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Recap / The X-Files S04 E15 "Kaddish"

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Season 4, Episode 15:

Flashes of lightning, the first signs of a monster's movement... you can make Frankenstein comparisons now.
Written by Howard Gordon
Directed by Kim Manners

Kenneth: See, Mr. Mulder, therein lies the paradox... because the danger of the truth is contained in the word Golem itself. Which means matter without form, body without soul.
Mulder: So the Golem is an imperfect creation.
Kenneth: Oh, kind of a monster, really. Unable to speak or feel anything but the most primitive of emotions. It runs amok.

Mulder suspects that a golem, a monster described in Jewish folklore, may be responsible for the deaths of several people who murdered a Jewish man.


  • Ambiguously Jewish: The anti-Semitic shop-owner suggests that Mulder is Jewish.
  • Asshole Victims: The teenagers who murdered Isaac, and the man that incited them to it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ariel is able to say goodbye to Isaac... before she wipes off the aleph that ends the golem's existence.
  • Bookends: The episode opens with the קדיש אחר הקבורה (mourner's Kaddish) at Isaac's funeral and ends with Ariel repeating it to her golem.
  • Came Back Wrong: The murderous golem that Isaac has become.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Brunjes is horrified to learn that the young men he's converted to racism actually murdered Isaac, as he claims to be opposed to violence (though it's more likely because of the police attention rather than any moral qualms). The killer simply responds to this by calling him a coward.
  • Golem: Isaac.
  • Immune to Bullets: The golem, of course.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The golem.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Brunjes, the cloistered Neo-Nazi shop owner, who distributes white supremacist material from the back of his store. His younger associates are drinking the kool aid as well. The original outline for the episode involved one too, a Louis Farrakhan-esque villain, but Fox worried The X-Files' popularity among black viewers would suffer from this and so had the script rewritten.
  • The Power of Language:
    • As a Talmud scholar explains to Mulder, Kabbala and other forms of Jewish mysticism take this quite literally; in the legend of the Golem, the "on/off switch" for animating and then de-animating it is to inscribe the Hebrew word for "truth" on its clay skin, then remove one letter and convert the word to "death";
    • Subverted in the character of Brunjes, who inveighs against his Jewish neighbors in both speech and print, then acts surprised and appalled when the young men he's converted to his racist views actually cross the line into violence;
    • Lampshaded with the following exchange:
      Brunjes: What the hell were you thinking? I never told you to kill anyone. I never said to do that.
      Derek: No? What did you expect me to do? Hide back here like you? Licking envelopes in the dark, calling them names?
      Brunjes: We're working to spread the truth.
      Derek: The truth? Man, you're as pathetic as they are.
      Brunjes: I am exposing their lies.
      Derek: Those are just words. You think they killed my friends with just words?
  • Resurrected Romance: Isaac and Ariel.
  • Shout-Out: Ariel mentions how her family hails from Prague, the city famous for the Golem legend.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Isaac and Ariel were already married, but he was killed before the wedding at the synagogue, so the trope somehow fits.
  • With This Ring: A beautiful ceremonial ring used for Jewish wedding is a part of the backstory. It's shaped like a huge castle with exquisite detail.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Ariel's father was a member of the Irgun in his youth and carried out a terrorist bombing against the British, which is part of why Scully suspects him of committing the murders.

Itgadal ve-itkadash shemei raba
Be-alma di-vra chi-r'utei
Ve-yamlich malchutei
Ve-yatzmah purkanei
Vi-karev meshihei
Be-hayechon u-v-yomechon u-v-hayei de-chol beit Israel, Ba-agala u-vi-zman kariv ve-imru amen. Translation