Sleepy Hollow: 1.9 ‘Sanctuary’ Review

By Trie So, Sleepy Hollow gave us a haunted house story for Thanksgiving (which, let’s not even get into how problematic Thanksgiving is). Good on them. It’s not quite...

By Trie

So, Sleepy Hollow gave us a haunted house story for Thanksgiving (which, let’s not even get into how problematic Thanksgiving is).

Good on them.

It’s not quite “a ghost story for Christmas” (thank you Stingiest Man in Town), but it’s not bad anyway, especially when the entire episode of “Sanctuary” is, in various ways, about the myriad of emotions we all go through during the holidays: loneliness, resignation, hopefulness, anxiety, togetherness, envy, pleasure, apprehension.


Or is that just me?

The episode begins with Lena Gilbert (Erin Cahill; Skinwalker Ranch, Red Widow, Body of Proof, and about a million different Power Rangers things as Jen Scott, the Pink Ranger) and her bodyguard Sam Calvern (Anthony K. Hyatt; Drop Dead Diva, Single Ladies, Army Wives, and Somebodies) pulling up to a dilapidated manor house—well, Hollywood-dilapidated which means a little overgrown looking with randomly placed furniture and planks over the windows but usually very solid floors—that was evidently Lena’s family’s home hundreds of years ago that she’s spent the last five years obtaining the title for.

And, there are crows. Okay, maybe they’re ravens. But, they’re big, and they’re looming, and they’re a total trope, and this is the Tropes Episode.

I wish I were even kidding.

Needless to say, Lena and Sam—asking Lena Not To Do The Thing the entire way because the house looks haunted and just huh? That’s a tick in the clicky-box of racist trope where people of color are superstitious, like more than anyone else.—run into trouble with the manor and the things in it.

Not that we see much of it initially. We have Lena opening a closet and finding tree roots and pulling at them, cutting herself accidently.

And, Lena’s blood starts the entire shebang going—but for what reason?

I mean, other than that, then, the episode is a case of Missing White Woman Syndrome. At least, it’s problematized a little by Irving saying that evidently Sleepy Hollow isn’t allowed to lose billionaires?

Yeah, on top of being a Missing White Woman, Lena is also a “philanthropist, author, socialite” billionaire.

Who found the name “Katrina C.” in the registry of the manor.

Lena and Sam need to be put on the backburner here for a bit.

But, the Abbie and Crane Show begins with one of Crane’s rants about Modernity, which is something that I’ve been missing, honestly. We haven’t had a good “donut tax” rant or “paying for water” rant in what feels like ages. (Yes, I know it’s only been two weeks, but that’s too long.)

The rant de jour? Grabbing food on the go, or the death of a “thrice daily tradition” where food and the eating of it is given proper time and reverence.

Like a lot of his rants, Crane’s not wrong. He’s not right, but he’s not wrong.

Welcome to Crane’s Rants About Modern Convenience, an increasingly unsubtle (‘cause Crane is not remotely subtle) commentary and critique about modern convenience culture.

With a secondary rant about how the first Thanksgiving didn’t have “turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce,” although I seem to remember Alton Brown doing a Thanksgiving episode where their Nutritional Anthropologist said that they would have had cranberries, but there wouldn’t have been a “sauce” because of lack of sugar (the lack of sugar Crane mentions too).

But, Crane’s ranting, like most of Crane’s rants, derive from how uncomfortable and irritated he is.

CRANE: All this talk of holidays, turkeys, family time—irks me…If I can’t be with my wife during a time of thanks and celebration, why must there be so many constant reminders of the inescapable fact that I—

ABBIE: You’re alone.

CRANE: I mean no disrespect. Your company holds the greatest value to me.

ABBIE: Crane. You have a right to be angry. You’ve lost more than anyone ever should. Besides, what are holidays for if not airing our grievances?

Abbie and Crane are put on the case of the missing Lena Gilbert (which longing for a night off) and discover that she’s a descendant of Lachlan Fredericks (Craig Trow), who was not a member of the First Continental Congress like Crane says. I looked.

So, Fredericks is completely made up of whole cloth. \o/

But, does anyone else think that Lena actually looks quite a bit like Katrina? Hmmmmmmmm.

