Season 4, Episode 15: “Kaddish”
“Kaddish” had a tough act to follow, and maybe it’s because it comes directly after “Memento Mori” that it isn’t remembered well. Which is a shame, because “Kaddish” is an incredibly well-done episode in almost every way. The story is touching, the acting is great, the music is beautiful and the direction superb. If there was ever an episode that deserves to join the Under-Appreciated Club, it’s this one.
Maybe the reason people don’t remember “Kaddish” is because this time around, the focus isn’t on Mulder and Scully but instead the guest characters. Mulder and Scully are at front and center but the story itself centers on the tragic love between the deceased Isaac Luria and his widow Ariel, as well as the continued persecution of Jews. (By the way, If you’re one of those people that thinks Anti-Semitism doesn’t exist anymore you might want to stop reading this.)
There are many things about this episode I could praise, but for me the best part, the episode’s heart, if you will, is the exchange between Ariel and Mulder and Scully as she explains her father’s ring. It’s a beautiful, sad, painfully real moment. You really feel the pain, joy, and sorrow of this family who has suffered tremendous oppression. The rest of the case, Mulder and Scully’s purpose for being there in the first place, fades into the background as we hear of this ring and what it means to the family. You can see how invested both Mulder and Scully are in Ariel’s story. Mulder especially looks like he’s about to cry.
The camerawork in this episode is nothing short of spectacular. It’s some of the best work of the fourth season. The angles, the lighting, the eerie golden glow, it all serves to add to this deeply sorrowful tone they’re going for. The way the camera travels through shots as if we the audience were walking along with Mulder and Scully is something different and also gives us unique monster attacks from the golem.
I suppose if I had to make one complaint, it’s that, spectacular camerawork aside, the monster itself could have been more compelling. I like the twist that Ariel was the one that conjured the golem but the golem itself isn’t all that scary. Still, it’s a minor complaint.
I don’t really know what else to say about this one – I just think it’s really good. Definitely deserves another watch if you haven’t seen it in a while.
Final score for “Kaddish” is 9/10. I docked a point for an underwhelming monster, but I think this episode is extremely well done.
- That “a Jew pulled it off 2000 years ago” line is one of my all time favorite Mulder moments. It reminds me of the part in “Fresh Bones” where Mulder completely owns the military dude. It’s such an amazing comeback.
- O Cancer, where art thou? “Kaddish” was shot three episodes before “Memento Mori,” so if we’re still operating on “Never Again” logic Scully doesn’t actually have cancer in this one. It’s up to you, though.
- The entire last scene where Ariel says goodbye is beautiful. Just beautiful.