Sleepy Hollow (1×01)

Synopsis: The pilot kicks off and gives us our first taste of Sleepy Hollow. A small town with not so small secrets, no one knows who to trust and Ichabod Crane is enamored by electric windows and emancipation.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sleepy Hollow opened in the Hudson Valley in 1731 with Ichabod Crane running through the battlefield. A man on horseback wearing a mask charges him when he shoots the man off of his horse. We clearly see the bow mark on the masked man’s hand and his ax that he attacks Ichabod with. He wounds Ichabod just before Ichabod cuts off his head. As the body falls to the ground, so does Ichabod Crane.

In the present, we witness Ichabod breaking out of the ground in what appears to be a cave. Disoriented, he notices the scar left by the Horseman and then stumbles out of the cave into a river. From there, he runs through the forest and finds strange markings – known as the double yellow line on the road to us – and is almost hit by an eighteen wheeler. A car swerves out of the path of hitting him and crashes as he turns to run into the town. We see a hawk land on the sign indicating that he is going into Sleep Hollow and the Rolling Stones start playing.

Elsewhere, Sheriff August Corbin and his partner, Lieutenant Abbie Mills, are eating in a diner. They’re discussing an unsolved homicide in Dobbs Ferry, which leads to the discussion of the many unsolved cases in the area. They’ve got a pretty good rapport built up, but Abbie is about to go into an FBI feeder program and leave the town. Corbin asks Abbie if she’s running away, which she denies. He says hello to the reverand in the diner before they leave to respond to a call for “probably coyotes.”

Some of the major players in Sleepy Hollow. Captain Irving, Ichabod Crane, Abbie Mills, and Katrina Crane.
Some of the major players in Sleepy Hollow. Captain Irving, Ichabod Crane, Abbie Mills, and Katrina Crane.

Abbie knocks on the door, but no one answers. It’s beginning to thunderstorm and they split up to search the farm. Abbie finds a shotgun on the ground by an open truck and soon after she finds Oglevie, the owner of the farm, with his head cut off. In the barn, Sheriff Corbin encounters the Horseman – he’s headless and the sheriff shoots at him, but nothing happens. The Horseman cuts off his head and leaves on a white horse. Abbie, the only witness, clearly sees that the Horseman is headless and notices the mark on his hand. She gets on the radio to alert everyone to officer down and Andy Dunn, played by John Cho, attempts to respond. He’s interrupted by Crane, who runs in front of his car and is promptly arrested at gunpoint.

Crane is in a holding cell while Andy and Abbie check on him. She confirms he’s not the guy who killed Sheriff Corbin, mentioning the mark on the Headless Horseman’s hand. Crane hears them talking and interjects what he knows about the Horseman. They hook him up to a polygraph and he takes it surprisingly well for being from the 18th century. My notes for this portion of the episode say, “THIS IS BULLSHIT” because he was wiggling way too much not to fail the polygraph. He tells his story and the fake polygraph says he’s telling the truth.

He was a spy under the command of General George Washington. After the Horseman, he was taken to triage where Katrina, his wife, was there as a civil nurse in the 37th regiment. He lost consciousness and awoke in that cave with no memories between. The questioner informs him that the war was two hundred and fifty years ago and tells him, “Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Crane.” He passes him a dollar with Washington on it.

The Headless Horseman being resurrected from beneath the river...
The Headless Horseman being resurrected from beneath the river…

Abbie is asking to interrogate him because of the nature of Sheriff Corbin’s death; the neck wound was cauterized instantly – meaning the ax must have been five hundred degrees or more. She claims it will help her get closure to transport him and speak to him during that time, which Captain Frank Irving finally allows. When she goes to collect him from the cell, he seems confused about slavery and her “freedom.” He deduces that she wants his help, meaning she has no other options, but he’s the closest thing she’s got to answers. They have some good banter and he seems fascinated by the automatic windows in the car. He notices a Starbucks, then another, then another. The reverend catches a look at him from where he is outside and is revealed to have been with Crane two hundred and fifty years ago in a flashback.

Crane is taken back to the cave he woke up in and finds a bible that he was buried with, specifically the Book of Revelations. He reads a passage about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and tells her a bit more of his story. When the Redcoats had ambushed them, Washington called on him to defend the fate of everyone on Earth. He was given the mission to kill the man who revealed himself by the bow mark on his hand. Meanwhile, the reverend is out in the church yard when the Horseman comes after him. He says something in a foreign language and manages to magically get chains on the Horseman. However, the Horseman frees himself while the reverend affirms that he will never tell him where “it” is. It’s kind of a cool point-of-view shot of the reverend’s head falling to the ground from the viewpoint of the head.

This is a sassy partnership in the making. They're already bickering like an old married couple.
This is a sassy partnership in the making. They’re already bickering like an old married couple.

