Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Last week, while Ichabod was chatting up Masons and having visions-within-flashbacks, Abbie actually got something done and saved him. Now disconnected from the Hessian scamp, Ichabod's Potential Casualty #1, and the Horseman's out for blood. Can they trap him before he beheads everything in a ten-mile radius?

Spoilers ahead...

In what is possibly the name-droppiest, the-future-is-odd-est episode of Sleepy Hollow yet, the Horseman is after his head, and basically literally anything else with a head; to prevent him from getting his head back and starting the Apocalypse, Ichabod and Abbie must decode the secret manuscript of Sam Adams and John Hancock (sure) using the cipher embedded in the Horseman's teeth by Paul Revere (okay), silversmith turned dentist (Colonial history joke), and realize they have to recreate sunlight and trap the Horseman within it (gotcha), while debating the existence of bottled water. An even busier episode than usual, then!

We open with a brief recreation of the Midnight Ride, where everyone whispers "The Regulars are coming" to every other person in town one person at a time, and three brave compatriots of Paul Revere are mown down by the Horseman!

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Body Count: Three revolutionaries, one of whom is being beheaded right here and the other two it's safe to say he went back and beheaded just as soon as he got his bearings.

The episode's B-plot, Ichabod Crane vs. The Future: NorthStar Was Only the Beginning, begins with boggling at bulk shopping and disbelief about bottled water; this never comes to anything, but just know that if anyone in this episode is drinking water of any kind, Ichabod is giving them shit about it.

There's also a D-plot that serves mostly to introduce the return of everyone's favorite reluctant servant of evil, as Andy Brooks watches Morales, in a desperate bid to stay alive another few weeks, try to rekindle his friendship with Abbie "without the Brit hovering over my shoulder."

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Things are different in Abbie's life now – Jenny's moving in with her tomorrow! – and he wants to make sure she's okay. Abbie agrees to coffee but gives him a pricelessly delivered, "Temper your expectations."

He's about to temper pretty much all his expectations, actually, since he runs into Andy and gets handed a lot of supernatural business all at once.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

"Rumors of my demise are...pretty much true."

I find it noteworthy in both a hilarious and an actual way that Andy is an undead, supernaturally-powered dude in the direct employment of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and masterminding untold numbers of other people on his side, and yet this show has consistently positioned him so that the creepiest thing about him is his attitude about Abbie. That kind of singleminded devotion, even when the person doesn't want it, often gets painted as romantic, or at least noble; it's certainly understandable to want to protect Abbie given how awesome she is, but that's not why he's doing it and the show doesn't let you forget that. (Remember when he knocked her out and put her in his car and crooned about protecting her as he petted her face? This show sure does.)

Brooks gets to ameliorate some of this later, when he offers Abbie his help without demanding anything in return, but Morales is more creeped out by Brook's possessiveness than he is by Brooks being a walking, talking corpse, and that is accurate.

(D-plot resolve: Morales, staring a computer full of creepy reports of people waking up at their own funeral as Andy's words literally echo in his head, doesn't even take Abbie's phone call canceling their date, in one of the most non-starty non-starters I've ever seen.)

Speaking of non-starters, Ichabod heads over to the Masons to chat some more about the Headless Horseman, but the Horseman's already there; Ichabod and Abbie barely escape an encounter.

The Masons didn't, though.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Body count: Three revolutionaries, four Masons (none of which, I hope, was James Frain).

As they clear the scene, Irving, on his last thread of disbelief, begs Abbie to pretend that this is the work of anyone, anyone at all, still in possession of their own head.

Ichabod is taking this pretty hard, as he finally snaps and growls out a monologue that his dying thought the first time around was that he was going to take this effing Horseman down with him, and by gum, he's going to do it again! He'll find whatever he needs to take the Horseman down, whyever it was that the Horseman came here!

What he sees that somehow makes him realize the Horseman is hunting for his own head:

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Body count: Three revolutionaries, four Masons, one portrait of George Washington.

At the precinct, discussions about how to proceed destroying the Horseman's head (which is evidence, which is possibly the first red-tape procedural problem this show has decided to deploy since the pilot) are interrupted by this very likable day player:

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

She and Irving chat about his daughter ("your subplot called!") and I like to think that while they're dealing with the Horseman she's actually trying to be an effective administrator about all the regular crimes, and is the scourge of regular criminals all over town.

It's nice that she's so hypothetically on top of her job, too, since Irving is off trying to get that creeptastic skull out of lockup.

Unfortunately, the Horseman is on the trail.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

NO, NOT THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICES. RUN, WILDLIFE! SAVE YOURSELVES.

Irving does save himself – getting away with the skull AND a Quip Before Firing in his big action scene – but not everyone in the lab is so lucky.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Body count: Three revolutionaries; four Masons, one portrait of George Washington, one lab employee (not pictured, but presumably beheaded later), this taxidermy bird. (Oh, show, never leave me.)

Of course, now Irving knows for sure that the Horseman is real, and admits in panic that they must have been right all along. Sadly, I guess this means the show is giving up any hope that he's a double agent. I'm not, because given the way this show operates, he'll have an evil twin, a memory wipe, or a demon possession by the middle of Season 2; in anticipation of this or some other twist, moustaches will continue.

This episode also boasts the show's first montage, as they try to beat up, blow up, and acid-melt the Horseman's skull to no effect. Sadly, the Horseman, who has spent a busy day at the Sleepy Hollow Smelting Works and Industrial Craft Fair, has had a lot more success turning the Mason's heads into silver-lined hanging lanterns:

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Actual thing on this show. To examine them, Abbie has to pull the screw out of the top of their skulls and matter-of-factly blow out the candles inside as they chat about the midnight ride. It is both great and terrible; they point out that the secret Midnight Ride manuscript must have been updated to include Horseman-defeating information the Masons wanted to give him (making it weird how hard they wanted to kill him literally just last week), and still all you can pay attention to is Abbie peering into head cavities, unimpressed.

