SLEEPY HOLLOW Season 3 Fall Finale: Did that just happen?

Courtesy Fox

Hey, Sleepyheads! Are you still reeling from that doozy of a fall finale? I know I sure am.

The first half of season three has been a wild ride. Pandora’s box ain’t got nothin’ on our Witnesses — but it seems like, at least for now, she might have gotten the upper hand. We’ve had courting and combat and crossovers, but nothing could have prepared us for Abbie’s fate in “Novus Ordo Seclorum.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I am definitely in denial that what happened to our rookie FBI agent actually transpired. Or at least, that it transpired in the way the writers would have us believe. Maybe that’s what happens when your show is about a Revolutionary soldier who played dead for over two hundred years only to reemerge in 2013 to stave off the apocalypse, and a sheriff’s deputy who ended up in Purgatory and has traveled back in time in order to save herself and her comrades. You start to laugh off Death, because just as in The X-Files before it, nobody stays truly dead for too long in this universe.

So maybe that’s the false sense of security under which I have taken “Novus”, because I find it highly improbable that Agent Abbie Mills, Witness and ass-kicker extraordinaire, went out not in battle with the afterlife, but thanks to a nemesis we’ve only begun to unravel.

Let me back up, though.

On one hand, there is ample evidence in the TV Trope Bag of Tricks in this week’s episode to point to Abbie’s demise. After all, it is usually when characters achieve their dreams that they ironically meet their maker.

Take this season: after years of talking about it, Abbie finally graduated from the FBI Academy and became a full-fledged Special Agent, and made a name for herself to boot. She and sister Jenny seemed to be closer than ever — despite the secrets they kept from each other — and she’d even started considering reconnecting with her long-lost father, despite painting him as a deadbeat most of her life. She had an ongoing flirtation with colleague Danny, and her bond with Ichabod deepened with every episode, thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to their living arrangements.

Why, just a few weeks ago, she passed words of wisdom along to Crane about seizing the day, more or less. Plus, Paul Revere told Ichabod here not to ever get close to anyone, because they’ll die and leave him forever alone, or words to that effect — real subtle, there, guys.

In the episode itself this week, our agent ran the gamut from turning over her badge and gun to fight the good fight, to blowing up the bad guys in the name of badassery like a total boss — as though she were going out in a blaze of glory.

Ergo, she has to be a goner, right?

But this is Sleepy Hollow, the quirky little show that more often than not embraces its genre and turns expectations on their head. Therefore, despite the evidence, a tragic end she may not have met.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

Usually, my first line of defense would be the fact that there is no way a network series would kill off its co-lead halfway through a season, but as many pundits have said before me this week, this is increasingly a brave new world in which the Glenns of the TV-scape are not safe should the story dictate it. Fair enough, and given the shakeups at FOX recently, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the powers that be conspired for a last-ditch “gotcha!” to breathe new life into the show and get fans (and critics) talking.

Yet to me, there is just way more pointing to the fact that we are being collectively punked in the face of a long winter hiatus.

It’s true that death rarely makes sense, and often strikes at inopportune times for its victims, making the loss all the more resonant with its characters and audience. Abbie’s supposed death here, though, would definitely take the cake if that were the case.

I’ll admit up front that I’m not the biggest fan of the Pandora storyline. I was open to it at first, and I’m mildly intrigued by some aspects of it — like how she preys on delusions and fears — but I don’t find it as compelling as, say, the Horsemen story, in terms of the threat it poses to our heroes. And maybe that’s the point: until this week, Ichabod and Abbie had little direct contact with her terror, instead focusing on the havoc she’s wreaked upon others. That is until Jenny got caught in the crossfire, and the die was cast.

