“American Gods” Review: COME TO JESUS

American Gods Season 1 2017

And here we are, standing together at the end of the road; however, as season one draws to a close, it is clear that the journey has only just begun. The season finale, “Come to Jesus,” may seem a bit underwhelming for a final episode, but that inclination might have something to do with the fact that for once, almost all of the action takes place in one location as storylines converge. Nevertheless, the episode itself is a whirlwind of answered questions and confrontations, thus allowing audiences enough for satisfaction yet still leaving abruptly, therefore eliciting the sharp sting of anticipation so common for finales.

The episode delivers us back to Mr. Nancy, who utilizes his storytelling skills to inform us, along with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday, of the final “Coming to America” storyline, which focuses this week on Bilquis. Now, an aspect of the show I’ve come to adore is what a greater meaning these stories deliver when paired with the title American Gods. We have come to realize that all of the older gods traveled to America years ago, thus making them immigrants to a new land. However, these gods are undoubtedly American, having made this place their home. Yet they still bring forward their traditions and folklore, as people from away do. The “Coming to America” plots echo the struggles and triumphs of immigrants throughout America’s past, as well as the present, and it is extremely important that the show depicts gods, especially as powerful as we see them on screen, as immigrants who faced the goods and evils of humanity in their journeys to America. The commentary here, then, is that anyone can become an American no matter where they are from, a message that is crucial and relevant, especially in today’s society.

Bilquis’s history encompasses her life as a queen, worshipped and adored by all. Worshippers, both men and women, sacrifice themselves to Bilquis and the scene that ensues is nothing sort of an orgy; however, the scene is not merely something to blush at. American Gods has not shied away from nakedness and sex scenes throughout this entire season; rather, the show demonstrates nakedness as power, self-stability, and worship, whereas sex is an act of passion and beauty despite how it may end. Sex is thought to be a very human experience, but most of these scenes in  the first season have involved at least one god, which shows the gods’ appreciation for the act. There are many ways to interpret this; perhaps my favorite is that the show reveals sex as akin to being a god. For instance, much of Bilquis’s power comes from sex and the control she garners from it.

Fast forward a few hundred years later to a disco-themed party in the 1970s. Bilquis, blending well with the styles of the times, discovers that although she is still able to attract partners without so much as blinking, the times have changed and an orgy-worship party is no longer possible. Before we know it, Bilquis is on a plane to Hollywood, testing out her powers by ensnaring the man next to her in the airplane bathroom. As the sexual noises cease, the little bar on the door switches from “Occupied” to “Vacant,” firmly stating the power Bilquis has mastered (and, to be more crude, the status of her body itself).

However, all is not perfect for Bilquis, who discovers on a restaurant television that a Hymaritic Temple has been a victim of terrorism, thus her altar destroyed. She is then greeted by Technical Boy, a not-so-subtle coincidence considering that the message was delivered to Bilquis through a television.

Back in real time, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday have reached Kentucky, where everything is draped in lush greens almost too vivid to be real. Nature surrounds so much of the two men that the road winding through the property seems almost a crime. If the hoards of bunnies aren’t enough of a clue, we’ve arrived at Easter’s!

If you’ve been watching this whole season thinking, “Hey, wasn’t Kristin Chenoweth supposed to show up?” you needn’t ponder anymore. Chenoweth is here, and guys, she’s incredible. If you take the tiny, sweet-but-sassy diva Kristin Chenoweth and add the personification of the Easter holiday, you’ve already got an incredible concoction; however, sprinkle in flavors of attitude and a bit of a potty mouth, and you arrive at something beyond incredible.

Easter’s property is filled not only with pastel sweets and treats, but dozens and dozens of Jesuses, all different variations of the man, just like Wednesday explained a few episodes back. This is pretty damn cool, especially because many of the gods in the show come from ancient lore or myths. Because lots of people in the world believe in Jesus, he has his place here among the gods, and it seems that all of the Jesuses are respected by every god in attendance.

Easter takes an instant liking to Shadow, and is sassy-cordial to Wednesday, who insists that although Easter herself is among the old gods, modern humanity no longer worships her. Instead, they worship either the pagan holiday of Easter, complete with eggs, rabbits, and candy, or they take the holiday to celebrate Jesus. In this sense, it is extremely satisfying that Easter’s party contains both, thus signifying her dual position as both an old and a new god. A bit taken aback, Easter seems a bit tentative to accompany Wednesday and define herself with a place on his side.

