Ya’ll know AMERICAN GODS, likes to mix it up, so during this week’s episode, “A Prayer For Mad Sweeny”, they slowed it down for us.
Instead of diving right into the Coming to America story this week, we get a little up close and personal with the Egyptian God responsible for telling these stories, Ibis. If you don’t remember, he runs a Frankenstein, dead person revival service with the Mr. Jacquel. While Jacquel works on a freshly dead body, Ibis goes to work on his new Coming To America story, which promise to take place in 1700 New England. Yeah I know, yuck, but surprisingly the story focuses on the leprechaun, which according to Ibis, was brought in by a little Irish girl named Essie.
She’s taught about the leprechaun by her grandmother, and is instantly drawn to them. The weird thing is, when she ages, Essie looks mysteriously like Laura, and is played by the same actress…. Maybe we’re to believe Essie is her ancestor? Older Essie carries on her grandmother’s practices as a child, leaving gifts for the leprechaun to grant her good luck.
Meanwhile, we watch Essie’s burgeoning romance with a young boy, who she’s certain will forget about her when he goes off to Oxford. He promises never to abandon her and seals his promise with an heirloom from his grandfather. Of course their romance dies, and once the society mother of the boy finds out that she has an heirloom belonging to their family, she unfairly charges Essie with theft. Instead of hanging, she was sentenced to seven years of “transportation” which included working on some ship that transported slaves in America.
Essie and the captain of the ship eventually fall in love, and she returns with him to London. When he sets off on another journey with his filthy slave ship, Essie takes some of his fancy silverware and flees.
I learned quickly that the episode would switch back and forth between the Coming to America tale, and the real story, and at this point, the story returns to a rotting Laura, still on the road with the leprechaun and Salim, who are on their way to House on the Rock, Wisconsin. The leprechaun talks to some crows who we can assume belong to Mr. Wednesday, and tells them that he’s on his way to Wisconsin to upend his end of the bargain.
Before heading to Wisconsin, the leprechaun and Laura are on a mission to resurrect Laura. Against the leprechaun’s wishes, Laura dismisses Salim, telling him he can find the genie at House on the Rock, Wisconsin, where we can assume some Old Gods are meeting up.
I wasn’t really interested in learning more about Essie, but we cut back to her, where she’s living her life as a flourishing shoplifter, continuing her habit of leaving milk out for the leprechauns. However, as her blessings grew, she slowly began to forget to pray and leave out gifts, which we’re led to believe was the reason she was caught shoplifting. She was sent to prison, where she would wait to face the gallows. While in prison, she develops a relationship with a fellow jailmate, who looks conveniently like our leprechaun. She shows him kindness, and convinces him to travel to America to deliver gold to the king.
The next morning, she wakes up to find him gone, but receives a terrible (and I mean terrible) stroke of luck. The warden of the jail becomes infatuated with her, and insinuates that there is a way to get out of hanging. He impregnates her, which allows her to escape hanging and get sentenced to transportation.
She eventually lands in America, where she works as a wet nurse on a plantation, passing on the tales of the leprechaun to those she nursed.
As they continue their journey to the “resurrection man” the leprechaun tells Laura about Mr. Wednesday’s plan to wage war. He tells her about his history, how he fled war once to avoid his death and how he owes him a battle. While he’s vague, the leprechaun stresses how he owes Mr. Wednesday a debt that he intends to repay.
As the two of them drive their newly stolen vehicle, a white rabbit follows them. Eventually, the rabbit darts out in front of them, causing Laura to swerve and flip the car. The impact is enough to tear open her stitched up body, and the extra lucky coin the leprechaun so desperately needs flies out of her stomach, leaving her torn apart on the road.
Meanwhile, back in the day, the Master on Essie’s plantation expresses his love for her, ending her indentured servitude with marriage and they lived happily ever after… for about ten years until he died of illness. Now a widow, Essie continued to run the plantation. As she aged, Essie tried to pass on the tales of spirits from Ireland, but as tradition changed, there was no more room for them.
Back in the land of now, the leprechaun is ecstatic to find his lucky coin has been returned to him. And then, we get a shocker of a twist in the story. We flashback to him the night of Laura’s initial death, where it’s revealed that he’s the one responsible for causing the accident that killed her, under the order of Mr. Wednesday. Maybe feeling guilty from this, the leprechaun struggles to leave Laura on the road. Unable to leave Laura on the road, he gives her back the lucky coin, instantly reviving her. He misses his chance to grab his coin and leave, and the two of them head out resurrect her.
The episode ends with Essie finally coming face to face with the leprechaun, who tells her people like her brought him here, but that America is no place for magic. He offers his hand to her, thusly ended her life.
So this definitely wasn’t one of my favorite episodes, but for a show like American Gods, that’s like having a designer handcraft a handful of beautiful ball gowns and me having to decide which one I like the least. They’re all beautiful, and while this I wasn’t a huge fan on how much we focused on Essie, that’s definitely not to say that it still wasn’t a phenomenal story. Heck, this episode was actually quite beautiful, and I loved watching the relationship with Essie and the leprechaun, and the way he escorted her to her death.
Since I have to give a reason why this wasn’t my favorite, I’d say it was because of that beautiful Essie/leprechaun story. I think that the story helped me find sympathy with the leprechaun and his origin, as well as laid some interesting a backstory for what seems to be Laura’s ancestry. However, I wasn’t really that interested in the tale, and I definitely didn’t think it had to stretch out over the course of an episode. However, I will award points for the fact that American Gods really switches up its format every week, and I absolutely love that, and I appreciate a change in pace this week.
For what it’s worth, this episode was really touching, and we saw a softer side of friendship and love that we haven’t seen on this show so far. I love that it came from a character as unexpected as the leprechaun, and even further enjoyed the fact that it was about another character I hate – Laura.
So now we’ve got definite confirmation that Mr. Wednesday is problematic as hell. His means of getting what he wants has been revealed to be more and more unethical, and now we’ve learned that he’s the one responsible for completely destroying Shadow’s world. This makes me feel terribly for our lead, who’s lost everything, and has wearily trusted Mr. Wednesday to begin with. I’m guessing that inevitably he will find out, and I’m excited to see how Shadow reacts. I mean he’s already seen so much, even if Mr. Wednesday is evil, will he be able to turn his back on this world?
Even though I didn’t think we needed to stick with Essie for so long this week, I genuinely appreciated the change in storytelling this week. The show really mixed it up, and yes we didn’t move as far forwards as I had hoped, but we did learn a huge twist about Mr. Wednesday and set up that the leprechaun is pretty disgruntled and could prove to be a lose cog in Mr. Wednesday’s tight plan of war. Honestly, I’m done trying to predict the future on this show, and will just look forward to next week.
Season 1, Episode 7 (S01E07)
American Gods airs Sundays at 8PM on Starz
Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
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Vanessa Jay | Contributor