Tue
Dec 10 2013 5:00pm

Crossword Master, Train Spotter, Sin Eater: Sleepy Hollow’s “The Golem”

Ichabod chases after his long-lost (and presumably long-dead) son with some help from our favorite sin eater, Abbie tries to inject Christmas spirit into the ongoing apocalypse, and Frank Irving looks for faith and family in “The Golem,” the last episode of Sleepy Hollow until the new year. Daddy issues abound as some characters get sidelined, and tension builds to draw viewers towards what will surely be an overwhelming finale. Also, THERE’S A BABY. THERE IS A BAAAAAABY! LOOK AT THE BAAAAABY!

Since our regular Sleepy Hollow recapper, Leah, is even now enjoying the Tuscan sun, far away from any American apocalypses, I’ll be filling in for her this week.

Since November’s “Sanctuary” dropped the bomb on us that Katrina and Ichabod had a child, it’s no surprise that Ichabod is a bit out of sorts. We find him taking out his frustration on unsuspecting logs, chopping firewood at the cabin he inherited from Corbin. Abbie arrives, baffling him with her modern interpretation of Christmas (Christmas trees are “Celebrating Yuletide with a titular display of lumber”), although he does recognize the concept of eggnog.

Abbie knows what’s really bugging Crane, and she does her best to talk him through his woes about his unknown son. Crane is sure that their fates will impact the war they’re fighting, and uses that to justify his determination to know what became of his son, but Abbie has some doubts. After all, every time Katrina’s tried to contact them she’s had to move “some pretty freaky mountains.” Luckily, a taxi arrives with Crane’s favorite person “capable of moving ‘freaky’ mountains.” Enter Henry Parrish, sin eater.

Parrish is as strange, nervous, and wonderful as ever. He doesn’t want to be touched, saying it’s “not a good idea,” and he doesn’t think he can help, but Ichabod insists that he reach across realms. He relents, although bridging Crane and Katrina will put his life at risk. He tries to warn Crane off, and suggests that what is about to happen might scare Abbie, but neither of them are having any of it. So, Henry shrugs, gives Crane the preamble, and gets a-stranglin’. Apparently “the closer he is to death, the shorter the distance is to travel.”

The choking transports Ichabod straight into the spooky, blurry house that Abbie visited back in “The Sin-Eater,” complete with the ominous stroller and terrifying potato doll. He comes face to face with his wife for the first time in, oh, it feels like ages, and she’s got some ’splainin to do. She does her best: their son’s name is Jeremy, she didn’t know she was pregnant when she buried him, and she gave their baby to the sanctuary in order to save him from her scary coven. LUCKILY, she didn’t leave him with absolutely nothing. She made him a lovely friend, Mr. Potato Horror, the protective doll. Oh, Katrina, why....

Ichabod and Katrina almost get to kiss, but they’re interrupted by the Giant Faceless Monster-of-the-Week, who breaks down the door and scares Crane back into the world of the living. Abbie, Crane, and Henry have their first clue for where to look for young Jeremy, and they resolve to do so. Then, elsewhere, the leather-faced monstrosity rises from the earth, and we cut to main credits.

Crane does the math, and determines that if his son had three children, then by now there could be, as Abbie puts it, “6000 little Ichabods.” (Someone Photoshop that for me, right now.) Abbie suggests their next destination, the Historical Society library, but they’re interrupted by Henry, who is concerned that his train leaves in eighteen minutes. Crane tries to get him to keep helping, but Henry is extremely reluctant. “The 8:05 train, seat 15B, I do my crosswords, they settle me.” Abbie wins him over by pointing out how little family all three of them have left. Luckily, he knows that there’s a “train that leaves at 12:44 AM,” and once he has Abbie’s word that he’ll be on it, he hops in the back of the Apocalypse-mobile.

Cut to Frank, sitting in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He’s looking for some religious insight into the fate of the witnesses, who his pastor describes as “martyrs.” Frank doesn’t seem too keen on being an apostle to martyrs, a position that tends to have the same long-term reward structure. We learn more about his family woes. His daughter was hit by a car, his wife left him when he buried himself in his work. If God has a plan, he wants to know, who’s it for?

At the Historical Society, Crane quickly shows how much more he knows about history than any petty librarian. She points him at the most likely location of anything helpful, then excuses herself, with a sneaky-glare. Crane and Abbie find themselves under some mistletoe, which Crane does recognize. A charged moment passes, but Abbie deflates it, reminding Crane that they should get to work.

The records show that the house Grace Dixon took Jeremy to burned down, apparently by his latent Witch powers. Crane expresses guilt for his son killing Abbie’s ancestor, but Parrish tells him that he can’t blame himself. When Abbie speculates that the librarian won’t be able to help find the orphanage Jeremy was taken to either, Henry reveals another helpful power: he can smell lies, which are also sins, and the librarian reeks with them. They realize she’s gone, and rush to find her, but she’s already been smashed by the monster. Henry realizes he’s not going to be catching the 12:44 AM train, either.

