Our final episode of this first season of American Gods gives everyone their “come to Jesus” moments, from the old gods to the new, to Shadow, Laura and yes, even Jesus. All of Him.
American Gods is not the subtlest of shows, but then again TV is not the subtlest of mediums. For a Peak TV show it’s a bit in your face, a little too loudly on the nose, and very, very worried about spelling it all out for the slow people in the back. It also delights in the meta, which explains why the episode where all the characters have to grapple with what’s to come is one filled with as many Jesuses (Jesi?) as could possibly shoehorned into one Easter party.
Mr. Nancy: Once upon a time there was a fucking queen…..
My main complaint early on was the feeling like Fuller and company were using Mr. Nancy and Bilquis less as part of the story they were telling and more for shock value/ hot take style attention. It is therefore fitting that they brought both back tonight so that one could tell the story of the other–who she was, how she came here, how she fell…and how she re-rose to the devourer we met in the premiere.
She, like Vulcan, and like the Easter we meet this week, has made a deal with the new gods. “Religious Darwinism” as Media terms it. Taking the powers of the new gods (In Easter and St Nick’s case, the media, in Bliquis case, Technology boy) and became their disciples, as it were. They regained their worshippers via the gifts the more powerful gods bestowed.
Technology Boy: Impressive reach metrics. Deep penetration. Total unique impressions is what sells and no one leaves an impression more unique than you.
And though Mr. Nancy is not yet integrated into the main story, they at least gave Bilquis something to do, after all this sexytime. In a scene that seemed almost to acknowledge how they had treated her character in the first two episodes, Technology Boy called in the favor for bringing her back from the gutter to the getting by. (Also that shot about how no one calls anyone anymore on cell phones. Touche.) We should consider her powers armed, dangerous, and focused on whatever Old God it is Odin will be meeting at House on the Rock in Wisconsin when we get there is Season 2. Mr. Nancy is still mostly just tailoring, but we sincerely hope he too will be given more to do that saying “Once Upon a Time….”
But Mr. Nancy was shelved this week in favor of everyone heading to an Easter Party. it is in fact Sunday, but not just any given one–it’s the day that enough belief accidentally allowed a man to be resurrected, gosh darn it, right on the same day as Ostara’s major pagan ritual is played out. Since Media arrived and made her a deal, she has been having the biggest Jesus parties she can throw, every year, to thank Him, as well as feed off him as much as possible. (Something’s gotta pay for that plantation era HGTV-remodeled home she’s residing in.)
Shadow: That’s Jesus Christ?
Mr. Wednesday: A Jesus Christ. Some Jesus Christ.
But Odin–and let’s dispense with calling him anything else for the moment shall we?–isn’t having any of this old gods beholden to their new god patronage. He’s here to disrupt the system, as they say in Silicone Valley, giving Shadow the first proper glimpse of how much of a liar he is, and how easily Odin twists things to work on his own behalf, and manipulate those around him. (The using of the sword Vulcan made as “proof” he had converted to the Old God’s side before dying was a nice touch. One could argue the New Gods did kill Vulcan by not rushing to his side, I suppose.)
Shadow goes to hang with Jesus in the pool house, and have an existential crisis of the soul. it sounds good, this “you cannot travel in any other way than the road your senses show you. And you must walk that road to the end.” But the moment it’s typed out, it turns into the drivel and self helperism it really is. That’s the power of gods–the power to take something so simple and make it sound important. The fact that Shadow hears it and thinks he received wisdom suggests that those years that Laura poured the power of non belief into his ears are starting to crack.
Laura: The whole fucking time, the robbery, Shadow going to jail, me dying, act of god? Just fucking with us to fuck with us?
Sweeney: What do you think gods do? They do what they’ve always done: they fuck with us. They fuck with all of us. Don’t take it personally.
Speaking of! Laura and Sweeney show up as well–all our major characters in one place. I was slightly worried for a second that Easter would resurrect Laura and completely change the character’s trajectory. But thankfully no. Instead this was a great way to spell out that Odin has been behind all of the events of their lives for years–from the failure of the Casino heist on down, and that yes, Odin ordered the hit on Laura, and for that reason Easter cannot bring her back.
But can Laura really talk sense into Shadow? She’d decaying fast–her eyes now have a gross glaze to them and she’s vomiting maggots. Meanwhile, Odin as gotten what he was waiting for from Shadow–belief. Shadow now has something to live for that’s not Laura–that belief. And I believe that means she’s too late. The sides have been drawn in this war–old gods, vs new. And the old gods have stuck against humanity in a demand to be worshipped once again–they’ve taken spring, as Easter leaves the land dead and parched. All she had to do was get angry–after all, Angry Gets Shit Done.
How will humanity take all of this? (How will Media spin it?) That will have to wait for season 2. It’s going to be a long one…