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‘Sleepy Hollow’ Review: ‘The Sin Eater’ Comes with a Purpose

Brownie Harris/FOX

This week Sleepy Hollow returned with a playful nod to the sport that preempted it, the return of Abbie’s sister Jenny, and some pretty cool guest stars. In “The Sin Eater,” the talented John of Fringe fame played the episode’s namesake, a sin-eater name Henry Parrish.

For those not familiar with the concept, a sin-eater is someone who takes on the sins of a dying person so that he may rest in peace with a clean soul.  Typically this is done through ritual involving eating bread and/or drinking of alcohol.  If you watched the Heath Ledger horror film The Order or read enough Marvel comic books, you probably already knew that though.

While visiting Katrina’s grave, Ichabod is tranquilized and kidnapped.  This prompts Katrina to contact Abbie through a dream.  She advises that having the Headless Horseman’s blood in him has made Ichabod a target.  Abbie will need to find a sin-eater to pull the Headless Horse and Ichabod apart.

Abbie reaches out to Jenny for help and they are able to track down Parrish who has been living under the name of a former death row inmate whom he had sanctified. Noble plays the role with quiet torment.  He is uncertain of his purpose, whether he is gifted or cursed.  He seems too tired and weary to want to help at first.

Parrish is able to tell Abbie and Jenny where Ichabod is being held. He has been captured by a group of Free Masons lead by a descendent of Edward Rutledge (James Frain). The Masons actually have the same goal as Abbie and Ichabod.  They want to prevent the Apocalypse and have reasoned that Ichabod’s blood connection to the Headless Horseman needs to be severed.  Rutledge convinces Ichabod that he must take his own life but first he asks him to prove his identity by telling a story from his past.

Ichabod tells the tale of how he meet Katrina.  He was a red coat in the British army and was tasked with tormenting a freed slave accused of treason named Arthur Bernard.  Katrina is a friend of Bernard’s.  She sees mercy in Ichabod and tells him that he has the gift to bear witness.  When Ichabod is order to kill Bernard, he chooses to let him go instead.  Unfortunately, Ichabod’s general, who is really a demon, shoots Bernard as he walks away.  Ichabod blames himself for not being able to save Bernard.

SLEEPY HOLLOW: John Noble (L) guest-stars in "The Sin Eater" episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Monday, Nov. 4  (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Brownie Harris/FOX

SLEEPY HOLLOW: John Noble (L) guest-stars in “The Sin Eater” episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Monday, Nov. 4 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Brownie Harris/FOX

Parrish shows up and is able to absolve Ichabod of the guilt he feels as well as draw the Headless Horseman’s sin (blood) from him.  Though Ichabod is now free of the Headless Horseman, the episode ends with the Horseman examining the earth on Ichabod’s former resting spot.

The theme of this episode was purpose. Parrish is very trouble by his gift as a sin-eater.  He’s not sure what purpose he is supposed to fill. Being a sin-eater has caused him pain and burdened him with the darkness of others. Sin is in everyone and after many years of looking at it, he no longer sees the point in sanctifying. He comes to the realization that he can use his gift to help those who really need it and is able to rid Ichabod of his blood tie to the Headless Horseman.

While finding purpose was the main topic for this episode, there was also a look at the bond between the two witnesses. I hope Katrina isn’t the jealous type because it’s clear that Ichabod and Abbie are continuing to grow close.  Though I wouldn’t consider them a romantic pairing (not yet anyways), they are definitely now BFFs.  Jenny notes that Abbie seems to care a lot about Ichabod.  Abbie responds that Ichabod makes her feel like “for the first time she has a purpose and someone to share it with.”

Ichabod and Abbie also share a tender moment as Ichabod explains to her that he must take his life to stop the Headless Horseman.  “Abbie, this is the only way,” he tells her.  “This is the first time you ever called me Abbie,” she responds.

What do you think of Abbie and Ichabod’s budding friendship?  Are they destined to become more than friends?  Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

Jenn Bishop
Jenn Bishop was TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.

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