American Gods- Ep. 7: “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”: A Review

Posted: 06/14/2017 in Uncategorized

Yet another tour de force triumph featuring a more insular tale about our favorite 7 foot tall leprechaun. The connection between Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura Moon (Emily Browning) reaches back in time via the connection between he and Essie McGowan(Browning). This run had due gravitas and easily garnered some sympathy for the generally poorly perceived Leprechaun. Despite no immediate follow up regarding last week’s uber ep featuring Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) power move, the show did not suffer for it. Ep. 7 presented a deeply engaging tale that culminated in an epic revelation. As is the norm, much good was rendered. My review follows below.

The ep starts up with the mortuary services of Ibis (Demore Barnes) & Jacquel (Chris Obi). While the former awaits the latter’s finishing up on a new arrival, via his handwritten account and narration,we learn about the not so old world via the tale of Essie McGowan,played by Emily Browning, with a spot on depiction and warts and all depiction of the woman who lived life un-apologetically, hearkening to the arrival of the modern day Laura Moon. Ibis’ noting that the young woman was not ‘given to working’ is followed with an explanation of her fascination with her grandmother’s (Fionnula Flanagan) tales of fairie and ‘wee folk’. Her belief informs her young life and a combination of willfulness and ‘bad turns’ allows for a captivating hour as we follow her journey. We witness her growth from young maid in a wealthy household, where she allows herself to dream and expect more out of life via a romance with a wealthy young man. Her worship via leaving an offering to the leprechaun is sincere, along with her telling young children the same tales that so delighted her as a young girl. Her forgetting an offering leads to the first ill turn by the mythical creature which sees her sent into ‘service’ as a thief in America.  The turn however works both ways as through her belief she ‘wills’ him along to the new land. As with the slave arc in earlier episodes, the conditions and brutality of ‘transport,’ are shown in harsh detail.

The aspect of both lives being linked, Mooney’s and Laura’s,  including the modern bizarre variant has due resonance and gravitas. A flash to the present in which she frees Salim (Omid Abtahi) from his bond and earns Sweeney’s ire leads to the road trip becoming a twosome. Salim’s pronouncement “you are a terribly unpleasant creature” though aimed at Sweeney could easily be pointed at Laura.  Sweeney’s telling her some of his origins including why he feels he owes his service to Wednesday earns her simple, stark pronouncement, “you’ve walked the earth for hundreds of years, you are due” referencing his inevitable death. There are some stellar departures from the novel and they actually enhance the source material. Gaiman has got to be stoked about the rendition of his work. Sweeney’s stating she can’t imagine some of the things he has done culminates in a holy eff reveal and delivers stratospherically with a follow up moment that floors the viewer from both a visual and emotional perspective.

The Essie tale offers respite from the god gathering and imminent god war. Essie’s up and downs depict both a self-possessed and unrepentant character. Not unlike Laura, however, we don’t hate her…we might even pull for her a little. That she eventually earns some manner of stability is presented via the reprisal of Fionnula Flannagan’s performance as a grandmother is fitting. The closing off of her arc as relates to Sweeney’s was well done, very much paying due homage to its novelized source and reinforcing the connection to the present day dynamic.

American Gods has only one more episode to go and with the formidable performances and powerfully good story telling, one can only hope that after next week that time will not pass too slowly before the second season installment. American Gods continues to exhibit its status as simply outstanding and well worth your time. It is also at present, the most interestingly odd program on television. Here’s to many more seasons.

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