Sleepy Hollow Review: Lost Colony Found

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"John Doe" was probably my favorite episode since the Sleepy Hollow pilot; not because of any fun interaction between the leads but because of the mythology behind the story that brought forth the whereabouts of another of the Four Horsemen - the lost colony of Roanoke. 

Yes, I am a history geek and if you throw in the mysterious disappearance of that colony and all of its inhabitants, it's like a historical supernatural tale - and the writers picked it up and ran with it. Well done!

Mysterious Origins

Are Chaucer's Canterbury Tales really written in Middle English? Alright, slap me. I haven't read them. The Middle English Ichabod was conversing in with young master Thomas sounded a lot like the German that the Hessians were speaking last week. In any event, Ichabod knows a lot, doesn't he?

As viewers it was pretty obvious what had happened: the Horseman of Pestilence/Conquest had lured Thomas into the modern world to spread his plague. That Thomas came from Roanoke was just icing on the cake. Heck, it's as good an argument as any others out there about what happened to the colonists. They merged with native Indians or were all murdered or all did succumb to a plague, leaving no trace.

Even though I enjoyed the hour and it was so interesting to imagine that some supernatural occurrence might have been responsible for their lost status, I did have some issues.

First, shame on Abbie for not paying attention in history class. I'd venture to guess that the topic of Roanoke piqued the interest of Jenny. As a mystery lover, it was one of the first lessons in elementary school that caught my attention and made me realize that history might have its merits.

Secondly, in the spirit of not paying attention, apparently Ichabod was glossing over his interpretation of the Middle English we had subtitled across the screen during his conversation with the townsman as they discussed what would stop the plague from spreading and heal Thomas. The answer was simple. Return Thomas to the Roanoke people and everyone else who was infected would be cured. His exact words were, "You must return him here. To save them all."

Yet Ichabod made it seem as though it was Abbie's prayer and belief in her position as one of the two witnesses and seeing what nobody else could that set that cure into motion. Ummm... not so much. Perhaps he was saying that to give her a boost of confidence in the witness department? If he had properly delivered the message in the first place, when he fell ill she wouldn't have had to pray on it in the first place.

Inspired Observations:

  • Might a change of clothes be on the way for Ichabod? Abbie admitted he looked good, but a chance of clothes couldn't hurt. Oh, fingers crossed! 
  • My favorite scene was when Abbie pointed to the imaginary 'Welcome to Roanoke' sign and Ichabod didn't like her sarcasm, and he got her back by telling her Jefferson had an obsession with puns and that Adams kept a notebook of unsavory limericks.
  • Captain Irving helped Abbie get Ichabod and Thomas out of the hospital. He has to be a good guy, but I'm not ruling out him having some inside information.
  • Katrina is lost in a purgatory, detained by Moloch, but Ichabod got sucked back to life before we learned why. Someone in the present must have some information on her, right?
  • Was Pestilence locked in the past once Roanoke was no longer visible to Abbie and Ichabod? My assumption is he can move through time more freely than that, or else we'll revisit Roanoke in the future.
  • I was under the impression that Death was MIA because his head had been confiscated. My impression was wrong since he arose from the water and is on his way back to Sleepy Hollow. What was the point of hiding his head and why did he just turn and run when they took it instead of knocking down the door to find it?

We have three long weeks until the next all-new episode of Sleepy Hollow and now I have this desire to go back to my history books to find other odd moments they can bring out to utilize to propel the story forward and bring the Horsemen out into the open. Tonight was just ingenious and a real joy for those of us who would like to imagine a happy ending for the lost colony of Roanoke.

What did you think of tonight's episode? How will you spend your time away? We'll see you back here for the Sleepy Hollow Round Table and then again on November 4 for the next new episode!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (58 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I'm not sure that Morales's motives are anything more than jealousy. I find him incredibly annoying. That will come back to bite someone in the ass. Probably him. Out of pure jealousy of Ichabod's realtionship with Abby...he'll help out the bad guys.
The call that camne from Oxford. I'm thinking that the captain is covering Ichabod's tracks.


As much as I enjoy the show overall, there are moments that they play loose with established history. The fact of the matter is that it had yet to have been 250 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed. It has in fact been 237 as of this date in 2013. Two, George Washington wasn't General before June of 1775. Also he had no love for the Mohawks, so it's unlikely that Ichabod and his brothers in arms would have been bros with them, much less had actual respect for natives. Tonight's episode, "John Doe", made a claim that the original Roanoke colonists spoke Middle English. This is unlikely. By this time in England, Early Modern English had firmly taken root. This is the relative time period of Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. Middle English was mostly phased out of society by the 1580s, when the first Roanoke colony was established. This writing team really needs to consult better, or for that matter, any decent historians, or even Google, to get their historical references better in the future.


In the same way we tend to think everyone in the world speaks English because, well, WE do...:) we don't really ever learn where our languages come from. English has borrowed from many other languages, but at core it is one of a group of languages that actually has its origins in the Germanic language family. As a historian in the mid to late 1700s, the German of the time would have been one of the languages likely studied (along with Greek, Latin) and Chaucer (late 1400s) an author to be studied. So Crane's ability to communicate with both Hessian and Roanoke isnt surprising, the English of the 1400s shared quite a bit with German.


Damn you, major league baseball! I liked seeing Katrina more. The call to Oxford was interesting. As insufferable as he is, Morales has a point. Irving is suspicious. Haha, plastic stymies Ike. Middle English is wrong and lazy.


This was a fun episode. Roanoke is one of my historical mysteries.
Yes, the Canterbury Tales were written in Middle English. (Not that this means that its impossible for a modern reader to read and understand them without special training. Anyone can read them, it just takes a little work to understand the, admittedly strange, spellings and grammatical structure.)

Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

So did the boy go to Oxford or are you suggesting he's a member of King Author's Court?

Capt. Irving

You and I have very different definitions of old. It seems if a building stays upright for more than a decade, you people declare it a national landmark. This cabin has all the modern means I need. It's certainly preferable to that motel.