American Gods Episode 8 Recap & Review: “Come to Jesus”
Reflections (and character rankings) for American Gods Season One
June 28, 2017 at 12:38 pm
Alright guys, I know I’m a week late with this update, but it took me a while to stop reeling over American Gods’s season finale plot twist. I can hardly believe it, but wow — as it turns out
Who could have possibly seen this coming?
What a twist. I can’t believe this show pulled off such a huge reveal without glaringly obvious foreshadowing of any kind.
Episode 8, “Come to Jesus,” picks up more or less where episode 6 left off, with Shadow reeling from Wednesday beheading Vulcan in front of him. And by reeling, what I mean is that Shadow and Wednesday are lounging in matching bathrobes at Anansi’s place and Shadow is shouting “Wednesday you fucktacular fucking fuck” while the gods in the room ignore him. I can’t imagine the lead-up to this scene. Was Shadow yelling the whole time he was changing into chill-ass brunchwear? Was he cursing out Wednesday as Anansi poured the mimosas? All I’m saying is, for all of Shadow’s protests, he’s sure taking all of this in stride.
Unruffled by Shadow’s loud frustrations, Anansi regales his guests with the tale of Bilquis, emphasizing throughout her story that some men can’t stand the idea of a strong, commanding queen. Bilquis’s power diminishes through the ages, and she follows her lover? Girlfriend? Final supplicant? to the United States during the Iranian Revolution in the 1970s. Bilquis struggles to find a foothold in her new home, and we learn that the New Gods made Bilquis the Queen of Off-Brand Tinder to earn her loyalty and restore some of her divine power.
Wednesday and Shadow continue along on their journey, hoping to recruit Ostara (Easter) to their cause. And this is when things get good.
I still maintain that Christina Hendricks would have been a phenomenal Easter, and probably would have been the best choice for this role but nobody asked me and I have no casting oversight for American Gods. However (and unsurprisingly), Kristin Chenoweth is a Delight and a pure treasure. She brings out the best in literally every character she interacts with. From the moment she calls Wednesday an “old fraud” to her Evil Persephone crop decimation before the credits roll, she makes this weird and overthink-y episode completely worth watching.
Chenoweth and the legion of Jesuses (Jesi???) in her home are extremely likable in a very Gaiman Book way — unlike most characters in this show up to this point. Gaiman often tricks readers into sympathizing with unlikable characters by teasing out their endearing qualities, vulnerabilities, and hidden sweetness (not always subtly, and not always effectively, but he loves to make you care about henchmen right before he offs them). In this regard, Chenoweth’s Easter is a walking Neil Gaiman Plot Device. She charms Shadow and he becomes more charming throughout the episode; she tolerates Laura and Mad Sweeney and the pair of them become infinitely more tolerable. Bless Easter, the best divinity in this show so far (except Crone Zorya, naturally).
I’m also starting to think that Laura is low-key the second protagonist of the American Gods TV show and I don’t really have a problem with that. I’ve hated the “sexualized dead girl” trope for a long, long time — so I’ve hated Laura’s high beaming throughout the series, because I didn’t think it had much of a point. But as Laura decays, so does that weird layer of sexualization that followed her throughout the early days of her undeath. Laura coughs up magots in Easter’s bathroom. One of her boobs is barely attached to her body. Laura gets more and more comfortable as her true self — a cranky, impolite, semi-festering bitch — and becomes less confined by the rules one must follow to navigate this trashbag earth as a female-presenting human being. Look, Laura is terrible but from the moment she started literally busting Mad Sweeney’s balls for answers about her death, she captured my heart. At this point, I’m just hoping she has a second chance at life, but without Shadow — that Laura finally gets the opportunity to be herself, for herself and for no one else.
Plus, I really hope she gets to kill Wednesday for me.
At some point, Gillian Anderson and the lesser New Gods crash Easter’s party and Wednesday heckles everyone into a supernatural dick-measuring contest. The Jesuses continue munching on hors d’oeuvres as two different cartoon devils battle for Easter’s soul. Easter, who just wanted to have a nice time and is honestly feeling so attacked right now, falls for Wednesday’s bullshit and sides with Old Gods.
And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for:
For the second time in my life, I watched a special effects sequence and thought, verbatim, “you know what this show’s problem is? The budget is too high.” (The first time was during the second elaborate CGI timeskip in X-Men: Apocalypse). How many dollars went into Wednesday’s big “I’m Odin lol” reveal? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?? I don’t know how TV budgets work but this effects team had entirely too much money in that budget.
