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The Most Disturbing Moments From Devil In Ohio, Ranked

If you've missed seeing Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan in the long-running Fox series "Bones," you can see her play another crime-solving doctor in "Devil in Ohio." In the Netflix limited series thriller, Deschanel is Suzanne Mathis, a hospital psychiatrist who takes in a teen found on the side of the freeway with unique injuries and no identification. The girl, Mae (Madeleine Arthur), has run away from her family and people in order to save herself from a ritual. 

Suzanne takes a special interest in the patient and becomes her foster mother. Mae moves into Suzanne's home and becomes friends with her middle daughter Jules (Xaria Dotson). Meanwhile, the oldest, Helen (Alisha Newton) is suspicious of Mae's intentions and youngest daughter Dani (Naomi Tan) is too focused on a school production of "Funny Girl" to really pick up on the dynamics at play.

The runaway's presence immediately seems to correlate with odd and dangerous occurrences. The mysterious teen causes a divide in the family, particularly between Suzanne and her husband Peter (Sam Jaeger) and seems to get everything she's ever wanted as the series comes to a close. 

It should come as no surprise that "Devil in Ohio" contains several moments that will make you cover your eyes with a blanket and turn the television off. Which moments had us scrambling for our remote's "off" button and cowering under our comforter? We've compiled and ranked the most disturbing moments of "Devil in Ohio."

If it's not obvious, what follows spoils "Devil in Ohio" Season 1. 

13. The cornhusk dolls

Mae had a different upbringing than most folks. During her childhood years, rather than watch television or play board games, she makes dolls with the scraps from her family's crops. After Mae moves in with the Mathis family, Jules takes photos of Mae's creations, and she ends up featured in the school newspaper. Her newfound notoriety skyrockets her popularity and earns her a spot on the Harvest Dance court. 

When it comes to horror films and TV shows, dolls tend to have ominous implications. From Chucky to the Zuni doll in 1975's "Trilogy of Terror," hardly anything good ever comes from dolls in the horror genre. The cornhusk dolls Mae makes are no different. She tries to gift them to the people around her by leaving them on their nightstands as tokens of appreciation and thanks, but the presentation is unsettling. Who wants to wake up and see something they weren't expecting beside them? The dolls are symbols of the past Mae's trying to get away from, but she knows of nothing else. The dolls' use as a connection back to the cult, only one of many that appear over the course of the series, only adds to their disturbing nature. 

12. Mae's wishing shrine

Though Mae begins to settle into the Mathis home, she doesn't entirely leave her former life behind. She develops a shrine on the property containing pieces of clothing and other objects stolen from her new family. When Suzanne finds the pile of ill-gotten knickknacks, the teen describes it as a "wishing shrine" and explains that she was making a wish to stay with the family. As her true nature is revealed, it appears more likely that her wishes involve everyone else leaving, rather than simply becoming part of the family herself. 

In this context, shrines have a disturbing and eerie connotation. Knowing how Mae grew up and the beliefs of her hometown makes any shrine concerning. You can't be sure of which god Mae is directing her wishes to, what sacrifices she has to make for those wishes to come true, and if there have to be repeated sacrifices to keep the wishes in perpetuity. 

Even though she escaped the cult, its teaching still haunts her, which is off-putting in a way that makes the audience sympathetic to Mae's situation until they know what's really going through her mind.

11. Mae's scar

Pentagrams can be disturbing, depending on how they're used. When they're carved into someone's back, that clearly falls into the disturbing category. As part of the preparation for the sacrifice she's expected to make, the symbol is carved into Mae's back and is still openly bleeding as she runs away. It eventually heals, but it's probably always going to be a part of her as a reminder of what almost happened.

Just the introduction of the scar is startling. The audience doesn't initially see what it is, but Suzanne's reaction says everything we need to know. When it's finally shown, it's a lot to take in. It's large, all-encompassing, and difficult to hide unless Mae always wears a turtleneck. What's equally as concerning is how her peers at school react. They seem to think it's "cool," and Mae's horrifying disfigurement gives her instant street cred. People call her brave for showing it off with a low-backed dress at the Harvest Dance.

The truly disturbing part of her scar is that anyone who sees it can theoretically recognize where she came from and use the practices of the cult against her to try and force her to return. It is a constant and literal target on her back that she can't escape and would probably take several surgeries to remove.

10. The cult symbol appearing everywhere

Several times throughout the series, a symbol associated with the cult — which strongly resembles the symbol from the classic found footage film "The Blair Witch Project" — appears on items or property owned by the Mathis family. The audience sees it for the first time when it appears drawn in red on the back of Suzanne's car. Then it's drawn on the back of Jules' hand by Mae's brother after they meet at a party, and then it's painted onto the Mathis family's front door the night of the Harvest Dance. It's not really a warning to the family; it's meant for Mae. 

