After a “calm-before-the-storm” penultimate episode that slowed-downed the action a bit, American Gods finds a number of its storylines ready to collide at the front steps of Ostara’s (goddess of Spring also known as Easter, played by Kristin Chenoweth) palatial estate as the season finale Come To Jesus begins. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) is looking for a “queen” (Ostara). Shadow (Ricky Whittle) is looking for answers. Laura (Emily Browning) is looking to get her life back (literally) with Shadow. Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) is looking to turn his luck around. Media (Gillian Anderson), Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) and Mr. World (Crispin Glover) are looking to avoid a war but are growing impatient. Throughout it all? Ostara just wants things to go smoothly so that her holiday partner Jesus (Jeremy Davies) and his “pals” don’t get too upset…but inside of her, something is stirring. Meanwhile, Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) has had a favor called-in so she’s on a journey to…
Whoah. Relax. We’e going to get into a lot of that in a minute. But first? Because we give a damn…
***THERE WILL BE SOME MAJOR SPOILAGE TAKING PLACE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD!***
Once again, this is not a formal review…more of a recap that covers some themes and “takeaways” involving major plotlines and developments from the episode. If you’re not familiar with the book or the show, you definitely want to keep that warning in mind. If you are a fan of the novel or have some idea of what’s ahead, then spoilers probably aren’t that big of an issue for you but there may be some visual surprises or subtle changes that you might want to avoid until you see them for yourself.
So here’s what STARZ had to tell us ahead of Come To Jesus:
On the eve of war, Mr. Wednesday must recruit one more Old God: Ostara, né Easter, Goddess of the Dawn But winning her over will require making a good impression, and that is where Mr. Nancy comes in.
Overall Takeaway: Let me start by saying that overall, American Gods ended their first season on an incredibly strong note by giving us some answers, raising some intriguingly new questions and teasing scenarios that will keep viewers guessing throughout the second season filming hiatus. Now I know some of you are thinking that there isn’t really any big mystery since the book is the source material, but we’re already beginning to get the sense that the series has planted “seeds” of future storylines that go beyond Neil Gailman‘s novel. I know that there are still some major plot points from the novel that still need to shown; but to satisfy a thirteen episode second season, I can’t see how Bryan Fuller and company can keep from moving the story beyond the last page.
As for the thematic takeaway from the episode? I think that it can best be summed-up with two quotes, both from Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones):
“They grabbed the power they were too scared for a queen to have.”
“And there’s no end to the cruelty of men threatened by strong women.”
Whether it’s Ostara’s dealings with both Wednesday and Jesus; Bilquis’ dealings with Tech Boy; or Laura’s dealings with Mad Sweeney (and soon, Wednesday), one thing is clear: whether a god or a mortal, women have always had to deal with weak men looking to control and subjugate them out of fear of a woman’s power. Women are asked to sacrifice more to receive less…and to smile while doing it. Ostara has found herself having to sublease her holiday to Jesus, and finds herself being manipulated by Wednesday’s lies. For the sake of getting back some of her pride and self-respect, Bilquis finds herself forced to do the biddings of Tech Boy. Laura has to rely on Mad Sweeney’s resurrection promise just to get her life back…only to find out that “divine intervention” made her a pawn in a power move she’s only just now beginning to piece together. And she’s really not happy about it. In each of these scenarios, we have powerful female characters forced into situations by those who either are ignorant of or underestimate their real potential. So when we see Ostara completely unleash at the end of the episode and then hear Laura say, “I’d like to have a word with my husband,” we’re left with a strong feeling that female voices will be getting a lot louder and harder to be silenced charging into the second season.
Spare Parts: So here are some random thoughts, quotes and observations from tonight’s season finale…
● “This is all too big. Too much going on at once. We should start with a story,” as Mr. Nancy begins to tell us the tale of Bilquis and Jones proves yet again why he needs to be included in any serious Emmy Award conversations…and again, for a show like American Gods with a laundry list of great performances that’s no small praise at all.
● Temple of Bar’An in 864 BCE might be the kinda’ place I’d worship at, but I’d really need to keep-up on my abs.
● That crown that formed at the top of that dude’s head made my real head hurt just by watching it happen.
● “When the queen was done with you, you were gone. Worse ways to go.” -Mr. Nancy
● Blood sacrifice under a blood moon? Hmmm…might rethink that whole “…I’d worship at…” idea.
