A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
The episode begins with Abbie dreaming about her mother, Lori, who is warning her about demons. She wakes up to Ichabod sneezing with a cold and bringing sexy back when talking about dysentery. (It’s kind of alarming that Tom Mison can do that.) She tells Crane about her dream which ties into the letters that Lori left behind and the demons that tormented her to death. But why has Abbie dreamed about her mother every night this week? Before we get an answer to this, Abbie gets a summons from Reyes, tucks Crane in and leaves. Cue the Crane-lite music, kids, because we’re in for a Mills-heavy ep. About time.
Reyes has called because there have been three suicides at Tarrytown Psychiatric in as many nights. Reyes puts Abbie on the case, which Abbie questions given the fact that her mother killed herself at TPI. Reyes says that she can trust Abbie and feels that her past means she will personally invested in the case, and then claims that if she gave the case to someone else, Abbie would have been all over her. I call BS, conflict of interest, or at the very least some sort of HR nightmare, but Reyes gives Abbie full control over the investigation as long as it gets handled.
Abbie calls Jenny in to assist on this case since she has an insider’s perspective of TPI. Jenny warns Abbie to be careful of what she’s looking for because TPI is full of unhealed pain. As if to prove her right, a creeper named Walter at the end of the hall gives them a once over and shambles toward them, but is intercepted by a nurse. Abbie asks to see Captain Irving, and the nurse grants her request.
It turns out that Irving went to group therapy with suicide #1, who had had paranoid delusions for years but seemed to be getting himself together. Irving can’t see a reason for the death, and Abbie agrees that none of the suicides seem to have any motivation. Given Irving’s history with Henry Parish, however (you know, that minor part where he accidentally signed his soul over to Henry, the Horseman of War), Abbie wants to know if Irving had anything to do with the deaths. Irving says no, asserting that he still has free will in spite of Henry owning him. Abbie promises to get him out, but asks for his inside help in the meantime.
Abbie and Jenny check the security tapes at TPI to review the deaths and the sisters have a heart to heart. Jenny confesses that she had snuck into TPI once before she was a patient to visit their mother in the hopes that they would be rescued from foster care, and that her last memory of their mother is of her getting dragged away by orderlies (basically, Jenny has some baggage). She asks Abbie what she hopes to accomplish with this case. Abbie admits that her greatest fear was winding up crazy/institutionalized like their mother and Jenny, and that fear has colored everything she’s done. But now that she knows that their mother wasn’t crazy and was facing actual demons, Abbie is trying to make sense of the whole thing and find out why she was chosen to be a Witness. And in what is surely a first for prime time television in America, we actually see a man hang himself on TV. If that wasn’t shocking enough, there’s a ghost in the corner of suicide #1’s room. It’s their mother.
Back at Nerd/Witness HQ, Crane asks Abbie if she was sure she saw her mother. Abbie asserts that she did. And just at that moment when the viewer is about ready to cliff themselves because this is so depressing, Crane complains about his not-Vick’s eucalyptus steam treatment. (Way to collectively back us away from the edge, writer Damian Kindler.) We get a flashback to little Abbie and Jenny being warned by their mother that they need to think like the demons because the demons want to steal them from her. She makes them recite the family mantra: “Eyes open, heads up, trust no one,” which explains a lot about how the Mills sisters turned out. Crane hypothesizes that the demons who took Abbie’s mother’s life brought her back to convince others to do the same, but Abbie says doesn’t see a point to the timing while re-watching the video of the suicide (even Ichabod flinches when the guy hangs himself on camera). At this point Hawley comes to lighten the mood, thank FSM. Ichabod is irritated that Abbie sent for Hawley, even though he comes bearing some matzoh ball soup that Ichabod downs like it’s candy. Crane and Abbie have a somewhat heated (on Ichabod’s part) discussion about why Katrina hasn’t produced or been in contact yet, and Abbie and Hawley exchange a look, with Abbie offering the excuse that Crane will see reason once he sleeps. Crane insists that he will go to TPI with Abbie, but she’s having none of it. And then, in continuation of the running joke of the season, Hawley calls Crane “Mr. Woodhouse,” a reference to the invalid father in Jane Austen’s Emma (and I love Hawley for making that comparison, Abbie for catching it, and both of them for being surprised that the other one likes Austen). Hawley offers his help and Abbie realizes that Ichabod’s matzoh ball soup has been drugged as he falls asleep in the corner. Adorably, of course.
Meanwhile, at Henry’s house of horrors (aka Fredericks Manor), baby Molloch coos and Katrina says she won’t cooperate with Henry, which is a far cry from where she was at the end of last week—no wonder she’s not getting results with that attitude. Katrina appears to be falling in love with the baby, but doesn’t realize that her necklace is making her see a cute human baby and not the grotesque demon infant he actually is. Baby Molloch lays a hand on her neck and imparts some sort of…I don’t know, let’s call it scrofula. That is definitely going to leave a mark.
At TPI, Abbie, Jenny, and Hawley are reviewing security feeds and disagree about how to handle the situation. On one camera, Creeper Walter from earlier seems to be having a breakdown and they get to his room just in time to prevent the next TPI suicide, since Walt’s about to slit his wrist. While Hawley and Jenny are restraining Walter, Abbie spots her mother and…disappears.
She reappears in what appears to be a disused part of TPI. After scaring the crap out of Abbie, her mother informs her it’s not safe for her there, then disappears (disappearing is a theme this week). And then the nurse from before comes and scares Abbie again. The nurse asks how she got there because that wing hasn’t been used in years (so why are you here, nurse?), and Abbie leaves. Meanwhile, in apparently another disused wing of TPI (how big is this place?), Hawley and Jenny search for Abbie. They split up, headed for different wings (no, really, how big is this place and how much of it isn’t in use? Isn’t this an OSHA violation?), and Jenny’s mother chooses this moment to visit her younger daughter. Jenny Mills, BAMF, is having none of it, especially when creepy messages appear in frost on the door of the wing. Thank FSM, this is when Abbie shows up. She quickly understands that the message is a code to designate patient video sessions and instantly realizes this is one of their mother’s (Abbie is apparently well-versed in health care and her mother’s files) which is in their file on her back in Nerd/Witness HQ. Guess where they’re going now?
At the Parish house, Katrina settles the baby, gets a glimpse of herself in the mirror, and realizes the baby’s touch has given her demon scrofula. She goes out and gathers some “Devil’s Breath” for an unknown purpose. Does it cure demon scrofula?
In Nerd/Witness HQ, Abbie sets up the DVD player to watch their mom’s session (amazing how all these files were migrated over to new technology). Jenny doesn’t think she can watch, because the sisters have a difference of opinion over their mother’s final note. Jenny remembers her mother with fear, Abbie cuts her some slack. In the end, she convinces Jenny to watch it with her. In the video, their mother says that “Nurse Lambert” wants her to kill herself. Abbie puts two and two together and realizes that Nurse Lambert is the nurse she saw in the disused part of TPI, who is the same nurse who was with Walter before he tried to kill himself. The psychiatrist on the DVD says that there is no
Nurse Lambert on staff and then we cut to Frank Irving in his room with (wait for it), Nurse Lambert. Abbie is quickly putting things together, but Irving has already accepted drugs from Nurse Ratchet…I mean, Nurse Lambert. Not good. The next thing you know, Irving has found some deep tub at TPI that looks like it’s from the bad old days of psychiatric medicine, and spurred on by voices that tell him he “has to,” he zip ties himself to the bottom of the tub. Fortunately the Mills sisters and Hawley save him before he can drown, and Abbie sees her mother’s ghost again.
Back in Irving’s room, Irving wakes up from a long nap and says that after he took the drugs from Nurse Lambert, her insistence that he commit suicide made sense. Apparently while he was out of commission, they took enough blood for the tox screens and sure enough, he was under the influence of psychotropic drugs that left him vulnerable to suggestion, particularly demonic influence (although I’m pretty sure the tox screen didn’t say that part). Irving wants to help, but knows that since he’s a suicide risk now he won’t be able to.
Abbie does a little internet research and turns up Nurse Lambert’s history: 21 patients dead across the country, which Lambert saw as “mercy killings,” before being caught at TPI in 1958 and sentenced to death in 1959. Abbie decides their mother is still fighting the demons, and suddenly realizes that she ended up in the old wing because that’s where their mother had been in solitary confinement. The Mills Sisters pull the plaster off the wall of the old cell and find a mural that their mother drew with a picture of the girls and the lyrics to “You Are My Sunshine,” the song she sang to them as kids. This triggers a flashback for Jenny of the last time she saw her mother before she was institutionalized, when Lori Mills tried to take herself and Jenny out by sitting in a closed garage with the car on. Jenny sees her mother’s protection as tainted and wants to leave immediately. A second later, their mother shows up.
This time Hawley can see Mama Mills, too. Abbie tells her that they know about Nurse Lambert, and her mother says that an ancient hex is the only way to stop Lambert. Coincidentally, just such a hex is written down in a journal with magic passed down from their ancestors. At that moment Lambert shows up and all hell breaks loose. The door to the cell is locked, Hawley, Jenny, and Lori’s spirit are all tossed like rag dolls, and Abbie has disappeared again. When they are able to free themselves, Mama says she will find Abbie and charges Jenny with finding the journal. Jenny, who apparently knows every nook and cranny of TPI, heads down to the basement to find the journal with Hawley in tow.
Abbie wakes up with Lambert looming over her and is immediately restrained by some sort of demonic wheelchair. Lambert tries to talk to Abbie about peace, and Abbie tells her to go to hell (atta girl!). Lambert wheels her away.
Jenny and Hawley find Mama Mills’s personal effects, including the drawing that Jenny made of the three of them on Carbon Monxide Day as well as the journal in question. Flashback to her ancestor Grace Dixon and Grace’s interaction with the Cranes (because we can’t escape that tie, even in a Crane-lite ep), and Jenny finds a West African invocation to expel the dead.
We flash to Abbie, tied to a surgical table as Lambert talks her through her mother’s last days. “You killed her,” Abbie accuses, and Lambert tells her it’s now her turn. She holds out the red pills of doom that we’ve seen her offer Irving, but just in time, Mama Mills pulls Lambert off her baby girl while Jenny recites the incantation. Lambert attempts to whip Lori into submission but then the incantation takes hold and Lambert is torn to pieces and goes down the drain, which seems pretty apropos. Mama Mills also disappears. Jenny and Hawley find Abbie, who tells them that their mother fought for her. She regrets not being able to thank their mother, and Jenny says there might be a way to do so.
Somehow Ichabod has miraculously recovered from his cold and brought materials for a ritual which they set up in Lori’s old cell. Jenny surprises everyone by knowing at least a bit of witchcraft, and summons her mother to join them. Abbie asks Lori why she was chosen to be a Witness, and her mother says that there are things you don’t get to choose, you can only fight. Flashback to Carbon Monoxide Day, when Lori wakes up and realizes what she’s doing (and that there’s a demon in her rearview window) and fights, ramming the door of the garage open when she can’t open the windows or turn the car off. Jenny realizes that her mother saved her on that day, and manages to drop her baggage about their whole relationship.
Lori says that Molloch sent Lambert to finish her off and she’s been trapped ever since, but she watched over both of her daughters. She points them to the journal and the “weapon” hidden in its pages, telling Abbie that she was meant to win the war. “You don’t deserve any of this,” Abbie says, echoing the thoughts of a multitude of Sleepyheads with regards to the Mills family this season, and asks how they can free her. Lori tells her that they already did and she disappears. The takeaway here is that she fought through the pain, leaving her girls with what Ichabod terms “a fitting legacy.” The Mills sisters embrace, Crane and Hawley stare at each other awkwardly, and we cut to…
Irving running out of the woods and flagging down the car with the foursome inside. He’s used the distraction of Lori Mills to escape, and after reminding Abbie that she said he could trust her, hops into the back of the SUV.
Meanwhile at Fredericks Manor, Katrina is making a decoction of the Devil’s Breath and chanting over it—it’s apparently supposed to send Molloch back to hell. She takes it into the baby’s room, but he’s gone. She goes downstairs to find that the baby is now a little boy who petulantly tells her “I’m hungry, mother,” and cut to the credits.
According to the previews for next week, the Fall Finale begins which means that tonight’s focus on the Mills Sisters came none too soon (it’s episode 9, for Pete’s sake). This is the strong women episode that we’ve been waiting for all season, and while I have no idea why it couldn’t have come sooner, I’m glad that it finally did come. Much as I love Ichabod, Ichatrina was taking away from the storyline of the Witnesses that drew me into this show in the first place; I’m a much happier viewer when Katrina is someplace else and the partnership between Ichabod and Abbie has a chance to grow. I also love that we got to see the sisterhood bond between Jenny and Abbie in this one, and also got to see that their mother was a fighter, too. Abbie Mills deserved better…and she got it tonight.