Diablog: Sleepy Hollow, S2 E17

Welcome back to the past.
Welcome back to the past.

Rasha: DUDE, THEY WENT FULL OCTAVIA BUTLER KINDRED.

Gemma: Nearly full. I have to say I appreciated their acknowledgment of their own limits. As I was figuring out the time shift, I was like “sh*t, are they gonna go there? are they actually gonna go there?” and then up come the white dudes and I was like “wow, they’re actually going there” and then the actual dialogue and arrest happened and I was like ” … okay. they are not going allllll the way there. They know what they are actually equipped to handle.” It’s sort of like Kindred and A Wrinkle in Time are reproducing, maybe. They are going to acknowledge fraught and horrible racial history, but also there’s the paradoxes of supernatural time travel.

Show me your papers is, outrageously, not just historical reference.
Show me your papers is, outrageously, not just historical reference.

R: I don’t think they had to show extreme violence visited upon Abbie’s person for us to feel the depth of her situation. To me, the way that ‘police’ interaction went, it could have been lifted straight from today, and that resonance is more horrifying, given how much we all want to believe we’ve come farther. What I want to know is: why didn’t she say she was with Grace Dixon? Ichabod is not going to know her.

G: Well, I think she assumes because she knows him so deeply, and his supernatural history of the Revolutionary War, she’ll be able to convince him that this actually happened. We don’t know who Grace Dixon’s contacts are; like as not she had very little traction outside of Supernatural Demonfighter Washington’s inner circle.

R: Wasn’t she staying with the folks at Frederick’s Manor? That seems like a plausible place to go/confess to being from.

G: I don’t know that I could come up with Frederick’s Manor under such pressure. But then again, I barely remember the name of Frederick’s Manor and all I do is watch a TV show where it gets mentioned sometimes. And I hear you about the police interaction; I wasn’t insisting on extreme violence. But I was insisting on better dialogue.

Bring me that quirky British occultist. In the absence of the ACLU and National Lawyer's Guild, he'll do.
“Bring me that quirky British occultist. In the absence of the ACLU and National Lawyer’s Guild, he’ll have to do.”

R: Abbie (and you) are probably right in aligning with a military insider/outsider, especially since he’s the co-star of the show. What more dialogue did you expect? Abbie’s end of it felt consistent with the way this show prefers to nod to her feelings rather than have Abbie speak them (unless they’re going on and on about the Witness Code of Conduct, unfortunately). Her interaction with Henry earlier in the episode has a similar tone—where he’s all “how does it feel now to be tied to a stake and know My Pain?” and Abbie’s says everything by telling him to go to Hell, him and this whole garbage conversation.

Nicole Beharie's face says all the things her lines do not. She will not even with you.
Nicole Beharie’s face says all the things her lines do not. She will not even with you.

G: I’m not sure what I expected—it was coming at the end of a long line. I thought the dialogue throughout the ep was pretty terrible, and the emotional and story content kind of awesome, so I was willing to ride it. Beharie brought the moment, as she so often does, but I guess I’m beginning to feel that it’s an Archie-Panjabi-Good-Wife problem–that Beharie is bringing the emotional journey that the writing is revealing itself to lack.

R: Oh, absolutely. Without Beharie’s performance, and Orlando Jones in particular to back her, none of it reads. Jenny needs more screen time, but has the eyebrows for the work.

Bringing it, and not just with a samurai sword and sniper rifle.
Bringing it, and not just with a samurai sword and sniper rifle.

G: I’m still making up my mind if Greenwood has the same chops as the other two. But agreed about the eyebrows.

Give these eyebrows more to do, writers. #FreeJenny
Give these eyebrows more to do, writers. #FreeJenny

G: And I guess it seemed to me that the scene shifted the focus/concept very fast to the Paradoxes of Time Travel, rather than the particular vulnerability of a Black woman at the mercy of the past. But you’re right that Beharie did bring the fear and confusion and everything else of that moment, and I am saying that I appreciated they didn’t try to dive deeper into stuff the writers/directors have a mixed record on diving into. They let Beharie’s moment stand.

R: Goddamn do I trust Nikki Beharie.

She will lead us through this twisty, faltering world of story.
She will lead us through this twisty, faltering world of story.

G: Altogether. As I figured out what was going on, I did kind of imagine you saying, “Praise Kindred!”

R: FOR REAL. I really did. I agree with you about the dialogue. At the top of the episode, I was sure this was going to be another episode where We Talk Instead of Show. And yes, they managed to both make the dialogue boring and the story compelling.