The control the cult attempts to exert over the teen is incredibly disturbing. It isn't unexpected, but it's off-putting all the same. What's worse is that the Mathis family doesn't even realize they've been "marked." Suzanne doesn't notice the symbol the first time it pops up — Mae offers to wash the car so she can remove it before it's seen. Jules doesn't know the true meaning of what's been drawn on her hand. They only realize it could be a bad sign when it appears on the door of their home after all the strange events over the last several weeks.

9. Jules is almost kidnapped

Halloween night involves many complicated scenarios, but one of them nearly results in Jules being kidnapped. While at a bonfire party, she runs into a guy who helps her with the keg. He claims to be a student at Ohio State University, but he's actually Mae's older brother Noah (Keenan Tracey). He marks her hand as a warning to Mae, which Mae uses to talk Jules out of meeting up with Noah again. A later scene shows he had intended to kidnap Jules during that second meet-up and bring her to Amontown, potentially as a way to force Mae's hand.

The cult is willing to take an innocent teenager to get their leader's daughter back. Jules hasn't even done anything wrong by the cult's criteria; she hasn't forced Mae to stay with the Mathis family or spent time researching the cult like her mother. She's simply a bargaining tool because the cult feels she's weak enough to manipulate. It shows just how far the cult is willing to go to ensure Mae is the individual they sacrifice, and how disturbingly comfortable they are with these actions.

8. What's in the cornfield

In Episode 2, Detective Lopez (Gerardo Celasco) is investigating the area where Mae was found when he notices something strange in the cornfield she ran out of. Not only is there something wrong with the corn, but the scarecrow guarding it. Unlike a traditional oversize straw doll designed to frighten birds, this particular scarecrow has the head of a pig. Apparently, this is a way to make sure the town is using every part of the pig. When Lopez bends down, though, he finds a strange symbol carved into the stake — the same symbol Mae carves into her shrine.

The symbol is off-putting. What does it mean? What is it supposed to represent? Why is it on this scarecrow and Mae's shrine? It's complex and interesting to look at, but in knowing that it's associated with a Satanic cult, all you want to do is look away. It doesn't show up often in the show, but when it does it's in these strange circumstances that only add to its confusing and startling nature.

7. Dani's allergic reaction

Halloween in "Devil in Ohio" is already filled with problematic incidents, but one of the most upsetting is when Dani nearly dies of an allergic reaction. After her friends leave her to trick or treat on her own so they can hang out with eighth-grade boys, the youngest Mathis daughter eats a piece of candy. However, her throat begins to close as she starts experiencing anaphylactic shock. As she runs home, grabbing the EpiPen out of her backpack by the front door, she collapses before she can inject herself with the life-saving medication. She's later found by her older sister Helen as she's coming home from the bonfire.

All the other mayhem from that night — the fire at Windemere and Jules' almost-kidnapping — is ostensibly caused by the cult. There is no evidence that Dani was given candy by the cult to cause her death, but it certainly can't be ruled out at this point in the show. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they'd be willing to kill one of Suzanne's children since they are willing to do the same to Mae, one of their own. While it isn't a surprise, it's nonetheless disturbing that they could stomach going that far just to bring Mae back to Amontown. 

6. The cult triggering Mae

It's pretty obvious as the series moves along that the cult will do anything to get Mae to return to Amontown. While she's making friends with Jules and going to a karaoke party with the family for Dani's birthday, someone from the cult leaves a white rose on the bed she sleeps in. It's unclear how they got into the home, but they definitely knew what will happen when they place the single rose in her room. 

When Mae finds the flower, it immediately triggers the teachings of the cult, causing her to walk outside in the rain in her nightgown, holding the rose and chanting, "The chain shall not be broken." Jules finds her and brings her back inside after breaking her out of the trance. Is the cult lurking in the background, waiting to grab Mae as soon as she's far enough from the house? It appears so, as the scene cuts to someone waiting in a car, watching Mae and Jules go back inside.

Not only does the cult break into the Mathis home — they also pay for the family to stay longer at Dani's birthday party, which gives the cult more time to complete their task. They are clearly aware of the mental triggers placed in Mae, which is one of the most disturbing parts of the cult and the show.

5. The chanting after the ritual

Throughout the series, Mae reinforces that in leaving Amontown she is "breaking the chain" that their ancestors built that helps provide for the community. It is frequently mentioned that if "the chain" is "broken" the town's crops will die or their way of living will become more complicated. This chain involves the sacrifice of the "chosen" individual to keep the rest of their society alive. 

