Previously on American Gods, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”
One of the changes American Gods has made from its novel source material is the expansion of the roles of some of its female characters; characters who were definitely more supporting in the book — the show feels more like an ensemble cast than the story of an old god traveling with his non-believing bodyguard. We learned in the finale, “Come to Jesus,” that this deviation was for good reason. The women are all vital to success or failure of both sides. Bilquis and Easter are each courted by the old and new gods, and an undead Laura Moon may be the one thing Wednesday didn’t count on in his bid to gain Shadow’s allegiance.
Mr. Nancy takes a break from making Wednesday’s and Shadow’s Easter suits to tell the tale of Bilquis’ arrival in the United States. Despite the efforts of men to bring her down and diminish her power, Bilquis’ reign as the goddess of love was long: from 864 B.C.E. until she was forced to flee (in the hearts of her worshippers) war torn Iran in the ’80s. This places her in Hollywood at the height of the HIV/AIDs epidemic; not necessarily a time of casual sex. By 2013, she’s living on the streets, watching the destruction of her temple on the news when Technical Boy finds her and offers her a deal similar to Vulcan’s, and, as it turns out, St. Nick’s. Technical Boy convinces Bilquis that new followers are to be found online in dating apps. Though reluctantly, Bilquis has already thrown in with the new gods, and now that Wednesday is up to something, they’re calling in their favor.
Wednesday is already way ahead of Mr. Nancy’s advice to “get yourself a queen,” and arrives on Easter’s Kentucky doorstep on, of course, Easter Sunday. Long before Jesus Christ had the audacity to be resurrected on her day, Ostara (Ēostre) had festivals thrown in her honor to usher in spring, a time of new life and new beginnings.
While people may paint eggs, serve big dinners in the name of Easter, or head down to Florida for a week of drinking and debauchery, how many are actually doing it in her name or honor now? Jesus (and there are more than a dozen in attendance) gets all the love while Easter (Ostara) thrives merely as a byproduct with assistance from Media, who arrives decked out like Judy Garland in Easter Parade.
Media, accompanied by Technical Boy and his “children” decked out as Garland’s co-star Fred Astaire, wants to ensure Easter isn’t buying whatever it is Wednesday is selling. However, Wednesday has made a compelling argument (and like his conversation with Zorya Vechernyaya, he appeals to the ego of a god); not even Mr. World’s appearance – in the form of one of the faceless Astaires – does nothing to sway Easter to their side.
Things escalate when Wednesday strikes down the Astaires with lightning, doing so in Ostara’s name. He finally reveals his true self, making Shadow the absolute last person in the world to know that Wednesday is Odin. (I guess none of the books he read in prison were on Norse mythology.) The All-Father proves to be the ultimate hype man (and those sacrifices didn’t hurt), so Easter unleashes her power and removes spring — the budding flowers, growing crops, and lush greenery — from the countryside. If people want it back, Wednesday says, they can pray for it.
War has officially been declared, the board is set, and both sides have their queen as Bilquis arrives (along with what looks like a caravan of gods) at House on the Rock in Wisconsin.
It’s not clear why Shadow dreams of an orchard of bones and a buffalo with flaming eyes, or why Wednesday needs him so badly he killed people to guarantee his commitment, but Laura showing up just as Shadow finally announces his belief in Wednesday certainly won’t please Grimnir. Thanks to Easter’s inability to resurrect her and Mad Sweeney’s confession, Laura now knows Wednesday has been manipulating her husband’s life for years. So, who will Shadow believe in now?
Is Good? (And Other Bits of Note)
On last week’s podcast I’d commented that it was odd we hadn’t seen Bilquis approached by Wednesday or the new gods. Since she’d been using online dating in “The Bone Orchard,” I wondered if that signified she’d already “franchised” with the new gods. It makes sense that Wednesday might not have use for her since their domains are diametrically opposed: love and war. Though, maybe that’s the exact god you want on your side. Either way, I’m looking forward to Yetide Badaki having more to do in season two.
Mexican Jesus was definitely seen at Ostara’s Easter soirée, and this confirms that “killing” a god isn’t that simple. Also, it’s Jesus; he’s kinda known for coming back. This should prove interesting when it comes to Vulcan’s death and it being used as a tool to shore up more old god support for Wednesday.
I also wondered why they’d changed the last line of Essie’s story last week from what it was in the book. In the novel, the peas were half shucked when her body was found; on the show, the apples were half peeled. In this episode, Laura comments that squeezing Mad Sweeney’s balls out of their sac would be as easy as shucking peas. Mystery solved.
I wasn’t happy with the casting of Kristin Chenoweth as Easter since she’s definitely larger, curvier in the book. And I LOVE Kristin Chenoweth. Even though this one episode did nothing to explain why they couldn’t have cast an actress with a body type as described in the novel, I am completely sold on Chenoweth as Easter because, as always, she’s simply delightful and completely sells it.
Season two needs to be two things:
- Here, now.
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American Gods S1E8
"Come to Jesus"
Starring: Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Pablo Schreiber, Crispin Glover, Gillian Anderson, Demore Barnes, Cloris Leachman, Peter Stormare, Kristin Chenoweth, Orlando Jones