A perimeter is set up around the reverend’s death and it’s noted that the death is remarkably similar to the Sheriff’s death. A hawk like the one we previously saw, lands on the car that Crane is in, as Abbie has come to the scene. She and Captain Irving argue over bringing Crane to the scene, Captain Irving wants him in a cell already. Andy encourages Abbie to leave the guy alone and not throw her career away for him. Somehow he gets away – what the hell police protocol? – and follows the hawk to a gravestone. It’s his wife’s and he learns she was burned to death for witchcraft. A flashback reveals his wife trying to tell him something before he passes out.

Abbie and Crane banter some more about the case before she finally takes him to his hospital room. There, she reveals to him a childhood trauma that happened to her and her sister. They were walking home in the forest when they saw four white trees that weren’t “right.” They could hear a voice, but couldn’t see it clearly and then they both blacked out. Someone found them later on the side of the road and thought they were crazy. Her sister
, Jenny, believed them to be crazy and is now in and out of institutions like the one she’s committing Crane to “battling her demons.” She’s sympathetic to him because of this.

After leaving Crane, Abbie finds a key to Sheriff Corbin’s files in a secret pop-up drawer. There’s notes about witches being put to death between 1712 and 1816, two covens – good and evil – integrating into the population, and the hundreds of unsolved cases ignored all up and down the east coast. Her childhood case is one of them that he had noted. In 1882, a farmer said the same thing that Abbie and her sister had said of the area, though the farmer thought the four trees were the symbols of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The last thing that Corbin notes is that he didn’t know who to trust anymore. Captain Irving interrupts her to ask what she’s doing and lingers a bit too long in the office after he shoos Abbie out.

The map Abbie gets from Sheriff Corbin is going to be a big deal. How do I know? Fox has a promotional site dedicated to it...
The map Abbie gets from Sheriff Corbin is going to be a big deal. How do I know? Fox has a promotional site dedicated to it…

Ichabod wakes up and sees Katrina outside. She tells him that she was trying to lead him, she was never buried in the grave he saw, that it’s the Horseman’s skull and he confronts her about being a witch. She confirms it, saying she was sworn to fight the darkness, and explaining to him that when he wounded the Horseman, their bloodlines merged and they were bound by blood. The only way to stop the Horseman was to cast a spell on both of them, throw the Horseman below the river and Ichabod into the cave he woke up in. Someone awoke the Horseman, so Ichabod awoke as well. She tells him that three more will follow and then it will begin. She warns him that he has to stop the Horseman from getting his skull, that light is its enemy and that he is the First Witness.

In a haze, he awakens for real while the hospital staff is trying to sedate him. Abbie shows up just in time to hand them a “court order” – really a practice sheet from her academy exam – and take him out of the hospital. She hands him a map that she retrieved from Corbin, which is the same Crane recognizes from a flashback meeting with Washington. It’s marked with happenings around town, which Ichabod insists are real. She alerts Andy to meet her at the church with backup.

I can't be the only one who wants to see Andy more...
I can’t be the only one who wants to see Andy more…

When Andy arrives at his house to refuel to meet her, he sees that his apartment door is open. Going inside, he finds his gun cabinet open and gone through and then he sees the Headless Horseman. Before the Horseman can kill him, he tells him, “I know where it is.” The Horseman spares his life, putting away one of Andy’s guns. Meanwhile, at the church, Crane is digging up the head. It opens its eyes when he pulls it out of the grave. The Horseman shows up to shoot at him and Abbie, separating them. As the Horseman nears Crane, she shoots at him, distracting him. Andy shows up and tells her he called it in. While going to his trunk for more guns, Abbie is hit over the head and he tries to put her in the back of his car to “protect her.” She bites him and runs, while he warns her that she can’t kill him, he’s Death.

Back-up shows up despite Andy and they’re befuddled by the Headless Horseman, though they hold him at gunpoint before he opens fire on them. As the sun comes up, he retreats and they almost shoot Crane out of surprise. They’re happy with the outcome for now, while Captain Irving is upset. Abbie reveals that she no longer plans to transfer to Quantico in light of recent events and we all watch a demon tell John Cho that he failed and kills him. NO WONDER JOHN CHO WASN’T FEATURED IN THE TRAILER.

And that’s Sleepy Hollow – a lot going on, a lot of set up occurred. Are you excited to see where this show goes? Are you worried about dropped storylines and fraying threads of plots (a la Lost)? They seem to have a lot going on and I’m hoping for the best for the cast.

0 thoughts on “Sleepy Hollow: Pilot Recap”

    1. I’d really love to see more of him and Clancy Brown. I could see a ghost/demon Andy, but I think Sheriff Corbin is going to be relegated to flashbacks and voice overs at best.

        1. Yes! And he was also seen in Crane’s flashbacks, so I hope he makes some kind of appearance! Or they explain that in some way…

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