Back in New York, Irving’s visiting his family. His ex-wife (estranged wife?) Cynthia zings him good, and Macey wheels in to see him apologizing to her, saying she deserved better. She says that if he had told her that a year ago, he’d “still be living in this house.” Macey wheels up and interrupts them, in her adorablest way.

Abbie, Crane and Henry set to research, although Henry is mostly doing crosswords. Crane helps him out, providing an antiquated word or two, then discusses the way language has evolved. Quoth Abbie: “So, if I went out with a guy, and we had awful intercourse, we’d be going on a second date?” Then they find a box that makes Henry jump. It’s filled with pain, and emblazoned with the symbol of Katrina’s coven. Inside is a little book, reeking with anger, pain, and death. Crane opens the book and finds a charming drawing of a charming doll that must have made a charming toy. Such a pleasant gift from a truly thoughtful mother. Yup, it’s the potato doll, and the drawing and emotion was Jeremy’s. The priest who ran his orphanage tried to whip him into righteousness, eventually forcing him to transform the doll into a friendly monster.

Cut to a park, where Macey is schooling her father on Internet. (“It’s called a vine... but it has nothing to do with shrubbery... on YouTube?” “YouTube videos are like three minutes long. No one has time for that.”) Irving notices Macey looking wistfully at people playing frisbee, but tells her dad that his attempts to take her to wheelchair sports camp make her feel kind of helpless. She tells him she’s not going to let anything beat her, and also that hot chocolate would help her fight the problems. Then it’s puppy time!

The hot chocolate man calls Macey a strong kid, then starts asking weird questions about how strong she is. “Strong enough to fight for her soul?” His eyes go white, and he quotes what Irving said in the church. Frank freaks out on him, knocking him into a passing woman, and the man snaps out of it. The cops intercede, but Irving shows his badge and takes Macey away. The woman’s eyes go milky white, and she drops more creepy omens.

Back in research land, Henry tries to console Ichabod, who is having a major guilt attack over failing to raise his own son. A phrase he uses, “made from your clay,” gives Crane the inspiration he needs to piece the puzzle together. Potato Doll Man is a golem! Abbie chimes in that she heard about golems in Sunday school, calling them “magical attack dogs.” (Who teaches about magical attack dogs in Sunday school? Is this standard practice?) It is imbued with Jeremy’s most ardent passions. Abbie notices that one of the carnival posters they’ve been looking through has the four veiled women from her first vision of Katrina. They’re called “The Four who Speak as One,” and they’re the women who banished Katrina to Purgatory. Crane decides that they can also bring her back. Luckily, the carnival is in town right now.

At the carnival, Crane insists on going in alone, since it’s only right that the women who imprisoned his wife get a piece of his mind. No one is pleased with this, but Crane barrels in. This is the second week in a row where Crane decided to take the ass-kicking into his own hands, and I have to say, vengeance is NOT a good look for him.

Anyway, he makes his way into the tent of the Four, and proceeds to participate in a poorly acted interview with a foursome of evil witches with terrible dental care. They give him a flashback attack, gasp about his lifeline (oy), and recognize him for who he is. His arrival has been foretold to seal their fate. They will die tonight.

Crane tries to save them in exchange for Katrina’s release. They’d rather let fate kill them. Fine, he says. A golem is coming anyway. That riles them up, getting all upset about his attempts to defy fate, just like Katrina. They narrate how Jeremy’s golem killed everyone who came near him. Jeremy chose to be alone instead of accepting their help, so they imprisoned the golem, stopped his heart, and buried him.

Fair’s fair.

They tell him that his son’s blood gave the golem life, and only his blood can end it. Crane doesn’t immediately figure out this riddle, since apparently he failed Metaphorology 101. The golem arrives, kills all the witches, and our dream team flees, momentarily arrested by Crane’s horror of funhouse mirrors. The golem destroys the mirror, a shard of which lodges in Crane. He removes the shard, which is covered in blood, and Henry finally cracks the code.

Crane confronts the golem with the bloodied shard, and gives him a long speech about how sorry he is that he didn’t get to be Jeremy’s father. He begs the creature to stop. They both have to let Jeremy go. The monster pauses for a moment, then decides that’s nonsense, and charges, getting an abdomen full of blood and glass.

Crane cradles the monster as it dies, and for a moment it doesn’t seem like he can tell that this golem and his son are separate beings. Crane is left holding the doll, the battle finally over.

It’s the next morning, and Henry is really, truly, making the train this time. But before he goes, he admits that he now recognizes that he has been called to help Team Witness. Henry gives Ichabod the best condolences he can: “We never really bury the dead, son. We take them with us. It is the price of living.”

He leaves, and Abbie gives him his Christmas present. She “embroidered his name on some oversized hosiery,” as Crane puts it. Or, in Modern Human, she got him a stocking.

