“Sleepy Hollow” 11/17/2014 (spoilers): Mama Said There’d Be Demons Like These

Sleepy Hollow!

Remember when watching home movies was a fun family experience?

Previously on Sleepy Hollow: Our Heroes defeated a succubus; Katrina returned to the waiting arms of undead ex-fiancé Bram; Henry presided over the crib of a bouncing baby Moloch; and Crane found himself bewitched by the inexplicable forces of reality TV.

In tonight’s new episode, “Mama”, we meet Abbie and Jenny’s mom! Guest star Aunjanue Ellis (The Help, Ray) is the late Lori Mills, who committed suicide in Tarrytown Psychiatric Hospital years ago, leaving her daughters to fend for themselves in the face of a demonic conspiracy. As with every other death in town, of course we learn not all was as it seemed, and she’s not out of the game yet. Meanwhile, Ichabod Crane is down for most of the episode with a nasty cold. He spends half the time resting of his own volition, and the other half knocked out by drugged matzo ball soup, courtesy of the “privateer” Hawley, who’s happy to help even though his actions don’t earn him a single dime this week.

For those who missed out, my attempt to hash out the basic events follows after this courtesy spoiler alert for the sake of time-shifted viewers…

…the truth is, Mama Mills was drugged and driven to suicide. Her still-vague travails against the forces of evil created a nonstop fear of demons everywhere, which she tried to pass on to her daughters but mostly frightened them to tears. At one point Mom was thiiiis close to killing them with a carbon monoxide smoke bath in their closed garage, but she came to her senses at the last minute, defying the demon in her rear-view mirror and “You Are My Sunshine” playing on local ironic radio. Her escalating struggles landed her in the asylum, where her unholy attendant was a mercy-killer nurse named Gina Lambert (Cynthia Stevenson, Tim Robbins’ doomed girlfriend from Robert Altman’s The Player). The modus operandi of this sweet, sinister healthcare professional was to spot patients in pain, give them psychotropic meds, and convince them they need to end it all. Twenty-one patients were driven to their own demise before Lambert was caught and executed in 1959…decades before she met Mrs. Mills and did the same to her from beyond the grave. DUN-DUN-DUUUUN.

Fast-forward to the present: Lieutenant Abbie is sent on assignment to Tarrytown Psych with the blessing of a surprisingly acquiescent Captain Reyes when their suicide rate more than triples in a single night. Abbie, Jenny, and Hawley investigate, poke around, chat with a very cooperative and deceptive Nurse Lambert, and watch surveillance videos that reveal each victim had a guest in their rooms at the time of their passing: the ghost of Abbie’s mom! Fortunately the hospital cameras record dual visual tracks, one normal and one with a night-vision filter that can be toggled on and off during playback so you can look for intruders or ghosts or an armed Jame Gumb or whatever. Pretty awesome security system if you can afford it.

Abbie knew something was coming because she dreamed in the first scene that she encountered her hooded mom in Purgatory warning her about demons. Despite this beneficial omen, she jumps to conclusions and pins Ghost Mom as the killer. She’s a bit off — Mom’s actually been haunting the place since her passing (even when Jenny was a patient, up through season one, and you can bet that hurt for her to watch) and has been trying and failing to stop their deaths, using a spell that’s not working in her post-life state, maybe because all magic comes with a price and she died without her pocketbook.

Between medicinal naps, Crane pops in long enough to show off Washington’s original map of the Tarrytown area, which shows the hospital sitting squarely on a classic ley line, thus explaining its frequent use as a spiritual warfare epicenter. Then he makes a reference to Jane Austen’s Emma at Hawley’s expense (calling him “Mr. Woodhouse”), succumbs to the mickey in his deli goods, and sleeps the coming battles away.

While the Crane gang wanders the halls looking for clues, Mom teleports Abbie to a decrepit wing of the hospital and spoon-feeds her a clue: a window etching that reads “TPRJLM12”, the filing code for her hospital session recording that provides more panicking about demons and still more clues to the mystery, thus saving Abbie hours of watching the more unhelpful videos in the stack. Mama Mills is the rare ghost with a thing for memorizing stuff no one else would memorize or even have access to.

The detective work is interrupted briefly when Lambert’s next target is Captain Irving himself, whose participation up to this point had been to confirm that (a) the suicides seemed together and not-depressed before they went; and (b) no, he had nothing to do with them, no compulsory orders from Henry Parish or anything like that. So suddenly he’s next on the chopping block, but Our Heroes arrive in the nick of time to save him from drowning in an old institutional bath. He recovers quickly, but decides he’s had it with being cooped up like a useless hostage and escapes at the end of the episode. Maybe now Irving can go back to doing cool things.

