Sleepy Hollow focuses on the family this week, with Abbie becoming reacquainted with her former mentor’s son. As she attempts to reconnect with the troubled young man, Ichabod contemplates his feelings for Henry, and Irving confronts the man who paralyzed his daughter.
“And the Abyss Gazes Back” follows Ichabod and Abbie as they cross paths with a ravenous Wendigo. A cannibalistic human-turned-creature from Native American lore, Wendigos transform at the smell of blood and only revert back to their human forms once they’ve eaten human organs. And unfortunately for Abbie, the human identity of the monster is someone she knows.
Early in the episode, Abbie comes across Joe Corbin, the estranged son of her former mentor August Corbin. Honorably discharged from the marines for a mysterious incident, Joe is unhappy to be back in Sleepy Hollow. Despite Abbie’s attempts to reconnect with him, Joe rejects Abbie out of resentment for failing to save his fathers life. Joe disappears, only to be found later amongst the mutilated bodies of his friends. A little digging reveals that the incident is a repeat of his time in the military, and Abbie quickly deduces that he’s the Wendigo.
Abbie’s past with Joe is sisterly in nature, and her desire to make things right with him concerning his father is what drives her this time around. When it becomes clear that Joe was cursed by Henry in order to extort from him a special kind of poison left to him by Corbin, Abbie vows to find a cure.
Joe and Abbie’s relationship offers more insight into her past with Corbin. Corbin’s love for his son is partially what inspired Abbie to change her life, and her admission of that to Joe is heartwarming. Abbie and Jenny have been on their own for much of their lives, but it’s interesting to see how Abbie’s life achieved a level of normality with Corbin. Jenny doesn’t seem to have a lot of fond memories of Joe, potentially having never met him at all. He serves as another example of how different Abbie’s and Jenny’s interactions with Corbin were.
As Abbie tries to help Joe, Ichabod comes to reflect on his own son. When he sees how much Joe misses his father, Ichabod realizes that he truly loves his son, regardless of his sins. Whether that love will incapacitate Ichabod against Henry remains to be seen. Ichabod and Katrina could potentially manage to get through to their troubled (to put it lightly) offspring, but it seems unlikely at this point, especially when Henry synthesizes a poisonous spider with which to poison his mother. There may come a time when Ichabod will have to realize that loving someone doesn’t mean forgiving them for their actions. And while Abbie manages to bring the cursed Joe back from the brink of monstrosity just before the transformation was to become permanent, that doesn’t mean Ichabod will be able to do the same for Henry.
At Tarrytown, Irving is told by Henry that to regain ownership of his soul, Irving must take a life. He’s pointed in the direction of a fellow inmate, who happens to be the same man that paralyzed Irving’s daughter, Macey. A degenerate drunk, the man expresses an alarming lack of remorse for hurting Macey. Irving almost does the deed, but manages to rein himself in at the last moment.
Irving’s storyline has felt incredibly disconnected this entire season. His incarceration means that he’s separated from Ichabod and Abbie most of the time, and it looks like he’ll be even more far removed from the story after his murder attempt. I genuinely worry about Irving’s soul, but I hope he’ll have a real chance at recovering it sooner than later, if only to bring him back into the central story.
Overall, “And the Abyss Gazes Back” is a heartfelt episode that ties in the monster-of-the-week with Abbie’s past. After several episodes exploring the monsters of Ichabod’s past, seeing Abbie’s relationship with Corbin and his family take precedence is a welcome change of pace. And while Abbie certainly wins the day with her rescue of Joe, Ichabod’s newfound resolve to get through to Henry may or may not be as successful.
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