Warning! This review is full of spoilers
So now at last we come to the end of all things… Except, of course we don’t. We’re not even close.
While nobody was expecting that the first-season finale of American Gods would wrap everything up in a lovely neat apocalypse (showrunner Bryan Fuller’s already said he sees his and Michael Green’s adaptation of the novel arcing over “three to four seasons”), we might justifiably have expected something a bit more… well… finale-ish than “Come To Jesus”. But despite bringing all the major players together for the first time — at the candy-festooned country retreat of Kristin Chenoweth’s saccharine, bunny-whispering Old God Easter — Episode 8 feels like little more than just another ‘recruitment attempt of the week’ for Mr. Wednesday and Shadow.
The big revelation that Wednesday is really Odin can hardly count as a dramatic pay-off, given it was pretty damn obvious from the show’s very start. And the official announcement of war between gods Old and New just feels like the characters catching up to where the plot’s already gone. Meanwhile, the dramatic tension created by last episode’s disclosure that Mad Sweeney offed Laura at Wednesday’s behest has now been totally dissolved by her shruggy response. After such an impressive start, it’s kinda sad to see the season end so averagely.
Still, there are glimmers of hope for a Season 2 bounce-back. Chenoweth’s dainty but powerful Easter is a welcome addition to the supporting pantheon, while the script’s maintained its dark and cheekily blasphemous sense of humour; “Jesus Christ,” exclaims Laura on arriving at Easter’s son-of-God-packed party, “are they all Jesuses?” Plus it was great to see Yetide Badaki back as Bilquis, now revealed as being in the employ of New God Technical Boy (her deadly sex powers have been all fired up by Tinder). The Queen of Sheba’s planning something nasty for Shadow, no doubt, in an upcoming instalment…
Q. Hang on, how is Easter a god?
Because that’s where Easter comes from, silly: Eostre, or Ostara, was (if you believe the Venerable St. Bede) a Germanic goddess of fertility, dawn and rebirth, who had a festival held in her honour every springtime… Until the Christians came along and made it all Jesusy.
Q. And what exactly was she doing at the end there?
Inflicting a great famine upon the United States (or at least, a bit of Kentucky), it would seem, having been invigorated by Wednesday’s sacrifice to her. Wednesday states that hunger is the key to true faith, so she’s gone all out to get some prayers thrown her way rather than Jesus’.
Q. Why does Shadow matter?
That is THE big question of this show — which is why Laura herself asks it during this episode. He’s clearly not the ‘regular guy’ he thinks he is, what with all those weird buffalo dreams and his weather-manipulating abilities… There is an answer to this question. But best to leave that one hanging for now, don’t you think?