After last week’s less than stellar episode, American Gods is back with another strong, engaging episode. And just in time, too, as it’s the season finale. And, boy, it’s quite an epic one. All the various plot threads of the season come together in one big cluster as it all leads to the house of the goddess Easter. In Come to Jesus, written by Bekah Brunstetter, Bryan Fuller, and Michael Green and directed by Floria Sigismondi, it’s the eve of war and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) must recruit one more Old God: Ostara, ne Easter, Goddess of the Dawn (Kristen Chenoweth), but winning her over will require making a good impression, and that is where Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) comes in. (As always, this review will contain spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk.)
As the episode began, we were faced with a Coming to America segment that was nearly 15 minutes long. Thankfully, it was actually relevant to the main plotline of the episode. The segment revolves around Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) and how she went from this Queen in the olden days to the down-and-out woman we’ve seen throughout the series. As the story goes on, it’s revealed how she’s been able to start regaining power: she made a deal with the Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) in order to utilize dating apps as a way to get her worship. Throughout the rest of the episode, we kept cutting back to Bilquis and her story, ending with her riding a bus to meet up with the other gods at the House on the Rock. It was a really smart way of tying in Bilquis’ arc through the series thus far with the arc of Wednesday and Shadow.
Speaking of Wednesday, in this episode, it’s revealed, without a shadow of a doubt, exactly who Wednesday is. Even though they’ve hinted at it in various episodes throughout the first season, it’s finally 100% confirmed that Wednesday is indeed the Norse god Odin. A major theme of the episode (and the series itself, to be fair) is Wednesday’s quest to get Shadow to believe in all of this, and by the end of the episode – after Easter literally takes away the spring – Shadow finally confesses that he believes in Wednesday and Easter and all of the other gods. The episode climaxes with Wednesday and Easter essentially drawing the first blood of the war between the Old and the New Gods – a scene that was never really in the book – and it’s a great way to end the series. The whole time, we’ve been following Wednesday and Shadow across the country as they tried to gather together various gods to join Wednesday’s cause while also seeing the New Gods seemingly not care at all about it. As everything came to a head towards the end of Come to Jesus, having there actually be some kind of confrontation was a smart move. It gives Wednesday another thing he can bargain with when they finally get to the House on the Rock scene.
Meanwhile, the idea that Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) killed Laura (Emily Browning) at Wednesday’s request in order for Wednesday to be able to recruit Shadow was revealed, and it’s a fun moment where Emily Browning really gets to sort of beat up on Pablo Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney. The rage coming out of her in that moment, and his simple reasoning that gods love to fuck with us makes for this perfect scene. It’s revealed that Easter is who Sweeney thought would be able to resurrect Laura permanently, but since Laura was killed by a god (even indirectly), Easter can’t intervene, so Laura and Mad Sweeney are shit out of luck. The two decide to get back at Wednesday by having Laura confront Shadow, and that’s essentially how the stuff with the main cast ends; after the climactic bit with Wednesday and Easter, Laura appears and says she wants to talk to her husband and we immediately cut back to the previously mentioned scene of Bilquis on the bus on her way to the House on the Rock. It’s a sort of infuriating cliffhanger, especially since there’s no real clue as to when the next season will air.
My thoughts are kind of all over the place. In general, it was a really good episode. It was a great way to end the season and a nice recovery from last week’s misstep. Come to Jesus shows just how much fun American Gods can be when it lets go and embraces the absurdity of its premise. It’s a smartly written script with lots of pathos and plot developments and wonderful lines. It’s an episode that allows all of its main cast to really showcase their skills (including Gillian Anderson doing a wonderful impression of Judy Garland as Media). The direction continues to be flawless, expertly balancing the realism with the surrealism of the show. Brian Reitzell’s music was so subtle in places that I didn’t even notice it, but when it needed to be grand, it quickly became grand and it was great. The whole episode was just great and I genuinely couldn’t be happier with it as a season finale.
I give Come to Jesus five out of five wands.
I will likely do a more in-depth review of the entire first season of American Gods the closer we get to the DVD release, but until then I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews and enjoyed the first season in general. Presumably, the show will return sometime next year.