Shadow visits “Jesus Prime,” who is floating on water when Shadow arrives. To be honest, I didn’t fully understand why the show chose to portray Jesus Prime as a white man when a historically accurate Jesus should be Middle Eastern, but I suppose that this Jesus represents how American society sees him, which is as a white man. In this regard, it’s a pretty interesting commentary on the different views of Jesus. Shadow’s questions revolve around belief as he confesses that he does not truly believe in everything going on around him.

We come to realize that Mad Sweeney and Laura’s journey to Kentucky was in order to see Easter as well. Easter, though horrified that a dead girl is at her celebration of spring, is intrigued by Laura, who we first see vomiting maggots into the sink. Charming? Not exactly, but Emily Browning remains so fantastic that I just can’t rip my eyes away whenever she’s onscreen, no matter what gross shenanigans her body is going through. Easter explains that she cannot give Laura a new life because she was killed by a god, which leads to questioning and confusion, yet Laura comes to the conclusion fairly quickly. She forces Mad Sweeney to confess that he killed her on Wednesday’s orders. The issue here is that Mad Sweeney should have known that Easter would not have been able to revive Laura, so what exactly was the point of bringing her to Kentucky? The ambiguity on Mad Sweeney’s part makes him all the more intriguing.

Then, who should return but Media, dressed as Judy Garland a la Easter Parade? Utilizing her power as a new god and accompanied by Technical Boy, Mr. World, and the Blackhats, Media makes an almost-convincing case for Easter to join her side, stating how the media has almost fully taken over Easter, turning it into a pagan holiday. What strikes me here is that when Neil Gaiman wrote American Gods in 2001, the media, although powerful and advancing, was less powerful than it is today, therefore making Media’s character even more forceful and pertinent. Media also argues that the world is atheist, supposing that the new gods and their forms are the ones that hold the power. Easter, however, is tentative and slightly offended by Media’s implications.

Of course, Mr. Wednesday is not going to let Media imply that he is powerless. He strikes down the Blackhats and encompasses the sky in a void of darkness in order to reveal himself to Shadow. Wednesday shouts all his names, finally arriving at the revelation that he is Odin. There have been quite a few hints at this throughout the season, but the scene is still badass enough that it leaves you in awe of Wednesday and the extent of his existence.

Now, if you’ve read the book, you will know that this scene is supposed to occur a bit later and that Wednesday’s revelation comes about aboard a carousel in a stunning scene I was all too excited to see. Since the main reveal has already come, I can only hope–and fully expect–the upcoming carousel scene to still be as incredible, presumably including some other fantastic narrative.

Furthermore, Wednesday calls upon Easter to reveal herself, which she does by retrieving spring and life from the world, leaving it barren and black. “They can have it back when they pray for it,” explains Wednesday. Mr. World, in a shadowy heap on the ground, feebly expresses that this is the start of a war.

Shadow finally comes to the conclusion that he believes “everything,” which guarantees that the primary theme of this season has been belief. The season has acted mainly as one of establishment, introducing the huge cast of characters and asking for our belief as we too are made witnesses to this world.

The final scene is of Bilquis, again taking another man captive upon a bus as the vehicle travels past a sign advertising the House on the Rock, which is a pertinent location in the novel that we can now expect will take center stage next season.

Well, how did you like the season? As I mentioned earlier, it consisted of a bit more establishment than action in many places, but definitely contained enough wit and morbid humor, combined with stellar cinematography and effects, boosted even higher fantastic acting performances. As a fan of the book, I can definitely guarantee that the show has so far exceeded my expectations, even amidst the changes Fuller & co. have made. Although some differences are pretty major, the show is an homage to as well as a reimagining of the book. I cannot sing high enough praises for what the show has accomplished in only one season. My only regret is the eight episode limit; with more episodes in a season, the show might have gained more momentum early on. But don’t fret! American Gods will be back with a second season before we know it, and will most definitely ensnare and capture our beliefs once again.

Amelia Cassidy
About Amelia Cassidy 23 Articles
Amelia, also known as Lee, resides in Simi Valley, California and is currently studying English and Film in college with the goal of becoming an editor for novels and screenplays. A lifetime devotee of writing, Lee enjoys any opportunity in which to explore her two main passions: storytelling and the English language. In addition to writing short stories, poetry, and film critiques, Lee enjoys Broadway musicals and dreams about traveling to New York City and one day meeting Fullerverse regular Raúl Esparza.

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