Sleepy Hollow "The Vessel" Review: Sister, Sister

By Kaitlin Thomas

Jan 14, 2014

Sleepy Hollow S01E11: "The Vessel

Sleepy Hollow has always been a mixed bag of TV genres, but last night's "The Vessel" was the first episode that really felt like the series could also tackle a bit of horror. Up until now, it's been a supernatural buddy cop dramedy, but the story about demon possession—and the focus on Captain Irving's young daughter in particular—was creepy. It was surprising, but it was also very enjoyable, because I never expected it from Sleepy Hollow

Demons and demon possession isn't a new plot for supernatural series—in fact, it's kind of standard fare—but in an episode that began with Ichabod wearing skinny jeans before growing tired of his "constrictive trousers," I was blindsided by just how much the episode affected me on a non-humorous level. I've never felt the need to turn away from my TV screen before, and certainly not during Sleepy Hollow, but it was done so well that I was a tad creeped out during both Jenny's and Macy's possession scenes. Most shows don't alter the facial features of the person possessed, but I think it really helped to sell how scary possession actually is. The way the demon moved, too, was also done really well, and thinking back on it now is giving me chills.

But if Macy had been possessed by a random demon with no purpose, I don't know that the episode would have worked or if I'd be praising it right now. The description for the episode only mentioned Jenny being possessed, and before the episode aired I thought, "Well that seems like filler." And it's true, it could have been a stand-alone storyline in a mediocre episode, but this demon possession storyline has been building for a little while now, perhaps even longer than we originally realized, and that's what made it work. The writers smartly tied the Ancitef possession to both Jenny's backstory (she'd been possessed by the same demon many times over a lengthy period of time following the encounter in the woods as a teenager), and the overarching Moloch storyline. 

It wasn't exactly shocking to discover that Ancitef had possessed Jenny in the past, because I've often felt there was more to Jenny's story than the writers were letting on, but I didn't suspect that it went as deep as it was revealed in "The Vessel." Ancitef planted the desire to kill Abbie inside Jenny, so much so that she even felt it when she was no longer possessed. All those years Jenny spent locked up was often of her own volition. Whenever she felt the urge to harm her sister come on, she'd do something to get her thrown behind bars in order to protect Abbie. As soon as Jenny confessed this to Ichabod, I immediately just wanted to hug both Jenny and Abbie and make them braid each other's hair and talk about the importance of sisterhood, because I never saw this relationship becoming so important when Jenny was first introduced, and now I don't see how the series could continue without it. 

But once again, like everything else on this series, everything's coming back around to Ichabod and the bible he was buried with. Ancitef (acting on Moloch 's orders) wanted George Washington's magic bible for reasons unknown, and possessed Macy in an attempt to get to it. Which is why demons are the worst. You know, maybe if they just tried asking politely people would be more receptive to letting them borrow things. But no, everything's all snapping necks (R.I.P. Priest), and killing hunky cops and throwing them in the bushes. Damn demons. You're what's wrong with this world.

Anyway, we still don't know why Moloch really wanted or needed the bible, but we do know that it's incredibly important, especially given what we learned in the final moments of the episode. How—but more importantly why—did Washington write the date December 18, 1799 in invisible ink in the bible? Considering Washington died on December 14, what gives? Was he brought back to life? Was he possessed? Was he a zombie? Given that the possibilities are endless in regards to the story Sleepy Hollow is trying to tell, it's anyone's guess. But we're heading in to the final two episodes of the season (the finale is two hours next Monday so check your DVR listings!) and I couldn't be more excited.


- Decapitations this week: 0

- Things that confused Ichabod this week: skinny jeans (I feel that)

- I apologize for the briefness of this review, but this is an incredibly busy week, but I'll be back with a full-sized, in-depth review of next week's finale.

- Ancitef foretold of Sheriff Corbin's death at the hands of Steve, and he also said he'd be the one to kill Abbie, which brings the idea of destiny back into the spotlight. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

- Tom Mison's eyes were incredibly distracting this week (that might have just been me though)

- OF COURSE Ichabod (and Jenny) recognized the lantern needed to send Ancitef back to hell. And OF COURSE there was one just outside Sleepy Hollow. 

