It’s the penultimate episode of the fall season of Sleepy Hollow, and that means one thing: some kind of real plot development! Except, not really. But that’s fine, because this week’s episode, “Mama,” is all about mama Mills. It’s not the greatest thing — there’s little revealed that we either didn’t already know, or couldn’t surmise — but if there’s one thing this show needs, it’s some quality time with Abbie and Jenny, the two most badass ladies on network television.
Hell, Ichabod has barely any screen time and most of it is spent asleep or in a near-sleep state. And what better way to get Ichabod out of the picture than to give him a cold? He does very little this week, his most memorable moments being a) struggling with the child safety lock on a bottle of pills and b) falling in love with matzo ball soup, which is an important moment in the lives of all modern Americans.
The real bummer about Ichabod’s exclusion is the inevitable inclusion of Hawley, as if this vanilla dude is any replacement for Ichabod. (Ichabod has similar feelings, clearly, as he scoffs at the mere fact that Abbie would call him for assistance.) The whole thrust of this episode is a rash of suicides taking place at Tarrytown, a case that Reyes gives to Abbie because of the way she showed her ability in handling that one Satanic cult — oh, if only Reyes knew.
Abbie heads to Tarrytown, bringing with her Jenny, who you’ll remember is a former resident of the place. (If you didn’t remember, they tell you. Repeatedly.) They’re immediately greeted by a creepy-ass patient who won’t stop staring. But it’s his handler, Nurse Lambert, who turns out to be the real creepy-ass one. But more on that later.
The Mills’ first stop is Captain Irving’s room. He’s so happy to see them! And he’s happy, too, in assuring them that no, he had nothing to do with these murders, even though his soul is not his anymore. (It’s Parrish’s.) From here, the Mills go to review surveillance footage and, after applying a nifty night-vision overlay, discover that an embodiment of their mother was in the corner of the inmate’s room when he hanged himself. Snap!
A whole lot of research and conversation follows. Some bonding between Abbie and Jenny happens. They establish that their mother loved them and was most likely only crazy because of Moloch, and not because she was just simply crazy. They watch live feeds of the patients’ rooms, which allows them to stop a man from killing himself. While saving the resident, Abbie sees her mother in the corner of the room. When she makes eye contact with her mom, it triggers something that sends her to what seems to be some kind of supernatural sub-dimension, but is actually just a dilapidated section of the hospital. She comes across the freaky-deaky Nurse Lambert, and later stumbles upon Jenny and a string of characters scrawled by their mother. This is a code that Abbie recognizes, and it leads them to their next clue: a video.
The video shows an interview with mama Mills that confirms that Moloch, in the guise of Nurse Lambert had played a vital role in mama Mills going crazy. Surprise, surprise: the surveillance cams show that Lambert’s now also trying to get Captain Irving to kill himself. She feeds him some evil red pills and he tries to drown himself in a very medieval looking tub, but, unsurprisingly, the Mills sisters and Hawley arrive just in time! They leave to do some Google sleuthing and discover that Lambert killed 21 psychiatric patients, claiming they were “mercy” kills.
The Mills sisters track down their mother’s old room, where they uncover a mural she had drawn while institutionalized. She’d drawn the two of them along with the notes to “You Are My Sunshine,” which was playing in the car when she’d tried to kill Jenny with carbon monoxide poisoning. Touching!
After a brief session of reminiscence, Abbie is taken by the nurse and trapped in a wheelchair while Hawley and Jenny search through Tarrytown’s archives. There, they find the journal of Grace Dixon, the Mills’ ancestor who midwifed Katrina’s birth of Parrish. In the journal they also find an invocation meant to dispel witch doctors who have risen from the dead, which is an oddly specific invocation. (Hey, another invocation! Nearly every episode has been resolved by words, and I don’t think it’s because the writers are feeling anti-violent…)
Just as Nurse Lambert is about to force Abbie to take the evil red pills, mama Mills chokes Lambert from behind, solidifying the Mills women as perhaps the baddest family on network television. Meanwhile, Jenny is reading from the book in a completely different area of the hospital, and, yeah. It works, the nurse is dead, and mama goes away along with her. Or so it seems.
After, the four of them — Mills sisters, Hawley, and Ichabod — summon Lori Mills. She does indeed return. Abbie asks why she was chosen for all of this hocus pocus she’s been cursed to live through, and her mother tells her that it was for no real reason. We see that Moloch was behind all of the crazy shit their mother ever did, which they’d thought was just motivated by her own craziness. She also reveals that there’s a weapon hidden in the pages of the diary, too.
With that kind of resolved, they leave. Oh, and when they drive away, they come upon Captain Irving, who has somehow escaped while this madness went down. Huh!
The episode closes on Katrina who, earlier in the episode, had embraced baby Moloch and came away with charred skin. We see her now, as she mixes up a potion meant to kill baby Moloch — only Moloch isn’t a baby anymore but a preteen, which is so terrifying for so, so many reasons.
So, that’s it. Very little attention paid to Ichabod, and just enough attention paid to the other supporting characters. This is about the level of weekly development we need in this show in order to make it work. It’s at its best when it’s not just reveling in upheaving mythology, but when it’s using that upheaved mythology in order to further establish the mythology of its own characters. If they could somehow manage to just do away with the character of Katrina, that’d be great, though. She has been the most consistent bummer of this season, and there have been quite a few. Hopefully some kind of resolution comes her way next week.