Fredericks, it’s hypothesized throughout the episode because it’s not like Abbie and Crane can ask anyone, was potentially part of Katrina’s coven, and there are stories in Lena’s family that Fredericks was into witchcraft. He also ran a Sanctuary for “free slaves,” which considering Katrina was a Quaker and a witch, it might mean that Fredericks was also a Quaker since the Quakers were instrumental in the Abolitionist Movement and hid runaway slaves from those that hunted them.

The manor even has tunnels like those in houses on the Underground Railroad.

But, Katrina has this moment (in a flashback) where she dreamily utters “They’re all free. They chose to work here. This estate is a safe haven. A place for anyone seeking shelter. Isn’t it beautiful?” And, Katrina’s right, it’s a beautiful sentiment and one that is still somewhat of a dream.

Yet the people that Katrina is speaking of haven’t really chosen to work for Fredericks; it’s likely the only safe place there is, and one of the only places that’s going to pay them well (or at all). So, it’s kind of a problematic, naïve statement.

Abbie and Crane find Sam upon entering the manor, and he’s dead: “It looks like an animal attack.” And—we’re done with Sam.

I’m not even kidding.

Interestingly, the manor looks like the house from Abbie’s vision in “Sin Eater,” which would make sense if it were Katrina’s last safe haven before she ended up in Purgatory, and as much as Abbie also asserts that they’re “in a damn haunted house,” the story has evolved into not just a Evil Haunted House Story but also a Benevolent Spirit Story: Grace Dixon (Onira Tarres; The Game, Necessary Roughness, Let’s Stay Together, and 7 Days of Yellow).

Abbie keeps having visions of Grace Dixon, the matron of the manor.

Crane does have an interesting way of attempting to talk Abbie down from her “I’m saying haunted houses do not work for me. Not as a child, not now, not ever. There is a line.” ledge—a ledge that I kinda share with Abbie—“We’ve faced witches, a headless rider of death, a demon that invades our dreams, I’m sure we can brave this little crisis.”

Boy-howdy, Crane, that’s kinda condescending. Accurate, but condescending.

Also, “headless rider of death”? Have we downgraded Bram from Death to just a “headless rider of death”?

Team Ichabbie find Lena and rescue her (a couple of times) and do the Scooby Run from a freaking Tree Monster that just kinda looked like an overgrown Scarecrow in the overgrown garden but—nope. All the nope.

That thing is like Swamp Thing’s Evil Brother The Tree, and that is not okay.

Evidently, Scarecrow (yep, we’re calling it Scarecrow) attacked the moment that Katrina gave birth to a child that Crane had no knowledge of Katrina carrying.

Ichabod’s day just keeps getting better and better, yeah?

Scarecrow also attacked the moment that Lena’s blood hit the roots and again when Crane cut at the roots (or cut himself on the roots, it was kinda hard to tell?).

I think it might be safe to say that Scarecrow is a Crane-line Assassin, albeit not a very good one.

Once they’ve gotten out, Crane decides that he’s going to go back in and have a Final Girl (Lite) Showdown where Crane gives Scarecrow forty whacks with an axe that Abbie conveniently has in her SUV, all the time having an Epic Meltdown that Crane’s been working up to for—the entire season.

Crane comes out, ripped clothes and covered in blood and asks to go home now.

Surely—surely­—this will mean that Abbie will have to take Crane for new clothes, right?


In the Abbie and Crane Touching Moment that’s at the end of every episode, Crane’s clothes are whole again.


Lena, who’s alive and well and back in New York, has sent Abbie and Crane her research and in it is the genealogy of Grace Dixon and on it is Lori Roberts. Abbie’s mother.

CRANE: You’re a descendent of Grace Dixon.

ABBIE: My ancestor brought your son into this world.

CRANE: Quite heroically. I see the family resemblance. It seems that, you and I, our paths were entwined from the very start.

ABBIE: It definitely would seem.

And, before heading off to Abbie’s for Jenny’s burnt turkey and gluten-free pumpkin pie and Irving who’s been having a rough time of it with his (ex-)wife and daughter Macey (Amandla Stenberg; The Hunger Games and Colombiana), Abbie and Crane’s last words, with a lot of rum, about Thanksgiving are these:

ABBIE: I’m guessing that’s what the point of this is? The time for reflection. You see what you have now, and you embrace what’s in front of you…It’s a day of giving thanks. To family.