G: It was pretty event-packed soon enough, though! I did enjoy those witch-spirit outreach moments at the beginning.

Get ready, witches!
Get ready, witches!

R: I was trying to remember if any of those folks where ones who had touched some of Henry’s magick Judas coinz. OK, and THEN I wondered—

G: Ooh, I didn’t think of that. But this episode was very focused on Blood As Heritage. You had to be genetically descended from a witch.

R: —if Jenny and Abbie would be awakened during the ritual, because their ancestor Grace Dixon was a witch, right?

Why is she not a witch yet?
Why is she not a witch yet?

G: Yes indeed. But they were not close enough to the bell. It had a very limited range. Henry’s experiment with it did, I mean.

R: I mean at the end when Katrina rang it. If it got to Macey and Cynthia, it should have gotten to them. Although, I’m also very excited that Frank’s daughter and wife will be coming back as witches!

G: Yes, I am intrigued! Jenny and Abbie as witches would have been neat. That was kind of why the Blood Essentialism of the ep bothered me.

R: Well, it was very white supremacist.

G: Okay, yes. White supremacist. I did note that they were careful to have a Black witch awakened by the bell at the beginning. Somehow I was reminded of all my issues with the seventh Harry Potter book.

Mommy and I have banded together to Save Our Kind (TM), a kind of which you are not part!
Mommy and I have banded together to Save Our Kind (TM), a kind of which you are not part!

R: That white supremacist b^llsh*t reads anyway. It’s continuous with last week’s narrative of Oedipal Men’s Rights Activist loves only his Mommy. And also continuous with Katrina’s tears about being oppressed as a witch. You know, I have, in previous times of my life, felt real grief and loss for the genocide of the witch trials—for all the brilliant and knowledgeable women healers who were victims of a multi-generation slaughter that cut women off from a lineage of inherited power—but looking at Katrina’s stupid face makes me forget history and be just pissed at a white woman.

This smug face.
This smug face.

G: Well, notice that she was passive with her powers for nearly two seasons, and it turns out it’s because she didn’t get to be Evil!, which is where her real power and joy lies, and the best way to express her Evil! is to fight for her imperialist baby boy. I admit I’m a little confused on the ultimate metamessaging of that, but it interests me.

R: All the blogs are lit up with articles about genetic sexual attraction between parents and children who are reunited as adults, so I’ll admit that I was reading that in it too. All I could see was white supremacism, with old men and white “feminists” allying against “progressive” hipster dudes and young black women who just want to fulfill their destiny staving off the apocalypse, OK? The metamessage is not so much confusing as confused.

G: Yeah, exactly. I did not read the metamessage as their intention in the way I read it as their intention when Henry acquired Irving’s soul. I think the inclusion of the Black witch-ancestor at the beginning was super-deliberate (although I have to say I wondered why her and all their eyes turned white when possessed by Evil!, like most people’s except Irving–his turned black), and I think everything we had would make a lot more sense and be a lot more interesting if, as you said, Abbie and Jenny were having to fight their own responses to the Witch Bell.

Explain to me how the Mills sisters are not witches again?
Explain to me how the Mills sisters are not witches again?

R: Yup. I totally wondered about the eyes. Seemed like milky eyes = witch awakening, while Irving’s eyes went black just because that’s what they had him do in the earlier visions of apocalypse and had to stick with it.

G: As I said, my trust in the writers’ comprehension of their own metanarrative is way more shaken than it was back when Henry acquired Irving’s soul.

R: Agreed. I was going to say that the connections between radical Black militantism and White patriarchal structures was more felt rather than intentional. It’s a connection that the show seems to know the end point (militant reparations) of better than it does the origin or relationship to other structural dynamics (white supremacist patriarchy). At least, that’s how I read it looking backwards. I’m sure some of the folks (writers of “Mama,” I’m looking at you) see all of that, but I don’t think most of the scripts are coming at those connections from both ends. I worry that they go for it just because militant reparations sounds cool rather than struggling with that as a strategy and complicated history.

G: I don’t know. The use of Henry as The History of Imperialism in the first half of the season felt rich and deliberate to me. But then they blew it so completely that you’re probably right.

R: I mean, of all the things I got from Henry’s metanarrative symbolism earlier this season, all-out white supremacism wasn’t one of them. He seemed too opportunistic. What does that mean for his post-shamanic death realization that he was wrong to try to serve Moloch’s vision of the apocalypse while neglecting “his kind”, i.e. witches? Ugh, enough with this. Imma get off that dead horse. I’m just going to remember how much I trust Nikki Beharie and her awesome face.

