Sleepy Hollow 1×05 Review: John Doe
With this show it’s difficult to tell if it’s a plot-arc episode or a monster-of-the-week episode. So much of what happened tonight tied back into the plot that I’m leaning toward arc, but with many of tonight’s prominent characters looking like they will only be around for a single episode, it’s hard to say. Either way, they managed to blend in some US history, sentimental character interaction, and some good old “Ichabod struggles with technology” hilarity. Overall, I was very satisfied, though Katrina’s plot is a cause for concern after recent revelations. The writers have generally handled their female characters quite well, but I see potentially problematic tropes in her future. I’ll be interested in seeing what the writers choose to do with her character moving forward.
Starting off with the funner aspects, the bit of US history that they slipped into this episode is one of my favorite conspiracy theories out there. The mystery of the Roanoke Colony is a very real thing, though the suspicious circumstances behind their disappearance are dubious at best. Some think they integrated into local tribes, while others theorize they got lost at sea while trying to return to England. No matter what actually happened, it’s a favorite conspiracy for many theorists and tends to pop up in fiction quite a bit. It’s been used in many works books, movies, and TV shows including most recently in the CW drama Supernatural. They created their own theory here, having the people of Roanoke confining themselves on an island in order to contain the plague that Pestilence unleashed upon them.
Oh yeah, Pestilence is around now too, by the way. It is the apocalypse after all. Have to give some of the seldom-referenced horsemen some screen time now and again.
This episode also revealed that Katrina is trapped in Purgatory, further expanding on the in-show mythos that they’ve been setting up since the pilot episode. As Ichabod puts it, she’s in a sort of ‘no-man’s land’ for souls. Ichabod can only visit her there when summoned by her or when he’s close to death. Unfortunately it happens to be the latter this episode. He’s happy to see his beloved wife again, but not so happy to learn the extent of her situation or that he’s about to kick the bucket. However, Ichabod fights his way out and returns to Earth, Abbie, and the increasingly desperate situation that he needs to help contain.
My prediction is that this season will conclude with Katrina being freed from Purgatory, perhaps moving on to Heaven. This would be a satisfying resolution for a character who is basically a lost soul. Plus, it’d free Ichabod to pursue a romantic relationship with Abbie, which the fandom very clearly wants. I’m conflicted on this, however, as it verges a bit on what feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian has dubbed the “Damsel in the Refrigerator” trope. This theory combines the famous damsel in distress trope, where women are often depicted as helpless and needing of saving, and combines it with the Women in Refrigerators critique, which focuses on the habit of killing female characters to further the male character’s plot. Katrina has proven herself a strong and capable woman, but there’s no denying that she’s trapped in her current situation and needs to be saved. Since she’s already technically dead, the only saving she could possibly have is to free her soul and let it move on to a better afterlife.
So far the writers have handled their female characters well, but the projected path for Katrina is a cause for concern. I suppose only time will tell what route they’ll go, but their options are quite limited.
Author: Angel Wilson
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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