And the big problem is that literally the only person who hasn’t worked out Wednesday’s ~true name~ is Shadow, and I’m assuming this is because his middle school skipped their unit on Norse myths. Didn’t Shadow read 700 books a week while he was in prison? And none of them covered basic Viking bullshit? In the book, this error is more egregious; Shadow name-drops Herodotus and quotes ancient texts, so we’re pretty confident he’s base-level familiar with ancient cultures, histories, and beliefs. Maybe TV Shadow spent his entire sentence combing through the theoretical math section of the prison library — and this, STEM kids, is why the humanities are important: you should always know which ancient deities are trying to trap you in complex machinations that will almost certainly result in your own death.
Who was Wednesday’s big Odin reveal supposed to impress? The New Gods, who already know who he is? Shadow, who seems pretty easily impressed anyway? The Jesuses, who are too busy snacking to care? Spoiler alert: he did it to impress himself, even though he’s always impressed by himself but okay.
As the episode draws to a close, we see Bilquis rolling up to House on the Rock: the actual, real life roadside attraction so extra that Gaiman toned down his description of it in the American Gods book for fear of making his fictional narrative about living gods too fantastical. As American Gods has foreshadowed all season, some shit’s about to go down in Wisconsin. Season One of American Gods ends right before this pivotal action beat, in a way that makes me worry about Season Two focusing entirely on GodsCon 2017.
Like American Gods Season One as a whole, “Come to Jesus” spends so much time hyping itself up that it runs out of gas on the side of the road. I love a sprawling, meandering road trip, but American Gods clearly passed a critical exit or two several hours back. Why did we spend an hour of pivotal, pre-season-finale screentime on a bit-part character we’re never going to see again? Why did American Gods cram so many smug Wednesday monologues into Season One but wrap things up right before the book’s first major climactic scene? All of the detours for camp and aesthetic derailed opportunities to infuse the narrative with suspense and mystery — two qualities arguably more important to the American Gods novel than the Americana itself. I mean, I know the American Heartland is pretty much just corn — endless corn, as far as the eye can see — but the same could be said for this season of American Gods.
I started this recap series desperately wanting to believe in American Gods. I still don’t know if I do. I truly loved a handful of the series’ characters, and I enjoyed hating most of the rest. Maybe that’s what pantheons are all about — getting a consequence-free opportunity to complain about drama that doesn’t affect you. For now, I’ll tentatively describe myself as American Gods-agnostic — because I truly believe this show could ascend to something meaningful and transcendent, but I just haven’t experienced it yet. Here’s hoping for some divine intervention — in the writing, the pacing, the lack of Jack, etc — before jumping into Season Two.
American Gods Character Rankings: Season One
Likes, shares and prayers for the top ten characters who helped me power through the nonsense in American Gods Season One:
10. The Mom Anubis Took To The Underworld
- Good cook
- No-good kids didn’t deserve her
9. Late-Season Laura
- Nasty and rude, but not in a bad way?
- Almost pulled Mad Sweeney’s balls off
- Friends with Salim
- Didn’t get enough screentime that wasn’t about her vagina powers
- on the other hand, she did devour a dude with her Business & that’s still cool 2 me
7. Mexican Jesus
- The only god in this whole lineup even remotely worth worshiping lbr
- Cute??? (sorry grandma)
- he better be back in Season Two I swear to fucking all these dumb gods
- the best friend in the entire world
- Self assured, especially about crafting
- Not Christina Hendricks but that’s okay
- Channels Divine Magic Mike XXL Mom Thirst well
- Cute and speaks with stern authority
- Hosts a great theme party
4. Orlando Jones
- I wish I loved anything as much as Orlando Jones loves this dumb show.* He is a one-man hype team and American Gods doesn’t deserve him
- His glasses are real cute
*The Entertainment Weekly website is kind of a mess, but Orlando Jones co-hosts an American Gods recap series where he gives interviews for every episode of the show — even the ones he’s not in. There is no singular URL to the whole archive but you can find the most recent video recap here. He also pretty much single-handedly leads all Twitter discussions about American Gods.
- Best chili in the tri-state area
- I know it’s sacrilege that Our Queen isn’t #1 but it is what it is, mortals
- Sweet and precious
- Cute and kind
- Puts up with all of this bullshit For Love and really what could be better than that
1. Obviously: Crone Zorya