Monster of the week, more creepy tree and toxic white, cis masculinity….
We open to yet another scene with Pandora and her creepy tree, which is still growing black roses. She seems to call the roses souls…..so there seems to be some connection between the roses and the monsters she is bringing forth from her mythological box. This week, she pulls a wickedly curved knife out of the box.
Crane is still trying to save the building housing the batcave center of Sleepy Hollow’s Supernatural Clean-up Squad, Extraordinaire. Government officials are still telling him he can’t do much without being a US citizen, which allows him to extemporize passionately about the vision of the founding fathers to the surprise of no one except the on-looking extras in the scene. He decides he will try to become a citizen, and ends up flirting with a fellow historical conservationist in the process, who later offers to help him with that process. He seems pleased with the interaction.
Crane’s adorably awkward flirtation is juxtaposed with a scene change to a young white man in an office setting, Nelson Meyers, watching a female coworker, Emily, flirt with a male colleague. She is uninterested in his attempts at elevator chit chat, especially since he is asking her out in a confined space from which she cannot immediately escape. So, we have established that he is a young, shy, entitled white dude starting out his career and is upset with this woman for not gratifying his ego with her attention. This goes predictably, wherein he runs into Pandora, who dances with him and leaves him the knife. He kills the man he sees as competition for his colleague’s attention, and the knife exsanguinates the body. Abbie gets called in and (inexplicably) brings Crane along for the ride. How she continues to justify his presence with (presumably) federal oversight is baffling, but hey— opportunities for fun interaction and speeches about how the founding fathers would be disgusted with the current state of the country.
Crane recognizes the M.O., and the overly convenient nature of this is actually questioned. Yours truly breathes a sigh of relief over this, because Crane magically knowing what is happening with every crime they encounter is bad writing; Crane knowing what is going on because the Big Bad is dipping into his memories, or has some old connection with him, becomes genuinely interesting.
Crane and Mills track the history of these killings back over 900 years; each time, they end with the outbreak of a disease. Our dynamic duo deduces that when the knife becomes contaminated, by encountering infected blood, its power recedes for a while. This knife is credited with the Jack the Ripper killings (despite the fact that the MO on those is entirely different. Oh, Sleepy Hollow). They plan to inject Meyers with malaria to end his connection to the knife.
Problematic entitled white dude is now stalking his love interest, and Abbie and Ichabod arrive in time to disrupt her murder. Scuffling ensues, in which both Mills and Crane engage him (the knife is now creepily becoming part of his body and making his body impenetrable), Crane injects himself with malaria and lets Meyers stab him. The knife absorbs the infected blood, and Meyers dies. Crane wakes up recuperating on Mills’ couch, and she tells him exactly how stupid injecting himself with malaria was. He explains that he has some resistance from exposure during his lifetime during the Revolution. He’s still pretty miserable though.
While all this is going on, Jenny and Joe Corbin are wandering around trying to get the shard of Anubis back. They run into Reynolds, who was tied up, naked in a bath tub, by the woman who stole it from him. They track her and get the shard back. Jenny recognizes her tricks and hiding places as things that August Corbin taught her, but the mysterious woman won’t confirm or deny anything. There is the promise of more to come on this front, flavored with sibling rivalry between Joe, Jenny and this new character. I’m not finding this story line particularly compelling so far, it has no connection (yet) with the main thrust of the show, and I miss getting to see Jenny and Abbie interacting. I do appreciate that there is implicit acknowledgment of August Corbin’s parental role for both Jenny and Joe, and potentially now this new character. Family connections are about more than just bloodlines.
Several interesting things happen in this episode. We still have Crane and Mills interacting on an equal basis, both engaging the antagonists physically, and there is no angst over Mills being a woman and “needing” to be defended because of her gender. I really, really like this part. It isn’t even a question, they just both get to be full frame kicking butt. Often in narratives, when we do have a competent woman as a lead character, she ends up sacrificing herself to save others (see Buffy Season 5, and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians for examples of this). In this episode of Sleepy Hollow though, we instead see Crane injecting himself and making himself the vehicle by which the antagonist is conquered (Mission Impossible 2 is a close example of this move, except with the far more typical woman’s body being used in this way). This trope subversion again demonstrates that Sleepy Hollow works to undermine and subvert gendered and racial narratives to break archetypes.
We also see white cis male entitlement being solidly cast as creepy here; Pandora shows up at one point to tell Meyers that the knife only magnifies what is already in him. So, even though the supernatural knife gives him the tools, the monstrosity is all his own. In the wake of so many school shootings, and threats like the one in Idaho recently with the boy planning to bring a gun to school to shoot all the girls because they wouldn’t send him nude photos, this episode offers some timely social commentary condemning male privilege.
Image courtesy of FOX
Emily works with teens in a library by the sea and is a recovering academic who writes, reads, and thinks mostly about fairy tales, gender, queerness and cats. When not playing minor-key Celtic tunes on her fiddle, she avidly tracks down obscure fairy tale anthologies and voraciously hordes anything written by Catherynne Valente. As ever, she pursues that culinary Questing Beast, the perfect guacamole.