Ichabod has made no secret of his many apologies for the behavior of his son just as Henry Parrish has made no secret of his hatred for his parents and also, for good things in general. He’s plotted and deceived to earn their trust, betrayed them and attempted to kill his father. He sent his mother to live with a man whose idea of a romantic evening is is tying her to a chair and telling her how he’ll be killing her husband soon.
Oh, but there’s good in everyone.
Maybe this is true. “The Abyss Gazes Back” certainly implies this. The monster of the week is a Wendigo, a cannibalistic monster who is also Joe Corbin (Zach Appleman). Cursed by Henry, who ground that bone flute into powder to make such a curse, Joe returns to Sleepy Hollow to find an artifact his father pointed him to and find a cure. At the very least Joe offers some added development for Abbie, who’s proven herself to take a very unselfish route when it comes to her heroism. She doesn’t take the easy way out with strangers so of course she’s not open to doing so when it comes to a young man she used to babysit.
The conceit of Abbie being old enough to babysit this guy is perhaps the most insulting, considering how young Nicole Beharie looks. But she does the wise elder thing well, telling Joe how much his father really did love him despite paying an overabundance of attention to Abbie. The flashback to Abbie and Corbin’s early days together is brief and hardly illuminating of their own relationship (though Abbie is terse and put-out while Corbin’s all smiles), but it does explain Abbie’s decision to turn herself around. Seeing the kind of love Corbin had for his son, she wanted part of it for herself and built a family in Sleepy Hollow in the absence of her own. The Joe/Abbie relationship doesn’t sail as well, since it’s very focused on their respective relationships with Corbin rather than with each other, but Abbie’s so eager to keep him alive that I want him to make it just because she does.
Sleepy Hollow is painfully optimistic in all of its cases of the week, even when its serialized elements get darker and darker. It’s nice in some ways to have something of a happy ending each time, but there’s never any real concern that Joe’s not going to be perfectly fine, saved by their cure. Abbie’s warned to prepare herself in case Joe can’t be saved, and Ichabod’s ready to kill him if need be, but that need was never going to be. I suppose some of it’s there since Joe’s only a minor character we haven’t even heard about until now, and he could easily be killed off without hurting anything. It would provide some drama on Abbie’s end and likely cement her hatred of Henry Parrish. But it would also be highly depressing and not as feel good as Joe asking Abbie for a letter of recommendation to apply for the FBI.
And naturally this miracle, of Joe managing to retain his humanity and be freed from his curse, is treated as an indicator to Ichabod about Henry. It’s hard to buy into it, when just an episode or so ago even Ichabod doubted the possibility of Henry ever being decent. And just as much as the episode points to good being in everyone, it points just as clearly to there being bad there as well.
Frank confronts Henry about the theft of his soul and learns of an alternative that will free him: killing someone. Even the attractive option of murdering the recently arrested man who hit Macy with his car and paralyzed her, isn’t that attractive to Irving. He tries to abate his rage by getting an apology from the man, and when that doesn’t go well he attacks him. Frank seems to be on his own show much of the time. This episode marks the first time he’s spoken to Abbie and Ichabod in what feels like ages, and he calls Abbie to bring her up to speed on his predicament. By his time, Frank has resigned himself to his fate. He won’t attempt to save himself by killing someone, not when that seems as if it will have the same result as doing nothing. He’ll still be sacrificing something valuable of himself, and his heated refusal to give in to Henry is contrasted by his hopelessness on the phone with Abbie.
And Abbie, when she hears this news, is not resigned. She’s livid. All of Ichabod’s apologizing for his son’s many sins gets annoying, since it isn’t technically his fault that Henry’s got problems, but the look Abbie shoots Ichabod when she learns about Henry stealing Frank’s soul is positively withering. Though Abbie and Ichabod are generally on good terms, they do have a very real conflict between them rooted in their varying motivations. Abbie’s a Witness and a Witness only, and she has a family she’s also looking to protect, but her family isn’t causing all their problems either.
It’s not exactly comprabable is it? Joe’s situation was brought on by a curse (that Henry cast), and he tried to resist it even when he was affected. The Wendigo had only one goal, to feed, but that wasn’t Joe. But Henry is very much Henry. He’s been alive for quite some time, and he’s a very grown man who decided long ago that he wanted to get some kind of revenge on his parents for not being there for him. Ichabod vowing to fight for Henry, despite his actions, is annoying and makes him look particularly dimwitted since as he’s saying all these things, Henry’s dosing Katrina with the poison Joe acquired for him.
- Are we supposed to be feeling this brewing love triangle between Hawley, Abbie and Jenny? Are we supposed to care about Hawley? Abbie doesn’t even care about Hawley who just makes googly eyes at her and shifts awkwardly away if Jenny comes into the room.
- After weeks of the show pretending that none of these people know where the other are, Henry bursting into Abbie and Ichabod’s safe place is shocking.
- The Wendigo transformations are surprisingly well done. It looks ridiculous in motion, but when it wasn’t, it was actually pretty good. The costume/make-up department has really upped its game in recent episodes.
- What’s Henry’s game in poisoning Katrina? Did he forget what Moloch said about wanting her alive and on their side or what?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.