‘Sleepy Hollow’ Boss on the Jaw-Dropping Lara and Ichabod Twists

Sleepy Hollow - Seychelle Gabriel, Janina Gavankar, Tom Mison
Spoiler Alert
Tina Rowden/Fox
Seychelle Gabriel, Janina Gavankar and Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the March 17 hour of Sleepy Hollow.

There was more to Sleepy Hollow‘s mysterious Lara (Seychelle Gabriel) than it originally appeared.

Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Diana (Janina Gavankar) cautiously teamed up with the young woman, though they weren’t sure whether they should trust her. But the truth was even more twisted than they could imagine: Lara was revealed to be Diana’s daughter (and fellow Witness) Molly from the future.

The hint at Lara’s connection was laid out by the writers throughout the episode—though the balance to not tip their cards too much was a difficult one.

“We wanted to make sure it was shocking and bold in the tradition of big Sleepy Hollow twists,” executive producer Albert Kim says. “But we wanted to make sure when you looked back the clues were there and it was inevitable; that it didn’t come out of the blue at the last second.

“And if you look at it, it really is keeping, thematically, with the twists we have done,” he continues. “We did time travel at the end of Season 2. The premise of the show is based on Crane, a man out of time. We’re just going in the other direction with this season: It was the future rather than the past. That was a fun new area to explore. It was something that is part of the show’s DNA, and it was fun to play with. But it had to make sense with where we want all of our characters to end up, and how the arrival of the new character impacts our main characters.”

And finding the right actress to play this new take on Molly was its own challenge.

“She had to be someone who physically looked like a grownup Molly,” Kim acknowledges. “And yet doesn’t give it away too much and had to hold her own with all of these characters. We were really, really lucky to get Seychelle. In fact, we didn’t have to do auditions because [executive producer] Raven [Metzner] had worked with Seychelle on Falling Skies, and when we started talking about this character, he immediately thought of her and said, ‘She’s awesome; she was great on Falling Skies. She’s perfect for the part.’ We reached out to her and she was into it. It was the easiest character to fill, ironically enough. Everyone loves her. She’s awesome.”

But that wasn’t the only twist Sleepy Hollow had in store in the hour: Ichabod, in an attempt to protect Diana, was shot with a gun that infected him with War—a transition into a Horseman that his son Henry (John Noble) underwent in Season 2.

Kim shed more light on the Molly/Lara twist, Ichabod as War (plus Henry’s return), and what’s to come.

At what point in developing the season, and the Molly storyline specifically, did the writers realize you were going to bring a future version of Molly into the mix?
Albert Kim: Pretty early on. The Lara character had to function on two separate levels: in this episode, for the bulk of the episode, she functions solely as Lara before you get to the twist; and she has to be her own character and hold her own as a character even without knowing what the ultimate twist is.

We were interested in introducing another strong, independent-minded woman on this show, which we have a tradition of in the past. Lara was a way of bringing in an intriguing female character who keeps us in the dark as to which side she’s playing for. So just when you think you have her pegged, you find out she’s got another agenda—but is it one that really aligns with our heroes?

Once you get to the twist of her being Diana’s daughter, that was something that we came up with relatively early because we, to be perfectly honest, had painted ourselves into an interesting narrative corner because we shot the season and we made Molly the Witness. We knew we had to take that storyline somewhere interesting, somewhere unexpected, because having a child be the next Witness opens up a lot of cool possibilities, and we had fun exploring them over a season.

But in the end, you really need to have someone that’s going to be a fully-functioning Witness. We weren’t going to have a 10-year-old standing side by side with Crane, putting her life on the line, killing monsters and all that. That wasn’t going to work. But we also didn’t want to do some kind of narrative slight of hand and say, “Oh, guess what? Molly wasn’t really the Witness, it was someone else all along. Here’s a magic spell and transfer that Witness onto someone else.” That would’ve been cheating. So that’s how we hit upon the idea of figuring out a way to make Molly become older very quickly, you know?

And so, the good thing for us, being a show about magic and everything, is that time travel is not a new concept for the show. Molly/Lara is actually a very neat parallel to Crane’s own journey. Both Witnesses are now people out of time, so it very nicely gave us a cap, or an end point, for the whole season.

How much will we see of Molly’s future timeline?
What you’re going to see in the first [part] of 4×12 takes place entirely in the future world, and you see Molly’s story about [how] she ended up making this jump in the past. I’ve always kind of loved when shows go to those dark timelines in the future like Buffy [and] Dollhouse did …those are the types of models for when we do it.

You’ll learn the fates of our characters in the future. Crane—that old man Crane that we we’ve already seen in these visions from Dreyfuss—that’s who he is in the future. We’ll see where he is and how he got there. Just on a production level, it was really fun kind of putting Tom Mison into that old man Crane makeup. It took 4 hours to do it, but it was really cool;  he’s remarkable because he actually is Crane, but a different version of Crane. His voice is different, his mannerisms are different; he really reminded me of like a “Count of Monte Cristo” character.