● We’re now in Tehran in 1979, and I’m digging “Donna Summer” Bilquis on so many levels…
● “Mile-High Club'”? More like…“Mile-DIE Club”! (Please feel free to hate me as much for that one as I hate myself. Which is a lot. A whole helluva’ lot).
● “So long as I’m still alive, I can adapt. I still know what I am.” -Mr. Nancy (re: Bilquis)
● In 2013, Bilquis is at her lowest point when Tech Boy offers to “reboot” her faith…a favor that comes with strings attached: “Worship is a volume business. Whosoever has the most followers wins the game.”
● “Life is long when you have regret.” -Mr. Nancy
● “You better get yourself a queen. Because you killed one of their’s.” -Mr. Nancy to Wednesday
● “Do not confuse ‘confusion’ with ‘anger’.” -Wednesday to Shadow
● “I’m not confused. I’m very confused.” -Shadow to Wednesday
● “You’re not angry, Shadow. But you do have to start getting angry.” -Wednesday to Shadow
● “Angry…gets shit done.” -Mr. Nancy to Shadow
● Shadow is faced once again with his dream/visions of climbing a mountain of skulls only to reach the tree and the white buffalo before waking-up in the car as he and Wednesday make their way to Ostara’s estate.
● Bunnies!!!!! I love bunnies! I can’t wa-
● Oh. Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Not by any stretch of the imagination…with Wednesday’s “We might not be welcome at first” now a ten-ton understatement.
● I don’t care where they come from…I still love jelly beans.
● “Some for the rabbits. Some for the resurrection.” -Wednesday
● Oh no! It’s…Crisis on Infinite Jesus-es!
● “I’m not here for Christ’s sake. I’m here for all our sakes.” Wednesday to Ostara
● “This is the boy who has everybody so upset?” Ostara to Wednesday (re: Shadow)
● “You do all the work, he gets all the prayers!” Wednesday to Ostara (re: Jesus)
● The chemistry that I saw between Whittle and Chenoweth at the American Gods media day is evident in every scene they share together: their chemistry bleeds off the screen and makes you smile every time they return flirting glances with one another.
● Tech Boy is calling-in his favor to Bilquis, a favor that Tech Boy doesn’t want satisfied through Bilquis’ “special charms,” having no interest in “feeding your soul from the vagina nebula.”
● “Jesus Christ, are those all…Jesuses?” -Laura
● “Even if you don’t believe, you cannot travel in any other way than the road your senses show you and you must walk that road to the end.” -Jesus to Shadow
● Ostara attempts to bring Laura back to life, only to discover that Laura has suffered the “wrong death”: death at the hands of a god…a death Ostara does not have the ability to change (“You’re ‘dead’ of a different kind.”)
● “I was killed by a god. Which…fucking…god?” Laura to Mad Sweeney
● Laura brutalizes Mad Sweeney’s “lucky charms” until Mad Sweeney tells her the truth: Wednesday has been manipulating Shadow’s life for some time now, including the “fool-proof” casino robbery plan that went south (“It wasn’t a perfect plan. Didn’t account for ‘divine intervention,” did ‘ya?” -Mad Sweeney). Though not on the level of the gods, you can’t help but have some level of fear for Wednesday’s well-being when Laura asks, “What does Wednesday have to lose?”
● “It’s religious Darwinism. Adapt and survive.” Media to Ostara
● “I dedicate these deaths to Ostara!” -Wednesday
● Wednesday sacrifices Media’s and Tech Boy’s minions to Ostara, reveling himself to be Odin and convincing Ostara to unleash her true powers.
● “Tell the believers and the non-believers, we’ve taken the spring! They can have it back when they pray for it!” -Wednesday
● Media and Tech Boy retreat…but not before Mr. World warns that lines have been crossed and that war is coming. Wednesday seems satisfied with how his plans are going…but Laura’s not going to let that last for too long. Next season? The war for the heart, mind and soul of Shadow Moon.
● Meanwhile, we find Bilquis on a bus heading to Wisconsin as she’s getting ready to “fuel-up,” for lack of a better phrase. Who could she be going to see in Wisconsin on behalf of Tech Boy? Hmmm…
Hope you enjoyed the episode (and the season), and that you get even more out of it again on re-watch. See you back here for American Gods, Season 2!
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