"Loco Parentis" is the seventh episode of Season Four of Fox's Sleepy Hollow. It was written by Zoë Green and directed by Russell Fine. It is the fifty-sixth episode of the series overall, and debuted on February 17, 2017.
Just before Molly's 11th birthday, her father returns from duty. As Diana begins to wonder if her ex might be ready to be a part of his daughter's life full-time, the team has a shocking realization.
A woman, Rosa, takes flowers to the grave of her brother Manual Rodriguez at Arlington, her partner Manny, unaware that someone is watching from the forest. The figure makes a noise and finally emerges, tearing the woman to pieces.
Ichabod and Diana go shopping for toys for Molly, and Ichabod admires the vast array of toys. They discuss Molly's role as a Witness, and Diana suggests that she fight the monsters for her daughter. Ichabod says that Diana's role is as Molly's mother, not her second. Diana gets a call about the woman's death and the case at Arlington is federal. Ichabod says that he'll handle it on his own, and Diana reminds him that Jake and Alex are at a skills training seminar and can't come to Molly's birthday party. Jenny is still in Sleepy Hollow but plans to be at the party.
Jenny examines the debris at the construction site and finds the lantern containing Jobe. When she sees that it's damaged, she takes it to the archive and puts it in a chamber, and quickly scribes wards on the wall. The lantern starts to shake and then blasts open just as Jenny completes a circle of salt around it. Jobe is lying in the circle, and is unable to cross the line.
Ichabod goes to Diana's house with the party favors and hides them in a closet before Molly can see them. Molly comes in and asks what Ichabod is doing, well aware of what he's up to. She asks Ichabod for help with her history homework, and he's glad to assist. He admits that history is his life's work, and Molly asks him what being a Witness means. Ichabod says that it's best if they discuss the matter when Diana is present, but says that they are explorers that should trust their instincts. The doorbell rings and Ichabod goes to answer the door. A man is there and says that he's an old friend of Diana's.
At Arlington, the coroner shows Diana Rosa's corpse and explains that the internal organs are petrified. Ichabod calls her and says that there's something at her house that she needs to see. When Diana comes home, she finds Molly outside on a hoverboard. The man, Mitch Talbot, tells Diana to let Molly try it and see what she can handle. When Diana objects, Mitch reminds her that Molly is their daughter and hugs her. They sit on porch and watch Molly, and Diana points out that Mitch hasn't been to see their daughter in two years. The agent says that Molly doesn't expect much from Mitch anymore and she's gotten used to the idea that Mitch won't be around. Mitch says that he's missed Diana, too, and admits that he hasn't re-upped. After a couple of close calls, he's considering a change of life. Mitch says that Diana is an amazing mother and he doesn't want to mess it up, but maybe wants to spend some time with his ex and his daughter. He assumes that Ichabod is Diana's boyfriend, and Diana quickly assures her ex that Ichabod isn't.
Ichabod prepares Molly for soccer, and Mitch tells his daughter that maybe they can hang out next time. She asks if he'll be at her birthday party, and Mitch says that it's up to Diana. Put on the spot, Diana agrees and Mitch suggests that they get coffee later.
At the archive, Jobe warns Jenny that the wards won't hold her forever. She promises to find his weakness and shoots him in the chest with a crossbow bolt. Jobe casually pulls it out and realizes that Jenny is experienced with demons, sensing that a demon has invaded her body. Jenny remembers when she was possessed, and throws a knife at Jobe. He catches it and Jenny says that he can't goad her into making a mistake. She figures that with Malcolm dead, they've won. Jobe realizes that she thinks Malcolm is dead.
As they drive to the medical examiner's office, Diana tells Ichabod that she and Mitch had passion, but they couldn't plan a future together. When she got pregnant, Diana went back to civilian life. Ichabod asks if Molly is fine with it, and points out that he wasn't there for his son and it haunted him for a long time. Inside, Ichabod checks Rosa's corpse and explains that heart energy is desired by many monsters. Diana receives a report that two other victims have turned up showing the same symptoms. They were killed before Rosa, one in Philly and another outside Sleepy Hollow three days ago.
Ichabod calls Jenny and says that the creature they're facing came from Sleepy Hollow, just after they defeated Malcolm. Jenny says that she thinks Malcolm is alive and may have become a monster due to the Philosopher's Stone. Ichabod figures that Malcolm is the monster that they seek.
At the vault, Ichabod and Diana try to determine the nature of the monster that they face. Mitch calls to remind Diana of their coffee date, and Ichabod says that he can handle the research alone.
Jenny asks Jobe where Malcolm is, offering to go easy on Jobe if he cooperates. The demon says that his senses are dulled by the wards, but Jenny figures that it's a trick and refuses to lower them. She wonders why Jobe cares about Malcolm when he tried to break his deal with Satan. When Jenny suggests that Jobe is bonded to Malcolm against his will, Jobe charges at the wards but is repelled.
Diana meets Mitch and he has the coffee that she likes. She asks what his visit is really about, and Mitch says that he's realized that his life hasn't added up to much. Diana and Molly are the only things that are important, and Diana refuses to subject Molly to more emotional whiplash. Mitch wonders what's wrong, and Diana refuses to go into details. He suggests that it might be good to have a father figure around for Molly, takes Diana's hand, and says that they can start to do it. As they start to kiss, Diana's phone rings. Once she takes the report of another body found, she tells Mitch that she has to go.
