It’s a curious thing, bringing a beloved book to life; the imaginings of millions of readers’ minds — not to mention, the author’s — rounded up in a singular vision the audience might equally love or despise. An assured hand is required, and in the case of Neil Gaiman’s renowned novel, a vision that extends far beyond interpretation rewards the American Gods audience in spectacular and unexpected ways. With the perfect storm of a first-rate cast and crew, attention to the most minute details, Brian Reitzell’s incredible sountrack and original compositions, and helmed by the magical masters and visual artists that are Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, a sumptuous storybook of gods past and future has been brought to life in a way that far exceeds hopes and dreams. And in the blink of Ostara’s perfectly mascaraed eye, the whirlwind of a first season blew by much too quickly, leaving us breathless, salivating for more … wishing on floating dandelion spores.
A sewing spider has more tales to tell — “Let me tell a goddamned story” — this one of the powerful queen before her Coming to America. The goddess Bilquis (aka the Queen of Sheba) raises her arms to the sky in the Temple of Bar’an, 864 BCE, waits for the kings who come to knock her off her throne (“They didn’t last long”), swallows them whole. Following her course through 1979 Tehran (brought to the new world by a young Persian woman [Parveen Kaur]), 1988, and hard times that can make a woman forget there’s a queen inside, to 2013, when Technical Boy offers her a new altar/start (“Aren’t you the lucky duck?”).
Bound together by spilled blood, Wednesday and Shadow continue their journey to Wisconsin via Kentucky, with a quick stop by Shadow’s Bone Orchard and a quick encounter with Buffalo Man(/Woman) — the flaming-eyed creature who haunts his dreams. After a bit of bunny mass-murdering, the boys arrive at the fabulous Casa de Easter (aka Ostara) (Kristin Chenoweth), overrun by Jesuses, including Prime (Jeremy Davies). Wednesday reminds Ostara that sharing her celebration with he-who (amusingly)-sits-on-water is perhaps unworthy of such a glorious goddess and after a lie or two (“They killed my friend”), he may have her convinced.
In between the banter, unlimited, united and uninvited guests (geeky gods, Laura and the leprechaun) drop by to make dramatic demands or outlandish offerings. While Shadow attempts to make sense of his surroundings, Sweeney is coerced to confess his (and Wednesday’s) sins to Laura; Media, Mr. World and Technical Boy play their sway to no avail, for Wednesday’s war plans are bigger than the new gods estimated. Wiping out wordy Worlds, Wednesday makes his grand reveal (“Do you know what I am? Do you want to know my name? … I am Odin”), incites Ostara of the Dawn to show who she is, and as far as the eye can see, the landscape transforms green to brown. As the hour closes out this leg of the journey, a renewed queen leads a caravan to their rendezvous point — House on the Rock — where gathering gods regroup for the impending war; we’re left to ponder our own beliefs and wallow in all the yet unknowns.
The overhead shots of writhing bodies in Bilquis’ “Coming to America” were reminiscent of (bodies in the silo) in Hannibal’s second season episode, “Kaiseki” (Feb 28, 2014).
The “Sheba” app Technical Boy offered … Sheba (Bilquis), is like a mix of Tinder and Twitter; “Worship is a volume business. Whosoever has the most followers wins the game. Wanna play?”
Laura throwing up maggots may have been the most disgusting thing this series has given us.
There were 14 Jesuses at Easter’s Easter party.
Kristin Chenoweth was perfect as Easter/Ostara. In other series, I’ve found her over-the-top performances a little much, but here she stood out just as she needed to, and the strength of her character is just as needed to be against McShane’s grandstanding. They felt like equals.
Her flirting with Shadow (and his in return) was adorable.
Her scenes with Gillian Anderson’s Media — this time manifested as Judy Garland in Easter Parade — were also delightful. The two actresses, together with the gorgeous visuals, reminded of old Hollywood movies/musicals.
Speaking of, the attention to detail, the gloriousness of the Easter estate, was overwhelming in the best possible way. From the food to the decor, to all the bunnies and the Jesuses, an ostentatious Ostara residence gave us a grand finale.
I practically died when Shadow met Jesus Prime:
Jesus was cool, but Jeremy Davies was a little more subdued in this role than I’d have liked.
That WTF Shadow moment when Wednesday ran over the bunnies (and when he lied about Vulcan’s death — which will of course come back to bite Odin in the ass at some point):
Alas, we’ll have to wait to meet another favorite who dreams of Buffalo Man/Woman — as represented by the buffalo with flaming eyes until next season. Until then … Sam.
Yetide Badaki’s expressions were heartbreaking as she watched the temple’s destruction;
her wordless performance in every scene was riveting.
Brought to Hollywood in style.
