If the first three episodes of this season were an invisible monster — creepy but obscure, spider-walking down a path that none of us could see — ”The Sisters Mills” is the flash of silver nitrate that makes everything clear. Pandora’s got more going on than her tree! We finally have some backstory on our new big bad, to say nothing of a spine-tingling monster-of-the-week, vintage Revolutionary twistory, and plenty of family time for Abbie and Jenny. This calls for a celebration. I’ll bring the ice cream if you bring the “Dis-nay” revisionist fairy tales.
And they are revisions. As Crane reminds Abbie and Jenny, most beloved children’s tales have dark origins, but they’ve been scrubbed clean over time. It happens, and it’s totally natural — unless it happens to the history Crane lived through, in which case it’s an affront to the very foundations of this country. Crane is studying for his citizenship test, which is to say, “Crane is yelling about misremembered historical details while Abbie sits patiently beside him and waits to qualify for sainthood.” But that’s life with a roommate, right?
This evening’s rant is interrupted by a call from Joe, whose job as an EMT brought him face to face with one of those dark origin stories. As it turns out, the Tooth Fairy isn’t all glitter and wings. That (literal) fairy tale hides a much creepier reality: the Ibizu, an Assyrian demon that eats children’s souls. The demon is drawn by open wounds, like missing teeth, and repelled by silver — hence the practice of giving kids silver coins beneath their pillows. Also, it looks like an extra from The Exorcist. This is so vindicating for those of us (me) who were always inexplicably creeped out by the tooth fairy (just me?).
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The Tooth Fairy’s first victim is a little girl by the name of Jessica, who falls into what looks like an inexplicable coma. Her older sister Saffron knows the truth, but since the demon is only visible to children — and, as Abbie and Jenny know firsthand, adults aren’t inclined to believe kids who say they’ve seen monsters — Saffron is ignored. This is a case for the Mills sisters if ever there were one. Abbie and Jenny tell Saffron how proud they are that she told the truth, but she’s too traumatized to say anything more, so Crane tries a different approach. Oxford never taught this man how to interact with kids, did it? He does his best, yelling limericks and producing coins from behind her ear, but Saffron only opens up after Crane hits his head on the ceiling. They do say you have to suffer for your art.
Saffron draws a picture of the monster and calls it the Tooth Fairy, which reminds Crane of a rash of similar cases in the 18th century. Kids fell ill after losing their teeth and never woke up. Betsy Ross’ niece was one of them, of course (so kind of all of the monsters who knew Betsy to wait for her to be a series regular before causing any present-day trouble). He watched as Betsy called in Paul Revere, amateur dentist, but that was the last thing Crane saw. Betsy closed the door on him. A light flashed on the other side of that door, and the next thing Crane knew, Betsy’s niece had made a miraculous recovery.
Forget the midnight ride: Paul Revere was, like literally everyone else we’ve heard of, a “soldier in the supernatural war on evil.” Crane gathers that something in his not-dentist bag must hold the key to defeating the Tooth Fairy, but the bag is in Raleigh — which means it’s time for Crane to be self-aware. This is a new thing for him. He’s learned to harness his power as a man out of time.
First it was the deep bow to Zoe, with whom he’s currently flirt-texting the monkey emoji; now, it’s a phone call to the museum, laden with “how nows” and “superlatives.” Introducing himself as the curator of the soon-to-be Hudson Valley Historical Society and Armory, Crane convinces the museum that Revere’s bag will be a centerpiece exhibit. “Yes, first thing on the ‘morrow would be divine,” he gushes. “I can give you the address if you have a quill.” We’re running out of ways to baffle Ichabod Crane with modern life, but if this is the next step, I accept it.
NEXT: George Washington 101[pagebreak]
Crane continues his act (which, let’s be real, is really more like 30 percent act, 70 percent Crane Not Hiding His Light Under a Bushel) at a local elementary school, where he and Jenny are canvassing for kids with loose teeth. Ahh, detective work. As Crane drops truths about our first president, like “He did not FARM HIS OWN HEMP,” and “He did not have wooden teeth,” one little boy, Gregory, stays suspiciously quiet. He has a loose tooth, and the Tooth Fairy’s been stalking his bedroom. Jenny offers the boy a silver coin to protect himself, and the team works out a plan: Crane and Joe stake out the house of a little girl in the class, while Abbie and Jenny watch Gregory.
