The scene opens in New York in 1781 to what looks like a revolutionary war battle scene. A red coat in a mask charges and is shot by Ichabod Crane but he quickly get up and attacks again. The redcoat seems to have a weird tattoo on his arm. Ichabod cuts off his head and quickly passes out, wounded. We then hear the words, "Ichabod stay with me," as he climbs out of the ground. Ichabod has no wounds despite being injured in battle. He climbs up a rough hewn stone staircase and ends up outside. Ichabod pauses when he comes across a paved road and is almost hit by truck and a car. The owner of the car gets out and Ichabod starts running. We see a sign that says the village of Sleepy Hollow.
In a diner, Sheriff August Corbin and Abbie Mills eat while discussing an unsolved homicide. They seem to have a good report with each other. Corbin asks if Abbie finds the number of unsolved cases around there odd. Abbie asks him to stop and reminds him of how few people Quantico takes each year. Corbin points out that he's not asking if she is qualified for the job but wants to know if she is running away. Outside at the car, they get a call about horses being spooked and Abbey quips that this is why she got into police work.
Corbin and Abbie arrive at the location and split up. Abbie heads to the house and Corbin to the barn. Abbie gets no answer when she knocks and so heads to the side of the house, as Corbin enters the barn to indeed find an upset horse. Abbie heads over to a truck with the door open and she contacts Corbin to say that something is wrong because she has found a weapon on the ground. When she contacts Corbin again, it's beacuse she has found the body of the owner of the farm without his head. The headless horseman comes out of the bushes and Corbin fires several shots at him but he just keeps coming. Abbey is pushed to the ground as the headless horseman charges out of the barn on a horse. When Abbey heads into the barn she finds Corbin and gives a call out about officer down which is picked up by Andy Dunn. Andy then arrests Ichabod who is standing in the middle of the street.
Later, Abbey and Andy enter the jail and Abbey tells Andy that Ichabod is not the man they are looking for. She says that he was wearing old military clothing and had a tattoo on his hand. Icabod pipes up and asks if the man carried a broad axe and if the mark on his hand was a bow. Abbey asks who this man is and when the last time Ichabod saw him was. Ichabod answers, "when I cut off his head."
When next we see Ichabod he is being strapped in to a polygraph machine. Ichabod is incredulous of the machine's ability to discern whether or not he is lying and asks why they are holding him against his will. He is told he is being held as a suspect in the death of Corbin and that if he pasts the test that it will go a long way to proving his innocence. Ichabod says that he was a history professor and that he became a spy under the command of General George Washington. Ichabod then admits to shooting and beheading the horseman before being taken to triage. At triage he received treatment from his wife Katrina where he lost consciousness. When Ichabod asks where he is, the detective hands him a dollar bill and informs him that he is now in the future.
Because he passed the test they decide to take him for a psych evaluation. Abby asks for a chance to question Crane but is denied. Abby makes the argument that Crane might have seen something and could actually explain why Corbin's wounds were cauterized. Again she is told no and so she argues to transport him to the hospital.
When Abbey then confronts Ichabod he is surprised to find that she is a Black female lieutenant and asks if she is emancipated. Abbey makes it clear that slavery has been abolished for quite some time and tells him that she is authorized to carry a gun and shoot him. Ichabod says that he is glad to hear that slavery has been abolished. On the way out Ichabod suggests to Abbey that she believes him because there is no other explanation for both he and the headless horseman.
On the way to the hospital, Ichabod keeps playing with the window and in frustration, Abbey locks it. As they drive Ichabod is surprised by the number of Starbucks and wants to know if there is a law requiring them. He asks when it becomes acceptable for women to wear trousers. They drive by a church and Ichaod sees a priest - the same priest who was there when he was wounded in the past. Ichabod and Abbey head to the cave where he entered the present. In the muck, Ichabod finds a book and it turns out to be the same bible that the priest lay on his chest when he was injured. There is a passage from Revelations that is highlighted and it's about the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Ichabod reveals that the revolution wasn't merely a war about the freedom of the colonies and that it would determine the fate of every man, woman and child on earth. Apparently General Washington gave him a mission to kill an unknown mercenary recognizable by the mark on his hand. Abbey is quick to dismiss Ichabod but he points out that the bible was left with him for a reason and that Abbey just isn't ready to accept it. Abbey asks if she is supposed to believe that the man who killed Corbin is one of the four horsemen of he apocalypse. Ichabod points out that when he beheaded him that the man didn't die because he is death itself and he has somehow returned to Sleepy Hollow to finish what he started.
In the woods the horseman rides, as the priest heads out into the cemetery with a shovel. The priest takes off running but is quickly confronted by the horseman who charges for him. The priest uses magic to chain the horseman but the horseman breaks free and continues to charge. The priest says that he will never tell him where "it" is and that he is prepared to die. At least he was prepared - because the Horseman kills him.
Abbey then drives Ichabod to the murder scene. Ichabod is forced to stay in the car because he doesn't know how to open the door and a raven lands on the hood. Abbey quickly notices that the wound is cauterized and points out that this means that Ichabod cannot be the killer. The captain is not impressed by the fact that Abbey has yet to deliver Ichabod to the hospital. Abbey says that Ichaod is their best chance to find out what happened but the captain orders Ichabod to the hospital and threatens to have Abbey suspended. Ichabod has managed to get out of the car and says that the bird lead him there. He finds his wife grave and the tombstone says that she was burned for witchcraft. Ichabod and Abbey fight again and she says that she doesn't have the luxury of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Abbey says that she is leaving Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod argues that their fates are intertwined now.
