It’s a wonder that, on a show anchored by the supernatural, Sleepy Hollow had yet to have an hour about plain old “magic.” “Spellcaster,” as the episode title makes clear, changes that.
This week is set into motion by the grimoire of John Dee, a book by an Elizabethan something or other. It’s stolen from an auction house in White Plains, by a man who looks like a Warhammer witch hunter. This guy, who has the ability to make blood boil, is named Solomon Kent (Johnathon Schaech). He is, according to Katrina, the one warlock feared by all witches.
Legend — or, Katrina’s mother— has it that, back in his own time, Kent became obsessed with a young woman. We see him healing a wound on her hand. “He thought his feelings were being reciprocated, but he was wrong,” Katrina describes in her retelling, explaining that men have been the same for at least hundreds of years, always mistaking a woman’s kindness for intent to get sexy. Anyway, a miscommunication and a rebuffed kiss lead to Kent accidentally stabbing her. To cover up his crime, he put a curse on her body to look as if it were possessed by a demon. He later did the same thing to Katrina’s grandmother, who had suspected Kent of that past crime. Basically: Solomon Kent is responsible for the Salem witch trials. He was eventually sent to purgatory, escaping recently after the death of Muloch.
Kent got the book, which he can’t use because for whatever reason it’s split in half. The gang (now collectively called the “Witnesses,” I guess) goes to find the book. Abbie is interrupted by Captain Irving, who you’ll remember was revealed to be kind of undead last week. He says they’re cool, and have no problems moving forward: He just wants to forget the past. The point of this, as Ichabod sees it, is the lesson that Kent has had hundreds of years to mull on having been sent to purgatory.
The Witnesses venture forth and come upon Kent in a warehouse. He’s pieced together the book of John Dee, and he and Katrina have a pretty cool fight with witch powers, with Kent throwing some serious Force gusts and Katrina shooting out streams of lightning. This is before Kent cuts his wrists and summons blood demons out of the ground. Abbie shoots one and it explodes, which is gnarly.
Kent calls Katrina a “formidable witch,” and tells her to look into the darkness, where she’ll find her true self. She apparently does, and her true self is a self in which her pupils go all white for a second. She’s seen the power of the dark side — will she be able to resist it? Anyway, this saps Katrina of whatever power she supposedly has. Katrina is yet again useless, and Kent gets away.
After their run-in with Kent, Abbie arranges another rendezvous with Irving, who gives her a big pep talk. “Nothing like dying to give you perspective on life,” Irving says, straining for depth. He later joins them in the hunt for Kent, and he shoots him right in the neck with poison, before Abbie fries him with some kind of electric contraption. This is, of course, after Ichabod explains his plan to Kent in a kind of villain rant, only this is a hero rant with the sole purpose of educating the audience to the ludicrous “chemistry” behind Ichabod’s plan. (Note: I remain uneducated.) The fight concludes and Abbie and Ichabod think Irving has disappeared, so they disperse. Only! Irving isn’t in trouble; he’s stealing that cool book for himself and snapping Kent’s neck with his ritzy Chelsea boots. Mission accomplished.
Back at the Witness cabin, Abbie and Ichabod have a little bit of a celebration. Ichabod continues being weird about letting Katrina rest. (She was wiped out after getting destroyed by Kent.) When he and Abbie leave to get some booze, Katrina wakes up and uses some dark magic to levitate and freeze a red flower, using such dark energy that her nose begins to bleed, so we know it’s strong.
Meanwhile, Henry Parrish is at a cheap motel, seemingly remorseful of his actions — you know, causing a war between the forces of heaven and hell, whatever. He has an oddly touching moment with the son of the owner of the motel, who comes to fix his broken faucet. They bond over having grown up without fathers. The kid later gets into a little trouble when he’s found in another guest’s room, unauthorized, and some ruff-n-tuff guests threaten him and his mom. Parrish doesn’t like this, and he’s feeling a little pent up from spending so much time not killing people or summoning demons. The next morning, he confronts the group of roughnecks and smacks the shit out of them with magic.
This is just before meeting with Irving, who gives Parrish the evil book, unleashing another, non-Muloch plan to cleanse the whole world of whatever it is Parrish doesn’t like. So, Irving and Parrish are working together, and Katrina is more and more tempted by the dark side. This is good; a little betrayal from Katrina would really liven the show up. The writers seem to realize that the second season’s brief additions to the cast were mistakes that bogged things down. The fact that this episode focused on core characters, and even gave us a bit of some background into Katrina with the Solomon Kent story. That’s the interesting way to develop characters and secluded plots, not a bunch of meaningless dialogue with pointlessly convoluted investigations.
There are only a few episodes left in this season, and no word from Fox on a renewal or cancellation, so hopefully the writers can save this season from its persistent inconsistencies. Seriously, Katrina needs to turn to the dark side. As of now, all her lameness is good at is highlighting the fact that Abbie is such a warrior.