The haunted house—it’s an inevitable destination for any serialized drama on television that has dealings with the otherworldly. Last night Sleepy Hollow arrived on the doorstep with “Sanctuary,” an episode in which Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills found themselves stuck in a house overcome by evil. The episode proved to be one of the series’ best so far—by its end, both characters found a deep connection to the haunting of that house and yet another connection to each other. Oh, and this episode also featured little Amandla Stenberg, better known as Rue from The Hunger Games; this was a pretty awesome treat, especially for those viewers who returned to the world of Panem this past weekend by seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
“Sanctuary” opens with a well-dressed woman excitedly entering her newly inherited property in Sleepy Hollow. Socialite Lena Gilbert soon discovers that there’s more to this enormous mansion than just the history of her ancestors (of which she is very interested). Within minutes she’s trapped in a closet, huge branches and vines (dripping with blood, no less) wrapping around her body. Officer Frank gets wind of the case and passes it on to Crane and Mills because he learns that Gilbert had been doodling names associated with the property on a piece of paper; one of the names was Katrina C., an obvious reference to Crane’s wife.
The comic relief on Sleepy Hollow usually comes from Crane experiencing the wonders of the New World, and in this episode he comes into contact with the McDonald’s french fry. After questioning the validity of an establishment that has a Scottish name, but serves food from the Netherlands, Mills informs him that this is basically their Thanksgiving dinner (giving viewers a haunted house/Thanksgiving episode two-for-one). However, Jenny has other plans. While Crane and Mills make their way to the haunted house (in which they immediately become trapped), Jenny has a seriously awkward moment with Officer Frank. If we thought there was some light flirtation in the air last episode (even if it was masked by a whole lot of attitude), it was definitely present this week. After turning over the guns she had “borrowed” from Frank on their last mission, Jenny casually invites him to the Thanksgiving dinner she is planning. At this point, it was only right that Frank’s estranged wife stepped into the picture and the scene with their daughter Macey. No doubt, at least half of the viewers found themselves shouting “RUE!” at their television screens last night, but it looks like Stenberg will be making other names for herself. Although her scene was brief, we gained great insight into Frank’s personal life as Macey vented a bit to Jenny (who she immediately observed was “sooo not a cop”), and Frank’s ex-wife came down hard on him for being distracted by his work. What, she wanted to know, could be going on in a small town like Sleepy Hollow that would keep him so busy. Clearly, the Headless Horseman catastrophe has not been made public knowledge.
Back at the ranch/haunted house, Crane’s flashbacks and Mills’ visions allow them to piece together the story behind the haunting of the property. Crane had been there before with Katrina, visiting Lachlan Fredericks, a founding father and ancestor of Lena Gilbert’s. He was also an abolitionist, and once again, Sleepy Hollow took the time to flesh out a storyline concerned with the history of slavery in America, and its effects in parts of the country where it didn’t even exist. Fredericks was also a part of Katrina’s coven, making him (most likely) the first abolitionist warlock in television history. Crane’s connection to the house proves to be even more powerful, as one of Mills’ visions soon reveals that Katrina returned to the property without Crane. She was pregnant, (whaaat?!) and soon gave birth to Crane’s son.
However, as soon as his son enters the world, an evil comes with, and rises up in the form of a large tree on the property. A scarecrow of sorts, the evil (which has been chasing Crane, Mills, and Gilbert—who they find shortly after entering the house) immediately kills Fredericks. It is unclear whether or not Crane’s son survives the attack, but Crane—shocked at learning he was a father, and that his son had been born into danger—flies into a rage and politely asks Mills to wait in the car while he bludgeons the scarecrow to bloody bits. Mison plays Crane so sweetly and so earnestly that we sometimes forget he was a soldier, and that the nature of his very existence has a seriously dark quality. Things definitely got dark when he emerged from the house covered in blood, looking very much like Christian Bale in Psycho. It was pretty awesome.
The last scene of the episode brought a powerful revelation to the witnesses. Crane and Mills have found many small connections to each other throughout the series, but a package from Lena Gilbert confirmed a greater bond. Grace Dixon was the woman who had been appearing to Mills in her visions throughout the episode. She had acted as the midwife during Katrina’s labor, and—because she was a resident of the house—her family tree appeared in the items Gilbert sent. The tree of ancestors revealed that Mills’ mother was a descendant of Dixon’s. “My ancestor brought your son into this world,” Mills says to Crane, and this revelation is significant because viewers needed to see a more fate-like, more familial bond between the two characters. It’s definitely there now, and as Mills and Crane go on to rid Sleepy Hollow of its demons—and to search for more answers about their own histories—we can be assured that this duo is uniquely bound by much more than coincidence.
Favorite Quote of the Episode: “She has a billion dollars? That’s the gross national income of all thirteen colonies in my lifetime!” (Crane)