Abbey finally delivers Ichabod to the hospital and says that getting him his own cell is the best that she could do. Abbey says that no matter what happened to Ichabod this must all be scary. Abbey confesses that back in highschool that she and her sister Jenny were walking home through the forest and that all of a sudden there were four white trees and they heard a voice but she couldn't tell if there was a person or a thing there and then they blacked out. Since then Jenny has been in and out of institutions. Abbey says that when everyone says that Ichabod is crazy that she knows what this feels like.
This next day Abbey heads to the station and when she picks up a photograph she finds a hidden key. Abbey tries several locks until she discovers a file cabinet. In it she finds a tape recording about the number of witches who were put to death and secret files. It's her old sheriff saying that he has found hundreds of unsolved cases. He even talks about Abbey's demon sighting and how it correlates to a farmer in the 1800's. Before she can finish she is interrupted and told by the chief to let them do their job. Abbey sneaks out a letter from the case files and walks out the door.
When Ichabod wakes, he finds a bird staring at him. He then sees Katrina (his wife) standing in the woods. Katrina asks for forgiveness and she says that her grave hide the true location of the horseman's skull and that it has been protected by her coven. Ichabod learns that when he wounded the horseman their bloodlines merged. Katrina says that the only way to stop the horseman to bury them both. Apparently its the horseman who has been awakened by an ancient evil who has trapped Katrina where she is. Katinra tells Ichabod quickly that if the horseman retrieves his skull that the end will begin. Katrina says that light is the horseman's weakness and that the answers he needs are in Washington's bible. Katrina tells Ichabod to wake up and when he does he is being held down by orderlies who are attempting to sedate him.
Abbey bursts in and announces that she is taking Ichabod back into custody. As they walk down the hall she tells him to hurry because she only handed the doctor a blank piece of paper. In the car, Ichabod says that he knows what the horseman is after and Abbey reveals the information she found in Corbin's case files. Abbey hands Ichaod a map of the Hudson Valley and Ichabod says that it belongs to Washington and asks how it gets into Corbin's cabin. Abbey says that she doesn't know and says that the faceless figure and he four trees are real.
The horseman climbs out of the pond as Abbey calls Andy and asks for him to call in all units because she knows what the horseman are after. Andy is resistant but Abbey begs him to trust her. When Andy gets to his apartment he finds the door open. Andy discovers that his gun safe has been burglarized and is confronted by the headless horseman holding a rifle. Andy tells the horseman that he knows where it is.
Ichabod and Abbey unearth the horseman's head just as he rides into the cemetery. The horseman shoots but missed and Ichabod and Abbey take off running. When the horseman finds Ichabod, Abbey shoots but of course that just delays him. Andy shows up and Abbey asks where backup is. He swears he called it in as she tries to get a rifle from the trunk. Andy knocks Abbey out and lays her out on the back seat saying that he told her to stay away. Andy promises to protect Abbey and she bites his finger. Abbey tells Andy to cuff himself as Ichabod calls out for him. The cops arrive and confront the horseman and are rather shocked to find that he has no head. The horseman starts shooting as the sun starts to come up, his clothes starting to sizzle. The horseman rides away and Abbey runs into the street as Ichabod yells that he is okay.
The chief tells Abby that he should through her in jail but the cops corroborated her story and that Andy confessed. Abbey reveals that she is not transferring because this is where she is supposed to be. The detective tells Abby that Ichabod is their only lead and demands that give them something they can use. When the detective walks away, Ichaod reveals that Isabelle said that he is first witness and that the document speaks of two witnesses her are brought together to defend humanity from the forces of hell. The battle is supposed to ordain the fate of the world on judgement day. Ichabod suggests that Abbey was called to finish the work her partner started. Abbey replies that Brook said a war was coming.
Andy is in his cell covered in blood when a demon appears and says that he failed. Andy begs for another chance but he is killed. Ichabod and Abbey enter the room to see a demon caught in the mirror and a voice says a verse from Revelations.
I am going to be honest and say that I didn't expect much from this season opener but it sold the hell out of me. I totally buy Ichabod's man outside of time routine though his offense regarding believing in slavery seemed a bit self serving. This of course was a set up to justify the quick relationship with Abbey and his willingness to accept her in a position of power, even if he frowns upon women wearing pants. Yes, there were some White people of that time period who were abolitionists but that didn't mean they believed in racial equality and this leap feels a touch ahistorical to me.
Sleepy Hollow breaks precedent in that it moves from a White man will save the world to a White and a Black woman. For her part, Abbey is smart and capable and is not slow about delivering a good sarcastic line. It is, however, sad that writers were reduced to exposition when dealing with Abbey's past. This would have been much better with more show and less tell and also means that the episode was more weighted in terms of giving us Ichabod's backstory. I also would have liked to see one GLBT character but again as typical of this genre, we got complete erasure.
There is also the issue of George Washington and the suggestion that Revolutionary War was about more than taxation and representation. Yes, I rolled my eyes and thought typical American exceptionalism. Of course an American is slated to save the world and of course George Washington has to be defied in some way.
There was a lot going on in this pilot. We learned that the horseman is one of the horseman from the apocalypse. There is also the issue of time travel, witches and demons. Already, Sleepy Hollow has created a very wide world. I worry that as it progresses it might get too convoluted though. I do however like that in many cases, Sleepy Hollow doesn't take itself seriously which it made it possible to laugh at Ichabod's fascination with windows. Am I the only one wondering why he wasn't freaked out by horseless carriages? His curiosity about Starbucks had me chuckling and thinking, just wait till he tries to order a coffee there.