A Revolutionary War battle is going on in Hudson Valley, New York in the late 1700’s. Ichabod Crane is one of the soldiers. He battles a man in a leather mask with a unique tattoo on his hand, and cuts the man’s head off. But not before Crane is wounded in the process.
Crane breaks through the ground and climbs out of what appears to be a makeshift grave. He is inside a cave, and his wound is healed. The top of the cave opens up and Crane climbs out into a park. He ends up on the street, and is fascinated by it. He is almost hit by a truck and a car, with the car swerving off the road. The man gets out of the car, and Crane runs off. We see the sign welcoming us to Sleepy Hollow.
Officer Abbie Mills and Sheriff Corbin are eating in a diner, discussing Mills’ intention to apply at Quantico. He hints that she is trying to run away from something. They are called to a farmer’s house for a report of spooked horses. Abbie goes to check with the owner while Sheriff Corbin heads out to the barn to check on the horses.
The owner isn’t answering the door, and Abbie soon finds him dead near his pickup truck. At the same time, Sheriff Corbin encounters the headless horseman in the barn. The Sheriff shoots the horseman several times, but to no avail. By the time Abbie arrives at the barn, Sheriff Corbin is dead. Abbie sees the headless horseman fleeing into the night on a white horse.
While this is all going on, Ichabod Crane is still wondering the streets of Sleepy Hollow. He is stopped by officer Andy Dunn, who takes him into custody, presumably as a suspect in the murder he was responding to.
Officer Mills tells Dunn that Crane could not be the killer, based on his outfit (when in reality, it’s because he has a head). Crane recognizes the description of the killer as a man he beheaded in the war. Crane is put on a polygraph machine, and begins saying all kinds of old timey words, such as magistrate. He cannot believe a machine can determine if he is lying or not.
Crane describes reporting to General Washington during the war, as well as other things pointing to his 1700’s past. The man administering the polygraph tells him it’s the 21st century, and they won the war.
Orlando Jones, who plays the dick of a Captain at the police station, orders that Crane be sent for mental evaluation. Mills offers to transport Crane herself so she can question him on the way to the hospital. Captain Irving reluctantly agrees.
On the way to the hospital, Crane is fascinated by current day marvels such as automatic windows, and Starbucks. In the line of the night, he says to Abbie “When did it become acceptable for ladies to wear trousers?” Crane sees a priest outside of a church that he seems to remember from his past.
Abbie is not very believing of Crane’s story, but wants to see the cave that he “woke up” in. Crane takes her there, and he sees a bible that was buried with him. It is on a passage regarding the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Crane remembers a meeting he had with George Washington where the General warned Crane that this war would save every man, woman, and child on the earth. His mission was to kill a man on the Hudson Shore that would be marked with a bow on his hand.
Based on the bible passage, Crane determines that this headless horseman is one of the Four Horsemen, Death himself. Death has returned to finish what he started. While they are investigating the cave, the priest that Crane saw earlier is attacked and killed by the horseman. Before dying, the priest tells the horseman he will never tell him where it is. So at least we know the horseman is after something.
Abbie responds to the murder scene, and Crane sees the same bird for the second time that day. Crane follows it to a graveyard, where he finds his wife’s grave. It says that she was burned for witchcraft. Abbie collects Crane and finally brings him to the mental hospital, after getting yelled at by Captain Oliver.
In his cell, Abbie tells Crane about an experience she and her sister had while in high school. They were in the woods and saw four white trees, and some kind of devilish creature or presence. Everyone though they were crazy, and her sister has since spent her life going from mental hospital to mental hospital.
Abbie is looking around in Sheriff Corbin’s office, and finds a key behind a picture of herself. She eventually finds that it unlocks a safe, which contains secret case files that the Sheriff was working on. He was investigating different cults and supernatural activity, including the experience that Abbie had as a teen.
Sleepy Hollow was filled with witch activity in the past, and they broke off into two different covens – one for good, and one for evil. There are many unsolved murders and disappearances that seem to go unnoticed. Captain Irving comes in, and for at least the second time this episode, tells her to “get some rest”. One of the most overused quotes in cop show history. He also gives a weird look like he knew she was up to something. Or maybe he knew what she was up to.
Crane wakes up in his cell, and sees the bird again. Suddenly he sees his wife, who warns him of the horseman. Her body is not buried in her grave, but rather the skull of the horseman. If he gets his skull back, then all hell will break loose. She tells Crane that when he and the horseman fought, their blood bonded. So in order to keep the horseman down, she had to put a spell on Crane to protect him. Something has woken up the horseman, and thus Crane has awoken as well. She also tells him that the answers are in Washington’s bible, and that the horseman cannot be in daylight.
Abbie gets Crane from the hospital right before they are about to dope him up. She shows him a map that Sheriff Corbin had that was signed by Washington himself. Abbie calls Officer Dunn and tells him to send backup to the church. He doesn’t want to do it, but relents when she refuses to take no for an answer. As Dunn goes into his apartment, the horseman confronts him. Dunn tells the horseman that he knows where it is.
Crane and Abbie are at his wife’s grave, and Crane is breaking into the coffin. They find the skull, but the horseman has arrived at the same time. He also has some modern guns that he got from Dunn. Crane and the horseman fight, while Abbie meets up with Dunn, who has just arrived.
Dunn knocks out Abbie and tells her he will protect her. She practically bites his finger off, and handcuffs him to his car door. He tells her that the horseman cannot be killed. Backup arrives, and the horseman leaves, as the sun is coming up.
Abbie tells Captain Irving that she is no longer going to Quantico, as she feels her place is here in Sleepy Hollow. Crane tells Abbie of a bible passage that speaks of two witnesses who fight a 7-year battle against evil. They go to interrogate Officer Dunn, but he has just been killed by a demon of some sort.
For a pilot episode, this was a really good episode. It was a perfect mix of letting you know who everyone is, but still had a good story, and set forth some of the issues of the series. The preview for the rest of the season looks really good, as the Four Horsemen will be sending an army of evil against the town. Visually stunning characters that look downright creepy. Always a plus in my book. This one feels like a keeper!