Someone has to watch this kid. His babysitter is so busy talking on the phone that she misses everything: Gregory losing a tooth, Gregory screaming as he holds up the silver coin and runs outside, Abbie and Jenny waving an axe around in the backyard. These all seem like warning signs. Jenny accidentally hits a sprinkler, which turns out to be one of those “I just made chocolate chip cookies by mistake” accidents: The water makes the Tooth Fairy visible. Abbie pushes Gregory back inside as Jenny grabs a hose, but the demon knocks Jenny down — and, when Abbie stabs it, throws her against the porch and knocks Abbie out. We were due for a hospital bedside scene.
We get three. First, there’s Crane, who tells his lef-tenant that her “duty in this battle now is to heal” (officially the most eloquent Get Now Soon on the market). Then, there’s Jenny, who tearfully assures a frightened Saffron that they will both have more time with their sisters. Finally, because every fairy tale party needs an unwanted visitor, there’s Pandora. Clad in scrubs, she whistles her way into Abbie’s hospital room (the lights flicker) and takes her hand, waking Sleeping Beauty.
Now that she’s got a captive audience, Pandora monologues her own tragic backstory: Her father beat her until she could no longer speak, then sold her as a slave. When she regained her language, she convinced her owner to feed her father to a lion. (“I was sadder than I expected.”) But she’s not just here to warn Abbie that she’s definitely nuts — she’s here to get a sense of her opponent. Pandora wants to know why Abbie fights and what she’s afraid to lose. “You’re not like the others, are you?” she wonders. “You don’t crave mortality.” Not immortality — mortality. Abbie isn’t in love with her own life. She treats it like a duty.
Pandora treats hers like a game. While she’s in the hospital, she plants an idea in Saffron’s head, handing her a tooth and telling her to fight the monster. Across town, Jenny and Crane are gearing up for a proper fight. All of Revere’s tools just look like normal dentistry equipment, but Crane remembers the man repeating, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” The tools all fit together into a gun that, when loaded with silver nitrate, illuminates the Tooth Fairy.
Crane gets to Saffron just in time, firing and scaring the demon off. He and Jenny trace it through the woods, but the silver nitrate runs out, so Crane throws a handful into the air — and reveals the Tooth Fairy waiting right in front of him. Jenny stabs it through the heart with a fireplace poker, and it turns to dust, but not before one last Exorcist contortion for old times’ sake.
Jessica wakes up, and Crane exorcises a demon of his own by going to the dentist, where he gets loopy on painkillers and dreams about kissing Betsy. (“I recall no visions.”) But even when he’s dreaming about old crushes and texting about the John Adams miniseries with new ones, his relationship with Abbie is still his main concern. Crane looks up the word Pandora used to describe him and Abbie — it’s Sumerian for “destroyers,” just as the tablet said. This isn’t the Pandora of Greek mythology; this one hails from Sumeria, and she knows something about our Witnesses that they don’t even know about ourselves. If she’s trying to raise fear, she’s doing a good job.
- So much for protecting Jenny from the truth about their father — Jenny found him five years ago, but she has no interest in reuniting with a man she says is bound to let them down. Abbie looks like she’s not sure she feels the same.
- “No fight is ever going to keep us apart again” sounds…ominous.
- “But now whenever I think about Abbie, I never think about that fight. I just think of the good times.”
- We have a name (or at least an alias) for the Shard thief: Sophie Foster. A man named Atticus Nevins was footing the bill. I no longer trust men named Atticus.
- “Hello, sleepyhead.”
- It’s always good to hear a villain use the word “prelapserian.”
- “They offer you four options for every query!”
- “I’m adorable.”
- At least half of the kids in that classroom call Crane “Ichabob.”