- "Let me guess. You think this is an ancient prophesy about our place and the war between good and evil? Shamans thousands of years ago predicted what was going to happen. And, this Babylonian artifact will hold the key to what we're supposed to do with your lives. Am I right?"
- —Abbie Mills to Ichabod Crane
"I, Witness" is the first episode of Season Three of Fox's Sleepy Hollow. It was written by Albert Kim and directed by Peter Weller. It is the thirty-second episode of the series overall, and debuted on October 1, 2015. This episode is the third season premiere.
With old enemies gone, Abbie and Crane are seemingly moving on with their lives. However, the discovery of a mysterious tablet shows that there may be a new dark prophecy surrounding our Witnesses. The two team together, with the help of an old amulet, and continue their epic takedown of the forces of evil.
Around nine months later, the Horseman rides through the forest and comes to a hooded woman, Pandora. As the Horseman prepares to kill her, Pandora gestures and sings, and the Horseman and his horse are sucked into a nearby box. It glows red and Pandora opens the box, and says that she has given what's inside the power of Death... and demands the power of fear. A demon emerges from the box and Pandora woman says that they have work to do.
In the city, a man, Johnny, runs out of a building to the street... and Abbie knocks him down . She drags him to the car where Abbie's new boss Special Agent Mitch Granger reminds Johnny that they had a deal. He asks where Lorenzo is, and Johnny says that he doesn't know what's going on. He offers to check and Abbie frees him. Once Johnny leaves, Mitch tells Abbie that she had better trust her CI and reminds her that she's not the sheriff's department anymore. Abbie gets a call and is surprised to learn where Ichabod is.
Later, Abbie goes to the ICU detention center and has Ichabod brought out. He thanks her for coming, and Abbie wonders why he was arrested for bringing restricted material into the country. Ichabod says that he's been there five days and she points out that he disappeared nine months ago, saying that he needed to clear his head. Abbie isn't happy that he didn't call her in until now, and Ichabod admits that he's been delinquent. He shows her Katrina's necklace and explains that it's spiritually linked to the soul of Abraham Van Brunt. Something happened to it the night before when he was in his cell praying. The energy was drained from the necklace, and Ichabod figures something happened to the Horseman.
Abbie agrees to get Ichabod out, but says that she needs to know what he was smuggling in. Ichabod says that it's an artifact that may hold the key to their destiny as Witnesses. Abbie explains that she's an FBI special agent now and gets him released. When Ichabod demands his possessions back, they tell him to file a request online and he makes a brief speech, saluting his cellmates... and then quickly leaves.
Two hunters are at their cabin in Westchester National Park shooting at cans. One of them asks the other Brent how his girlfriend is doing, and the first one suddenly attacks him and then storms into the cabin. Brent screams and something growls, and his friend goes in to investigate. He trips over Brent's bloody body, and the same creature attacks him as he freezes in fear.
Abbie drives Ichabod back to Sleepy Hollow, and reminds him that they're a team. Ichabod wonders if that's true, noting that they no longer have a mission or a purpose. He traveled trying to find other Cranes, and went to his family ancestral home in Scotland. There he found his own drawer in a mausoleum. Inside was an ancient tablet, and Customs arrested him when he tried to bring it back. It was 4,000 years old and had Sumerian writing, and spoke of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod believes that shamans foresaw their destiny, but Abbie insists that their mission is over. A dispatcher calls to tell Abbie about the two dead men, and requests Abbie's assistance. She says that she's on her way and tells Ichabod that she has a new mission.
At the cabin, Abbie and Ichabod go inside. The theory is that it was an animal attack, but Abbie knows there are no predators in the area. There is some kind of residue on a banister, and Abbie has a technician take a sample. Ichabod goes back outside and finds a footprint in the nearby mud. Abbie joins him and he confirms that it's not human or animal. She tests it for demonic activity using Dragon's Breath, and the water in the print heats up... and then explodes. They realize that evil has returned to Sleepy Hollow.
Abbie takes Ichabod to the Westchester FBI office … and her office. She explains that she couldn't put her life on hold after Ichabod left, so she went to Quantico to become a FBI agent as she had always planned. There's a board up about Abbie's current case, a drug trafficking ring led by Lorenzo Chang. Lorenzo is supposed to be in town the next day. Mitch, the agent in charge of the investigation, comes in and tells Abbie to meet him in his office in ten. Abbie introduces them briefly and Mitch leaves. Once he leaves, Ichabod says that there is a far greater role for them. Abbie suggests that Ichabod might have seen what he was looking for in the tablet translation, but Ichabod reminds her that the Bible foretells of seven tribulations, and they've only experienced one. She agrees that something strange was responsible for the deaths, and promises to help Ichabod get to it, but that doesn’t mean it's the Apocalypse. A technician, Dani, comes in with the forensics on the dead hunters. They show that the hunters were terrified at the moments of death. Dani, who is smitten with Ichabod, promises to get an analysis on the residue. Once Dani leaves, Ichabod says that they need to tap into less terrestrial information.
The partners go back to the archives and Abbie explains that the city sold the building to developers and it's scheduled for demolition in the morning. Ichabod is outraged that the historical site will be destroyed, just as Jenny comes in. They hug and Jenny says that Irving left without word or warning, and she has no idea where he went. Ichabod goes through the packed up boxes looking for bestiary texts referring to mythological creatures.
In a ruins in the wood, Pandora summons an image of the dead hunters in a fountain and says that she wants more fear. She then pours some of the water on the plant. At the archives, Abbie receives the lab report. It shows the residue was cinnabar, which was used as a pigment in supernatural artifacts. The hides of demons are believed to contain large amounts of it, including the Yao-Quai. The Yao-Quai are known as battlefield demons because they are drawn to conflict and can paralyze their victims with fear. They are servants, not masters, and the trio figures that someone powerful has summoned a Yao-Quai.
Ichabod locates Franklin's sketchbook. Inside of it is a report of an encounter with a red devil after the Battle of Bunker Hill. The colonials took heavy damage in part due to the Yao-Quai. Washington got a message to Colonel Prescott, who turned the tide of battle. Ichabod figures that the message contains the key to defeating the Yao-Quai. The messenger--Betsy Ross---penetrated the British front lines and deliver Washington's message to Prescott. Her role as a seamstress was a cover, and Ichabod insists that she was her partner but they did not have a relationship. Ichabod smuggles Betsy to Bunker Hill so that she can deliver the message to Prescott. She flirts with him, gives him a kiss for luck, and then leaves with the message.
Ichabod says that they have to find out what was in the message. Jenny brings it up on the computer and determines that the message and the satchel containing it were passed down and sold to an entertainment franchise company: Colonial Times. Abbie and Ichabod and to Colonial Times: a theme restaurant. Ichabod is less than happy that items from his time have been used to decorate an eatery. The partners take a look around and spot the satchel among the exhibits. Ichabod stands guard while Abbie pries open the case and gets the satchel. Out in the car, Ichabod discovers that the message is in a cipher. Abbie offers to drop him off at the archives to work on it while she goes after Trevor.
Pandora walks to the highway and a police car pulls up and asks if everything is all right. She says that she's heading for Sleepy Hollow, and when he looks back, discovers that Pandora is now dressed normally. Pandora says that she'll walk and the officer drives on. At the archives, Jenny goes through a box of her things. Among them is a bag holding a piece of black obsidian. Ichabod comes in and asks for he help interpreting Betsy's message. Jenny explains that she has been looking for work since he disappeared, and Ichabod admits that it's been difficult finding a role in the world. He then shows her the message, which says that the Yao-Quai is attracted to aggression and gunpowder. When Ichabod explains that Abbie is on a drug bust, Jenny points out that it will attract the Yao-Quai.
Abbie and Mitch take a team into Lorenzo's meeting place, and shots are exchanged. Mitch enters the building and Abbie spots the Yao-Quai on the roof. As Mitch corners Lorenzo, the Yao-Quai enters the room and paralyzes Mitch. It rips out his throat and Abbie arrives and opens fire on it. She hits it and it runs off, and Lorenzo flees while Abbie calls for medical assistance. However, Mitch dies in her arms.
Later at the archives, Abbie explains that the FBI is blaming Lorenzo for Mitch's death. She tells Ichabod and Jenny that she wounded it, and Abbie says that the Yao-Quai's eyes turned white like a shark when it attacked. Ichabod reviews the message and realizes that Prescott told his men to fire when they saw the white of the demon's eyes. Abbie warns that the eyes were only white for a few seconds, and they determine that it will take precise teamwork to kill the Yao-Quai. Abbie gets a call from the FBI that Lorenzo is holed up in a warehouse with hostages, and they want her there. She leaves with Ichabod and Jenny right behind once they get guns.
At the warehouse, the FBI agent tells Abbie that Lorenzo wants to talk to the agent who was there when Mitch was killed. Ichabod and Jenny sneak around the back and Jenny lights some gunpowder to attract the Yao-Quai. Abbie goes in and promises that she'll tell people that Lorenzo didn't kill Mitch. She says that she's seen demons, witches, and ghosts, and knows how he feels. However, it's her job to stop them because it's her mission. Lorenzo collapses, sobbing, and Abbie motions the hostages to run out. The mobster sprays the room with fire, and Abbie shoots a steam pipe.
Ichabod and Jenny spot the Yao-Quai approaching the warehouse. They light more gunpowder but the demon ignores it, and Jenny shoots it to get its attention. They run into the warehouse and Ichabod tells Jenny to take the shot. Abbie knocks Lorenzo out and handcuffs him as the FBI agents burst in. Ichabod fires off a shot and the Yao-Quai approaches him. Jenny draws a bead on it as the demon paralyzes Ichabod with fear. As it advances, Jenny shoots it but it misses. The Yao-Quai attacks her and then knocks Ichabod to the floor below. As it leaps down at him, its eyes turning white, there's a shot and the demon explodes. Ichabod looks up to see Abbie. He thanks her and Abbie welcomes him back, hugging him.
Later at the ICU center, Abbie recovers the tablet for Ichabod. She notices another piece on the edge, revealing a drawing below. The drawing shows the Witnesses. They go to the bar where Jenny works, and Ichabod finds a single word on the drawing: "destroyers." He doesn't believe that there work is complete, and Abbie concedes that the Second Tribulation may have begun. Jenny brings them free drinks. Abbie assures Ichabod that he belongs there, and he figures that he has to accept the country just like he wants it to accept him. They drink to Abbie not being alone, and Abbie goes to settle their tab. She bumps into a woman, who says that she's from out of town and just arrived. When she introduces herself, Abbie counts on the legend of Pandora's Box, and Pandora says that it was more of a dowry. As Abbie goes back to her table, Pandora says that Sleepy Hollow already feels like home.
- Sumerian cuneiform script was first deciphered in 1830s, so if Ichabod can read it, he must have learned to do so after his 'rebirth' in the 21st century.
- Abbie Mills identifies a tablet as a Babylonian artifact. Ichabod corrects Abbie Mills saying "It was Sumerian, not Babylonian." Dr. Egon Spengler used the same words to correct Winston Zeddemore in the jail scene of Ghostbusters (1984).