The trail later leads to Mama Mills’ old room, where she spent seven months in solitary until Lambert gave her a push. Now it’s empty except some random trash and crumbling stone walls, one of which masks her finest creation besides her daughters themselves: a detailed, skillfully hand-drawn mural of Abbie and Jenny disturbingly captioned “You Are My Sunshine”. The drawing itself is heartwarming, but adding a callback to Our Near-Death Song kinda ruins the effect.

Mom appears behind them once more and, since they’re all lousy at finding clues for themselves, or maybe because she’s just impatient and bossy like that, she tells them about her secret journal, which contains the complete lyrics to the West African hex she kept failing to cast. Before they can come up with a better plan than “wander around till Mom shoves our noses in more clues”, Lambert materializes and spirits Abbie away. This is a murdering-ghost story, so now they have to split up: while Ghost Mom goes after Ghostnurse Killah, Hawley and Jenny go down to basement storage and find the journal among Mama’s personal effects, still in a box filed on the M shelf after all these years. It seems the Mills family was so bereaved and/or disorganized that no one ever bothered to come pick them up after her funeral, which is quite the lucky time-saver for Our Heroes, who would not have saved the day if they’d had to drive out to an elderly aunt’s house out in Jamestown to ask if they’d seen any weird notebooks in Mama’s stuff. Imagine the wacky embarrassment if it’d been sold in a garage sale to a vacationing John Constantine or just recycled as a go-green move to help save the planet instead of saving the Mills sisters tonight.

Anyway: Lambert ties Abbie down and prepares her for warped mercy-killing, but then Mom bursts in and GHOST FIGHT. Down in the basement, Hawley and Jenny find the journal, which contains a family picture she crayon’d as a kid, an ornate drawing of Fredericks Manor (now Henry Parish’s home base, but viewers may recall it was once home to Mills ancestor Grace Dixon), and that much-needed spell, which for some reason contains the name of Anansi the trickster spider goddess. It doesn’t work until Jenny reads it all the way through three times. It ends with the phrase “fri yen so”, which Google Translate tells me (I am not making this up) is Haitian for “fried kindly jump”. Seems accurate.

And it works! The day is saved…on a Pyrrhic level. Both ghosts disappear. Lambert’s dissolve is painful and screaming; Mama’s is tear-jerking. (We never find out if Lambert was working for Moloch or if her reign of evil just so happened to coincide with his rampages.) Not content to end on such a downer of a note, Our Heroes fill Mama’s old cell with candles and hold a sort of brief seance, in utter solemnity as if this can never, ever, ever happen. She drops in just long enough to tell the girls she loves them and that her journal contains a vague “weapon” they’ll find useful in a later episode. She disappears one last time, though I won’t be surprised if she reappears later this season when they run out of clues again. Someone should really buy Our Heroes a magnifying glass and some Scooby-Doo DVDs to learn how it’s done.

Meanwhile in the subplot at Fredericks Manor, Katrina’s mystical amulet — the one that lets her see van Brunt’s expression-filed soul instead of the Horseman’s gaping wound — allows Henry Parish to trick her into cuddling baby Moloch, who’s covered by an illusion that makes him look cute and cuddly and ready for diaper commercials. Later, she realizes she’s been had when her neck blackens around the area where the baby breathed. She whips up an herbal poison formula with the intent to commit heroic infanticide and foil the demon king’s plans once again. She stops short when she follows sounds into another room and finds young Moloch walking around eight or ten years older, a few feet taller, hairier and blonder and talking. She may have to go spike a milkshake instead.

To be continued!

* * * * *

If you missed any previous episodes of Sleepy Hollow, you can see what’s available online at Fox’s official site, or check out MCC’s own ongoing recaps. Visit our season-one recap checklist, or this season’s recaps linked below for handy reference. Enjoy!

9/22/2014: “This is War
9/29/2014: “The Kindred
10/6/2014: “Root of All Evil
10/13/2014 “Go Where I Send Thee…
10/20/2014: “The Weeping Lady
10/27/2014: “And the Abyss Gazes Back
11/3/2014: “Deliverance
11/10/2014: “Heartless

2 responses

What do you, The Viewers at Home, think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: