“Sleepy Hollow” recap: “Mama”

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Can we all collectively agree that “Mama” was the most satisfying Sleepy Hollow episode in the entirety of this show’s short run? This was certainly the episode the fans were asking for, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! (Let’s also be thankful that they had this episode in the pipeline, because if they didn’t, the fans would be even angrier than before right now.)

The synopsis is that Abbie and Jenny (and Hawley?) have to stop the rash of suicides happening at Tarrytown Psychiatric, where Irving is also sequestered. They believe that the monster behind the suicides is, unfortunately, the ghost of their mother, Lori. But in fact, their mother was trying to save the patients from her fate, just like she tried to save her daughters many years ago.

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Okay, let’s dig into it:

THE MILLS FAMILY—ASSEMBLE!: Just seeing the Mills ladies work in tandem together was so refreshing. As to why Hawley was there instead of Ichabod is anyone’s guess. But I’d guess that Abbie might have deliberately not wanted him there. She makes a point of saying, after he asks why Hawley is there and contends that he’s more than capable of coming along, that she’s in charge of the case.

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Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but it would seem that Abbie’s had it up to here with anybody named Crane. She probably needed a break from Ichabod and his 18th century facts, discussions of Katrina, and circular conversations about Henry. I know I would have, at any rate. Even if it probably made sense in her head that he should tag along, she seemed glad to have the excuse of his sickness to fall back on. But, it would it have been nice for Ichabod to help the Mills sisters out instead of Hawley. Hawley largely did nothing, and proved why his character is beginning to look like a waste of ink and paper.

Anyways, back to the Mills family. It was extremely heartwarming and moving to see all of them in the same room, communicating and learning from each other. To see Lori tell her kids that she always tried to protect them, even looking after them from beyond the grave, was amazing. Ichabod was present for that, which is something I’ll get to later.

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Also, to get a quick snapshot of the Mills family tree and just how powerful they are is really exciting. The fact that there’s a literal book full of spells passed down from Africa, through slavery, and to the present day is so incredible to see. When have we seen something about the roots of a black American family lineage on primetime television since…well, Roots and Queen? I can’t remember anything. If you can, let me know in the comments section.

Jenny actually saying the incantations (with Hawley standing there, mouth agape)? AMAZING. Lori defeating that evil nurse Gina Lambert? AWESOME. The wall drawings and the three Mills ladies having the most epically-moving heart-to-heart ever (while Hawley and Ichabod stand there, looking and feeling useless and awestruck)? JUST WHAT I NEEDED TO SOOTHE MY SOUL! I’m so excited for this episode that I hope it gets nominated for an Emmy. It was great writing and acting all around. Aunjanue Ellis was powerful as Lori and Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood were equally magnetic.

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The men of the hour: I will be the first to tell you that I’m a big Ichabod fan. Yes, he’s obstinate and can be a cranky so-and-so, but it’s not like he’s a demon of a man. He’s simply a guy who’s been put in a highly unusual situation and is constantly trying to keep his head above water. Does that excuse everything he does? No. But it certainly helps explain the psychology for some of his actions. It offers a way to find some sympathy for the guy. If there’s one thing that annoys me in some fandom talk, it’s the idea that Ichabod talking about his problems is somehow “manpain.” What does that even mean? People discuss Abbie, her agency as a woman, and her arguments concerning her and her place in the feminism discussion. Since that’s the case, let’s remember that feminism is also a tool that allows for men to experience emotions, something that’s been wrongly interpreted as being “feminine.” He’s allowed to be cranky and even whine sometime. Abbie can experience the gamut of emotions, but not Ichabod?

It’s not like he doesn’t have some sort of reasoning behind his emotions a lot of the time, like his worries about his family and if he can save his son. Abbie gets to save Joe even after Ichabod said it’s a wrap, but Ichabod can’t try to save Henry, however flawed that decision might be? Just like how Ichabod thought Joe was done for, Abbie’s been saying the same thing about Henry. Of course, we know that Henry’s a much more severe case than Joe, and it would appear that Ichabod will lose the fight for Henry’s soul, but his wanting to try to redeem himself in his son’s eyes is “mainpain”? He’s got legitimate problems, and dismissing them as “manpain” feels condescending. Yeah, sometimes he needs to be checked, just like anyone, but every emotional outburst he has isn’t him whining about nothing.

