TV | Ostara and Wednesday finally show off their full power at the big Easter party reunion
At a party full of Jesuses, Easter finally takes her holiday back.
The first season of American Gods is over after only eight episodes, but they were episodes brimming with stories, beautiful shots and conversation-starting scenes. If nothing else (though as we've seen, there is so much else), showrunners Fuller and Green have gotten people talking about their outstanding new series.
Bilquis wants her power back. (YouTube)
Like other episodes, Mr. Nancy wants to tell a story. This one is about the Old God we've been missing since Episode 2, Bilquis. What we didn't see at the beginning of the show was the intense struggle Bilquis faced and the deal she made to regain her power.
Even in its season finale, the show displays the same patience that has made its shots gorgeous and its stories fascinating from the first minute. In "Come to Jesus," Mr. Nancy's story of Bilquis reveals an Old God suffering the same, forgotten fate as Wednesday and the others. From ancient Bliquis to disco-Bilquis, she struggled to hold onto her followers and keep power. She even fell victim to the pillaging of Daesh, who destroyed her temples and posted the videos online. Like Vulcan, she found salvation in the New Gods—by making a toxic deal with Technical Boy.
The moral of the story, according to Mr. Nancy? Wednesday needs a queen. The queen Wednesday chooses is not Bilquis, but a new face in the show, a god who is not only forgotten but whose praise has been stolen by none other than Jesus Christ, superstar.
Easter's Easter party. (YouTube)
Easter's (Kristin Chenoweth) grand Easter party celebrates the vernal equinox, the coming of Spring and herself, a.k.a. Ostara. Ostara is the god of Spring in Germanic traditions because her name is also the name of the month when Spring begins. Chenoweth's Ostara shares the frustrations of Wednesday and Bilquis but also feels replaced by the many, many Jesus Christs in attendance.
Ostara was one of the novel's best introductions because most readers were guilty of worse than forgetting her: they, as Wednesday explains in the show, were never aware of her at all because Easter became Jesus's day a couple of millennia ago. "It's religious Darwinism," Media says, praising adaptation over nostalgia. Technical Boy put it more bluntly: "You're old as f*ck. Things are never going back to the way they were."
Jesus sipping drinks on the pool. (YouTube)
Hearing that sentence, a viewer is faced with a conflict: Wednesday and the Old Gods are the good guys in the show, but can any of them, or us, really argue with Technical Boy's point? Can we really cheer for a bunch of washed-up gods whose power is lacking and whose relevance is questionable? Can we cheer for gods who require complex blood sacrifices when it's so much easier to welcome the future and pray through our screens? Can we, watching this series on TV (or streaming it to a laptop or however we're watching) and reading and writing about it later on tablets and phones, genuinely side with the kin of ancient Odin?
In answer to these questions and the challenges of Mr. World & Co., Wednesday and Ostara finally demonstrate the power they've bragged about for seven hours of the show. Adaptation might have kept Media strong, but her strength shrinks in the face of the old as Ostara strips the land of its blossoms and postpones the Spring entirely.
Give it back to them when they pray for it, Wednesday tells her.
As Bilquis ignores the threats of Technical Boy and rides a bus to House on the Rock, Wednesday and Ostara follow up the sacrifice of Vulcan with the second shot of the war. After all of the asides for characters whose histories aren't explored in Neil Gaiman's novel, it's difficult to predict where, exactly, we are in the story and where Season 2 might pick up. With the sides growing, the characters converging on Wisconsin and Shadow and Laura reunited, next season will bring even more clashes and more stories from both sides of the war.
Watch all eight episodes now on Starz.
READ MORE ABOUT FILM/TV:
The playwright and AIDS activist died at 84.
Larry Kramer, AIDS activist and artist, passed away today at 84.
Kramer was known for his books Faggots and The American People, as well as climate-changing plays like The Normal Heart. His close friend and literary executor, William Schwalbe, told CNN that Kramer died of pneumonia."Larry made a huge contribution to our world as an activist but also as a writer," said Schwalbe, who had known Kramer for 57 years. "I believe that his plays and novels, from 'The Normal Heart' to 'The American People' will more than stand the test of time."
TV | On the run, Shadow and Wednesday find a fiery Old God who has found a way to franchise his power
One old god has turned bullets into prayers in a very creepy Virginia town.
Shadow and Wednesday are on the run from Mr. World and his shapeshifting partner, Media. Laura, on the run chasing Shadow (ha, get it?), runs back into Mad Sweeney who's chasing his lucky coin inside of Laura's stomach. They both join Salim, who's chasing his jinn-lover, in Salim's taxi and drive off toward Kentucky.
Vulcan, Virginia. (YouTube)
"Welcome to Vulcan, Virginia," Wednesday says to Shadow as they drive into a suspiciously empty small town. Shadow is right to feel uncomfortable: the few people lining the sidewalk carry rifles strapped to their backs; the grandmother in a wheelchair rests her gun on her lap; a funeral parade marches down the middle of the main street, made up of dozens of gun-wielding, red-armband-wearing white people.
This town is Purge-levels of creepy and when the marchers fire a salute straight into the air, the bullets rain down on Shadow's car like hellish hail.
The leader of this show of force is Wednesday's latest potential recruit: the god of fire and the forge and namesake of the town, Vulcan.
Vulcan leads the parade. (YouTube)
Vulcan's bullet factory—his giant forge—towers over the town breathing black smoke into the air and filling the guns of its citizens with Vulcan-made ammunition. With this factory, Vulcan explains to Wednesday, he has franchised his power.
Every fiery gunshot that fires a bullet stamped with Vulcan's name is like a prayer to him and every death by bullet, a blood sacrifice. The worker who fell into the vat of molten metal and became a few cases of bullets? An even better sacrifice. "Every bullet fired in a crowded movie theater is a prayer in my name," Vulcan says.
Vulcan counters Wednesday's proposal for war by explaining this new source of power. The rest of the Old Gods might be starving for prayers, but not Vulcan. He's happy with his murder-hungry followers and greedy for sacrifice. After pledging alliance to the New Gods like Mr. Wood, his hunger for power makes him just as much an enemy to Wednesday.
Always-clever Wednesday uses Vulcan's own trick against him: killing him with the sword that Vulcan has just forged in Wednesday's name, making him a godly blood sacrifice to Wednesday and cursing the bullets that will contain the fiery metal that buried him.
Jesus de Mexico. (YouTube)
Vulcan isn't the only god murdered in "A Murder of Gods."
This episode's "Coming to America" story follows a group of Mexican immigrants wading carefully across the unnamed-Rio Grande into unnamed-Texas or New Mexico. When some anti-immigration warriors show up in lifted pickups and armed with assault rifles loaded with Vulcan bullets, the triumphant scene turns tragic. In a display of Vulcan's power, the gunmen murder the immigrants, their guns engraved with "Thy Kingdom Come" and rosaries in their hands. They crucify the Christ figure who saved one traveler from drowning in the river and the camera zooms out on Dead Jesus, lying in the crucifixion pose and with a glowing heart like the famous Sacred Heart image.
Laura and Sweeney take the road. (YouTube)
"Did you just name-drop Jesus Christ?" Laura asks Sweeney when he says he knows a guy who knows a guy who can, possibly, resurrect her. Wednesday mentioned history's Jesuses in an earlier episode, and it looks like he'll be making more appearances in the show in one form or another. This opening scene showed the tragic incompatibility of guns and religion, while the rest of the episode basically turned guns into a form of idol worship. With both sides of the Old vs. New war showing off their power, the stakes are growing and the show is plunging headfirst into all of its implications for the real world.