G: Fair enough. I admit to some curiosity about what it was that Irving actually vomited out. The Toxic Smoke That Was Possessing His Soul?

Out, out, out!
Out, out, out with the bad!

R: Frank finally puked his lungs out, and was much better, if a bit hungover from being possessed. So is he human now? Immortal? Will he die now that magick isn’t holding him together? I was worried we’d lose him again, but it looks like now he’ll have to face a family with newly acquired witch powers.

G: Ulgh, now I can’t get over how right you are. WHY don’t Abbie and Jenny have them? Or do they and they just don’t know it?

R: Yeah, Abbie and Jenny have to be witches, or there is no point.

Why isn't she a witch yet?
Why isn’t she a witch yet?

G: I’m also wondering how many platonic m-f friendships a straight-oriented show can hold. As in, I was feeling some hints of potential Irving/Jenny this week.

R: Oh yeah, I felt that way back in the first season.

G: I did not! Now I do!

I ain't mad about it.
I ain’t mad about it.

R: It may just be that both actors are gorgeous and have good screen chemistry.

G: Entirely plausible. But her affection for him does overcome that Gorgon head that was sitting right next to her. AWFUL DIALOGUE MOMENT: Abbie: “Are you suggesting we use the Gorgon Head?”

Best Dumb MacGuffin Ever.
Best Dumb MacGuffin Ever.

R: I thought that was AWESOME, actually. But I enjoyed Pacific Rim. But yeah, Jenny is more sympathetic. See, I told you that Abbie would throw him in the headless vault as soon as she found out!

G: I didn’t see Pacific Rim, and I think I am probably okay with that choice, but yes, you called it on Abbie.

R: I’ll send you a video about Pacific Rim, and that is all you need to know. Then Abbie one-upped me by raising it to a Turn Him to Stone With a Gorgon Head. Abbie is not really about taking prisoners.

G: That, or it’s Sleepy Hollow Cryogenics, LLC.

R: It would be great if she could unfreeze her relative. I guess now that Abbie’s in the past, Crane will have to do that. Or just hang out with Frank and Jenny and the Irving Coven. Frank Irving and the Coven would be an awesome band. Move over Nick Cave!

G: YAASSSS

R: There would be swords. and runes. And historical analysis. Which is all I really want from Sleepy Hollow.

G: Okay, is, like, EVERYBODY going to reverse eras? Is that what’s going to happen now?

Katrina is so stoked about do-overs that she totally bails on healing the wounded!
Katrina is so stoked about do-overs that she totally bails on healing the wounded!

R: Yes. I did like it that some history showed up in this episode, steering us away from Sleepy Hollow Metaphysical Victims Unit. Gorgon Head, Liberty Bell. What other show unites these themes?

G: That’s true. There’s only one place to go for this. And I’m definitely not going to go so far as to say Katia Winter is a good actor, but she does at least seem like she’s having the kind of fun that John Noble’s been having for a while.

R: Where the sweet f^ck is Headless in all this?

G: AN EXCELLENT QUESTION.

R: He’s going to be very disappointed that Katwina is Woman Out of Time—or back in time, as it were. Wait, are they going to bring some Marge Piercy Woman on the Edge of Time in here, too?

G: So where are we going? Jeremy’s going to be reborn, with the support of some SuperGraceDixonWitchMidwifery Powers? and then will spring fully grown into resurrected John Noble, and we’ll forget they did that bit with Moloch at the beginning of the season and it made no sense?  While in the meantime Abbie’s going to convince Past Ichabod that he has a few years before he wakes up two hundred years in the future, acquire SuperGraceDixonWitchery Support, and …?

R: No, it seems like John Noble won’t come back, will he? Katrina is going to have a creepy relationship with that kid.

This man has a lot of fun snacking on scenery.
This man has a lot of fun snacking on scenery.

G: Oh, we’ve lost John Noble permanently? That makes me sad.

R: IMDB says that he’ll be back on Feb 23rd, but it seems like this was his exit.

G: I’d be sorry to lose him. Especially since I still don’t understand how he didn’t die of Moloch-ness. I was about to get to the Irving part: while Present Irving and Present Jenny fight the awakening of those with Coven Blood, and Jenny fights it within herself, and they fight their rising sexual tension?

R: That’s a show I’d watch.

G: Well, hold onto your hat. Based on my past accuracy, one-third of the things I’ve mentioned above will transpire.

Woman Out of Time, care of Octavia Butler.
Woman Out of Time, care of Octavia Butler.

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