It’s been a few weeks so I don’t feel that I’m giving away much by talking about recent developments with the ever-corset-clad Katrina Crane on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. (But if you’re behind a few weeks, stop here and come back later.)
On the face of them, Katrina’s relational dilemmas were unique. By season they went something like:
How to navigate a marriage marked by passion that could not be suppressed (initially unraveling engagements and life-long friendships and later bridging the after-life) but that was forged in a certain amount of deceit? (Leaving out the whole being witch thing was sort of a biggie.)
After a 200-year interruption during which she suffered in purgatory but has now returned to our realm unaged, how to rebuild a family with her husband, himself 200 years dead, entombed, but arisen unaged, and her son Jeremy, who was buried alive as a young man only to be unearthed showing fewer than his 200 years–but only marginally so?
And then something like, how to be true to herself as the mother of one of the Four Horsemen, the wife of a Revolutionary and Apocalyptic Warrior, and a witch recently introduced to how (dum, dum, dum) Blood Magic juices her powers?
Yup. Her ahistorically purply red hair and preference for wearing corsets not even the tip of the iceberg, Katrina has seemed a rather peculiar gal.
But though the glowing ashes of her magical corpse disintegrated in a breeze, the final act of Katrina Crane’s demise told an altogether ordinary story. It was the story of spouse who when faced with disappointments and trials in their marriage, chose their child–even just the dream of what that child could one day be–over their marriage partner.
People do this with staggering frequency. And with impunity if not, in some circles, a sort of moral high ground about children being “more important” because they are the future or because they are blood or because they are always yours whereas lovers come and go.
But you chose your spouse. And your spouse only stays your spouse and your marriage only stays impregnable if you choose that spouse over and over and over. Every day. When the seat is left up. When sharp words can’t be taken back. When a job disappears. When you go to purgatory and back for them.
Even when a child seems full of possibility and a marriage seems full of reminders of how life disappoints.
You choose your spouse. That’s what that relationship is forged out of–not just love but choice, promise, covenant.
When Katrina chose a version of her estranged son and his vision of a new way of being together over the hard slog of getting things right with her husband, she fell prey to the common albeit more supernaturally imagined temptation faced by many moms: to over-invest in the dreams of their kids and their role as mothers–a temptation they’re often applauded for as “dedicated parents”–rather than keep their primary investment of loyalty, love, and family identity in their relationship as a spouse.
And so, for the last moments of her character arc, Katrina Crane was a relatable modern mother and wife, corset notwithstanding.