“Devil in Ohio” is centered around the escape of a girl named Mae (Madeleine Arthur) from the Satan-worshiping cult in Amontown. Dr. Suzanne (Emily Deschanel) fosters Mae by bringing her into her family of five; which consists of her husband Peter (Sam Jaeger), who is a real estate agent, and her three children, Helen, Jules, and Dani. Over the course of five episodes, this cult led by Malachi (Tahmoh Penikett) keeps a close eye on Mae, waiting for her to come back to them on her own or nab her. When she doesn’t, they burn one of Peter’s houses, mark Jules, and almost kill Dani. Mae breaks the family from the inside, largely by undermining Jules’s very existence. Finally, on the night of the Harvest Dance, the cult apparently triggers Mae (with the help of white roses) to come back to them, causing Suzanne to go to Amontown and save her from being the Devil’s wife.
Suzanne Infiltrates The Cult
In the final episode of “Devil in Ohio,” we see Malachi hearing the words “Begin the preparation” from Lucifer. Then the show cuts to Mae in a white gown, getting her feet cleaned with milk and blood (which is dripping from one of her sisters’ hands via a white rose). Abigail (Caroline Cave) enters the room with a white veil that has the black feathers of a raven on it, and says, “He who withstands the long night shall see the Dawning.” She commends Mae for her faith and fortitude. She says that her act of sacrifice is going to save the people if she’s truly willing to go ahead with it. Mae nods in agreement, and Abigail puts the veil on her.
Sheriff Wilkins (Bradley Stryker) meets Malachi while he’s on his dialysis machine. He asks him if Suzanne has been “taken care of.” Wilkins informs him that Noah (Keenan Tracey) hit her with his car and adds that he’ll be a worthy successor to Malachi someday. But when he goes to check if Suzanne survived or died in the car crash, he gets to know that she was treated and released on the spot. A little side-note: this is something we know before the character in question gets to know it. So, there’s no suspense or surprise. This is bad storytelling, anyway; back to the show. We see Suzanne making it into the cult’s campsite through the woods. Peter arrives at the school to pick up Helen and Jules and learns about Suzanne’s plan.
Detective Lopez (Gerardo Celasco) gets a call from Suzanne, telling him that she has gone to rescue Mae. We see that she has made it through the outer barricade and is hiding near one of the cottages. However, since she has left big footprints on the forest floor, Wilkins notices them while patrolling the perimeter. Suzanne sees a spare black hooded cloak and apparently steals it to mingle with the crowd. The ceremony begins in the church. Malachi spews a bunch of nonsense about Mae needing to do what is necessary to stop their crops from rotting. Wilkins sniffs Suzanne out. They get into a scuffle and inadvertently start a fire around that church. But since everyone there has moved to another spot for the ceremony, nobody notices the fight or the fire.
Suzanne Saves Mae From Her Imminent Death
Peter arrives with the girls at their home and notices the cult’s mark on the door. So, he immediately backs out of the driveway and takes to the road again. Suzanne approaches the next spot of the ceremony, which is basically a pyre on which Mae is going to be burned. Malachi goes into speech mode again and talks about how Mae has “willingly” chosen to sacrifice herself. Abigail says that Malachi is going to write about her in the Book of Covenants. He asks Mae to confirm if she is sacrificing herself willingly. Before she can answer, the fire alarm goes off, causing everyone to rush to the church and extinguish it. Abigail tries to get Malachi to complete the ritual. But he thinks that they should save the church first, and then wrap up the ceremony.
On his way to the church, Malachi sees Noah and tells him that he’s the future. Then he comes across Wilkins, who tells him that Suzanne has caused the fire. So, Malachi tells him to find her and also adds, “By blood, we are born. By blood, we are broken.” Why? I don’t know. Maybe it sounded ominous to the writer, so she added it here. Do you want another example of the miniseries’ garbage writing? Peter brings the girls to a studio apartment to chill. He says that the police are handling Suzanne. Jules asks Helen how long they’ll be in this apartment. Helen, in a derogatory tone, says that they’ll be there as long as it takes for their mom to figure things out. This is the final chapter of the miniseries! A mother has gone after a death cult! And this is what her family is doing!
Apologies for the digression. Suzanne comes to bring Mae down from the pyre. Abigail tells her to not meddle in their family affairs. Noah lights the pyre on fire, knowing full well that Abigail, Mae, and Suzanne are up there. The latter two jump off and land on the heaps of hay on the ground. Noah attacks Suzanne and Mae saves her by attacking him with a shovel. Finally, Lopez gets there and shoots down Wilkins since he was about to fire at him. Abigail goes up in flames, and Malachi frames that as the sacrifice that needs to be paid to satisfy Satan. The show cuts to Peter and the girls just chilling around. They are talking about the past, the present, and the future, that too, in an air-conditioned apartment. What’s Suzanne doing? She is returning home with Mae in Detective Lopez’s car.
‘Devil in Ohio’ Ending Explained – Have Suzanne And Peter Broken Off Their Marriage? Is Mae Going To Kill Suzanne?
The resolution of the miniseries begins with Jules and Isaac (Jason Sakaki) talking about his campaign, planning her next column with Sebastian (Evan Ellison), and then going over her after-school plans with Helen. Then we see Suzanne at her therapy, stating how she feels about the whole ordeal with Mae and how that has apparently helped her get over the trauma of her past. Detective Lopez gets a promotion for “dealing” with the cult. Peter pays him a visit to thank him for helping him with his insurance policy and then departs. Then we see that Peter and Suzanne are living separately. Suzanne is staying with Mae at her old home. Peter is with the girls in an apartment. Lopez arrives at the cult’s village and finds out that it’s empty. Suzanne arrives at Peter’s, but he tells her to go away because she has brought Mae with her.
Peter resumes his Thanksgiving dinner with the girls. Suzanne and Mae have their Thanksgiving dinner together. That’s when she gets a call from Lopez, informing her about the cult’s current status. Then he says that the white roses that “triggered” Mae at the Harvest Dance weren’t planted by the cult. They were planted by Mae herself to make it look like that. The show then cuts to Mae’s praying tree or stump, where Mae has superimposed her picture onto a portrait of Suzanne and Peter, thereby indicating that all this was her way of getting a loving, caring mother. So, essentially, Suzanne has been trapped by Mae and she is probably going to keep her to herself for the rest of her miserable life. And that makes the story of “Devil in Ohio” a cautionary tale about not helping runaways from local cults. If you see one on the street, just ignore them and keep walking.
On a serious note, though, with “Devil in Ohio,” what Daria Polatin is trying to say is that it’s important to go to therapy in order to deal with your traumatic past. Despite having two children of her own, an adopted child, and a supportive husband, Suzanne’s scars are fresh. She clearly remembers the abuse she and her mother had to suffer at the hands of her stepfather. While getting away from that household was understandably a big step, she never processed it. She tries to muffle it by throwing herself into her job and building a family. But as soon as she sees Mae, a person who hugely mirrors her teenage self, she puts everything aside. She does take up therapy, but it’s too little too late, thereby forcing her to bear the consequences of her actions. You can say that this inference is a stretch. And I’ll agree with you because the horrid storytelling dilutes whatever message is there in the narrative. Maybe if Polatin’s book had been adapted as a movie, the story’s themes and arcs would’ve been more prominent.