Sweet heaven and stars above, thank the Lord... John Noble is back as Henry Parish. Henry (or Jeremy if you prefer) is like the whipped cream on the ice cream sundae. Now, lately, with Henry gone and the episodes becoming far more procedural than normal, the ice cream sundae has felt quite melted, but perhaps this weeks episode, "Spellcaster," is trying to rectify that situation. Or not; I 'm really not positive. All I know was that during the A plot portion of this weeks episode, I kept waiting for Henry to come back on screen because while I love and adore Ichabod and Abbie, Henry is still the whipped cream. This weeks episode seems more transitional than anything else, as if it was setting up something bigger to come. Once more we have a malevolent force that threatens to do something evil and is stopped by the combined Team Witnesses forces; Katrina demonstrates how useless she is (and maybe secretly evil) and I continue to wonder if this half of the season has a point or not.
I'm having a hard time reviewing this episode because so much of it was plot heavy and that does not a good review make. There was an actual 10 min--and maybe longer--plot exposition given by Katrina in order to set up this weeks big bad. Solomon Kent is his name and blood magic is his game. Basic rundown: he started the Salem Witch Trials because he accidentally killed the woman he loved. It happens, I guess. Katrina's grandmother was witness to this whole event and passed down the lessons of Salem to her daughter who talked to Katrina and so on and so forth. Solomon seems like your average monster of the week: capable of evil, cool effects, minimal background, gone by episode end. I don't mind monster of the week if it's done right. Right now, it's a fine line with Sleepy Hollow. The main characters are getting a few juicy things--like Ichabod and Abbie having their bond tested and then rectified and whatever is going on with Frank Irving--but the actual villains are becoming so one note. Where is the Horseman? You really can't keep him away from the show this long because what is Sleepy Hollow without the Headless Horseman? But the even bigger problem is the lack of obvious endgame. Like I said, I don't mind monster of the week, but there needs to be some sort of overarching storyline that connects it all together. So far, the theme seems to be trying to readjust to life after the Apocalypse That Never Happened. Ichabod and Katrina are moving on with their relationship; Abbie keeps on keeping on; Ichabod looking at houses. Abbie is right that Team Witnesses isn't a 9 to 5 job, a driving motif throughout the entire second half of this season, but outside of that, where is the external threat? The internal threats are plenty: identity, loss, fear, insecurity. But where is our Moloch-like figure? Is it supposed to be Jeremy/Henry now? If so, he's rather late coming back into the game. What about the angel? Is he only going to play a part at the very end, if not at all? I doubt it is this last option given that his sigil has been seen since he departed and screams Chekov's Gun. I'm getting nervous that Sleepy Hollow is going down a path that I don't want to follow. There better be some connection soon or I fear for the longevity of this show.
So is Katrina evil? I think it's more like what Ichabod says at the end of this episode: all of us are a hair's breath away from light and dark. Each of the main characters on this show stand somewhere near that line. Ichabod is firmly in the middle. He fights for "good" but he can have his moments of violence and selfish resolve. Abbie is further from the line and more on the side of good because of her traumatic childhood experience with evil. Katrina, it would seem, is also firmly in the middle with Ichabod, but leaning over to touch the darkness. I think we're going to see Katrina go full on evil witch before the season is done. Katrina likes her powers; she likes the feelings they give her. Just watch her face when she's floating flowers and throwing rocks--she enjoys being a witch and praising the generations of witches from the Van Tassel family. One little threatening push and she is over that line. Frank Irving is basically on Team Evil for some reason. Not sure what to make of him right now. And then there is Henry. For weeks he has been moping and contemplative and wondering about his own humanity or lack there of, but after witnessing some violent outbursts, he remembers: he is a wolf. And that means he gets to feast on the sheep of the field. I really hope this means Henry is making a comeback into the narrative proper. He has been absent for far too long. However, I am disappointed that the writers answer to "what happened to Henry?" is simply: he got more evil. He sacrificed and killed Moloch but still considered Moloch to be his father. It's like he didn't learn anything or maybe doesn't remember anything that suddenly came to him when he realized that Moloch did not care for him. It's remedial. Instead of evolution toward anti-hero status, he falls back into villainy. But it's still John Noble, and I'm still thrilled to see him.
Miscellaneous Notes on Spellcaster
--Nice period depiction of the Salem Witch Trials, but the town wasn't cut off from civilization in some woods. I've been there.
--"Fathers are never what they are cracked up to be."
--"You are walking the wrong path." Bring on evil Katrina, I say. Make her more interesting.
--Weird and creepy blood demons are weird and creepy.