***Warning: Spoilers ahead.***
From the moment I learned about Sleepy Hollow last year, I knew I'd be watching once it premiered this Fall. Since I love this genre, it wasn't going to be much of a chore, but the real selling point for me was that Nicole Beharie (American Violet, Shame, 42) had been cast as the female lead.
As I'm sure we all know, black women usually don't get these kinds of roles. We just don't. If we're lucky, we might get a supporting role where our entire existence revolves around the white leads and whatever issues they're facing on a weekly basis. Don't believe me? Just hold your nose and check out The Vampire Diaries to see this play out in real time.
Now let's talk about the fabulous Lieutenant (now Sheriff) Abbie Mills, shall we? And she is fabulous. She's smart and beautiful. Brave and compassionate. She has her own agency. She has her own backstory. She's sassy, but not in that typical "sassy black woman" way we all know and hate. And she's one of the only two people in the world that can save us all. She's in the bible, y'all!
We start out with Abbie and her partner, Sheriff Corbin, having dinner in a diner. A lot of exposition is thrown our way right out of the gate. We learn that there have been all sorts of strange, unsolved killings and disappearances going on, that she's off to Quantico in a week to join the FBI, and that's there's something strange in her background that she just might be running away from but doesn't want to talk about.
After answering a police call about a possible disturbance at a stables, Corbin is separated from his dome by Headless, and Abbie finally meets Ichabod (who'd been arrested for Corbin's murder) for the first time. While some people had a problem with the whole emancipation scene, I didn't. I'm glad that the race issue was addressed rather than swept under the rug, and I thought the writers handled it well. And if I didn't love Abbie before their exchange, I sure did love her afterward.
Ichabod: If you're insinuating I endorse slavery, I'm offended.Despite the great chemistry that was apparent from the outset, Abbie wasn't here for Ichabod's bullshit.
Abbie: Wait, back up. You're offended?
Upon orders from Captain Irving (hee!), she takes Crane to a psychiatric hospital (during which we're treated to some great banter and a hilarious scene of Ichabod learning the ways of the electric car window) and shares a moment of vulnerability once there, opening up to him about what happened to her when she was younger. Seems that she and her sister saw four creepy white trees in the woods one day, heard a scary voice, passed out and woke up on the side of the road. Everyone thought they were crazy (except Sheriff Corbin we'd later learn), and her poor sister actually began to believe it. Abbie, on the other hand, chose to go the suppression route and pretend it never happened. And even though she still doesn't quite believe Ichabod's story, this is partly the reason why she doesn't think he's nearly as nuts as everyone else does.
After discovering Corbin's secret stash of really weird shit (including newspaper clippings of her otherworldly incident and a recording of all the strange goings on up and down the Eastern seaboard), she busts Crane out of they asylum and they go off on their Grand Adventure to stop the Headless Horseman (who we've by now discovered is actually Death, one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse).
Based on a dream that Ichabod had of his dead wife, Katrina (who also happens to be a witch), he knows that he has to keep Headless from becoming reacquainted with his long-lost noggin. They dig up his preserved skull from Katrina's body-less grave, but Headless rudely crashes the party and wants his property back.
Of course they refuse, and Headless is none too pleased. He goes after Abbie with a shotgun and nearly puts a round into Ichabod before Abbie saves his ass with a few well placed bullets of her own. Ichabod fights Headless, John Cho's character Officer Andy Brooks betrays Abbie and almost loses a thumb in the process when she almost bites it off, the police look like the keystone cops up against the awesome that is the Horseman, and after all that, the coming dawn is the thing that ends up saving them all.
Abbie and Ichabod share a subtext-filled moment in the street where they smile and eye each other, before we find ourselves back at the station and find out what's really going on.
Looking way more happy than he probably should after finding out that Abbie is no longer leaving for the FBI, Crane tells her that they are the two witnesses prophesized in the bible to fight evil and save the world from the Apocalypse. As he'd already explained to her earlier, their fates are entwined and now we know just how deeply.
Yup, our girl is that important to the overall mythology of the show. We've learned early on that this is a character that won't be getting pushed to the side or put on the back-burner for other (white) characters like we so often see when it comes to characters of color. Along with Ichabod, she's it, and despite some of the whining that's already started up with some fangirls, she's not going anywhere.
I don't know what I was expecting when I sat down to watch this show, but it far exceeded my expectations. It was "time-traveling", fish-out-of-water, Headless Horseman, witches, demons, Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, magic, and the heralding of the literal End of Days goodness. It was absolutely crazy.
But crazy in all the best ways possible.