5 Awesome Things from Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Episode 6: The Sin Eater

Sleepy Hollow (Photo: Fox)

This episode barely filled its 42 minutes so full recaps will recommence next week. In the meanwhile: John Noble!!

After a delightful afternoon taking in a baseball game, Ichabod is feeling uber-positive and takes a stroll by his wife’s grave where figures in dark suits SHOOT HIM IN THE NECK WITH A TRANQUILIZER. My apologies for the shouting, but the episode kind of drifts from that point onwards and I’m still holding out hope that this show actually does become The X-Files. Abbie gets menaced by the Horseman in the dreamscape before Katrina reaches her and warns her of Ichabod’s impending doom. She tips the good Leftenant off to ‘the Sin Eater’ who can guide Abbie to Ichabod who, in turn, needs some good sanctifyin’. Abbie gets her sister furloughed to help in the search and the siblings finally locate the Sin Eater – Robert Parrish – and convince him to come back to Sleepy Hollow and remove Ichabod’s sins, even though he doesn’t do that any more. Ichabod has been snatched by the Freemasons who are trying to determine if he is, in fact, Ichabod Crane and the key to averting the impending apocalypse. Turns out they’re right on both counts and averting things means Ichabod killing himself – he’s linked with the Horseman, remember. During their interrogation Ichabod recounts how he came to fight for the rebellion and how he met Katrina. Leftenant (seriously!) Crane was assigned to interrogate a freed slave named Arthur Bernard, and learn the identity of a pamphleteer named Cicero. Bernard doesn’t break and challenges everything Crane thinks is right and true in this world, causing Ichabod to have a bit of a spiritual awakening and not execute Bernard. A British officer does it for him, though, and Ichabod has apparently been weighted down with guilt, feeling he failed to protect this truly heroic person. Parrish helps Ichabod connect with Bernard’s spirit, learn he did everything he could, and cast out his sins, meaning the series will continue with a still-living Ichabod. And the Horseman finds Ichabod’s tomb and forebodingly considers the dirt around it.

John Noble joins the cast. With a sedate but attention-grabbing delivery somewhere between Walter and Walternate, John Noble arrives as Henry Parrish, an actual sin eater who has traveled the world sanctifying the souls of death row inmates.1 While he doesn’t get that much to do in this episode (NO ONE got much to do in this bizarrely paced episode) Parrish is a much appreciated grounded counterpoint to Abbie and Jenny and Ichabod. He’s like Irving except not cynical and with a taste for bread dipped in blood.2 This move was announced early in the series and Fringe fans and lovers of good acting have been twitching in wait for this arrival and, hopefully, an concomitant step-up in everyone’s game. The character also provided the ‘reason’ for the most spectacularly WTF?!?!? moment of the series thusfar when we see Ichabod’s sanctification causing his blood-mingling with the Horseman to run backwards, unmingling the blood and… removing the show’s premise? I’m sure it’ll all be explained soon.


Katrina and Ichabod meet cute over some political torture. Ah good, Sleepy Hollow is taking a page from Lost and filling in key character connections and motivations via flashbacks. Katrina shows up as “a nurse from the local Quaker community” to demand the British soldiers (including Ichabod) not violate Arthur Benard’s non-existent rights. She also falls in love with Ichabod, and he with her, and sees some good in him. Between her words and Bernard’s this is, I suppose, the point where Ichabod realized the colonists were the side worth fighting for. Well, this and the point where his commanding officer turns out to be an evil demon of some sort.3

The sisters Mills use the Sunnydale HS Library to good effect. Given that they built the set and now have to use it, Abbie and Jenny set up their whiteboard of investigation in the archives and it doesn’t feel like a total throwaway.4 Abbie pieces together the sin-eater’s identity in a nice stroke of cleverness, reminding us that she was originally heading to Quantico, although it all does beg the question of why Jenny needed to be involved at all in this episode. That’s a question that can be asked about the whole series, really.

Freemasons! Not as awesome, or well constructed, as the Hessians, but still – who doesn’t love a good ancient conspiracy? Plus James Frain stays on our tv screens being all important and powerful whilst wearing a suit.

Abbie and Ichabod are all cute and it’s so cute OMG so cute. The episode opens with Abbie and Ichabod taking in a baseball game and Abbie teaching Ichabod the cathartic benefits of yelling at the umpire. It’s well scripted, very well acted,5 and actually a bit touching, reminding us of the great twist on buddy cop pairings this show established and has since chucked under the half-assed-writing bus. After a perfunctory exchange midway through the episode,6 we do get an ultimately forgettable but again very genuinely warm reunion at episode’s end. This is the stuff the show half-heartedly places on other, less-effective7 characters and it needs to stop. Keep the genuine feeling coming from the genuine leads.

I swear, though, if this show tries to put these two together I will stop watching immediately and burn my television to the ground before watching more episodes because why not.

  1. And, y’know, hopefully some nice people too, but the show doesn’t say.  
  2. If Irving starts eating bread dipped in blood, I’m going to love him that much more.  
  3. Fifth grade history lessons would have been so much more awesome if they were taught from this show.  
  4. Like when the only scene in the clubhouse was Abbie looking at her laptop and then running off somewhere with Ichabod.  
  5. Though still not as awesome as the NotOnStar scene.  
  6. Poor Nichole Beharie, the writers keep asking her to tell instead of show.  
  7. And sometimes completely inappropriate.  

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