It's been a big year for Fox's Sleepy Hollow, which wraps up its freshman season with a two-hour finale tonight. Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles last week, Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly jumped right into the show's impressive stats: "[It's] one of the top three dramas of the season. It's averaging more than 19 million viewers on all platforms across the week. It was up 169 percent on Monday from our previous programming there. It's made many of your Top 10 lists for the year. I love it."
Given all that success, it's no surprise that Sleepy Hollow was the first of the fall's new broadcast dramas to be renewed for a second season — even if many fans are lamenting its svelte, 13-episode model, which has allowed the producers to maintain momentum and quality, but left viewers wanting more.
For showrunner Mark Goffman, Sleepy Hollow's instant popularity is a "tricky" balancing act built upon a talented cast and an "emotional truth" that helps ground the story, despite its fantastical elements. The lightning-in-a-bottle, odd-couple chemistry between Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) certainly doesn't hurt — nor does the talented and diverse ensemble surrounding them.
"We're thrilled that people have embraced it so quickly," said Goffman during a recent interview with The Week. "We really try to take a lot of big swings and chances."
"We, in the writers' room, are constantly [asking], 'Does this surprise us?'" he added. "If it doesn't then it doesn't work. If I'm not surprised when I'm writing a scene after we've been outlining it, I'm going to throw it out and work on it until I feel like we've got something that's really spectacular and gone to a new level."
With the season finale looming, we grilled Goffman on what fans can expect:
1. Look forward to more John Noble
The beloved Fringe alum has swiftly become an integral part of Sleepy's mythology, and fans can expect to see plenty more from his reclusive character, Sin Eater Henry Parrish. "He is part of the plan to bring in for next season. We hope that he will play a big part in the show," Goffman said. "He's a little bit soft-spoken when you're talking to him off-camera, and then he walks away and takes on this incredible character that he's helped create that just blows me away."
2. There are consequences ahead for Captain Irving
In the last episode of Sleepy Hollow, Captain Irving (Orlando Jones) was forced to confront a demon who had taken possession of his daughter, Macey (Amandla Stenberg) — with deadly results. "There are significant ramifications for Irving that we'll get to see playing out over the course of the finale," said Goffman. "I think there's a lot that he has to deal with and a lot of explaining that he's going to do in the next episode, which is going to be very difficult. There's a couple of dead bodies, including a priest and police officer, not to mention the emotional fallout in his family."
3. You don't know Andy Brooks
John Cho's character sold his soul to the big bad Moloch, which means he has a major part to play in the season's final two hours. "This role is great because it's a character who has a long-standing relationship and deep affinity for Abbie, and yet he's also sold his soul to the dark side, so he's a very tormented character," said Goffman. "We take everything to the extreme in the finale."
4. The sisters are doing it for themselves
The Dec. 13 episode finally saw Abbie and her estranged sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) reach some common ground, after Abbie discovered that Jenny had been keeping her distance to protect her sibling. Expect their bond to deepen, but don't rule out a little more conflict between them. "These are two characters that have had a very trying relationship over the last 13 years, ever since they saw this demon in the woods," said Goffman. "This season has been a lot about reconciliation between the two, but they still have a long way to go."
5. Beware of self-fulfilling prophecies
Moloch recently gave Ichabod a dire prediction: That our dashing time-traveler would deliver Abbie's soul to the demon. That troubling piece of news could easily sow seeds of mistrust between the two Witnesses — which could all be part of Moloch's evil scheme. "Prophecies are tricky because they can become self-fulfilling if you think about them too much," Goffman said. "So, just putting a thought out there — especially if it's been prophesized in the Bible or by important forces — you take it seriously."
6. You haven't heard the last of Jeremy
We previously learned that Ichabod and wife Katrina (Katia Winter) had a son, Jeremy, whose heart was stopped by Katrina's coven after his powers grew too strong to control. It seemed like a tragic ending for the child Ichabod never met, but his story isn't quite over yet, according to Goffman: "We will definitely hear more about Crane's son and that storyline in the finale. I think there's a lot more story to tell there."
7. Katrina has a big part to play
We haven't seen the full extent of Katrina's power, since she's been trapped in Purgatory all season. But Ichabod's wife still has plenty to offer. "What I like about Katrina was that she, in a lot of ways, is a very modern woman and very independent thinker and did something that, for her time, was unheard of: Turn down an arranged marriage and go off on her own and declare love for someone that she actually loved," said Goffman. "Now, we also find out that she was a witch and that there were other powers. She was certainly involved in this secret war far more than she let on at the time and she had a great role to play. I think to find out that a woman played such a significant role in our Revolution is exciting. In the finale we're going to see more of that, and certainly in season two and the future."
8. Truth will be stranger than fiction
One of the many pleasures to be found in Sleepy Hollow is its unique take on familiar American history, and the producers have a doozy in store for the finale — one that concerns a familiar fellow by the name of George Washington. "Wait until you see what happens with him," said Goffman. "Part one is based on an absolutely true story about our founding father's death that we did not make up. But we certainly tell our version of what happened afterwards."
9. Just keep 'shipping
As with most shows that feature a male and female duo at their center, many fans are already invested in the idea that Ichabod and Abbie's partnership might progress from platonic to romantic, despite Ichabod's marriage to Katrina. Goffman didn't seem bothered by that interpretation, remaining non-committal on the idea but emphasizing the importance of Ichabod's marriage. "Ichabod is madly in love with his wife and he's an 18th-century man and we honor the value system that he has," Goffman said. "That's part of the fun of getting to play out that relationship — him then learning about today's society and us getting to do social commentary on his point of view."
10. Expect the unexpected
While Goffman confirmed that the season will end on a suspenseful note, he also hinted at a few surprises in store. "I can say minds will be blown in the finale. There are some twists that we set up very early in the show [and] we've worked very hard to conceal. Everyone is pushed to the limits in this finale and everyone is left on a cliffhanger. Everyone is really left on the edge. I think we've worked all season to get them to the point where they are now — so it feels very organic, but surprising at the same time."
Laura Prudom is a freelance entertainment reporter, formerly of The Huffington Post, whose work has appeared on TV Fanatic, Moviefone, Vulture, and in the pages of Signature LA Direct magazine. A devourer of all things geek, she'll happily bore you with talk of Star Wars, Batman, and the underrated masterpiece that is Flash Gordon.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- Vox, derp, and the intellectual stagnation of the left
- 10 things you need to know today: December 20, 2014
- 15 harsh things critics said about The Nutcracker after its 1892 premiere
Subscribe to the Week