I Put A Spell On You: Sleepy Hollow “The Golem” Review
Back from another hiatus Sleepy Hollow aired its last original episode of the year, titled “The Golem.” During the hour we were (finally) shown more about Katrina, uncovered some unsettling realities about the Cranes’ son, and learned that of all the members of the apocalypse stopping team, Ichabod is the weakest link.
Ichabod is still dwelling on the secrets that Katrina has kept from him when Abbie suggests there might be a legitimate reason for it. Cue Henry Parish (guest star John Noble) who’s here to help Ichabod contact his witchy wife and figure out what the heck she’s been up to. Parish tries to carefully explain the danger of what must happen in order for Ichabod to access purgatory, but neither Ichabod or Abbie are hearing it. Parish reluctantly agrees to do it and once Ichabod crosses over we get some meaty exposition.
As Ichabod confronts Katrina about their son, she fumbles out that there was limited time and, you know, earth saving priorities. She does eventually go into detail, providing us with a timeline for her pregnancy, why she and her son, Jeremy, parted, and how she ended up in Moloch’s grasp. Apparently Katrina’s coven wasn’t happy with her stealing away her husband’s body. Keeping her son’s own safety in mind, she left him with Grace and her husband. Her coven did eventually catch up to her though, banishing her to Purgatory.
After getting a decent explanation, Ichabod resolves to finding out what happened to their son. In true fashion when he rises from his Purgatory state so does a monster known as the Golem. Before the Golem and team are formally introduced, the trio heads over to the historical society to dig up some info on Crane’s son. While there they discover quite a few startling things. First, Jeremy killed Abbie’s ancestors (Grace and her husband) in a fire he started simply by crying. Jeremy had powers like his mother.
Second, after the death of Abbie’s ancestors, Jeremy was sent away to an orphanage with where he was mistreated. One time he was mistreated a little too much and instead of another “firestarter” incident, he turned a doll his mother made him into a real life monster. The final thing we learn is that the historical society librarian had ties to Katrina, and as a result has been smashed in her car by none other than the Golem. It would seem that Mrs. Crane’s coven is still alive and well. Ichabod, driven by his guilt and rage, marches on to “handle” the remaining members of the coven.
They all wind up at a creepy carnival, but when Abbie and Henry try to follow in, Ichabod suggests it would be better for him to do this alone. As Ichabod meets the witches for the first time, they announce the coming of their own end. So instead of using their lives as a bartering chip for Katrina’s, Ichabod listens to them explain what happened after his on left the orphanage. Jeremy traveled around with the Golem, the two quite a powerful force. When the witches interjected and tried to “help” Jeremy, he refused so they banished the monster to Purgatory.
Baby Crane – with his ever growing powers – was a different story. They couldn’t send him away so they offered him a place in the coven. Again he refused so they hexed his heart and put him in the ground. Soon after all this is revealed, the witches meet their fate. Now it’s up to Ichabod to put a stop to the monster. Only Jeremy’s blood can kill it and luckily for us, Ichabod’s got some. He kills the beast after sharing a quiet moment with the thing that kept his son safe when he couldn’t. That’s not the end of monster run-ins for Ichabod though, as he and Moloch meet again and the demon tells our 250 year old witness that he will deliver Abbie’s soul to his pale claws.
Meanwhile, Frank is trying to make sense of his new life and amend for his actions over the past year with his family. After meeting with a priest, Frank uncovers his role as an apostle and that as the witnesses die, so will he. To get over the reality that he may die fighting a war that isn’t his, he spends time with his daughter at the park. It is there that he learns the war if very much his and that the monster may be using his family as chips in an apocalyptic game.
The pace of this episode was arguably the slowest of Sleepy Hollow’s 10 episode arc. Our leads were also not the most interesting characters, despite the episode’s narrative focusing heavily on one. John Noble delivered a suburb performance as Parish, providing humor and gravity to a somewhat emotionally static storyline. The new personality he brings to Team Witness makes his membership all the more welcome. Frank Irving’s growing personal storyline took an interesting turn, transforming him from a simple side character to a major game player. Amandla Stenberg and Orlando Jones have a heart warming dynamic that is a nice break from the darker elements of the show, though it’s unclear how long this will last.
Viewers got their first real taste of Katrina Crane and it added some much needed meat to her development. At one point it even worked against Ichabod’s. I’ve argued in previous reviews that the first half of the season belonged to Abbie and the second half to Ichabod, but Ichabod’s has belonged more so to him. Katrina, Ichabod’s only real relationship outside of the second witness, has been used as a device, even when the situation might be more about her. In this episode, however, the Cranes’ storyline finally took on some wider emotional weight, in part to Katia Winter’s performance, as we watched a mother fight and fail to keep her family together.
Katrina lied to her husband to hide a pregnancy that could put her, her child and the life of her husband in danger (Ichabod more so for concentration and emotional stability reasons). She never had the opportunity, because of Ichabod’s death, to reveal or share in one the greatest happiness’s of her life. Soon after, the people presumably closest to her (outside of Ichabod) threatened her life and ultimately the life of her child. Forced to part with the one thing that meant most to her and the only thing that linked her to her dead husband, she fled without her family and still ended up in Purgatory. All of this because she chose love over comfort.
The episode’s focus was ultimately about Ichabod’s determination to rectify his wrongs. It was meant for us to understand and sympathize with his hurt over the loss of his family and his perceived guilt. What the culmination of this three episode arc has left us with is a man who is greatly hurting, won’t let anyone help him, and now – according to Moloch – will be Team Witness’ downfall. What does this signal for Ichabod and the larger story’s development? Will he remain in this pool of emotions constantly trying not to drown, or will Ichabod finally accept the weight of his life as a witness and become stronger for it?
What also became clearer is how much Abbie is taking a backseat to Crane in his arc, unlike he in her own. Part of this comes from how much humor fills the space of a plot line. Crane has acted primarily as Sleepy Hollow‘s comic relief. Abbie’s always been more of the play it straight partner. With the perspective switch, there’s less humor to balance the heavy emotional development. As a result it can feel like you’re dodging a plethora of angst darts while Abbie stands around and consoles from a distance the (literal) old soul. Up the humor on Abbie’s end and you’ll up her presence, even if not developmentally, on the show.
Another reason is that for the third time, Ichabod – probably the least equipped to physically handle modern day monster battle – has decided to go at something alone. One of Abbie’s greatest attributes is her fighting ability and she has more often than Crane saved the day. It probably wouldn’t be so obvious that she’s sitting out if she was doing something other than… well, sitting out. Even the character notes this – in a joke – as Ichabod marches into a den full of witches. Abbie’s hero arc felt more dynamic because of how many other supporting characters were allowed to do their jobs and support. Ichabod’s arc, while moving, has felt slower and less exciting.
The episode’s conclusion did appear to signify a move back towards the central story. When the show returns next year hopefully we are privy to episodes aware that when the duo plays together, viewers stay together.
Sleepy Hollow returns with all new episodes Monday, January 13 at 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.