etc etc etc.

    Did they not see their ratings TANK!!!

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  • Justine

    I hear your point and you’re right we really have no idea what they have planned for this character. However, as a die hard fan of this show from day one it’s hard to keep the faith when you’ve watched a show go from the quality of S1 to the absolute trash of S2. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when you’ve watched a beloved character that is half the reason the show was a success in the first place sidelined. Then watch as the show roll out the red carpet for a character that has not paid her dues for this show. Whereas Nicole has worked her butt off for this show and her exclusion was the main reason fans and critics had a problem with S2. I don’t see any red carpets being rolled out for her and she HAS paid her dues for this show. She is a brilliant actress and leading lady. She should be treated as such and we’re not seeing that. When they bring in a new character and describe her as if this is something new to the show its a slap in the face. “Crane’s Mrs. Smith to his Mr. Smith”. “Sexy hot”. As if Nicole Beharie is not ALL of these things on top of being a brilliant and amazing actress. FOX doesn’t have a clue about real middle class America. If they did they would understand in 2015 it’s okay to show a Black woman and White man in a loving romantic relationship. So I really understand your point and maybe we’re getting worked up over nothing but it’s difficult to see that right now.

  • I get what you’re saying. Really I do. but I hated Katrina with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. She just became a third wheel the writers had no clue what to do with, and she had no chemistry with any of the other actors, no matter how much she heaved her bosoms. It was like she was acting in another show entirely. I saw the same dynamic happen with that Brandi-Somebody on The Invisible Man, a few years back, too.

    I hated Katrina, and was relieved whenever she wasnt in an episode, so it’s difficult NOT to have a knee jerk reaction at the idea of the writers introducing another character, that sounds exactly like her, even though I see your point.

    I get it. It’s too soon to tell what she’s going to be like and she may actually turn out to be a positive character, but it still feels like the writers are trying to sideline Abbie and make her less important to the show. Again!

    I think they have forgotten that the main reason the show did so well is the lack of WoC in starring roles in genre TV and that the reason we all kept coming back and lobbied for the show to continue, was because of the dynamic between Ichabod and Abbie. Not Ichabod and random women.

  • T

    It all comes down to this: WHY make another ex love interest for Ichabod a series regular? Why ANOTHER ex love interest? Of all the historical figures they could have cast, WHY another ex? They could have made Franklin a regular. Grace Dixon? But another ex of Ichabod’s. I know the description of her has nothing to do with writers, but it was disheartening, and sexist. So sexist! Len Wiseman’s comments make me feel that maybe he might have something to do with it, with his background of sexy white women on film. It didn’t sit well. I’m nauseous about it. I will still watch , but if she does turn out to be another Katrina, I’m out permanently.

    • I’m sad to say so, and I would hate doing it but I might. thered have to be a very compelling reason for me to keep watching.

  • Queenoftherandom

    Sorry but the writers, not the fans, have the burden of proof. The writers, not the fans, dropped the ball. Even after all of that, and even after the rude and dismissive way Fox and the writers treated their fans we still rallied for the show to have a third season, we still watched so ratings were high enough to get a third season. These doubts most fans have aren’t from nowhere, these doubts are doubts that the sleepy Hollow writers created, and have yet to prove that they are trying to correct. After all campaigning and caping we did for this show we are owed a little more than a “try” hastag when we ask about how the show is progressing.

    • Hence waiting to see what they give us. I know what the fans went through last season and I’ve complained about many of the same things all of the fandom has complained about, but I still say we need to see what they give us before jumping in a writer’s TL and tearing him to shreds for no reason. If Betsy is a rehash of Katrina, then I’m all for getting mad about it. I did say I understand why the fans are mad in the article. But getting mad and harassing a writer, especially when Season 3 hasn’t even aired yet? “Patience” doesn’t mean someone’s being dismissed, depending on the person who’s saying it. Season 3 is coming regardless of Betsy being there, so there’s nothing left for fans to do but wait and see what S3 holds, anyway.

      Either the fans will love it or still hate it, and then we go from there. It seems like some fans want them to immediately rewrite the third season before it’s even gotten started. Fox kept the show on for the fans when, if this were another year or another exec team at the helm, they would have cancelled it. Fox showed “Sleepy Hollow” uncharacteristic grace, as far as I’m concerned, because I had a fear that it was going to go the way of “Almost Human,” another genre show that could have stayed on for another season if it was given the chance to get it right. At the very least, we can give the SH writers a shot to get the show back on track. “Back on track” might not look like how the fans want it to look (i.e. without Betsy) but if it’s back on track in the sense that there’s a good relationship between Abbie and Ichabod and there are no pointless characters, then that’s a win. From that point on, the show can grow.

      We don’t know who Betsy is, so we can’t immediately say she’s another Katrina.

  • Tracee

    I’m so late to this but Sleepy Hollow has burned me so badly it’s almost comical and I would drop this show like a lot potato if it weren’t for Nicole Beharie. When I first got this Betsy/Nikki Reed news, all I could think about was the abysmal way the writers failed Katia Winter and her character but managed to give a supporting actress all of the (albeit poorly-written) storyline instead of the one billed as a lead. So, I hope they don’t make that mistake again and I hope the show doesn’t turn into a pure procedural because that will chase me away faster than nothing else. What plagues me about Sleepy Hollow is the lack of promotion – today, we’re exactly 2 months away from the Season 3 premiere. Where are the new posters and banners? Interviews? FOX isn’t even re-airing episodes anymore (this is ok for Gotham or Empire but not SH) and we have no clue where S3 is headed. For a show hanging on by a thread, they should be eager to provide fans with regular BTS pics that won’t give away anything I fear ‘Betsy’ may have been the nail in the coffin for casual folks who considered returning – they should have led with the Lance Gross news and I wonder what excuse they have for making him ‘recurring’ only, not regular. Seriously, we can have Sossamon and Reed as regulars but not him? It’s like they’re pandering to the racists who tweeted #CancelSleepyHollow once Katrina was killed, the ones who want no people of color on the show. It’s like they’re trying to woo the white fanboys that a corseted Katrina failed to. FOX’s current indifference to its exposure fans angry flames within the fandom. The network appears uninterested in their own property. I have a sinking feeling they renewed Sleepy Hollow only to throw it under the bus, putting it opposite The Blacklist and Scandal.