So what was that rant about? Well, as strongly as I feel about Ichabod and how his emotions should be given just due (including the emotions we don’t like seeing, such as him getting snippy with Abbie, as anyone in any type of relationship with someone is wont to do), even I’ve had Crane fatigue. As much as I empathize, it’s been a struggle to watch Ichabod come to terms with the fact that he just might have to let Henry go. It’s been annoying, frankly, to watch Ichabod flounder about with Katrina and literally tell Abbie to protect her on a mission. I wrote in another post that while Ichabod (and the writer of that episode) might not have intended for this meta-interpretation, that scene in “Deliverance” had the appearance of subservience vs. The Lady of the House. That really grated on my nerves, for the racial element and because it seemed wholly out of character for Ichabod. Also, Ichabod can’t know everyone from the 18th century. That’s impossible.

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And to round on Hawley a little bit, he’s proven himself to be just a human-shaped doorstop, wedged between the doors of Abbie’s relationships to Ichabod and Jenny. Why was he invited to come along? He didn’t have any pertinent artifacts to help them in this case. Did they just need a white dude to fill Ichabod’s place? I thought there was at least going to be a little discussion of Hawley’s relationship to the sisters. None of that happened. So why were you not on your houseboat, Hawley?

To see Ichabod and Hawley just stand there while the Mills sisters reunited with their mother and had a family history lesson was low-key hilarious to me. Seeing Ichabod and Hawley put in their place through the gravity of the moment was really gratifying.

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The redonk behavior of Hawley macking on two sisters, Ichabod’s distracted behavior towards Abbie– all of that seemed to be thrown back in the two men’s faces as they watched one of the things at the heart of this fight—a special family who was torn apart by evil, doing everything they can to stay together, including existing from beyond the grave. While Ichabod’s family has basically ushered in the Apocalypse, Abbie’s family has worked against it. While Katrina’s now atoning for abandoning Henry, Lori has still protected her daughters after death. That’s not to say that a mother is immediately a bad person for leaving her children (speaking from my own family history), but Katrina’s reasoning for doing so never made much sense, especially since she’s supposed to be a powerful witch who could have protected Henry and should have had some inkling about her son’s powers.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that the ridiculosity of the past couple of episodes seems to have been put in perspective by such a dramatic family moment. I think it was very necessary for Ichabod and Hawley to see the Mills family so they can get their messy brains in order and get back focused on the task at hand. Lori didn’t get killed by Lambert just for Hawley to pull an Archie Andrews on her daughters and for Ichabod to mess around with his task as Witness.

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Why, Katrina, Why?: If only Katrina could have seen that scene, then maybe she’d get herself collected, too. Why in the world is she messing about with her one mission? HER. ONE. MISSION? If Harry Potter has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t let evil gain its full power! You’ve got to kill them while they’re in their weakened infant state! Dumbledore was wrong to not kill Voldemort when he was still a squirmy thingamabob in Wormtail’s arms, and Katrina is DEAD WRONG to not only not kill Baby Moloch, but allow herself to be fooled by the weakest lie Henry’s ever told. Katrina saw the baby birthed from people’s souls! She had to have just chosen to believe that, all of a sudden, there was an actual human baby that was an orphan. I had to have heard that scene wrong, right? Now there’s a doggone 8-year-old Moloch wanting to be fed. Okay, Katrina. Keep f’ing up.

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I will say, though, that Henry was really messed up about Katrina showing more love to the baby than what she’s shown him. Katrina could possibly save Henry, but I doubt she would have picked up on the fact that all he needs to gain some kind of healing is a hug from his mom.

Irving’s back!: Irving’s still hanging in there, even after Lambert tried to kill him! This episode sure touched a lot of triggers for some folks out there, and I was especially twitchy after seeing Irving nearly die in the tub. I am glad that Irving’s not giving up without a fight. No matter what, he’s going to protect his family at any cost, even if it means busting out of the psychiatric hospital and become a fugitive. Do what you need to, Irving!

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I’ve written too much already. What did you think about this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

I’ve written too much already. What did you think about this episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Brownie Harris/FOX

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