Sleepy Hollow returns from its break with the episode “The Vessel”, a fairly creepy episode dealing with the body jumping demon Ancitif. The episode does link back to a scene from “The Golem”, in which a possessed vendor made a threat as Frank and daughter Macey were walking through a park. The demon then had asked Irving how strong his daughter was, and could she fight for her soul. It then jumped as Frank grabbed the man, taking control of a woman. Both make an appearance in this episode, but these incidental characters aren’t the only ones who make a return appearance. The episode features some more scenes with Clancy Brown as Sheriff August Corbin, who had taken care of both the Mills sisters. Corbin is shown via a video made when he was confronting a possessed Jenny. It is this demon that threatens Macey currently, an done that Abbie and Crane need to deal with.
The show does open with a bit of humor with Crane finally making an appearance in modern day clothes. “Hell hath frozen over, ” Abbie quips as Crane comes out of his room. Crane is not pleased with his modern wardrobe, bemoaning “One sign of the apocalypse is skinny jeans.” He quickly reverts to his old duds, which Abbie tells him need dry cleaning. It was nice to see this addressed, and in the show’s fashion did so with a nice bit of comedy before settling into full on horror mode that reminded me a bit of the 1998 flick Fallen, which starred Denzel Washington dealing with the body jumping spirit of a serial killer. Ancitif does a fair share of body swapping before finally taking possession of Macey. The make-up effects are nicely done, bringing the demon to life in fine creepy fashion. What Ancitif wants is Washington’s Bible, which had been buried with Crane and which Katrina had said holds the answers to defeating evil.
Frank takes Cynthia and Macey to a safe house, unaware that one of his men is currently possessed by the demon. In the meantime, Abbie and Crane have brought Jenny in on doing some research to try and help Irving and his daughter. They learn of a French lantern that had been owned by Louis XIV that could be used to send Ancitif back to Hell. Crane recognizes the lantern as one that was given as a gift to Benjamin Franklin by the French following the end of the Revolutionary War. Jenny recognizes it as well, as it has become the property of a man named Chase Weaver who runs a survivalist compound. The trio go off to retrieve the lantern, with Jenny guiding Ichabod and Abbie through the compound. Naturally, they get caught by Weaver and his men. Crane pleads with Weaver to let them take the lantern to save the life of a young girl, but it takes Jenny coming to the rescue and pointing guns at Weaver that gains them the object.
As all of this was going on, Ancitif took possession of Macey, killed a priest, and threatened Cynthia to make Frank give up Washington’s Bible. Irving calls Crane and Abbie, saying he was going back to the archives to retrieve the book, and so the pair, along with Jenny, head there to make a stand against the demon. Frank pleads with Macey to fight against the demon, and for a brief instant it looks like he’s reached the girl. But the moment doesn’t last, as the possessed girl grabs her mother by the throat and throw s Frank aside. Jenny enters the room, and distracts Ancitif. Abbie backs her sister up, and Ancitif tries to get them but is stopped by a line of salt they had drawn on the floor (it was explained earlier in the episode that salt traps the demon and could prevent it from entering a house). Crane sneaks up from behind and finishes the salt circle, trapping Ancitif so he could use the lantern on it. The demon is captured and Macey freed, leading to some nice family bonding time, with Frank, Cynthia, and Macey huddled together on one side of the room and Abbie and Jenny hugging each other on the opposite side.
Washington’s Bible was of course nowhere near the archive where Irving had taken the demon, as Crane had hidden the book back at his cabin. The episode ends with Crane using lemon juice to uncover the message hidden in invisible ink on the last page of the Bible. As Crane and Abbie watch, the message is revealed as a date: December 18, 1799. Crane recognizes it as being written in Washington’s hand, but Abbie reminds him that Washington had actually died four days earlier, on December 14. So we’re left with a bit of a mystery. What does the date signify? And how did Washington pen it four days after he died?
It was a strong return for the series, though short lived, as its first season comes to a close next week with the two hour season finale. This episode was a bit more heavy on horror and light on the humor, and it did both effectively. The cast, as they have all season, works well together, and it was nice to see Cynthia and Macey playing a major part, showing that they weren’t the throw away characters we thought they were in their earlier appearances. It’s nice when a show’s writers can tie everything together, and the writers of Sleepy Hollow really have done a nice job in establishing the show’s mythology. It’s going to be quite interesting to see how things play out next week in the finale. It’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll see both the Horseman and Moloch, and that neither one showing up will bode well for our witnesses Abbie and Crane.
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