It's been no secret that Sleepy Hollow's second season has been struggling. Fans loudly decried what was seen as a side-lining of Nicole Beharie, the female lead, along with Lyndie Greenwood and Orlando Jones (Jenny Mills and Frank Irving), in order to spend multiple episodes on what fandom came to call The Crane Family Drama. Ichabod and Katrina's marriage issues and their conflicted relationship with evil/vengeful son Jeremy/Henry seemed to become the focus of the show. This was not the show people signed up for in season 1. In season 1 it was two people, two Witnesses, Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills, standing together and fighting evil to prevent the coming apocalypse--along with trusted allies Jenny Mills (Abbie's sister) and Captain Frank Irving (Abbie's boss). The show was praised for being so racially diverse. Only two of the main cast members were white and everyone else was a person of color. The writers even joked about hiring all the people of color first, so that they could kill as many white characters as they wanted (a nod to the tendency of characters of color on TV to only be brought into shows to die first and often). However, fans noticed that in season 2 the characters of color were all either disappeared (seriously, what happened to Luke?? Andy?) or marginalized (Jenny, Frank, Cynthia, Macey, Abbie), and the white characters (Katrina, Ichabod, Henry/Jeremy) were pushed forward. With Katrina, Ichabod and Henry/Jeremy, they were at least established characters who had been on the show since season 1 and had specific roles to play, but season 2 added another white character, Nick Hawley, who truly seemed to serve no purpose but to be a super sketchy love interest for both Abbie and Jenny (which most fans found gross and offensive) and do the job Jenny did in season 1 (magical artifact expert and finder). These moves had direct effects on the ratings--they started tanking. Quickly and dramatically. This, coupled with the very vocal criticism from fans and critics alike, the show and network started scrambling and promising fans a return to basics. And imploring them to trust in the Plan and be patient (two things fandom is not good at tbh). We started seeing this promised change a couple of episodes before the finale, but it was in the finale that the show seemed to fully commit.
In the previous episode, The Awakening, Katrina has learned that her son Henry/Jeremy is definitely still alive. They join forces and decide to "awaken" all the latent witches in Sleepy Hollow (the town is full of descendants of all the witches from Katrina and Ichabod's time) and create a coven army to reclaim the town. Abbie and Ichabod implore Katrina to reconsider her choices and allegiances, but she chooses The Dark Side and her son over Team Witness. Abbie and Ichabod thwart Henry/Jeremy and Katrina's plan and Henry/Jeremy is killed. Katrina, furious and devastated and more powerful than we've ever seen her, opens a portal to the past and intends to change history and save her son by killing Ichabod. She jumps in and Abbie follows, leaving a distraught Ichabod behind.
Katrina finds herself back in the field hospital where she worked. She immediately begins looking for Ichabod. Abbie finds herself in the forest right outside of town. She begins walking toward Sleepy Hollow. Once she gets to the town, she immediately has BIG problems. One, she is dressed very strangely for a woman in the 18th century. Two, she is a strangely dressed BLACK woman in the 18th century. Predictably, she is assumed to be a (runaway) slave. Due to a combination of defiance, strange clothing and speaking in an unfamiliar manner, Abbie is determined to be “touched in the head” and is arrested. She knows her only chance is to get in contact with Ichabod (she has to make contact with him before Katrina does), which is fairly easily accomplished by telling her captors that she has vital information about the war and she will only speak with Captain Crane. Once he arrives, the hard part is convincing him that her crazy story about time travel and witches and the apocalypse (plus their friendship) is all true.
Even when Ichabod and Abbie are strangers again, the chemistry between them (and the actors) remains true. Even though Ichabod knows that Abbie is likely crazy (because she must be with a story like that, right?), and he has direct orders to deliver her to a slave camp AND the fact that she got him in big trouble with his superior…he trusts this woman. The episode centers around the fact that as Tom Mison recently said (paraphrased), Ichabod and Abbie will know and find each other in any time or place. The much anticipated Ichabbie hug was such a treat because it was so hilariously (and awkwardly) one-sided. But touching because it was all about Abbie taking comfort for herself. For once. If her plan fails, she’ll lose Ichabod forever. So she just goes for it. However, my favorite Ichabbie moment of the episode was the reveal that the passcode on Abbie’s phone is ICHABOD’s BIRTHDAY. So. Married. Ichabod sees a video of him and Abbie trying to take a selfie (it’s on video instead of camera) and knows that everything she said is true.
One of the best parts of the finale is getting to see Ichabod in his element. And Abbie out of hers. Tom Mison does a great job of giving us a very different Ichabod Crane. In the present time, Ichabod is adorkable and good natured, easily flustered and kind. Captain Crane, however, is stiff, authoritative and very formal. He’s literally a different person, with shades of the man he will be in 200 years. It was well played and well written. Not to mention the hilarity of the whole meeting with Benjamin Franklin, who adores Abbie on sight and is not quite the man Ichabod has made him out to be. But Grace Dixon, Abbie and Jenny’s ancestor, is exactly who we saw she was in flashbacks and it was incredibly moving to see her and Abbie meet. More Grace next season!
Lots of fans noticed that the finale is a callback to the pilot! That was another great thing. There were many parallel scenes and elements. Like Abbie’s first carriage ride where she is playing with the curtains, which takes you back to Ichabod’s first car ride where he is playing with the automatic windows. Perhaps this was to remind fans of the good ol’ days of the show and what The Powers That Be are aiming for again.
All said, the most shocking part of the episode definitely happens at the end. Katrina and Headless have failed to kill Ichabod in the past because of Grace and Abbie, so an enraged Katrina (along with Abbie) is back in the present. Ichabod, for whom no real time has passed, watches as Katrina turns her wrath on Abbie. When yelling at Katrina does nothing, he grabs a knife and plunges it into her back, killing her. He once and for all chooses Abbie and their mission/friendship over Katrina. In her dying moments, Katrina sees Henry and appears to be at peace. Her lifeless body turns to dust and blows away. Ichabod is distraught. Abbie, recovering and seemingly in shock, appears to be at a loss as to what to do or say. She asks if he’s okay and Ichabod pulls himself together (as best he can). Shortly thereafter, Jenny and Frank arrive on the scene. Jenny asks about Katrina and is told that she didn’t make it. She’s notably the only one who offers condolences to Ichabod. Frank explains that his soul is his again and the original quartet stands visibly united. They recommit themselves to each other. Abbie shares that Grace told her that their mission is just beginning. They all walk out, together. Fade to black. It’s a powerful image that felt like an apology to the fans which said “Next season we are starting over and promising to be the show you originally fell in love with. Stay with us.” Here’s one fan that is ready for a fresh start.
Abbie meets Benjamin Franklin, who is quite a fan of Miss Mills AND very excited about his place in history (much to Ichabod's irritation)