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Review: American Gods 1×08 “Come to Jesus”

Written by Katie Young

After eight delectable weeks, the finale of American Gods served up a confection of an episode, which simultaneously wrapped some loose ends and set the stage for the coming seasons. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given that the penultimate installment lingered on Mad Sweeney’s Coming to America story, that we were introduced to another key god at this late stage, and the events of “Come to Jesus” hinted at further expansion and deviation from the source material to come, much like we saw with Hannibal.

Having left Wednesday and Shadow to their own devices last week, we caught up with them in the company of Mr. Nancy (the always excellent Orlando Jones), who was tailoring them a pair of snazzy suits, and regaled them with the full history of Bilquis. In an impassioned testimony to the destruction of female power through the ages, Nancy echoed his speech to the slaves at the start of the season when he reiterated that ‘angry gets shit done’, and urged Wednesday to find a queen for their cause to rival Bilquis, who had succumbed to the lure of the New Gods. There was so much to digest in Bilquis’s story, and many reasons to get angry. Following on from Essie’s tale of a woman wronged last week, Bilquis’s fall from grace illustrated many forms of repression. Shifting attitudes towards sex, the oppression of female sexuality by men, the policing of it by governments and cultures, racism, objectification, fetishisation, and fear of disease all played a part in her diminished status. It’s interesting that Bilquis chose to fly to the US herself, rather than being summoned there by believers, and (like Essie) was forced to exchange true love and worship for a pale imitation in order to survive.

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While Bilquis struck a deal with Technical Boy to ensure her survival in a new age, Easter (or Ostara) seemed to be thriving, having found a way to co-opt the modern celebration of Jesus’s resurrection in order to keep her pagan festival alive. Wednesday’s arrival at her stunning house, his wanton murder of the bunnies that hopped about the grounds (peak Fuller right there!) and his insistence that she remember her roots and her own power, were beautifully at odds with the pastel colours, Shadow’s dopy, smitten face, and the gathering of Christs, complete with halos and stigmata that bled candy.

But Wednesday and Shadow weren’t the only gatecrashers, as Mad Sweeney and Laura bowled up, looking for help in restoring Dead Wife to her former – breathing – glory. Easter was sympathetic, but informed Laura that she couldn’t be brought back to life, because she’d been killed by a god. This led to the revelation that Mad Sweeney had hit Laura and Robbie’s car on Wednesday’s orders, and that the tricksy old goat had been interfering with their lives long before then, sabotaging Laura’s perfect plan to rob the casino.

And no party would be complete without Media, Tech Boy, and Mr. World putting in an appearance, trying to convince Wednesday once again to cease and desist with his recruitment drive. But Wednesday finally revealed his true face, making a believer out of Shadow, and prompting Ostara to reclaim her rightful title. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown when Wednesday struck the new gods with lightning, and Ostara turned the lush and verdant spring landscape to dead earth, leaving Mr. World with no choice but to agree to a battle.

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So, a line has been drawn in the sand. Shadow stands with Wednesday for now, but Laura is sure to try and change his mind if she can stop puking maggots long enough to dish the dirt. Ostara seems to have pledged allegiance to the old gods, as does Sweeney, although his rough compassion for Laura might sway him from Wednesday’s hold. Mr. Nancy is another ally, and we’ve not heard from Czernobog and the sisters recently, but that hammer looked ready for war. Bilquis seems to be siding with the newbs for now, but my money is on her defecting before too long.

So while we didn’t quite get the epic battle we might have wanted, swords have been drawn, and enough threads left dangling that we could potentially explore myriad tangents in detail. While Fuller and Green‘s adaptation of the novel has digressed and followed some unexpected routes, the first season has absolutely captured the essence of Gaiman‘s work, not only realising his larger-than-life characters through pitch-perfect casting and brilliant writing, but making them even more relevant, compelling, and thought-provoking. Utterly divine.

Final Grade: A

+ The visuals in this episode were next level, from Wednesday’s ‘Galadriel’ moment, to Shadow climbing the mountain of skulls, from the sugar-coated opulence of Easter’s pad to Bilquis’s gilded orgy, there has never been a more beautiful show.

+ Jesus’s cup sinking into the water made me laugh out loud.

+ How refreshing to have (particularly) female beauty depicted and celebrated in all its forms. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s especially rare to see older people presented as sexual beings, and American Gods does it so organically.

– RIP bunnies. Sadface.

– The discussion between the old and new gods was slightly rehashed from the police station, but it’s a minor quibble when the dialogue is so lyrical.

– Has it really been eight weeks already? Now we wait…

Extra Thoughts: I’ll be interested to see how the dynamic between Laura, Shadow, and Wednesday plays out now Laura is in possession of such explosive information. Shadow seems in awe of Wednesday for now, but that could easily change. And how long can Laura last in her rotting meat suit?

So what did you think? Did this finale have you shaking your fists at the sky, or kneeling at the altar of TV? Let us know in the comments section, or hit us up on Twitter!

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Katie Young

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