Tears for the Mills Sisters’ Fears: Sleepy Hollow 2×09, “Mama”

©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX

While Ichabod fights a cold, Abbie teams up with Jenny, Irving, and Hawley to investigate three sudden suicides at Tarrytown Psychiatric. The Mills sisters are forced to confront painful memories when they realize the spirit of their mother (played by Aunjanue Ellis) is involved.

**Potential triggers for discussion of suicide and mental illness. **

So this is an episode we’ve been working up to all season–the Mills Sisters united, peeling back the layers of their troubled childhood. Season two has been expanding upon the troubled childhood Abbie and Jenny had: their mother Lori had a literal struggle against demons which led to her enrollment in Tarrytown Psychiatric. Lori lost that struggle by committing suicide. Needless to say, this episode is super light on Ichabod, with only minimal Katrina presence.

Abbie and Nurse Lambert (    )
Abbie and Nurse Lambert (Cynthia Stevenson)

When Sheriff Reyes tasks her with leading the investigation into three successive suicides at Tarrytown, Abbie enlists the help of her sister. Who else knows the psychiatric ward better than someone who lived it? Jenny is disturbed by their welcome wagon: a patient staring intently at her. A kindly Nurse Lambert stops “Walt” from coming closer and guides him away, telling the sisters that Frank will be happy to see them. It’s good to see Orlando Jones actually doing stuff as Irving: his cop instincts are tingling about the suicides. One of the victims he knew from group therapy, and it just doesn’t jive that he would take his life when he was making progress. He promises to be their inside source in case anything else hinky happens.

But the girls find the hinky on their own: they catch a glimpse of their mother’s ghost on the security footage of one of the suicides. Major thumbs up for both Lyndie Greenwood and Nicole Beharie’s emotionally rousing performances this whole episode. Abbie lets her guard down with Jenny in a way she can’t with Ichabod. He doesn’t know the paranoia and fear they were raised in. Abbie feared being “next” in her family to end up in Tarrytown, and her mother’s death has affected everything she’s ever done in life. But knowing demons were behind it? She has questions for her mother, especially now that it looks like Mama Mills might be coercing current patients to follow her choice of suicide.

lori millsmills sisters portrait

Of course, that’s not the case. Mama Mills is trying to fight the actual baddie: Nurse Lambert, the spectre of an angel of mercy killer from the 1950s. This chick makes Nurse Ratched look sweet. AND SHE TRIED TO KILL IRVING SO THAT WOMAN’S GOT TO GO.

I’ll be honest, I cried by the end of this episode. When Lori Mills finally speaks to her girls for the first time, they’re in a pretty urgent situation, so Mama Mills jumps to “You’re in danger, get my old journal, there’s a hex in there to help you”. FURTHERING MY THEORY THAT THE MILLS LADIES COME FROM A SUPERNATURAL LEGACY. Abbie faces her worst fear (being a Tarrytown patient) when she’s kidnapped by creepy Nurse Lambert, while Jenny rushes to find the journal of Grace Dixon and read the West African chant to banish the spirit. For once Abbie can’t save the day, or herself: her mother holds off Lambert while Jenny reads the incantation. Family saves each other.

Katia Winter behind the scenes with baby!Moloch
Katia Winter behind the scenes with baby!Moloch

On the flip side of motherhood, we peep Katrina at Fredericks Manor who realizes baby!Moloch is using her as nourishment. Of course, when she finally gets a potion together to kill the demon spawn, he’s nowhere near the crib. Dem demon babies grow so fast.

Oh and Frank Irving escaped from Tarrytown. The end.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5. The most moving scene was the seance held to summon Lori so the girls could thank her. Finally we see Lori as a woman freed from her torment, and I completely fell to pieces when she told Jenny she watched over her during the latter’s incarceration at Tarrytown. I don’t even care that we barely had Ichabod. Hawley was an actual contributing member of the team, Katrina didn’t do anything to merit the fandom calling her a moron (though I’m sure someone will find a reason), and Beharie and Greenwood as Abbie and Jenny were all-around fantastic. I suppose I can’t bring myself to give it a full 5 because the pacing might feel slow for the first half depending on what kind of viewer you are. I’m way more into character-driven episodes than plot/action, and this is definitely one of those times. I also wanted to see more of Henry watching Katrina play Mom. He seemed affected by it – can the humanity of his soul be reached?

…No, screw it. I change my mind. 5 OUT OF 5. It doesn’t need out-of-left field plot twists or action. It wins on an emotional level.

please dont go

Mid-season finale next week. I doubt it’ll surpass the emotional gravitas of this week’s, but it looks intense.

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