The phrase itself isn't creepy until it's chanted over and over again by the cult as they watch one of their members burn on a wooden platform. Malachi (Tahmoh Penikett), Mae's father, praises his wife Abigail's (Caroline Cave) sacrifice, telling his congregation that the willingness and selflessness of her actions are what will save them and improve their crops. While several speak of being saved, the group as a whole begins to chant "The chain shall not be broken" over and over again. There isn't a way for the sequence to not be disturbing.

There's also a sad, startling nature to the scene in that Malachi takes a moment to shed a tear for his wife after he's realized what she's done. He clearly wasn't expecting her to take their daughter's place, and rather than let himself experience grief at that moment, he hypes up her actions for his community. Not only is it off-putting that the cult sees nothing wrong with the ritual, but that the most impacted individual won't let himself feel the loss.

4. The pig ritual

After we see the scarecrow with the pig head, the return of pigs as a thematic symbol in "Devil in Ohio" seems inevitable. On Halloween, the cult performs a ritual using pig's blood, asking Lucifer to accept those marked with the blood while they wait for the final ritual to take place. The rest of the pig is placed in a pot. By this point, Detective Lopez has tracked the cult back to their town, and watches all of this happen.

Animals getting killed is always a hard pill to swallow in movies and TV shows, but the fact that these pigs are being sacrificed in the name of Lucifer adds a new level of unpleasantness to the scene. It shows what the cult is willing to do, but also why they do it. In watching the ritual take place, the way the camera is angled almost makes us feel like we're a part of the morbid festivities; it's like you're next in line to have your face marked with the blood. It's an unsettling thing to experience, for sure. 

3. Mae's shrine changes

What starts as a stump with items on it turns into a metaphorical tree of symbolism by the end of the series, almost resembling the crow wings that Mae's father uses during the ritual. As the show comes to a close, the camera zooms in on two photos pieced together into an image of Suzanne and Mae that sits at the center of the shrine. The photo of the Mathis matriarch looks older, and it's clearly ripped out of a pre-existing photo. The only thing that's unclear is who else was originally in the photo next to Suzanne. Mae's photo is from her photoshoot with Jules that was featured in the school newspaper.

The shrine is already disturbing on its own the first time we see it, mostly due to the audience not knowing its true nature or purpose. By the end of the series, the shrine has adapted and evolved, just like Mae's control over the Mathias family and her new home. Rather than go to Vermont as planned, Mae gamed the system and stayed with Suzanne while pushing the rest of the family away. She got everything she wanted, and her new mom is only let in on Mae's deception after her family leaves. We didn't think the shrine could get more disturbing, but boy did it ever. 

2. Mae screaming for her mother

During the final ritual at Amontown, Suzanne breaks in and accidentally causes a fire at the church. This forces the town to stop what they're doing and run to save their church, giving the doctor the opportunity to save Mae from her fate. As Mae jumps down, her mother Abigail remains in danger of being burned alive. After an altercation with Noah, Mae pleads for her mother to come down and leave with her and Suzanne, but Abigail decides to keep the chain unbroken, dropping to her knees to show her decision is made. 

Mae's screams are piercing and soul crushing. She repeatedly yells "Mama!" in hopes that she can get through to her, each time becoming more pained and frantic. As the fire grows and consumes her mother, Mae grows more helpless, eventually letting Suzanne pull her away. The entire scene is one big bowl of disturbing, from Noah dragging Suzanne towards the fire to Abigail encouraging her daughter to walk towards her death, but the teenage girl's screams are the worst.

1. Mae's manipulation

In the final episode, it's revealed that Suzanne and Mae are living in the family home while Peter, Helen, Jules, and Dani are living in the apartment complex the patriarch manages. Mae staying has caused a divide in the family and it's clear which side everyone is on. As each half of the family makes their own Thanksgiving dinner and settles in for their meal, Suzanne's phone rings. Detective Lopez is on the other end, telling the psychiatrist that Mae orchestrated everything that happened the night of the Harvest Dance. Suzanne looks horrified. 

Realizing that Helen and Jules were right this whole time, that Mae was manipulating everyone as she clung to Suzanne, is one of the most disturbing moments of all. Suzanne goes to bat for Mae, helping her when there was no one else, and at the end of the ordeal, she finds that she has been played. She drives a wedge between herself and her husband and children for this girl, all for it to have been a scheme so Mae wouldn't be sent to the boarding school in Vermont. It reveals Mae's true nature and what she's willing to do to get what she wants. Is there anything more disturbing than that?