This episode was a step down from the previous ones, but it did give us Ichabod talking about which Founding Father liked dirty limericks. Even in a meh episode there will be a ridiculous silver lining.
The eponymous John Doe is a little pilgrim-looking befreckled kid who starts the episode wandering through the forest. He meets a little girl and starts playing tag with her, but she soon disappears and is replaced by a (non-headless) horseman. He chases the ginger moppet through the forest until they come to… a normal, modern-day road. This is some The Village stuff right here. When the horseman reaches it he’s unable to continue and vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Ichabod and Abbie get to the Sheriff’s old cabin, where Ichabod will be living from now on. Our friendly neighborhood time traveler gets confused by loofahs and plastic and asks Abbie whether she thinks he looks out of place in this century. Her response is that he looks good for 200 (and how) but that he could use a change of clothes. OK. The fact that Ichabod’s been wearing the same clothes since he came back to life has been addressed. I am placated.
Abbie gets a call about a little boy being found unconscious on the side of the road, and Ichabod insists on going with her even though it looks like there’s nothing supernatural-ish about it. Of course, there is something supernatural about it—when they get to the kid they see he’s been infected with some weird disease that makes his veins go black, plus he’s dressed in clothes that fell out of fashion a few centuries ago. Oh, and when he wakes up and says something he’s speaking Middle English, which hasn’t been spoken for centuries. But I’m imagining Ichabod going with Abbie on all her calls, including the ones that truly are non-Apocalypse-related. “What do you mean these young men aren’t of ‘legal age’ to procure alcohol? They are adults, are they not? Tyranny!”
Back at the station Abbie looks through the register of missing kids while Ichabod plays with Scotch tape and explains that yes, he does know what “John Doe” means, that term predates him, thank you very much. Ichabod explains to Abbie and Irving that the kid said “evil girl,” and he knows that because he studied Middle English at Oxford. Of course he did. Ichabod Crane has a photographic memory and speaks Middle English. Embrace the cheese. Love it. Bring it in your life and make nachos with it. Eat the cheese. Invite it in your very soul.
On his way out of the room Luke asks Irving what the heck Ichabod’s doing hanging around, but Irving shuts that line of inquiry down right quick, asking whether his romantical history with Abbie will cause a problem and saying that Ichabod has knowledge of the beheadings. Later on Luke calls Oxford University to ask whether there is indeed a Professor Ichabod Crane there. He’s told by the lady on the other end of the phone—…Abbie doing a decidedly-better-than-a-few-episodes-ago British accent?—that Prof. Crane is completely legit.
Luke seems like he’s one of those characters you’re not supposed to like—none of the other characters do, and while Ichabod, Abbie, and Irving and BAMFing around dealing the supernatural Luke’s just butting his nose in—but he’s really started to grow on me. He has no way of knowing about the supernatural, but there’s clearly something not right with Ichabod. I don’t think he’s suspicious just because he used to date Abbie, even if things started that way. And sure, Irving told him to back off, but Luke’s a detective for Chrissakes. He has a hunch about Ichabod, so he’s going to do actual detective things and look into it.
In the hospital the kid has been put into quarantine, and Ichabod, being the only person who speaks his language, has to interrogate him via webcam. Cue hilarity with him getting right up into the camera. He also expresses disgust about the plastic sheeting used as part of quarantine procedures. Plastic, he says. How did we survive without it? Uh, I’m pretty sure with high morality rates due to illness, you adorable, sales-tax-and-plastic-hating man.
Ichabod finds out the kid’s name (Thomas Grey), that he wasn’t supposed to leave home, and that he’s from Roanoke. Oh, and then it turns out the EMT who treated Thomas is sick, too, so they might have an epidemic on their hands. Irving and Parsons the CDC guy—who, by the way, is played by Charles Malik Whitfield, aka Henriksen from Supernatural—go off to deal with it while Ichabod and Abbie chat about Roanoke. Ichabod explains to Abbie that it’s the site of the “lost colony,” a British settlement from back in the 1500s that completely disappeared, and no one knows what happened to it to this day. Ichabod proposes that Thomas is actually from the lost colony, the entirety of which may have relocated to Sleepy Hollow because of nice weather and good school districts.
Legitimate question time: American readers, do you know about the lost colony? When Abbie didn’t I was a little ???, because everyone knows about it, right? But then I realized, hey, Rebecca, you’re from North Carolina and Roanoke was in all the state history textbooks. So ease my unsettled mind and tell me whether or not this is something all li’l American history students get told about at some point.
Abbie and Ichabod go off to investigate the woods where Thomas was found. It turns out that Ichabod’s an excellent tracker, but the real wonderful, creamy center at the heart of this scene is the conversation they have about sarcasm. Abbie asks Ichabod who was more sarcastic, Adams or Jefferson, and Ichabod thinks she’s being sarcastic even though, dude, it’s a completely legitimate question, who wouldn’t want to know that? Ichabod goes all coy and refuses to say (not that he needs to, because Hamilton was clearly more sarcastic than Adams and Jefferson combined, c’mon), but he does offer than Jefferson loved puns and Adams loved dirty limericks.
