“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. I don’t.” – Mad Sweeney
The first chapter of the American Gods TV series has come to a close and, a little over 12 hours later, I’m still processing my feelings about the Season One finale. If you haven’t finished watching the show, I don’t recommend reading much further. And if you haven’t checked out my hopes and predictions for the episodes, you can read that here.
I’ll admit right away, I was wrong about a few things but glad to be wrong where I was. The episode began by exploring a “Coming to America” story we had already seen, that of Bilquis, the Queen of Sheba. This one was also narrated by Anansi unlike the usual storyteller, Mr. Ibis. Most of all, I loved the disco scenes in Tehran because I think for most younger audiences members, their ideas of Iran and it’s history are skewed only to the radical violence we’ve seen in the media for so long. It’s almost disorienting to imagine the kind of culture that used to exist in a place most of us only think of as being bleak and war torn. It also carried a strong female-first message that would resonate later in the show: that men are always the enemy of strong women.
Kristin Chenoweth was by far the shining star in the episode. Her chipper charm, littered with a sporadic stress-induced curse, is beyond wonderful. Though I’m still especially disappointed by the lack of singing, I know I can’t win them all. And I really enjoyed her relationship with the multiple Jesuses who we see attending her Easter celebration: white Jesus, black Jesus, Asian Jesus, baby Jesus suckling at his mother’s breast and others turned the episode into a Where’s Waldo of the Son of Christ. It also made for a nice juxtaposition between Easter and the idea Jesus, because even though there are many faces and races of Christ, there is only one Easter, one pure flowery, cotton-tailed sigil of spring.
The scene with Bilquis and Technical Boy at the museum left a bit to be desired for the episode as a whole and I think it could have been tacked on at the end of the story Anansi tells just as well. Similar could be said for Shadow and his heart-to-heart with Jesus in the pool though it was a good laugh. And it’s also the first time we see Shadow actively grappling with this crazy world he’s been plopped into after the reality of his situation finally sets in.
I also can’t wait to find out why it is Easter owes Mad Sweeney a favor. She’s clearly an Old God who still holds a substantial amount of power compared to her peers so what favor could she have needed from a leprechaun must be an interesting one that we will have to wait for next season to find out. I also loved the twist that Laura couldn’t be brought back due to the circumstances surrounding her death. Had she been “resurrected” this soon into the series, her whole journey so far would have felt a little unsubstantial as I think she has a lot of repenting to do.
The last scene with Laura and Mad Sweeney was also fantastic. Most all of their scenes are. But this one laid out some answers pretty clearly for audiences: Why Laura was killed? Why Wednesday chose Shadow? How “divine intervention” had more to do with things than she believed? And it leaves us with a bigger question hanging against the wall by its balls: What does Wednesday have to lose?
The New Gods intimidation tactic including the Children had me on the edge of my seat and it was nice to see two strong female goddesses facing one another down. Media makes mention of Saint Nick making the same deal that Easter did, allowing his worship to be globalized under the umbrella of Christianity. Media reminds Easter that, “The only reason why you’re relevant is because Easter is a Christian holiday. It’s religious Darwinism. Adapt and survive.” And though Easter appears to have made some sort of alliance with these modern gods, it doesn’t seem to be an outright declaration of allegiance.
Wednesday’s speech was something else. I had figured the scene with Mr. World standing before storm clouds would have been caused by Mr. World’s appearance but I was glad to see Mr. Wednesday give a glimpse of his true powers and for Easter to show just how strong a Queen, when worshiped and paid proper tribute, could be.
But I’m truly unsure of just what the next season will bring and this finale, as a whole, has left us with more questions than answers. Easter has sapped the life from every crop in the heartlands and even she seemed shocked at her power, but the implications of her actions aren’t clear. Bilquis appears to be playing a bigger role in the story than they’re letting on. I had assumed hers would be a very one-off story but her involvement with the New Gods seems to be taking on a bigger role. And what is Wednesday’s next step for Season Two. I can assume more gods will be added to each sides roster but this could subsequently lead to a rather repetitive middle season. If Season One did anything, it was to finally get Shadow to believe, not just in Wednesday but in the possibility of a whole other realm of beings bigger than himself.. Which is nice for putting things into perspective when your dead wife is staring you down for the second time.