Loved the way the years passed in Bilquis’ story; a clock, a shoe, across a dance floor.
And let’s not for one second forget that Orlando Jones KILLED IT with every single Coming to America tale.
Mad Sweeney and Laura only got a short few bits, but they made the most of them. That crushing moment when Sweeney knew Easter saw (in Laura’s cornea) what he and Wednesday had done … and the cut to Laura holding him up by the balls, were great.
My instincts tell me Fuller and Green don’t want to let Laura go, but I’m still not sure she’ll live. Can Jesus Prime resurrect (Easter couldn’t) someone killed by a god? Does the audience want her to live? I feel like she shouldn’t, even if Emily Browning is great in the role, and has excellent chemistry with Pablo Schreiber.
Who’s in the horse drawn wagon at the fork?
Songs This Hour:
Brian Reitzell featuring Debbie Harry & Shirley Manson, Tehran 1979
Traditional, Oh Du Lieber Augustin
London Symphony Orchestra (Sir Colin Davis, Tenebrae Choir) Messiah: Part II Number 44, Hallelujah
Wednesday: “I am called Glad-o-war, Grim, Raider, and Third. I am One-Eyed. I am also called Highest and True-Guesser. I am Grimnir and the Hooded One. I am All-Father, Gondlir, Wand-Bearer. I have as many names as there are winds. As many titles as there are ways to die. My ravens are Huginn and Muninn. Thought and Memory. My wolves are Freki and Geri. My horse is the gallowed. I am Odin!”
Mr. Nancy to Wednesday and Shadow: “Once upon a time … See, it sounds good already, you’re hooked.
When the queen was done with you, you were gone. Worse ways to go.
Kings kept coming after her, Our queen’s power which is the power of all women, rebirth and creation, makes some kneel, some men angry, and you know it — anger gets shit done. They took guns knives and sharp dicks. They grabbed the power. Gave it to men. Forced our queen into the back seat.
America too could take issue with woman of power … has a way of punishing her for daring to be.
There’s no end to the cruelty of men.
So what’s a queen to do? She gets on her knees; she takes what she don’t want to, and we watch and pretend we don’t do a single thing different in her shoes.”
Wednesday, responding to Shadow’s declaration that he loves Easter: “Many do, some for the rabbits, some for the resurrection. All that sugar.
… That’s Jesus Christ. A Jesus Christ.”
Easter to Wednesday: “Wednesday, you brought me a blusher. And he’s pink chocolate.”
Wednesday to Easter: “Does anybody pray in your name? Do they say it in worship? You do all the work, he gets all the praise.
(To Jesus Prime) You took it, you crucified her day. Happy fuckin’ Easter!”
Easter to Wednesday: “How dare you come into my house and uncork over Jesus of Nazareth.”
Technical Boy to Bilquis when she touches his leg: “Hands free, honey pie.”
Laura to Sweeney: “Jesus Christ, are they all Jesuses? Of course, because Jesus is real.”
Jesus Prime answering Shadow’s question: “Did I always believe … I am belief, Shadow. I don’t know how not to believe.
Even if you don’t believe, you cannot travel in any other way than the road your senses show you, and you must walk that road to the end.”
Wednesday to Easter: “Starve them into submission — hunger is an ancient form of prayer … Make them pray. Let them remind themselves that it was a a queen that gave them the harvest.”
Easter to Sweeney: “A dead girl? I have a house full of guests and you bring a dead girl?”
Sweeney: “She doesn’t want to be dead.”
Easter: “Death gets a bad rap …I didn’t bring Jesus back to life. He was dreamed back to life on my day.”
To Laura: “I can’t help you. You are dead of a different kind. You were killed by a god. That is a dead without undoing.”
Easter to Media: “Oh, have you met my sheep?”
Laura to Sweeney: “When we robbed the casino, did Wednesday fuck up my plan? The whole time? Just fucking with us to fuck with us?”
Sweeney: “What do you think gods do? They do what they’ve always done. They fuck with all of us. Don’t take it personal. I don’t. He needed your man. He needed him to be in a place where he had nothing left in the world. Nothing to lose because he already lost everything.”
Laura: “What does Wednesday have to lose?”
Media to Easter: “A god has to be exotic. She has to be a peach. And Wednesday, he’s a lemon.”
Easter to Media: “I feel misrepresented by the media.”
Media to Easter: “What happens if they all decide that god doesn’t exist?”
Wednesday to the crowd: “Tell the believers and the non-believers. Tell them we’ve taken the spring. They can have it back when they pray for it.”
(To Shadow): Do you believe?
Shadow: “I believe.”
Wednesday: “What do you believe, Shadow?”
Laura: “Like to have a word with my husband …”