- OF COURSE, Ichabod knows ancient Aramaic. Of course he does.



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  • katikool Jan 21, 2014

    Ya know, it is possible that George Washington just wrote down a future date before he died and stayed dead like a normal person. But that wouldn't be Sleepy Hollow. And I did like that everyone immediately jumped to "He was resurrected/ faked his own death/ is a spooky ghost!", because OBVIOUSLY that's what would be most likely.

  • Drop-dead-gorgeous Jan 19, 2014

    I was so relieved when Ichabod put back on his usual clothing, he wouldn't be the same in skinny (ugh!) jeans. I felt with him being completely out of his comfort zone and his quote "One sign of the impending apocalypse is surely skinny jeans " was one of the best ever!

    Btw, cannot get enough of his distracting eyes, the more the merrier!!

  • CherokeeRose4 Jan 18, 2014

    As far as episodes go, though I thought this one was really was also average comparatively to what the rest of the season has been like.

    The story was definitely creepy and good work on the make-up department. And learning more about Jenny and seeing the Sheriff again was definitely a good thing.

    I like how the episode started with Crane trying on the jeans and ending with squirting himself in the eye with lemon juice.

    Next week looks like it will be amazing!

  • katelyn708 Jan 18, 2014

    I love how they see GW's date in invisible ink and immediately jump to "HE MUST NOT HAVE DIED WHEN WE THOUGHT OMG." Were people not allowed to write a future date down on paper back then? Jesus. It could mean ANYTHING, not necessarily that he wrote down what day it was at the time.

  • katikool Jan 21, 2014

    Ha that was my exact takeaway, too!

  • CherokeeRose4 Jan 18, 2014

    Exactly what I thought. Maybe he had a premonition or heard something and wanted to write the date as a warning.

  • holmez Jan 17, 2014

    Interesting comment! I noticed Ichabod's eyes, too. I kept wondering what he was thinking about. It was as if he wasn't there. I almost expected a hint that he had become possessed in the midst of demons entering and leaving bodies. His eyes bugged me. Just saying, I hope they're back to norm next week.

  • AdamCetnerowski Jan 17, 2014

    I found the salt funny for two reasons:
    1. Why did the non-possessed agent blow it away? I mean his boss had it put there and it wasn't really causing harm, so why would he risk getting in trouble for that?
    2. None of the other doors (like to the patio) had salt across them.

  • pashao Jan 16, 2014

    After the dry spell without my guy and his sidekick this episode was an awesome welcome back.

    The demon possession was great and had me going 'damn their upping their game'. I don't mind being creeped out as long as I'm not scared. I just can't do horror anymore. I loved the skinny jeans scene and it certainly addresses the question I ask every week 'why's Ichabod still in them damn skanky clothes?' lol.

  • Wolfborn8 Jan 15, 2014

    I'm almost surprised we didn't hear a "I'll swallow your soul" somewhere along the way-- great episode!

  • antmorris3511 Jan 15, 2014

    Yea it was great. Especially when the priest god his head turned. He shoulda chose the fedora.

  • yamachamama Jan 15, 2014

    Seriously, how do you explain all the dead cops in this town?

    And now the poor priest...
    Thank goodness Sleepy Hallow doesn't have reporters or a local newspaper because it's gotta be getting hard to explain away the body count.

    I imagine all the Ichabod fans are disappointed they only got a brief shot of him in those Euro boy, skinny jeans. But yeah, how do you wash 250 year old clothing?

    I love it when a show throws around some ancient Aramaic. Reminds of the days of Buffy past.

  • Gonzai Jan 15, 2014

    I was wondering how you explain all the cops, period. Because that is one darn big police department for the size of the town.

  • amelie88 Jan 15, 2014

    Yes, the were ridiculously distracting... you weren't the only one :)

    I'm still waiting for the day when Ichabod doesn't speak a language that exists or has existed in this world. He probably also speaks the gibberish of the cavemen.

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