Punster Jefferson is a thing in this show.
Parsons—who is involved in the whole apocalypse conspiracy somehow, I’m calling it, and it’s not just because I’m projecting that I wish he’d been in Supernatural more, no sirree—tells Irving that the disease is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, and unless they figure out what it is there’ll be no way to innoculate against it.
Ichabod and Abbie, meanwhile, have found the island that’s actually the lost colony of Roanoke. Um. OK. Ichabod figures out that there’s a secret passageway through the water to get there, and him appearing to literally walk on water is a nice sight gag. In the colony everyone’s infected but they don’t seem to be sick; the elder explains that the spirit of Virginia Dare, a little girl who died there, guided the colonists to Sleepy Hollow to protect them from the plague left by (dun dun DUNNNNN) the Horseman of Pestilence. As long as they stay in the colony they’re fine. When Thomas left not only did he doom himself, but he also brought the plague to the rest of the world, which means Pestilence will also break through if it’s allowed to spread. The only way to prevent that from happening is for Thomas to be brought back to the colony.
When they get back to the hospital they discover that Ichabod’s been infected, and against his and Abbie’s wishes he’s sedated and quarantined, leaving Abbie to figure out how to cure him and Thomas by herself. She and Ichabod earlier theorized that there’s some sort of cure inside the colony, but they don’t know what it is. She asks Irving to let her take Thomas and Ichabod out to the colony, but his response is, um, no, that’s stupid. They have the plague. Abbie ducks into a room to avoid Irving and Luke, and when she turns around she realizes that she’s actually in the hospital’s chapel. So she decides, screw it, she’ll pray for a sign as to what she should do. She doesn’t appear to get one, but when she gets up to leave some old lady with really convenient (or supernatural, tweedle-deedle-tweedle-deedle…) timing comes in and dips her fingers in the holy water. That twigs Abbie to the idea that maybe it’s the spring in the colony that can cure Thomas and Ichabod, so she goes to tell Irving she needs to get them there.
Curiously, he agrees this time, even though he doesn’t seem to have a reason to. Not a reason that we know of, anyway. Hmmm. Not sure if foreshadowing that Irving knows more than we think or does or bad writing. I kind of want it to be the latter, as I’d like Irving to stay a completely normal police captain who doesn’t give a crap about witches or horsemen or demons or whatever but still manages to safe the town multiple times over with the sheer power of badassness. Anywhoodle, Abbie gets Ichabod and Thomas, both of whom are at those point barely conscious, and helps them through the forest to the colony.
All this time Ichabod’s been away in la-la land—or, well, Purgatory—with his dead wife Katrina, who’s none too happy to see him because he can only come to Purgatory A) if she summoned him, which she didn’t, or B) if he’s about to die. She gets in her requisite cryptic dialogue, saying that a bunch of souls are in purgatory and Moloch decides what happens to them, blah de blah blah. Ichabod asks why she’s been trapped, and she clearly knows and is keeping some big secret and is about to tell before he gets pulled back to consciousness.
I’m not sure what to think about Katrina, to be honest. She’s in the opening credits, but she’s hardly been in the show except to be Ichabod’s cryptic spirit guide every few episodes. She’s one of the main character’s spouses, so she’s a pretty important person! And she’s a super-powerful badass witch! I want to see her do more stuff! Granted, she’s trapped in purgatory, so I don’t know what she could do, but we’re almost halfway through the season and this major character has had hardly any love from the writers yet. Give me something, show.
Over in Roanoke Ichabod and Thomas get baptized in the magical spring water just in time, causing the Horseman of Pestilence, who was chasing them, to go poof once again. Back in the hospital everyone who was sick, which is a lot of people by this point, get better, which is handy. The entire colony of Roanoke disappeared because, as Ichabod says, they were never there to begin with—Thomas only became real when he passed into our world. It’s kind of a blah end-of-episode revelation, to be honest. Yeah, the lost colonists were spirits. I kind of figured. It doesn’t really matter anyway. Ichabod compliments Abbie for figuring out how to stop the plague with the power of faith. Abbie tells Ichabod she was worried he might stay in Roanoke, but he belongs in Sleepy Hollow. The last thing we see before the episode ends is the Headless Horseman popping up from the river on a dark and stormy night.
General thoughts on this episode:
Meh. It was OK. There were some good Ichabod-is-confused-by-modern-technology moments (him hopped up on adrenaline was chuckle-worthy), but I hope the show doesn’t start to rely on those too heavily. Abbie’s faith vs reason conflict is one that’s been handled before—and better—in other episodes, so it didn’t really add anything here. Pestilence was cool, though.