Thursday's Sleepy Hollow premiere (9/8c, Fox) makes no attempt to hide that the Powers That Be want to forget last season as much as we do. The episode wastes no time before unceremoniously disposing of the Headless Horseman - whose very head-having persona Abraham played a major role in the Fox drama's anemic Season 2 ratings - thus allowing Sleepy to do a hard reset and start this year off fresh.
Picking up one year after the events of the finale, Sleepy Hollow's premiere quickly reestablishes why viewers were so addicted to the show in the first place. Rather than see Abbie Mills (Nichole Beharie) sidelined for a single moment longer, Abbie's reintroduction finds her back in her element, literally kicking butt and taking names. After not speaking to Ichabod (Tom Mison) for nine months - not by choice, might we add - Abbie has returned to being the dogged law officer with ambitions and interests outside of her fellow Witness. She's now one of the FBI's most promising recruits and seems to determine to hold on to the agency she's (re)gained after a season of being Ichabod's glorified sidekick.
But when Ichabod calls from jail, Abbie is quick to rush to her friend's side - but not so quick to jump back into demon-hunting. Though Abbie isn't as gung-ho about digging deeper into their role as Witnesses, she and Ichabod immediately fall into their old routine of witty banter, gentle mockery and constant love and support.
Upon his release from prison, Ichabod reveals that he's discovered an ancient tablet that he believes prophesies their ongoing mission in the war against good and evil. And once Abbie comes face-to-face with proof of a fear-manipulating demon, she can't help but acknowledge that evil has indeed returned to Sleepy Hollow.
And so the team regroups, albeit with a new lineup. Gone are Irving (Orlando Jones), Katrina (Katia Winter) and Hawley (Matt Barr), which means the show actually has time to dedicate to Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood), who has begun to not only build a life outside of the tribulations, but also carves out a more important role within the team. Jenny's skills at tracking down rare artifacts are finally put to good use. And more importantly, she's allowed to do her thing without it being marred by sister squabbling or her attempts to breathe life into Hawley's deadweight character.
Jenny will even be getting a partner of her own this season. As we previously reported, Joe Corbin (Zach Appelman) will return to work with Jenny on tracking down items to help Abbie and Ichabod in the second tribulation, all while investigating the truth about Joe's father August.
Though the drama's mythology will no longer be tied to Abbie and Ichabod so closely that it strangles Sleepy's creative freedom (RIP Jeremy), the new player in town Pandora (Shaynnyn Sossamon) will be intimately connected to the Witnesses. In fact, the reason Pandora travels to Sleepy Hollow is specifically to seek their assistance. What Abbie and Ichabod don't know, however, is that Pandora is also the one responsible for unleashing demons from her infamous box.
The Season 3 premiere excels at setting up an intriguing new mythology, but the most important thing it does is remind viewers how fun this show can be. Some of Sleepy's best moments are those in-between the big events, when Abbie and Ichabod can simply take turns being shocked and amused by what one another say. And so while the premiere features a badass monster-of-the-week, the best moment by far is when Abbie takes Ichabod to a kitschy colonial-themed tourist restaurant. "Eggs Benedict Arnold?" Ichabod exclaims in horror. "For shame! For shame!"
This season will also begin exploring a new side of Ichabod's personal history - his romantic life before Katrina came into the picture. Namely, with Betsy Ross (Nikki Reed). And while we'll be the first to admit that the idea of a "sexy" take on the iconic seamstress didn't have us too excited about Sleepy's "twistory" this year, the Fox drama quickly had us eating crow. That's because Betsy's sexiness doesn't come from her looks, but from the fact that she's a brave, confident and an incredibly tough war operative who will go to any lengths to complete her mission. She's also delightfully forward with Ichabod, which makes the buttoned-up scholar hilariously uncomfortable.
In addition to exploring the relationship between Ichabod and Betsy, the historical story line is filled with the clever minutia and interesting twists that added so much fun and depth to the show's first season, including the surprising "true" origin of the phrase "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
After the claustrophobic second season, it's great to see Sleepy Hollow once again return to the rich world-building of Season 1. There's a brief moment in the premiere in which Jenny and Ichabod bond over their lack of place in society, and one can only hope that was a sign of things to come. The more we get to see Abbie and Ichabod interact with other characters, the more we learn who they are, the more we learn about this world and the more we learn why we should care that this world - and everyone in it - survives the impending apocalypse. We can only hope that Sleepyheads will give the show the second chance it deserves.
Sleepy Hollow premieres Thursday at 9/8c on Fox. Watch a sneak peek of the premiere below.