With its compelling narrative of a girl’s desire to flee a Satan-worshipping cult and the suburban family unintentionally swept up in their world to aid her, Netflix’s newest thriller, Devil in Ohio, has moviegoers by the neck. As Mae (Madeleine Arthur) waves down a trucker after allegedly escaping from her captor, we first see the scared Mae. She is taken under the wing of psychiatrist Dr. Suzanne Mathis (Emily Deschanel) at the hospital because she wants to assist her in getting back on her feet.
But when Mae’s presence starts to unravel Suzanne’s seemingly idyllic family unit—a husband, three children, and a white picket fence—it becomes clear that there was a lot more going on than anybody had imagined. Despite leaving the Amontown Satanic sect in the first episode, Mae returns in the season finale as Lucifer’s “sacrifice.” (Not the attractive Tom Ellis; rather, the true king of hell.)
When she receives a flower bouquet including white roses, things start to go awry after she has already adapted to the neighborhood high school and has been named Harvest Queen. She then vanishes and returns to the cult she had previously left. But before it’s too late, Suzanne realizes what’s occurred and rushes to Amontown to get her. As part of the ceremony, Mae dons a bridal gown and is cheered on by the crowd as she makes her way down the aisle. Sheriff Wilkins, the town’s ominous watchdog, stops Suzanne as she makes her way to the church, and the two engage in a fight that results in the destruction of a torch and the beginning of a fire. An alert that the town is on fire is sounded, and the assembly flees before the sacrifice can be finished.
In the chaos, Suzanne can reach Mae and jumps onto the sacrifice platform to save her. She discovers her with her mother Abigail, who has been left to finish the sacrifice as the village struggles to save their house and is completely entangled in the cult and its blind devotion to Lucifer. Mae is seen pleading with her mother to go, but it seems ineffective. Instead, she makes the ultimate sacrifice to give her daughter the life she desires. After all that turmoil, Suzanne and Peter promise to repair their marriage despite a little collapse, and Suzanne eventually discloses her trauma to her therapist.
She also acknowledges that as a coping technique for her own experiences of abuse, her fixation with saving Mae and many of her patients stems from her own need to be saved.