Sleepy Hollow, Season 1, Episode 10: “The Golem”
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Mark Goffman, and Jose Molina
Directed by J. Miller Tobin
Airs Monday at 9pm ET on Fox
Even though there aren’t that many, Sleepy Hollow cares about developing its character’s emotional lives. “The Golem” does an especially good job of this because the episode’s monster is directly connected to Ichabod’s (Tom Mison) emotional state considering his long lost son. The writers also use guest star John Noble, who plays Henry Parrish the Sin Eater, to great effect and uses his character to comment on the role of fate and prophecy in the series. Also, with his ability to sense sins, he has a good handle on the characters’ feelings. But Noble doesn’t overshadow the lead actors or plot as loose ends are tied up, and the writers delve into Ichabod’s pain and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) and Henry’s attempts to help him overcome it.
“The Golem” is an excellent example of monster as metaphor. In Jewish mythology, the golem is a helpful guardian spirit, but in Sleepy Hollow fashion, Kurtzman, Goffman, and Molina turn it into a nightmarish creature filled with rage. The golem is a metaphor for Ichabod’s son (Jeremy) anger because his father is dead and his mother Katrina (Katia Winter) is missing. Even though he went missing years ago, Jeremy’s anger remains in the form of the golem, who was his only friend growing up. Even though it is only tangentially connected to Moloch and the overarching story arc, the golem easily transcends “monster of the week” status because of its personal connection to Ichabod and Abbie via a bond of blood.
After a great performance in “Sin Eater”, John Noble returns as Henry Parrish to expand upon the show’s themes and help Ichabod and Abbie solve the mystery of the golem while looking for Jeremy. His character also gets fleshed out a little bit with some details about his past being revealed as well as his interest in crossword puzzles. His monologue about puzzles could act as metacommentary on Sleepy Hollow as a whole which has followed a labyrinthine path full of character resurrections and plot twists throughout the season. Henry also helps reminds viewers of the fate versus free will conflict in Sleepy Hollow by his repeated use of “Don’t tempt fate.” Ichabod and Abbie have a bigger destiny as the witnesses, but they seem to have agency. Wisely, the writers don’t give a definitive answer about this conflict, but use the actions of supporting characters like Katrina’s coven and Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) to give the show a darker, more fatalistic tone going forward.
A television show can have a strong plot and interesting metaphors, but still fall short if the audience can’t connect with the characters. Kurtzman, Goffman, and Molina make sure that the relationship Abbie and Ichabod continues to develop. Between golem attacks and journeys to purgatory, the writers fill in the gaps with amusing banter between Abbie and Ichabod. There are plenty of funny lines about holiday traditions and words changing their meaning over the years. Beharie and Mison have developed good chemistry over the season, and their rapport will be important for the show’s endgame. Frank (Orlando Jones)also gets a nice subplot where he visits with his daughter and has a glimpse of a “normal” life. With a powerful ending that sets the table for the rest of the season, “The Golem” is another strong outing for Sleepy Hollow and has one of the season’s best monsters.