‘Sleepy Hollow’ Breakdown: ‘The Sin Eater’

Sleepy Hollow Sin Eater

SPOILERS AHEAD (or, um be-head?), so duck and cover, Sleepy Hollow fans!

Season One, Episode Six: “The Sin Eater”

Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Mark Goffman; Directed by: Ken Olin

With the World Series over, Sleepy Hollow can finally return to Primetime. And, it seems, the writers have a sense of humor because they start the episode with Abbie and Crane watching a baseball game (or was that merely a coincidence?). They then pull out all the stops to usher in Sweeps Month — including guest star John Noble!

Quick Breakdown

After the baseball game, Crane visits Katrina’s grave. He is shot in the neck with a dart and abducted. Elsewhere, driving home, Abbie gets a vision visit from Katrina (preceded by a spooky American Horror Story-style sequence involving chanting witches and the Horseman) who warns her of Crane’s abduction. She tells Abbie to find The Sin Eater, the only person who can severe the blood bond between Crane and the Horseman.

Abbie tells her plan to a still-skeptical Irving. He grants Jenny a 24-hour furlough from the mental institution to assist Abbie in tracking down the Sin Eater. When she worked with Corbin, they had tried to track him down, but he has been MIA recently. She tells Abbie that a Sin Eater sanctifies the sinner by eating their wickedness — this is the only way to stop the curse that ties Crane to the Horseman.

Crane wakes up to find himself at a table with a man he identifies as Rutlidge (James Frain). Rutlidge (and the men with him) are Freemasons; and Crane announces that he, too, is a Mason. Rutlidge is wary of Crane’s identity and asks him to recount how he first heard the phrase “order from chaos” to prove it.

Through Crane’s flashbacks, we see him interrogate the free slave Arthur Bernard, who is accused of treason (against the British, of course). Amidst torture, Crane first meets Katrina, a Quaker nurse who urges him to tap into his inner conscience and not harm Bernard. Both of them tell him that there is more to the world than what he sees; they talk about the ongoing war with demons. Crane scoffs.

His commanding officer Tarleton tells Crane he must kill Bernard. In the woods, Bernard begs one last time for salvation, and Crane grants it. But Tarleton, hidden elsewhere, shoots Bernard anyway. He then turns on Crane, revealing himself as a demon. As he dies, Bernard tells Crane to seek out Katrina, who will lead him to General Washington. He must tell Katrina the phrase “order from chaos” so she knows which side he is on.

Rutlidge believes his story because it matches the journal that Katrina wrote for him of Crane’s past. Katrina used to be a Mason ally until she hid Crane’s body after learning of his tie to the Horseman. Rutlidge tells him to drink the poison he has provided in order to rid the world of the demonic Horseman.

Using death row visitor logs, Abbie discovers the identity of The Sin Eater. They track down Henry Parrish (John Noble) and plead for his help. He says he is retired because his work has caused him to lose himself. He does, however, catch a glimpse of where Crane is being kept. Abbie races off to the underground tunnels of Sleepy Hollow to find Crane, arriving just before Crane imbibes the poison. She urges Crane not to kill himself, that there is another way. But he has already accepted his fate, seeing this as an opportunity to redeem himself. He drinks the poison.

Parrish busts in and has a heart to heart with Crane. Seeing the light, Crane accepts Parrish’s help. Through a blood eating ceremony, Crane summons up Bernard, who grants him forgiveness for what happened to him. Parrish finishes the ceremony, eating more blood with some bread. The bond is broken.

But the Horseman is still out there. As the episode closes, the Horseman goes to Crane’s burial site, creepily playing with the dirt.



This episode’s focus on Crane’s backstory goes a long way to establishing his past circumstances and developing him so much farther as character. We also see how the relationship between Crane and Katrina began, making her less of a random character who visits via dreams. The bond between Crane and Abbie continues to strengthen as well. This was possibly the best episode of the series so far.

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

Wardrobe Update: Crane continues to wear his 200-year old clothes. Showrunner Mark Goffman said in an Entertainment Weekly interview that these are Crane’s comfort clothes as he adjusts to a new world. But Goffman does talk of “expos[ing] him to both online shopping and fashion” in the future.

The opening credit sequence has been blessedly cut down to just a quick title and the credit for the show’s creators (just like most successful series these days).

“Next time you see that witch in a dream, tell her to be more specific.” –Jenny to Abbie

“My ears shall remain eternally open to your admonition.” –Crane to Abbie after she proves she was right, yet again.

And with all this talk of John Noble, will he really be joining the cast? How useful will a Sin Eater be on the team?

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