Review – American Gods S02E08: “Moon Shadow”

American Gods S02E08: "Moon Shadow"
  • Writing - 8/10
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Overall - 8/10
User Review
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The second season finale of American Gods airs, leaving us without anything to talk about for the next year or two, I guess.

Last Week on American Gods

Last week on American Gods, we had a fairly chaotic swan song for Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schrieber). Shadow (Ricky Whittle) found him under the bridge where he died in the books. However, Sweeney is alive enough here to sulk back to the funeral home under his own power, where he hallucinates banshees. There, he finds Bilquis (Yetide Bedaki) who is gaining worshippers through interpretation of Christianity. Bilquis tries to make him remember his past. After a chat with Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes), Sweeney remembers that he used to be an opponent of Odin, aka Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane).

Sweeney confronts Mr. Wednesday, leading to his death by spear via Shadow. Once the spear impaled him, he made it turn into coins. That kind of makes the quest for the spear a bit of a shaggy dog plot, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, Laura Moon (Emily Browning) has made her way back to Cairo, and might have a few things to say about Sweeney’s death.

Looking Back at American Gods Season 2

American Gods S02E08 Moon Shadow
American Gods S02E08: “Moon Shadow”

These reviews have talked a lot about what American Gods has been struggling with this season. It feels like I’ve been complaining for the last eight weeks, and it doesn’t seem quite fair. I think that there could be a capital-G great show here. However, I see the problems falling into two major categories.

The first of these categories is treatment of representation or sensitive issues. I wrote a bit about how American Gods has treated its women (episode 3), and race issues (episode 5). One of the major set pieces in the season finale emphasized this. There was reasonable fear for a certain group of characters based on the situation. However, it seemed like they had lost complete track of a couple characters who had been in the vicinity, ones that would have had some kind of investment in those events.

The second of these categories is bad pacing choices. In my review of the fourth episode, I discussed the issues with a road trip narrative. It’s a problem when the plot wanders off and has to be wrangled back. The shaggy dog story of the spear essentially cancels out a fair amount of air time. In the season finale, a few plot threads come home to roost. However, it seems like the writers could get farther, which is important for an adaptation. Imagine if Game of Thrones had gotten cancelled before the Red Wedding. There are real benefits to narrative cohesion.

American Gods and the Road From Here

Of course, these problems are not unrelated, as discussed in my review of episode five. If characters are sent on random plot threads, especially Shadow, there’s a chance that the thread may lead to unfortunate implications. Letting Laura become very like Cassandra (never say I don’t know the classics) seems like something that could shorten her “lifespan.” Additionally, even though they have more “screen time” for the show, I can’t shake the feeling that the Salim/Djinn ship is fatally doomed. It may have been a safer choice (publicity-wise) to let them die offscreen than to feature and then kill them. American Gods has been renewed for a third season, and according to Gaiman, there will be ten episodes in that season. In that same interview, he talked of his hopes for a fourth season with that same showrunner. That would certainly be a first for the show.

Without spoilers, Shadow seems to be on a new road for season three. Hopefully, the show will be too, and not one too far from where they started.

What did you think of season two? Are you excited for a third season, especially considering its new showrunner and longer length?

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