On Friday Fox aired the Sleepy Hollow season 3 finale, "Ragnarok." I wasn't able to watch until Saturday because I had to wait until Fox made the episode available on their website. Here was my immediate reaction after the episode, as posted on Facebook:
I'M SO UPSET ABOUT SLEEPY HOLLOW. Just watched the season finale and I'm furious/sad/disappointed! The writers are a bunch of morons and racists. If they were a village, I would burn it down and then salt the earth. Just so nothing would grow there ever again. Out of pure spite. A pox on ALL their houses. I should tweet this to them every goddamn day until this exact day next year. I should write an article called "Sleepy Hollow: Fuck This Show." #SleepyHollow #FuckThisShow #FucktheWriters #FucktheShowrunner #FuckFox
I am clearly a woman of my word. My reaction is perfectly in line with what I have been seeing on various social media platforms from other fans. And in a slightly more chill form from professional publications like Entertainment Weekly and Vulture. So what did Sleepy Hollow do that was so egregious? So upsetting that #CancelSleepyHollow is trending? So awful that the network has had to issue an official statement of support for the show/writers/showrunner? So bad that the showrunner was on Twitter threatening to block people who are "rude" to him?
They killed Abbie Mills. The co-lead/main character of the show. She sacrified herself to save the world (and prop up the white male lead's story). Nicole Beharie, the actress that plays Abigail Mills, was done with two seasons of side-lining, disrespect from the show, and a criminal waste of her considerable talents and decided to walk. Now, it's not just that they killed her, but how.
(Not-so) Quick answer: Pandora's Box needs a soul battery so that The Hidden One can be destroyed. Never mind the box was never said to need a soul battery when it was working perfectly earlier in the season. When Ichabod and Abbie find the final piece needed to put the box back together in the catacombs, the box takes something out of Abbie. Ichabod closes the box before it can complete the job, but Abbie is clearly not okay. Once they get back to our world, we find out that Abbie's essense was taken. But not all of it. Pandora informs Team Witness that a full sacrifice will be needed. Pandora tells us that Abbie is fighting what she really wants (to die/be at rest). Because suddenly Abbie is tired of living despite all evidence to the contrary. Abbie tells Icabod to "never lose hope" and while he screams in anguish she gives herself to the Box and Jenny shoots the weakened Hidden One in the head (the only satisfying thing in this episode). Afterward, Ichabod and Jenny try to get Pandora to give Abbie back to them. They think she's trapped in the box. With her dying breath, Pandora informs them that Abbie was never in the box--because she's really dead. There is a reunion with Abbie and Sheriff Corbin in not-heaven where they eat pie and he pats her on the back for fulfilling her destiny or something. She then reunites with Ichabod (while he is unconscious) and tells him that she's "taken him as far as she can" and he must now go on alone. Because apparently he was the Super Witness. Abbie was just his guide, emotional support, sugar mama, and Magical Negro. Perfect!
In the last scene of the episode, Papa Mills (who is suddenly in the last few episodes full of Very Important Information) tells Ichabod that (despite the original premise of the show that told us Ichabod and Abbie are once-in-a-life time special, together) like Vampire Slayers, when one Witness falls another one is awakened. He tells Ichabod that the new Witness will be part of Abbie's bloodline and that her soul will live in them (no idea how this would even begin to work within the established framework of the show but whatevs). THEN Papa Mills tells Ichabod that General Washington set up a super secret society within the government (that we are very wierdly only hearing about now) and that Ichabod is meant to be the leader. Immediately, in true X-Files style, a fleet of Very Official Shadow Syndicate cars pulls up and asks Ichabod to come with them to DC. And that's how the finale ends.
It was horrible. Utterly horrible. On so many levels. Nothing made any sense, all continuity and prior canon information was conveniently forgotten or no longer true. You could drive giant semi-trucks through all the continuity holes. The characters repeatedly said things that were completely OOC (out of character) based on what we know of them after 3 seasons. It was a slap in the face to every person who has remained loyal to the show, even though it's been extremely frustrating and painful, hoping it would get better and remember what made it so successful in the first place.
The fandom predictably called foul in very vocal ways. As did every major publication that I saw who covered the finale.
Here's one of the producers trying some typical Shady Hollow shenanigans and fandom (including a writer/producer for SyFy's Eureka) shutting him down real quick and confronting him with specific things the show has done to Nicole Beharie over the past 3 years:
Orlando Jones, former Sleepy Hollow cast member and a true blessing to the internet and fandom, as usual gave zero fucks and said it like it is:
After Friday night, a LOT of recent (within the last year), seemingly crytic posts Nicole Beharie has made on Instagram and Twitter suddenly made a whole lot of sense:
And...not so cryptic.