When Diana returns to the vault, Ichabod asks how the date went. Diana says that it was complicated and then tells Ichabod that they found another body outside of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The attack happened a week ago, before the Stone exploded. Ichabod finds the Mayflower chronicles and a description of how the Pilgrims had unknowingly brought something monstrous from the Old World with them. A wolf-demon--a barghest--killed a young girl, Mercy Bradford. The barghest terrified people in the Black Forest in Germany, and has the ability to assume human form. When the pilgrims came for it, the barghest took on the form of Mercy's father, Captain William Bradford. When the real William arrived, the barghest reverted to its natural form and killed the pilgrims. Ultimately they subdued the creature and sealed it in an underground chamber with an enchanted rock: Plymouth Rock.
Diana figures that Mitch is the barghest and calls Mitch's base in Afghanistan. She's informed that Mitch left on night patrol five minutes ago, and Diana realizes that Molly is in danger. "Mitch" arrives at Diana's home and asks Molly if she wants to go for a ride.
A few minutes later, Diana and Ichabod arrive at the house. The lead cop says that no one else is there and that the neighbors saw Mitch. Molly's phone is in the girl's bedroom and Diana figures that the barghest took Molly fast. Ichabod insists that the barghest won't kill Molly before midnight when she turns 11. William wrote in his journal that Mercy was a Witness and killed on her 11th birthday because that's when a Witness gains their power. The lead cop tells them that they got a hit on the license plate of the rental the barghest is using. Before he goes, Ichabod picks up Moll's journal and takes it with him.
As the barghest drives, Molly points out that they're driving out of town. He assures her that he'll have her back early. Suspecting something is up, Molly claims that Mitch got her a bike for Christmas. The barghest agrees and Molly says that she needs to pee. The creature pulls over at a park, and Molly goes into the restroom.
As they drive to the rental car's location, Ichabod shows Diana crossbow bolts made of the same stone as Plymouth Rock. He shows Diana Molly's journal and points out that they contain mystical sigils that Molly wrote. They realize that Molly went looking for answers on her own, and the barghest detected her. Ichabod calls Jenny, and Jobe offers to help them locate the barghest. Jenny hangs up and says that she'll consider an arrangement if Jobe helps. Jobe says that he can't help as long as he's in the circle, and reminds Jenny that time is running out.
When Molly doesn't come back, the barghest goes to find her. It discovers that she's crawled out of the restroom window and runs off after her. Jobe says that he will abide by his deal, and Jenny breaks the circle. The demon disappears but leaves a map behind with Molly's indication marked. Jenny calls Ichabod and tells him what she's learned. Ichabod and Diana arrive at the park and find the open restroom window. They go into the woods to find Molly.
Molly runs through the woods with the barghest calling to her. It sees her jacket and charges forward, only to discover that she left it hanging on a tree. The barghest tears it apart and reverts to its true form. A few minutes later, Ichabod and Diana find the scraps of the jacket. There's no blood, and they realize that Molly is unharmed. Molly hides in a culvert and hears the barghest above her. As it tries to dig in, Diana and Ichabod arrive. They finally kill it, and Molly runs out to hug her mother. Diana thanks Ichabod for his help, and Molly hugs him.
The next day, Ichabod entertains Molly's friends at the birthday party with stories of King George. Diana notices Molly sitting by herself and goes over to check on her. Molly says that she'll come over eventually, and Diana sits with her and says that it's okay to be upset. She explains that "Mitch" was a monster, and Molly realizes that she was responsible for bringing it. Diana says that it was her fault because she made Molly go looking for answers on her own, and figures that she can't be the Witness for Molly. Al she can do is make sure that Molly is ready, and promises that she'll be honest in the future. Ichabod comes over and recites the Bible's prophecies about the Witnesses. He says that he and Molly face anything as one, and assures Molly that she's not alone.
As Molly and Diana rejoin the party, Jenny arrives and Ichabod says that Molly is shaken but resilient. He wonders if there's any indication of what Malcolm and Jobe have planned, and Jenny admits that she doesn't... but it can't be good.
At Dreyfuss Enterprises, Mrs. Donovan is telling the board that they need to make decisions about the company in Malcolm's absence. Malcolm arrives and says that he doesn't need any of them. He tells them that he has been reborn and destroyed what he used to be to become what he needs to be. When Donovan says that they'll get him help, Malcolm says that he doesn't need their help. He yells at the board to get out, and they quickly leave. As Malcolm pours himself a drink, Jobe comes in and Malcolm says that he's missed him. The demon asks where Malcolm has been, and Malcolm says that he has been on a long journey of the soul... and plans to take the world on the same journey. Black veins briefly spread across Malcolm's face, and he promises that he won't rest until the world is born again.
- It is said that a Witness is chosen by age 11.
- This was based on the concept of "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Three Little Pigs." The barghest from Germany was the main creature which the stories were inspired by.
- The girls in the Mayflower Chronicles could be ancestora of the Witnesses; as they have all died by age 11.
- It's unknown how or why the Barghest was Mitch Calbot.
- The episode title comes from the legal term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent", used when a person or organization takes on some of the responsibilities that would normally be reserved for a child's legal guardian.