While I have no trouble believing Abbie would sacrifice herself for her sister in a heartbeat, the way the moment of truth went down still feels oddly hollow. (Pardon the pun.) I don’t mean that as a critique, necessarily, but only mention it to further explain why I think there is something afoot in Sleepy Hollow. To have Abbie perish at the hands of a villain we’re only just learning about, when we’ve been bombarded with her importance as a Witness to the larger mission for three seasons now, feels incomplete. As I said before, that might be deliberate, representing the senselessness of death, but I still can’t help but feel that there is something hiding behind door number three. This is fiction, and nothing happens without a reason.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

More importantly, though, the show rests on the relationship between Abbie and Ichabod, now more than ever. Yes, Sleepy Hollow has a fantastic cast, and each piece of the ensemble is vital to keeping the story on track and helping our heroes expand their horizons. But the show is Ichabod and Abbie, full stop, and their roommate situation this season, I feel, is a nod to that. I’d have to think the show learned its lesson from season 2 that once you split the leads up, the show just doesn’t work; it tries hard, but I would venture to say very few people cared nearly as much about Ichabod’s marriage woes with Katrina as they did his friendship with Abbie, because that bond is what has set in motion the entire series.

I’m not even an “Ichabbie” shipper, but I wholeheartedly acknowledge and embrace that their relationship is the driving force of the series, and are the reason I’ve kept watching this show every week for three years despite it being completely outside of my usual tastes. Watching their love (platonic or otherwise) deepen week after week, particularly this year, has been a joy, and is one of the aspects that has set the show apart since it debuted. (I’m a sucker for us-against-the-world dynamics.)

Which is why I find it very hard to believe that the writers would suddenly torpedo that, unless Abbie’s alter ego Nicole Beharie needed to leave the show. So far, there’s been little proof to support that, unless you count Katrina’s increased role over Abbie in season 2. (A mystery to this day, certainly.) The show has lost cast members in the past, like Orlando Jones’ Frank Irving and John Cho’s Andy Brooks or John Noble’s Henry, but while their absences are felt, they weren’t the story’s center the way Abbie and Ichabod are.

I am all for the development of Jenny and Joe as supporting players, and welcome their bigger roles in the narrative, but there’s no way they can take Abbie’s place. And though I admit the highlight of Sleepy Hollow for me each week are Ichabod’s culture clashes with the modern world, he wouldn’t be experiencing any of those amusing mishaps were it not for Abbie’s gentle guidance and steadfast loyalty, and I don’t want to live in a TV landscape where Abbie isn’t there by his side each week, kicking ass and explaining emojis all at the same time. The world needs Abbie Mills, now more than ever.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Nicole Beharie in ÒNovus Ordo SeclorumÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Thursday, Nov. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX.

Perhaps I am undergoing the stages of grief, but I see no reason to fret at the moment. Abbie paid the ultimate price in the Sleepy Hollow world to save the world, but it felt oddly anticlimactic; there was no buildup to her sacrifice, and if there’s one thing these writers like to do, it is to pull the long con for the biggest payoff. We’ve just barely cracked open Pandora’s box, so there should be no reason to lose Abbie so soon on her path to destruction in New York state’s most supernaturally-cursed town.

I have little doubt that Ichabod et al. will believe Abbie to be dead for a while. In fact, I assume that is the whole point of this story — to underscore how important she is to her loved ones. (And maybe even to force Ichabod to confront his feelings for her, whatever they are.) With the recent casting of Papa Mills, there is little reason to expect that that his homecoming is for any reason other than to have both of his daughters explore their feelings of abandonment. It’ll be a rallying cry for the team, but I’m hard-pressed to consider that it’ll last more than a few episodes before they realize Abbie’s lost out there, and they have to find her, in whatever form that takes. Abbie will fight her way back to them as she always has, and her family will fight for her just the same.

Like our Witnesses, the show narrowly escaped its own death last year, thanks to dwindling ratings and a plot that at times lacked focus. (I’m convinced Abbie being forced to take a back seat, for whatever reason, must have factored into its fall.) Every porch-swing conversation and inebriated confession this season has reiterated its gratitude to continue its mission, and reminded me of why I’ve fallen so deeply for it and despite the craziness on my screen every week that I know I’ll never fully understand. To eschew this in favor of a ratings stunt such as killing off its main character seems foolish at best, and self-destructive at worst. Her death at this point would be manipulative, and a point from which the story would never recover. (As it is, the buildup in this episode was already disappointing; for it to be permanent would be its death knell.)

Pandora might thrive off fear, but this is Abbie Mills we’re talking about. She wasn’t scared when she sacrificed herself, and we shouldn’t be scared for her safe return to our airwaves in next year.  She’s got this, everyone. Because only Abbie Mills could cheat death, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


 

If I am wrong, I will find an appropriate way to virtually eat crow.

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

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