Well, that episode of American Gods was certainly unexpected! I’m sure the other book fans out there can vouch for this, but I had assumed the end of this season would end somewhere completely differently than Easter’s Kentucky home. Still, there were a lot of juicy details to dig during this season finale, so let’s get right into it:
Coming To America, Bilquis Edition
So far most Coming to America stories are told by Ibis, but this one required the bolder hand of Mr. Nancy, whom we haven’t really seen since his own journey to the States (or near them, before the slave ship went down) in the second episode. While Shadow and Wednesday are at his shop getting new suits made, he lets them in on a secret: Bilquis has joined up with the New Gods, too. In hindsight it should have been obvious given how much she relies on dating apps to secure her sacrifices.
Her journey, as you might imagine, was not a pleasant one. Long ago—864 BC, to be precise—Bilquis partied it up regularly in the Temple Of Ba’ran, which was a real temple in Yemen (although its ruins are more commonly known as the Temple of Marib now, so named for the capital of Sheba). By 1979 she’d moved out of the Arabian peninsula and into Tehran, Iran, but was forced to flee from the Iranian Revolution, which represented a return to conservative social and religious values that would have severely limited Bilquis’ ability to reign.
She survived, but was relegated to the “back seat,” in Nancy’s words; by the time Technical Boy comes across her in 2013 she’s living on the streets, and her temple back in Yemen has been destroyed by ISIS (As far as I know this has not happened, although a suicide bomber targeted the temple in 2007, and ISIS has targeted similar ancient temples in Syria). No wonder she’s so willing to use the lifeline the New Gods have given her, even if it means compromising her morals and putting herself on the wrong side of the battle.
Back To The Bone Zone
Shadow has another dream about the White Buffalo in the Bone Orchard, which this time looks less like an orchard and more like a giant wall o’ skulls to climb up. Remember, we’ve seen this tableau before in Episode 1, and in Episode 6 when Atsula of the Nunyunnini glimpsed it for herself. And we can’t forget the World Tree at the top; now that it’s been revealed that Mr. World might have come from such a tree, does its presence link him to Shadow’s subconscious? Or is it just a coincidence? Is there such a thing as a coincidence on this show? No, probably not.
Jesus is Everywhere
Shadow and Wednesday are now in pursuit of their own queen: Ostara (sometimes Eostre), a Germanic goddess whom most people around the world would know better as Easter. “But Victoria,” you’re probably saying if you didn’t actually watch the episode. “Isn’t Easter a Christian thing?” Well, it is now! Basically, every weird question you’ve ever had about why the Easter Bunny is a thing or what’s up with all the painted eggs can be explained by the fact that Easter was folded into Christianity from a completely different pagan spring festival.
When you grow up in a Christian household you’re usually taught that Jesus is omnipresent in your life, but I bet most people don’t picture it quite the way that Easter’s party plays out: with a different savior for every race and creed all hanging out together at one shindig. It’s nice to see the throughline of multiple Christs for multiple believers finally coming to a head, as it’s been referenced several times in the show now.
Son Of God
Naturally Wednesday is not particularly politically correct with the Jesuses and calls them out for ripping off Easter’s big day, and in the middle of all that he points out that they are sons of Gods, which means they are “men who walk the streets.” An interesting distinction, although it’s not entirely accurate for the way some Christians see Jesus (look up the Trinity; it’s a real trip).
But if you’re a book fan and you have an inkling as to why properly classifying a deity’s offspring might be important, it’s interesting to see the show planting those seeds already. And it also absolves Jesus from having to pick a side in the War, because he—or rather, they—don’t rely on prayer in quite the same way. As one Jesus tells Shadow later, “I am belief. I don’t know how not to believe.”
Unfortunately, this means that Laura’s going to keep being dead “of a different kind” for a while, and now she knows why: because Wednesday willed it, as a sacrifice to get to Shadow. He interfered with her plan to rob the casino, too, looks like. So now the big question is: what makes Shadow so important to Wednesday’s plan?
The Easter Parade Arrives
Of course, a party wouldn’t be complete without the New Gods! Media is wearing an Easter bonnet and gown loosely based on the one Judy Garland wears in the 1948 Easter Parade Musical by Irving Berlin; the first few lines she says to Easter are lyrics ripped right from the song. (her henchmen are also dressed as Fred Astaire). As she says to Easter, they have a standing date for a Marshmallow Peep Show, which is an annual tradition that regularly incorporates pop culture-inspired dioramas. It’s a threat as much as its a reminder; Ostara apparently made a deal with the New Gods too, just like Santa Claus did.
Wednesday interrupts, of course, calling the New Gods out as an “existential crisis diversion” rather than a true source of divine inspiration before he takes out a whole fleet of henchmen. And in doing so, he finally reveals his many true names: he is Odin the All-Father. His reckoning inspires Ostara to reveal her power too (plus a pretty incredible head of Pre-Raphaelite hair), and, taking a suggestion from Wednesday, she withholds the harvest and causes all the plant life for miles around to return to the ground.
House On The Rock
The episode ends with a first glimpse at what will become the meeting place for the Old Gods: The House On The Rock, a tourist attraction in Wisconsin that’s built on holy ground. Much as I wanted to actually look inside and finally see the thing, the show does hint that Bilquis will be there as Technical Boy’s god on the inside, which will put her right in the path of Shadow and Wednesday. Too bad that hanging thread won’t be resolved until next season?
All in all it was a solid, although I’ll admit that it felt somewhat anticlimactic for a season finale. What did you think? Have any more questions you need answered? Ask away in the comments!
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