Sleepy Hollow Recap ‘I, Witness’: Opening Pandora’s Box

In the season 3 debut Sleepy Hollow recap, a new evil comes to town that reunites Ichabod and Abbie for the first time in nearly a year….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Just when it looked like Sleepy Hollow was about to meet the same demise as Katrina and Henry Parrish/Jeremy Crane from a season ago, FOX swooped in to save the cult series with a third season order but not without massive changes both inside and out.

The previous show runner was gone and a new one hired. Cast members were axed (Orlando Jones) and new ones were brought in as series regulars (Zach Appelman). And the general promise from the powers-that-be is that Sleepy Hollow would get back to the campy fun romp that made this a breakout series just two years ago.

So how did Sleepy Hollow do one week into the new season?

Well, the fun play on Ichabod’s out of time interactions with modern society is still in place and remains the most comedic part of the show. Ichabod and Abbie still have great chemistry together so that hasn’t changed. The moving parts suddenly shifting didn’t quite work at least through the first episode as Captain Frank Irving got only a single line mention about how he left town to protect his family while other puzzle pieces were just missing or gone.

The monster of the week seems to be the plan for Sleepy Hollow season 3, but will the show capture a wide audience with this sci-fi procedural caught somewhere between National Treasure and CSI: Sleepy Hollow? That remains to be seen.

The first episode wasn’t bad by any means but it also didn’t stand out compared to some of the strongest story telling from seasons one and two. But think of this debut as a place setter and hopefully as the season gets churning into full gear, Shannyn Sossamon will make us forget John Noble (not likely) and Joe Corbin will be a suitable replacement for Frank Irving (probably not that either) — but as long as the strongest material ends up in the hands of Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, Sleepy Hollow will always have a chance to survive — in my book anyways!

With that let’s recap the Sleepy Hollow season 3 debut titled ‘I, Witness’:

The Horseman Is No More

So one of the stories that was wrapped up in the opening scenes of the first episode this year was Abraham Van Brunt aka The Headless Horseman after he was summonded and turned into vapor by a mysterious woman in a shroud, who captures his essence and traps it inside a box. The woman is Pandora and it looks like she’s going to be the central bad guy this season after she captures the Horseman and unleashes his power of death into a creature she creates called the ‘yogwai’.

She sends the beast out on a mission to capture the next element needed in her master plan — fear.

Back in Sleepy Hollow, Abbie has moved on from her job as a leftenant in the sheriff’s office and finally realized her dream of becoming a full fledged FBI agent complete with a new mentor named Mitch, who doesn’t even make it to the end of this episode so his part really become inconsequential.

Abbie’s busy busting a drug ring when she gets an unexpected call from customs about a man in custody named Ichabod Crane, who asked to reach out to her specifically.

When Abbie arrives at the holding facility, she reveals that it’s been nine months since she last saw Crane after the events of last season that ended with both his wife and son dead and this 200-plus year old man out of time feeling awfully alone. Crane went on his own journey for the better part of the last year to try and find himself but what he actually found was the potential for a new mission.

During his travels, Crane went to his ancestral home where he discovered a crypt with his name on it and behind the plate on the wall marking his grave he found a stone tablet with engraving on it that reads ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. Ichabod believes this is a sign that there are still battles to be fought and reminds Abbie that as witnesses they are meant to face seven different tribulations to save humanity and if Moloch was one, this new brand of evil could be big bad No. 2.

Abbie isn’t sure if Ichabod is onto something or just searching for a war to fight because he’s struggling to find a purpose in the world now that Katrina and Henry are gone and he doesn’t seem to fit into this century. It seems the tablet raised a red flag with customs and that caused Ichabod to land in jail but it’s been five days already and he’s just now calling Abbie for help and she’s not happy about it.

Ichabod explains that he felt bad about being out of touch for so long, but last night he was startled when the necklace he took off Katrina — the same one given to her by Abraham that allowed her to see him — shattered as the Horseman’s spirit went cold and the stone inside the amulet turned dark and cracked. Ichabod believes this means the Horseman of Death is no more and they need to figure out what happened.

Demon Hunting 101

CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

CR: Tina Rowden/FOX


Abbie is called to the scene of a double murder at a hunting cabin on the outskirts of town. When she arrives with Ichabod in tow, they find the two men inside have been slaughtered and this certainly doesn’t look like the work of an animal attack as preliminary reports suggested.

Ichabod immediately shifts into demon hunting mode and his suspicions are confirmed when he finds a footprint outside the cabin that turns to fire when he sprinkles it with dragon’s breath — a substance used to detect demonic forces (why not).

