In the most recent episodes, it really hasn't felt like American Gods
is wrapping up its first season. Instead, it has almost been as if the series is ramping up, not slowing down. Yet with this episode, "Come to Jesus," the season 1 finale is here. While it definitely feels like American Gods
is in the middle of its story, "Come to Jesus" does manage to provide a climactic but still satisfying stopping point for now.
Season 2 should almost certainly have a few more episodes than season 1, to give the season more time to breathe, but season 1 does go off on a high, if abrupt, note.
Looking for a Queen
The episode opens with Mr. Nancy finally making his first appearance in Wednesday and Shadow's story after his amazing "Coming to America" sequence earlier this season. Nancy is making a pair of suits for the men, yet he takes time out of the tailoring to tell Wednesday and Shadow the story of how Bilquis found herself in America, sucking people up through her ... well, you know.
Though Bilquis remains an interesting character throughout the sequence, this is one of the weakest "Coming to America" cold opens yet for American Gods. It's about as straightforward as anything on this show can be, in fact. It's not bad, but it is awfully boring. The gist is that Bilquis was ran out of her homeland after it came under the control of an extremist conservative religious group.
The real point of the story is that Nancy reveals that Bilquis is yet another Old God who has aligned herself with the New Gods. Through a dating app, Bilquis has borrowed a fraction of her old power from the New Gods, and this is presumably how she finds her prey. Nancy tells Wednesday, especially after he killed Vulcan, that he is going to need a queen of his own to match Bilquis. With the new suits in hand, Wednesday and Shadow set off to do just that: recruit a queen.
The queen in question is the goddess of spring, Ostara, but most people, including the characters of American Gods, know her as Easter. Shadow and Wednesday head to Easter's mansion, where it is, in fact, Easter (the holiday) and the house is full of guests. On a show full of spectacle, Easter's mansion just might be the most gorgeous sight so far. This setting, where the rest of the finale is set, really tells viewers everything they need to know about Easter. Just like her home, Easter is gorgeous, colorful and a ton of fun. It helps the atmosphere that in a nice subtle joke, American Gods has populated Easter's mansion with hundreds of different versions of Jesus. These are actual versions of Jesus that people pray to, mind you, not just weird guys in cosplay.
After meeting Easter and all the Jesuses, it all finally clicks for Shadow. These people and Wednesday are all gods. This plays off a bit like a revelation for Shadow which is incredibly silly. It's really the start of Shadow being a dunce too. American Gods' main character looks tremendously dense in the finale, as he comes to realize things that have been obvious to viewers since the very first episode.
Shadow just becomes one small cog in the larger machine, though. Thankfully, American Gods focuses more on Wednesday trying to convince Easter to join his army against the New Gods than anything with Shadow. Wednesday tells Easter, rather harshly, that she is just as forgotten as him. Easter's name is only known these days because Jesus stole it from her. (The Jesuses feel very bad when they realize this fact in a hilarious moment.)
The Clash of the Queens
Wednesday appears to be swaying Easter, but then Laura and Mad Sweeney arrive. Easter, sensing a dead girl at her party, goes off to meet them. Easter evidently is the person that Sweeney believes can resurrect Laura. The bubbly Easter interacting with the rotting Laura and surly Sweeney is not as perfect an odd grouping as Laura and Sweeney with Salim. It is very close. Sadly, the two don't just play off each other; there is plot information to depart. Easter tells the two that she can't revive Laura because Laura was killed by a god. When Laura twists his balls for the info, Sweeney tells her that the god is Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Media whisks in, with Tech Boy on her heels. Media then starts in on Easter with a similar offer to Wednesday's own. Media wants Easter to join the New Gods because, after all, Media helped build the holiday of Easter. It is an extraordinarily passive-aggressive scene, and Gillian Anderson does maybe her best work, in an already incredible season, as Media. Media's methods of persuasion aren't that much different from Wednesday's methods. The difference is that Wednesday is offering Easter a return to her full power, while the New Gods will simply co-opt Easter's powers. It is a small difference, but it turns out to be big enough for Easter.
Wednesday meets Media and Easter out on the lawn and officially declares war on the New Gods. Wednesday reveals his real name of Odin to Shadow (duh!) and then sends lightning down on the New Gods. Wednesday then has Easter make her choice, and she obliges him. Easter drains all life away from the plants in the entire area, turning everything into a barren landscape. Wednesday tells Media to spread the message that spring has been taken, but it will be given back as long as everyone prays to Easter. The old contract is back in effect. The New Gods inform Wednesday that there will be war now, and it will be a war he will lose.
Media's anger and Easter's draining are cool, but the most powerful display from a female character might just be the smallest action. After all this has gone down and Shadow tells Wednesday that he believes in everything, Laura shows up in her wonderfully blunt way. Laura forcefully demands a word with her husband, while all the gods look on, dumbstruck. Shadow, however, just smiles. With this ending, it appears that season 2 will be a real conflict between Wednesday and Laura over Shadow and his soul. While Wednesday is clearly in the lead now, it is a battle I'm looking forward to seeing play out.
What do you think? Will Shadow stay with Wednesday or go with Laura? Do you think Laura is doomed to be dead forever? Whose side are you on at the end of the season? Are you rooting for the New Gods or the Old Gods? Who was your favorite god from each group? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Image courtesy of Starz)