How is it that the LEAD ACTRESS of a show has to publicly and very pointedly (but with Beharie's typical good grace) ask the show's official Twitter account to follow her? In the show's THIRD year.
The backlash got so bad, the network had to issue an official statement about the finale only one day after the episode aired. #CancelSleepyHollow, #ShadyHollow, and #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter are trending across platforms and untold numbers of angry posts, videos, tweets are being sent to the entire team.
The executive producers, studio, and network released this statement to EW:
“The finale featuring the tragic death of Abbie Mills was a very dramatic ending and a bold move for the show, but Sleepy Hollow has always been known for its shocking finales. We feel we provided a wonderfully poignant conclusion for Abbie and showed some of the best moments between the Witnesses that we’ve seen on-screen. We thank Nicole Beharie for bringing Abbie and Sleepy Hollow to life. We are currently discussing season 4, and should the series be picked up for another season, we have some exciting scenarios and new avenues we want to explore.”
The official fandom response:
After the official statement, the showrunner himself, Clifton Campbell, had to do a hasty interview with EW to try and make up some believable lies do some damage control. Here's a bit of it. Do not try to consume any liquids while you read this, lest you choke and die tragically, pointlessly and too soon--just like Grace Abigail Mills.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why kill off Abbie?
CAMPBELL: Well, we don’t like to look at it as killing off Abbie. The show for three seasons has been absolutely magic thanks to Nicole Beharie and her commitment to this character; she’s really planted a flag in Sleepy Hollow for all of us. Her relationship with Tom and obviously with Crane has been instrumental to the development of the show. As with a lot of genre shows, as television matures and evolves, it becomes important to recognize the frailty of characters, particularly in a world such as ours, and unrealistic to think that shows can live and breathe on one note. So it was with a great deal of thought and really going back to the roots of the show and the mythology of the show — it too has to evolve. To that end, Abbie Mills did everything she could as a Witness. She honorably served her partnership with Crane, and she made the ultimate sacrifice and completed her role as a Witness.
I mean..."we don’t like to look at it as killing off Abbie." But...you did. Kill Abbie, that is. She's dead. Meaning that she's the opposite of alive. Gone. Like, not here. So...How else, exactly, would one look at it...if not literally.
Also me (after reading that first line a few more times hoping it would become less dumb):
Me, 5 seconds later (after realizing this is the most bullshit thing I've read in 2016 thus far):
The worst part for me, personally, was that they wouldn't even give the fans the satisfaction of confirming the Ichabbie ship on screen in the very last episode. It would have been bittersweet, of course, but at least three years of wishing, hoping, and frustration would have been acknowledged. The 24/7 gaslighting of the fandom over Ichabbie is one of the show's unforgivable sins. If you are unfamiliar with this, let me explain. The showrunners have always maintained that Ichabod and Abbie were platonic soulmates. They would repeat this over and over, even as they set up romantic tropes left and right, ignored the electric chemistry between leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, and worst of all they would have the supporting characters and even guest stars remark over and over, in episode after episode, season after season, that Ichabod and Abbie loved each other, were soulmates, were the other person's everything. Tell me, is there a calculatable threshold for how much sensual hand holding, desperate screaming of the other person's name when they are in danger, eye-fucking, what is culturally acknowledged to be 'probably romantic' touching, full body hugging, and domestic "they are so married" behaviors there has to be before you go from "Do you really expect us to believe there's nothing there?" to "This is absolutely absurd and bordering on parody"?
Tom Mison, who has said in interviews that his character, Ichabod Crane, is "completely in love" with Abbie, looked like it was physically hurting him to not tell Nicole/Abbie that he loved her in the season finale. Not having Abbie or Ichabod acknowledge their feelings in any sort of way, while saying things like "what is there for me in this world without you in it?" was insulting and just mean. You've already betrayed the fanbase that made your show a hit in a thousand ways, why not throw them a bone and finally acknowledge the elephant in the room? Wait. What's that? What's that you say? Everyone in the writer's room, the showrunner, the producers, and the network are all toad licking douchbags and that's why they didn't do it? Oh. Well yeah. Obviously. It was mostly a rhetorical question.
If by some miracle this show gets a 4th season greenlit, I can't imagine what the show will look like without Nicole and only TWO of the original cast members left. But it probably won't matter because only like 10 people will be watching. Which is what they deserve.
As a final parting gift, here is a glorious 13 minute full epic takedown of the show from an enraged fan that is all of us.