While Ichabod is all about tracking down the demon responsible for the massacare, convinced its attached to whoever snuffed the Horseman, Abbie still has to maintain her day job and right now she’s in the middle of tackling a major drug ring in town.

Ichabod goes back to the archives to do some research to find out about the creature when he discovers that the building where they’ve set up shop to do research for the past two seasons is about to get torn down after the city sold the structure to make room for a mini-mall. Ichabod is appalled to hear the news, but his outrage has to wait because he first needs to find out about this creature.

Thanks to some fine detective work on a substance left behind by the creature at the crime scene at the hunting cabin, Ichabod and Jenny are able to track down the legend of a creature called ‘yogwai’ that feeds on fear and is known as a ‘red devil’. This reminds Ichabod of a story about the time the colonial army battled against a ‘red devil’ but he always assumed the words actually meant the British red coats.

In reality, the colonial army actually battled a red devil aka a yogwai at the battle of Bunker Hill and the American forces were able to win after a message was delivered by a spy sent from General Washington with information how to defeat the creature. The person delivering the message was none other than Betsy Ross (who was romantically entangled with Ichabod back in the day), who was actually a spy for the colonial army while being disguised as the woman who sewed the first American flag.

So Ichabod and Abbie need to find the parchment Betsy delivered that day to find out how this creature can be vanquished.

Welcome to Colonial Times

 CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

CR: Tina Rowden/FOX


It seems Betsy’s delivery pouch was part of an estate sale and now it’s being held at a restaurant in the area called ‘Colonial Times’ and this sends Ichabod into a frenzy as he nearly loses his mind when they travel to the eatery and find dishes on the menu like ‘I cannot tell a lie cherry pie’ and ‘eggs Benedict Arnold’.

Ichabod has to set his outrage aside so he can find the pouch and discover what can kill the yogwai. All they know from history is that the creature is attracted to fear and the smell of gunpowder (which makes sense because the demon was first summoned during the accidental creation of gunpowder in China). The fear the demon captures then goes back to his master (Pandora) who uses it to feed an evil plant she’s growing that gets bigger with every ounce of potion dropped over the leaves.

Meanwhile, Abbie goes for her drug bust and Ichabod realizes that this high intensity situation will have all the markings of a place the yogwai would visit. Sure enough in the middle of the takedown, Abbie’s boss is killed by the yogwai (told you he didn’t make it) before she gets off a single round to scare the beast away.

Ichabod can’t figure out why she was able to hurt the supposedly indestructible creature until he deciphers the code in Betsy Ross’ pouch — ‘don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes’ was actually the way the yogwai could be killed. It seems whenever the yogwai gets ready to absorb someone’s fear, its eyes turn ghastly white and in that moment it can be damaged. That’s how Abbie managed to wound it and now they know thanks to the latest history lesson how to kill it!

Taking the Bait

While the witnesses plot a way to draw the yogwai out again, Abbie’s drug suspect resurfaces and takes four people hostage after he’s blamed for her boss’ death earlier in the day. Abbie takes the lead to talk him down while Ichabod and Jenny lurk nearby to wait for the yogwai to arrive in a similar situation as last time.

Like clockwork the yogwai arrives looking to feed on the drug dealer’s fear, but this time the witnesses are waiting for it. A battle ensues and just when it looks like the creature is going to have Ichabod for lunch, Abbie saves the day with a bullet to the brain while the yogwai was as white as a ghost. Mission accomplished, creature defeated.

A Hero With a Home

CR: Tina Rowden/FOX

CR: Tina Rowden/FOX


Abbie helps Ichabod retrieve his stone tablet from customs and after unwrapping the centuries old stone, they discover the there’s another tablet hidden inside the main one. The second stone tablet portrays a picture with two people on it that look suspiciously like Ichabod and Abbie with the word ‘destroyers’ underneath it.

They still don’t have all the answers what this table is all about but this just adds another layer to the future investigation.

Later over a few drinks at the bar where Jenny is now working, Abbie tells Ichabod that whether this new mission came along or not, he’s always got a home in Sleepy Hollow and with real friends around, he’ll never be alone either.

The witnesses share a moment before Abbie goes to the bar for another drink when she bumps into a woman from out of town — her name is Pandora and she explains that the story about the infamous box that allegedly contained all the evils of the world was actually more like a dowry. The meeting is brief but Pandora ends the episode with a long gaze over at the tall drink of water in the corner — and his name is Ichabod Crane.

Tune into the next episode of Sleepy Hollow on Thursday night at 9pm ET on FOX.

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