Snooty reviews Sleepy Hollow: “The Sin Eater”

Tom Mison in a Redcoat uniform? You just know it's someone's bedroom fantasy.

Tom Mison in a Redcoat uniform? You just know it’s someone’s bedroom fantasy.

The line between sin and guilt is a nigh-divine one. Theologians and philosophers will argue forever about the nature of evil, but Sleepy Hollow decides to draw the line: while guilt and sin are linked, they are not one and the same. Ichabod is cleansed of his guilt, but evidently he was never a sinner, at least not in regards to this episode’s flashbacks, making it relatively simple to remove his connection to the Horseman.

This episode was more about world-building than it was about moving the story forward, which is perhaps why I liked it better. Sleepy Hollow treats plot points like checkmarks, racing forward from point to point with little time to breathe between, which makes the whole show feel rote to me. I’ve explained in previous reviews how the show lays convenient solutions at its characters’ feet, and the Sin Eater doesn’t seem to contradict that notion; Crane’s connection to the Horseman hasn’t played any part in the story since the pilot, and it’s brought up again only to be resolved in the same episode. If it was truly that dangerous, why didn’t the Horseman hunt him down sooner? And what has the Horseman been doing this whole time? Riding around in the forest waiting to be relevant to the plot again?

No, it’s better that we step back from the ridiculousness of the show’s present to delve into its ridiculous past. We see the horrific events that drove Crane into the Revolution and, as it turns out, into the arms of the Freemasons. And we see how Crane met his wife (a Quaker, as it turns out). The production values in the flashbacks was phenomenal, which made up for a rather simplistic plot. Crane and Katrina’s instant connection didn’t feel particularly genuine, but I can forgive it if only for the fact that the show didn’t thrust them together romantically; it’s a small show of patience on Sleepy Hollow’s part, and it deserves to be acknowledged.

The presence of the Sin Eater is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s yet another easy solution handed to our Witnesses. We get one scene of the Mills sisters tracking him down, and another of them trying to convince him to help, and that’s it. Suddenly he’s rushing to Crane’s rescue, yanking Crane’s connection to the Horseman out of him. No matter how many ways I say it, I cannot express how frustrating it is that Crane and Mills never solve their own problems: they’re saved by a convenient cache of gunpowder, or a Mohawk shaman, or a Sin Eater. I suppose you could argue that they have to find these convenient solutions, as Abby and Jenny do here, but their investigation takes one scene. There’s no struggle.

But on the other hand, the Sin Eater didn’t die at the end like I was sure he would. Left alive, he potentially becomes a resource for them to return to, just as their friend the used car salesman might. Sleepy Hollow is actually good at building an interesting world, but fails to use it properly; Crane and Mills may as well be watching their adventures just as we are, for all the agency they have in their tribulations.

But whatever. Everyone loves this show, and I’m wrong. And now the Horseman is back from his nebulous absence and ready to hunt Crane. An ominous shot of the Horseman discovering Crane’s longtime resting place promises the Horseman’s return, and soon. Crane and Mills better find someplace sunny to hide, because Death is back with a vengeance!


  • Baseball doesn’t discriminate? Ehhhhh…
  • Fish-Out-Of-Water Joke: Crane yells at an umpire before he even makes a call. Although “basket-face” is a pretty good insult.
  • Mills’ connection to Crane makes it possible for Katrina to contact her via dream/psychic projection. I prefer to think that Katrina simply switched psychic providers for better coverage and a more robust service plan.
  • Mills’ ex-boyfriend is mercifully absent from this episode. If we’re lucky, he’ll just be quietly forgotten.
  • I’m glad that the evil British officer ended up being a demon. This show sometimes vilifies the Redcoats to ludicrous, utterly fictitious degrees. Students of real history know that America won its revolution because the British were too damn nice and practiced conventional warfare, and because George Washington was incredibly lucky.
  • Bringing Bernard back to forgive Crane at the end felt like too much. My alternative title for the episode would have been “Crane Defeats White Guilt.”
  • As soon as the Freemasons resolved to kill Crane, I had a fantasy about one of them pulling out a gun and shooting him in the face. Fictional characters are never as decisive as I want them to be.
  • The scene of the Sin Eater drawing the Horseman connection out of Crane was pretty cool, troubling plot implications notwithstanding.
  • I love it when the show brings Jenny back, but she felt wasted in this episode. As soon as they found the Sin Eater, she was just pushed into the background.
  • “I’m terrified.” Admittedly, Mills’ and Crane’s goodbyes is another great scene. Their chemistry is the best part of this show by a mile.

About snootyfilms

A tormented genius in a world that doesn't deserve him.

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