American Gods S01E07: A Prayer for Mad Sweeney
Note: This review will not have explicit spoilers for either the book or this episode of American Gods other than what is in the summaries for both pieces of media. However, this review will have explicit spoilers for all of the first six episodes of American Gods.
This Week on American Gods:
This week on American Gods, we follow Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schrieber) and Laura Moon (Emily Browning) as they continue in their quest to get Laura a full resurrection. Meanwhile, we also watch how Irishwoman and thief Essie McGowan (also Browning) came to America hundreds of years ago.
This episode was another episode that put a secondary character in front of Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), neither of whom appeared in the episode at all. Although the episode itself foregrounded the actress Emily Browning, it’s not actually Laura’s episode: as the title suggests, it’s Mad Sweeney’s (had it once again focused on Laura, Shadow would have shown up at some point). This episode showed the audience Mad Sweeney’s past, present, and motivations, which give an insight to his character and what he may do down the line. This episode was both intriguing and sad: Mad Sweeney has been alive for hundreds of years and he’s gotten to this ignominious point, not even being Wednesday’s right-hand man, just his errand boy.
Whether this episode belonged in this season is another matter. This is the seventh episode in an eight-episode season. The season finale is next week. Is this the right time to delve into another character’s motivations and to sideline the main plot? We won’t know if Michael Green and Bryan Fuller pulled off the timing until next week, but last week ended on what could almost be termed a cliffhanger. Mr. Wednesday just murdered Vulcan (Corbin Bernsen) and the audience doesn’t really have a context for what consequences could follow from such an action. Shadow is currently gobsmacked that Wednesday would feel the need to go to such an extent against someone who he clearly had seen as a friend (I’m sure that watching a decapitation in person can’t be the best experience either) and the audience does not know whether Shadow will continue to throw in his lot with Wednesday after Vulcan’s gruesome end. We know by now that Fuller and Green like to leave ambiguous endings hanging, but avoiding interacting with those characters for an entire episode might be a bit too much to tolerate, especially the week before the season finale is set to air and presumably tie up a few plot threads.
In conclusion, while this episode gave us some interesting insight into our favorite leprechaun, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. Fuller and Green have a limited amount of time to play with, and this may not have been the best use of it right now. However, there’s no way we’ll know whether it was or it wasn’t until next week’s finale.
Next week, American Gods has its season finale, and evidently, all the gods are showing up…
American Gods airs on Starz at 9 pm on Sundays.