CRANE: To finding family.

*insert something uplifting here*

In this episode, the Dead Department consists of:

  • Sam Calvern, beaked to death by crows. Maybe? It’s kinda hard to tell. Sam was Lena Gilbert’s body guard (and was dead pretty much instantly even though we didn’t actually see it happen). They also seemed like they had worked together long enough to have been friends too, which would make Lena not asking where Sam was odd if she hadn’t been stuck in a closet for two days. Sam seemed nice and kinda endearingly serious, but I’m not overly thrilled with the depiction of Sam, a man of color, being superstitious. It’s stereotyping and tropey and, Show, just because three-fourths of your main cast are people of color doesn’t mean that you get to do things like this, okay? Also, this is the second week in a row where Sleepy Hollow has fulfilled the Black Dude Dies First trope. Just—no.
  • Lachlan Fredericks, gored by a tree. Nope. I’m not kidding. Scarecrow basically pulled a Temple of Doom on poor old Lachlan.
  • I’m not certain if we’re to assume that the rest of the household was killed except Grace, Katrina, and the baby. We’re not told, and there didn’t seem to be enough screaming for a wholesale massacre?
  • Potentially, there are any number of people that could have died via Scarecrow in the intervening centuries. Again, we aren’t told.

A Headless Easter Egg Hunt and Other Important THINGS:

  • Okay, I’m getting tired of the epic search for peripheral characters names or the actors that play them. This is like the third week I’ve had to whip-out my Google-fu to find actors’ names (I wasn’t so lucky with last week). But, I’m not sure if this is a defect of Fox or of IMDB or what, but these actors that I have to run a merry chase on are almost always people of color when practically every white person who breathed near the show is listed. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s noticed this.
  • There’s an entire side-plot going on throughout this that revolves around Jenny and her desire to make Thanksgiving Dinner as a thank you to Abbie that she also is inviting Irving to: “We act like normal people for a change.” And, Jenny’s response is “One night only, I promise. Then I go back to stealing from you.” So, they’re too cute.
  • And—they look like they’re having a THING when Irving’s wife and Macey (IT’S RUE! IT’S RUE! IT’S RUE!) show up unexpectedly.
  • Jenny and Rue Macey have an interesting conversation where Jenny is probably the most herself that we’ve seen. She isn’t trying to be slick or manipulative or half-seductive or angry; she’s just—Jenny. And, she treats Macey with an honesty that most kids aren’t treated with and isn’t patronized by Jenny like most adults treat kids who have a disability: “I never had much of a mom or dad. Don’t know what it’s supposed to be like, but maybe give him a chance? He’s not a completely terrible person. Just some friendly advice.”
  • Cynthia (Jill Marie Jones; American Horror Story: Coven, 35 and Ticking, and Gillian in Georgia) has drawn up papers to take full custody of Macey if Irving doesn’t show up for another weekend with Macey. Understandable, really. But, since this is the Trope Episode, it also shoves Irving into a space where he’s an absentee parent due to saving the day, which is doubly present since Irving is a cop as well as standing against the supernatural.
  • Crane is the Innocent Bigot. Sorta. Abbie mentions George Clooney, and Crane has an “An—an Irishman?” like he’s scandalized and clutching his pearls, which makes sense if you know that Anti-Irish Sentiment was rampant—well, everywhere since, at least, the 12th century.
  • Oddly, with that in mind, Katrina’s favorite book is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, an Irishman—but he’s Protestant Ascendancy class, so he’s okay(-ish).
  • If Lena doesn’t end up being Crane’s however-many-greats granddaughter, I’m going to be smad. Just sayin’. Because—SECRET CHILD. How much more soap opera can we get here?

Trie – Senior Contributing Editor

Hey, I’m ‘trie (sounds like “tree”). I’m a university-educated mixed media artist, wannabe writer, and the poster child for the nerd-geek-dork trifecta. I’m also a gender queer, pansexual, polyamorous feminist and Hellenic pagan with a social media habit like whoa.
Find me at: My Website, Twitter