As soon as she leaves, the mirror in the room breaks, and Ichabod is back in the forest, being taunted by Moloch. He gives him a riddle, heralding the end of days. Ichabod demands that Moloch face him, so the demon steps up and smacks him halfway across the forest. He wakes up and delivers the bad news to Abbie: Moloch is coming for her soul, and says Crane will deliver it to him.

Closing Thoughts:

Abbie had almost nothing to do in this episode. On rewatching it, I discovered that she provided most of the hints that delivered us from scene to scene, but if this show wants to keep me interested it’s going to need to give her more than that to do. Sleepy Hollow can’t become the Ichabod and Friends show.

“The Golem” was about fatherhood in a big way, and really succeeded at bringing the painful loss of family forward in all of our heroes. Crane’s displacement seems to be coming to a head. I really think that, at the end, he couldn’t tell the difference between the golem and Jeremy. This main theme tied Frank’s b-plot in wonderfully, which is a good thing, as the Frank Irving family times plot was by far the best part of the episode. Frank is being humanized at last. His apology to his ex-wife is heartbreaking. And, of course Amandla Stenberg and Orlando Jones killed their scene in the park. AND SHE CALLS HIM POPSKI. Spinoff please.

Katrina gets to be way more of a real person this episode, which means transferring from “entirely exposition” to “mostly exposition.” I’m not really sure I like what we see from her, though. I cannot imagine a worse toy to give to a child than that potato doll. Jeeze.

Finally, let’s talk about how relentlessly wonderful Henry Parrish is. He’s an old man, trying as hard as he can to live a calm and normal life, but still stepping up when he knows he has to. He got more characterization in this episode than everyone else put together.

Next episode will air January 13th, and it will almost certainly contain way more interesting stuff for Abbie Mills to do. We’ll see you then!


Carl Engle-Laird is an editorial assistant for Tor.com. He is not as good at crosswords as either Crane or Parrish. You can follow him on Twitter here.

9 comments
Bridget McGovern
1. BMcGovern
So...I just watched the episode. Are we definitely buying that Jeremy is dead? Or, at least, that he's staying dead? I know the creepy sideshow coven stopped his heart, but if he's only magically (mostly) dead, isn't there a possibility of un-cursing him (either via the Four themselves, Katrina, or some sort of Princess Bride-style Miracle Max bonbon of life....like, maybe for sweeps?).

Otherwise, the whole revelation of a Crane child seems like a really long walk for very little water, beyond the obvious emotional payoff in this episode. I feel like they should at least bring Jeremy back long enough to confront Katrina about her bizarre doll-making choices. Abandonment is one thing, but if being trapped in Purgatory has kept KC from becoming the FAO Schwarz of Potato Horror Nightmare Babies, there might be a real silver lining, here...
Mordicai Knode
2. mordicai
Well we do know that his bloodline continues...

Marilynn Byerly
3. MByerly
Jeremy flinched when the dirt landed on his coffin. Either the actor's movement wasn't noticed by the director, or Jeremy is in the same sleep state as his dad was.

As BMcGovern says, Jeremy was a wasted plot point if he's totally dead so I'm guessing that Abbie's soul will be the price of his resurection.

And, historically, the doll is fairly period. It's only creepy by modern standards.

Katrina should have stayed in England to avoid her coven, and she shouldn't have joined such an evil "good" coven, but she made the only choices she could to protect Jeremy in America.
Bridget McGovern
4. BMcGovern
2. mordicai NICE. Now all I want is a Lilith/Bebe Neuwirth cameo. If Irving and his wife end up in couples therapy, we know who to call...

@ MByerly Agreed. I doubt we've seen the last of Jeremy, although I wonder what sort of character he'll be if/when he's resurrected. Given his incredibly traumatic early life, I'd expect him to be damaged, and people are never at their best after being dragged back from the dead/undead. I just hope the writers don't get bogged down in all the drama and daddy issues (assuming that's the direction they take--maybe they'll surprise us!)
Bridget McGovern
6. BMcGovern
5. mordicai I KNOW. I started, then deleted, about three different incredibly nerdy jokes about Bebe N. and she-demons and The End of Days in my last comment because, you know, you get it :) Hooray for Old Testament fun!
Anthony Pero
7. anthonypero
Lilith would have been an appropriate name for on eof the witches in this episode, what with the golem and all.
Anthony Pero
8. anthonypero
Also, they spent a ton of time on Abby in the first few episodes. They can't focus on every character every episode. In this show, you seem to get two characters focused on, one for the main plot, and one for character development. That is not substantially different than LOST, where you had one flashback character and one character that drove the plot forward every week, and they weren't the same character. We had a few episodes early on where Ichabod was just sort of there.

Now, the turn the writing has taken, Ichabod is a runaway train. I'm glad they are riding it, because he is by far the most interesting thing about this show. And Tom Mison is the one drawing all the raves online, sop its quite natural that they are capitalizing on that right now.
Pernilla Leijonhufvud
9. Therru
The doll may be period, but it's still pretty ugly. It looks like something a child has made for itself, not like a love-token painstakingly crafted by a Quaker mother as her farewell gift for a child she knows she'll never see again.

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