So it's off to the Tarrytown Museum, where Ichabod Crane takes deep offense at the historical inaccuracies being disseminated about Paul Revere until Abbie can drag him out of there. (Nitpicking incorrect history! That's adorable, show! Tell me again about how everyone at Roanoke spoke Middle English!)

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

The illustrated Revolutionary in back is judging them pretty hard for this.

NERD NOTE: Abbie calls him her "Cousin Steve." I see what you Captain Americaed there.

This week shows an interesting shift in their dynamic, actually. When he was facing down the fanciest, slowest-acting poison in the land, Ichabod had his Romantic Lead Face turned up to "Touring Company of Camelot" and they were clutching hands and hugging tearfully so hard it actually became the entire episode. This week we're stepping back into Funtimes Apocalypse Friends for the most part, I suspect as a concession to the sheer number of things that happen, as well as needing to take a break from the forty-minute outpouring of feelings that was last week.

B-plot: Ichabod operates the internet like you imagine your dad probably does, and prints things five times in blind panic like that one boss of yours probably does. He then settles in happily to decipher the text, with a brief break to smarm at Abbie about canceling on Luke: "You're much easier to read than a Vigenère's cipher."

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Out in the tunnels, Abbie gets ambushed by Andy Brooks, whose jaw she instantly breaks (awesome and also gross), and gets to hear the beginning of his Creep Routine.

Ichabod, meanwhile, has spent the requisite 30 seconds on the internet necessary in order to find porn.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

"Portrait of the First Time Anyone Finds Porn on the Internet," Tom Mison, 2013.

Luckily, in his discomfort, he also finds the silver coating Revere stuck onto the back of the Horseman's teeth (that dentist joke just got priceless, huh?) with the cipher password on it.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

"Paul Revere," he smooths, "you rum beggar." Jeez, Ichabod, there are kids watching this.

When he comes out to tell Abbie, he finds her in her creeper standoff. Andy promises he's there to give them information on how to trap the Horseman purely to keep Abbie safe, which Ichabod is glad to hear, because otherwise Ichabod was going to take a duelling stance, if you know what he means, okay Andy? He's just here to help Abbie, okay Ichabod? You're just here to deliver a message to the Horseman for them, okay Andy? Don't threaten me, okay Ichabod? The important thing is that nobody bothers Abbie; right, Abbie?

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Abbie has never had less time for anything in her whole life, and that's saying something.

Turns out the key to trapping the Horseman is to turn the moon into the sun via witch. Abbie, who is nobody's fool, realizes that now you can use electricity to create artificial sunlight. Problem solved! Now all they need is a trap. So long as it doesn't include the "nenenet," Ichabod's all in.

During the ensuing Armory Batcave Craft Hour, Irving throws down on Ichabod's name-dropping, asking how Jefferson, a man who helped draft "All men are created equal," justified owning slaves. Ichabod offers the White Man Defense for a minute (he knew it was wrong! It was just a thing!), until Abbie mentions Sally Hemings. There's a truth bomb.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

As Ichabod tries to deny it, she and Irving spend the preparing-for-the-Horseman montage handing him his ass. And because Jefferson fathering six kids with Sally Hemings was apparently not conclusive evidence of Jefferson's culpability, Abbie shows him where Jefferson took credit for his newspaper joke in the annals of history. He looks sadder about this than about Miss Hemings, or than he has about Katrina at any point so far. Trust no Founding Father, buddy.

While they wait for sunset, we get a brief character eddy where both of them reiterate that they're lonely and only have each other. While I understand that's the major thrust of their dual development, it's been established so much better in so many other moments in the preceding episodes that I'm not sure why we're getting such a clunky reprise of it here.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

I guess they just didn't want an episode to go by without a little Romantic Lead Face.

Then it's time to capture the Horseman, during a Midnight Ride that's actually taking place just after dark, according to the show! Ichabod, riding a horse that the montage unfortunately did not show them stealing, leads the Horseman on a chase through the cemetery:

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

Body count: Three revolutionaries, four Masons, one portrait of George Washington, one lab employee, one taxidermy bird, one tree (it counts, shut up).

Then he lures the Horseman into the tunnels with his own head as the bait – and several other heads, all Halloween props – and then a standoff with Abbie and Ichabod on either side of him, taunting him until the glint of silver gives away that Abbie's holding the real head. One broken-ankle fakeout later, it's time to spring the trap! And Irving is ON IT.

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

And so, a mere seven episodes into the first season of a show about the Headless Horseman, our heroes have now trapped the Horseman, rendering him dormant until they need to loose him again, presumably three or so episodes before the end of the season. Or, knowing this show, next episode.

They look as surprised as we are!

Beheadings are Just Everywhere on Sleepy Hollow's "Midnight Ride"S

To call this show's pacing "breakneck" seems both trite and a terrible pun, but when I say they are not going to waste your time, I mean it. This clearly isn't the end of the Horseman, and they aren't even pretending that it is, but if you'd been asked at the start of this episode whether they would succeed in trapping him or whether this would be the beginning of a multi-episode chase, particularly with Andy Brooks back in the mix, years of TV pacing would have suggested the latter, with this episode beginning a chase would culminate next week as they finally, with a probable assist from Andy, lock the Horseman in their clutches.

But this show, while resting comfortably amid its many tropes, wants things to progress more than it wants pretty much anything else. Next week, I look forward to this ragtag group taking the Horseman on a road trip where they learn a lot about life, American Revoutionary history, and most importantly, each other. Andy gets middle seat.