Aside from attempting to stop Dreyfuss, how much of the last few episodes is the team trying to avoid the future Molly came from?
I guess it’s not too hard to figure out she’s on one of those time-travel journeys where she’s trying to change the timeline. The future of where she comes from is something we hinted at all along with these visions from Dreyfuss, and it’s not a pretty picture. She has come back to try and change that in a Marty McFly kind of way. She’s trying to alter the timeline so that it doesn’t end up like that. But in order to do that, there’s a very specific thing [to do], and it comes with a whole set of consequences, as well, in doing it. So in a lot of ways, it’s sort of a typical time traveler journey: Go back in the past, correct the timeline. However, lots of pitfalls along the way and things go wrong, as they always do.

What can you preview about Molly and Lara’s interactions in present day? Or is there some kind of timeline voodoo where if the two of them kind of interact, it could make things worse?
[Laughs.] No, there’s no timeline voodoo like that. It is something she talks about, but there’s some practical reasons she doesn’t want to interact with the young Molly right away. Of course, Diana has a huge stake in this and her—Diana’s first instinct after she hears all of this is just to immediately go and get Molly but Lara tells her that’s not a good idea. But it all comes down in the end to sort of how we sort out this whole status of the Witnesses by the end of season.

How much should Team Witness trust future Molly/Lara?
That’s actually a big question. For our team, even though they’ve become convinced she is who she said she is, there is the question of whether or not that means they could trust her. And there’s very much of a wariness from the team members who have to work with her. At the same time, from Molly/Lara’s perspective, she has spent so long denying who she is that when it comes down to it, she has to sort of learn to kind of reclaim who her identity is.

Ichabod sacrificed himself to become War. What can you preview about that arc going forward?
Dreyfuss’ plan all along was to turn Diana into the Horseman of War. He wants the Witnesses; he wanted to keep Crane, he wanted to keep Molly. He had plans for them. Diana, in his mind, was expendable, so she was going to host the Horseman of War. But because of what Crane does, it screws up his plans. Not as badly as it screws up our team’s plans, obviously.

The interesting thing—and we were thinking about this in the room—is we’ve seen the transformation into War before, in Seasons 1 and 2 with Henry. It was a process that was somewhat familiar to us. It doesn’t happen right away, because we spent a lot of time talking to Henry’s persona as he was inhabiting the armor of War. And, there was potentially a way out of that situation. That’s what the team is grappling with.

Once we knew Crane was going to become the Horseman of War, we knew we had to bring back Henry. That’s where that story goes; it’s all about like father, like son. Henry was the Horseman of War and went through that transformation; Crane is now the Horseman of War and he is going through that transformation. The only one who can help him in this regard is Henry. His introduction earlier in the season was kind of a way to basically set all of this up here. We set up the concept of Henry being still around, and now we get to take advantage of that in the last two episodes.

It’s so cool to have John Noble back. Everyone loved having him back. He has some amazing things with Tom Mison coming up. It was a neat way of bringing a lot of things full-circle.

Jenny does appear to have one foot out the door. How is she dealing with that as the world is falling apart?
Jenny’s arc for this whole season has been adjusting to these new people and these new surroundings. For a while, she was able to put aside bigger questions because there was some urgency with the new Witness and making sure they were safe and training them and all of that.

But now, personally, she’s come to that period in her life where it’s like, Crane has settled in here in D.C.; he’s not going back to Sleepy Hollow. He’s found a family with these people. Is that the life for me? It was a big difference when she was asking that question in Sleepy Hollow: Sleepy Hollow is where she’s from, it’s where she grew up, it’s where she has roots. For her, that’s a monumental hurdle; that’s something she’s never done before. She’s always been on the road since she was a teenager.

Because of that, she feels the tug [to leave]. But at the same time, she’s trying to come to grips that she cares about these people and has bonded, especially with Crane. Without knowing it, she has become a mentor to Jake and Alex, and has become their de facto team leader.

Speaking of Alex and Jake, their feelings are bubbling closer to the surface. How is that playing out over the next few hours?
That was fun. That was a fun relationship to chart over the season. You start to realize someone you’ve known for a long time, someone you’ve been close to for a long time, but haven’t really seen in a certain light, and then everything changes because of circumstances, which has happened for both of them. So we’ve been leading them down this path for a while now where Alex has realized she sees Jake in a different light and Jake, basically in 11, realizes that as well.

The circumstances of the last few episodes put them in situations where they can’t avoid what’s going on, because as it so happens on the show, the end is nigh. So it’s about time to get everything in order with your life. So they’re forced to confront these feelings. It was a fun place to go with them, and you’ll see how it all comes together.

Sleepy Hollow, Fridays, 9/8c, Fox