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Sleepy Hollow recap: 'Mama'

The focus shifts to Abbie and Jenny as they discover a spirit terrorizing Tarrytown Psych—one who looks an awful lot like their dead mother.

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Sleepy Hollow
Jessica Miglio/Fox

Sleepy Hollow

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, John Cho, Katia Winter
Mystery and Thriller, Crime, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, ain’t that a kick in the ancient demon crotch?

Last week, I followed up my recap with a list of six ways Sleepy Hollow could improve its second season—by figuring out what to do with Katrina, by focusing less on Henry as the Ur-Source for every dang monster, by giving us more Jenny and Irving and letting them rejoin the series’ core group of demon-fighters. You responded to the piece in droves, agreeing that the show seems to be in a bit of a rut this year—and calling, overwhelmingly, for Abbie to stop getting sidelined, for a reprieve from Crane family drama, for Sleepy to stop pushing Nick Hawley so hard and especially for it not to let the new guy get in between the Sisters Mills.

Lo and behold, the series somehow heard our cries… even though the episode that aired tonight was filmed back in September. (I know; I was there.) Clearly, the TV gods work in mysterious ways.

Abbie, Jenny, and their twisted family history take center stage in “Mama,” an episode unique in that it’s largely Crane-free. Ichabod spends most of the hour sidelined by a nasty cold, which gave Abbie and Jenny an opportunity to reconnect and team up to fight a new foe: a mysterious spirit who’s terrorizing the patients/inmates at Tarrytown Psych. There’s oodles of Irving; there’s barely any Katrina; for once, Henry isn’t revealed to be the puppet master pulling the wicked ghost’s strings. It’s unlike any installment we’ve seen this season so far, which certainly makes for a nice change. And while “Mama” doesn’t always work—the story’s a bit disjointed and disorienting, which is maybe purposeful though it’s tough to tell—it certainly represents a step in the right direction.

In terms of pure spookiness, “Mama” also succeeds. Turns out that Tarrytown Psych comprises multiple abandoned wings and long-unoccupied rooms that have remained unchanged for upward of 15 years—making it maybe not the most realistic of settings, though “realism” is of course relative in a world where one guy has made it his mission to personally befriend every figure mentioned in the musical 1776.

These spooky corridors and crumbling cells—plus the hospital’s closed-circuit TV system—are where Abbie and Jenny spend most of their time tonight, searching for clues about a rash of inexplicable suicides at Tarrytown. Someone, or something, is convincing the hospital’s residents to kill themselves—and according to a ghostly image the sisters spot in the corner of one security tape, it looks like that “someone” might just be the vengeful specter of their own mother.

A primer, for those who’ve let weeks of “save Katrina” plots erode their recollection of Abbie’s backstory: Mama Mills, a.k.a. Lori, was a descendent of Grace Dixon, a.k.a. the housemaid who delivered little Jeremy Crane centuries ago. All we really know about her at this point is that she went nuts when Abbie and Jenny were both young, spouting gibberish about demons and the End of Days; it’d be years before either one realized that she was actually speaking the truth. Eventually, her kids were taken away and made wards of the state, while Lori was taken to Tarrytown Psych. She committed suicide there 15 years before the events of tonight’s episode.

NEXT: Sleepy Hollow meets AHS: Asylum