Sometimes crossovers happen because they’re planned from the jump: when the Avengers get together to push back some omega-level threat, it’s because the writers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have carefully cultivated their depictions of the individual heroes to work both as a unit and in their individual adventures. And some crossovers happen just because the shows are on the same network, like last Halloween when Sleepy Hollow crossed over with Bones.
So let’s ease ourselves back into things with a quick-and-easy analysis as to why, episode quality aside (the episodes were good, climaxing in a very cool trap scene), this is weird.
For those of you who haven’t seen either show, here’s the rundown: Bones is a procedural forensic catch-the-killer show. One of the protagonists, suitably nicknamed Bones, borders on Gregory House levels of skepticism in regards to the supernatural and the afterlife. While – full disclosure – I’m not really up to date on the show myself, I’ve seen people say that Bones has even undergone Flanderizing (the term named after how Ned Flanders on The Simpsons went from a regular family-man in the early seasons, to a bible-thumping lunatic defined by his fundamentalism in later seasons) in regards to her staunch atheism. So suffice it to say it’s an important part of her characterization.
And Sleepy Hollow is a part of the ‘two people fighting the supernatural’ genre alongside Buffy and Supernatural, with the caveat that one of said protagonists is Ickabod Crane, played to perfection by Tom Mison, time-displaced from the Revolutionary War to the modern day, which means we get plenty of National Treasure-esque insights into the secret demon-fighting lives of the Founding Fathers, as well as delightfully adorkable ‘Icka-rants’ about various facets of modern American life.
The point is, in Sleepy Hollow’s canon, the supernatural undoubtedly exists. By that point in the show, Abigail and Ickabod have straight-up been to purgatory and back, and killed two horsemen of the apocalypse.
So that necessarily means that in the Bones canon, the supernatural undoubtedly exists.
Sleepy Hollow emerges from this crossover completely unscathed. They team up with the Bones crew, they solve the case as one would, and life goes on. Bones, on the other hand…
To be fair, the writing does take care to keep the scenario in each show’s respective wheelhouse. The first episode of the crossover aired on Bones and takes place largely at their lab, and deals with forensic remains, while the second episode takes place in Sleepy Hollow and deals with some Founding Fathers/masonry traps. The supernatural is not directly invoked in a way that the Bones crew can see; in fact, the murder case on the Bones side of the crossover turns out to have been committed by someone who killed out of anguish because they took some kind of mind-altering drug that lets you see the spirit world or something, and found out there’s no afterlife (boy, when I say it back like THAT)…except, them sharing a canon with Sleepy Hollow and all, there IS. It’s almost like that plot point was just to placate the people who only watch Bones and not Sleepy Hollow, even if it doesn’t make sense in the wider context. And at the end of the two episodes, the Bones team goes home none the wiser about the zanier doings in Sleepy Hollow. The boat, in other words, remains unrocked.
But does it? Think about what this does for the Bones canon: now, whenever that character rants about how the supernatural doesn’t exist on Bones, she’s actually wrong. It would be like if House took place in the Supernatural universe: Greg House would be wrong in his every rant about the afterlife’s non-existence. I’m not talking about whatever beliefs you, reader, may hold, but rather the canonical facts of the Hollow Bones universe.
It does change the context, at least for me, because, when a show (like House) deals with matters of the afterlife or lack thereof, you can accept it both as pertaining to that particular fictional universe, as well as reconciling the things presented on the show with whatever afterlife-beliefs you may hold in real life. On House, they even have that one super-depressing episode (you know, the one with the power outlet and the wheelchair guy’s dog and your tears) where it seems to indicate that the House universe actually has no afterlife. But now that Hollow Bones has established that Bones and Sleepy Hollow share a canon, her words are no longer theoretical. They’re just, um, wrong. She becomes the skeptic in a Paranormal Activity movie.
Or, in simpler terms, since I already invoked The Simpsons once today…it changes the entire series of Bones such that whenever you see Bones ranting about the supernatural, you’re going to be hard-pressed not to imagine Nelson Muntz standing behind her going, “Haw haw!”
Bones has been a fairly long-running show, but if you’ve never watched Sleepy Hollow and the description I gave sounds appealing, check it out! No, really, as cheesy as I might sound right now, this is a call to action: the show’s dipped in the ratings of late and I don’t want it to be cancelled.