Each week, Uproxx will be hosting the American Gods Book Club. This is a safe space where readers of Neil Gaiman’s massive novel can come to dissect the changes to the series and debate what will happen next, all without fear they’ll accidentally spoil something for non-readers.
Sadly, American Gods has come to an end for the season. Eight episodes didn’t feel nearly like enough, but “Come To Jesus” sets the stage for even bigger and weirder stories in the coming years.
#1: Shadow meets Mr. Nancy
In the book: Shadow first runs into Mr. Nancy when he arrives at the House on the Rock with Mr. Wednesday. The three then head into the roadside attraction and towards The Carousel Room.
On the show: After beheading Vulcan, Mr. Wednesday and Shadow apparently went straight to Mr. Nancy in need of their Easter Best™ in order to show up at Easter/Ostara’s annual event. Unlike during his initial introduction in the novel, Ananasi tells a different story, this time of the Queen of Sheba — and how men have tried since time immemorial to reduce the power of queens — instead of how he once stole Tiger’s balls.
#2: Meet Easter, Goddess of the Spring
In the book: Easter is a Hail Mary of sorts, introduced much later in the game. Wednesday and Shadow encounter her in a park, having a picnic feast all by herself. While Easter/Eostre believes she’s “doing just fine” it only takes one mochaccino for the facade to fall and Eostre to admit she is as forgotten as Wednesday and the rest of them.
On the show: Easter/Ostara is doing very well for herself because she long ago made a deal with the Media Devil. Media herself shows up decked out as Judy Garland from Easter Parade, and it becomes very clear that any major Christian holiday built on the ruins of a pagan holiday is an agreement made between the new gods and the old. But even though Easter is playing hostess to the man who stole her feast day, she has not forgotten what it was like to be worshiped. It turns out the old gods are still far more powerful than the new, if only because Media, Technology, and Mr. World do not have humans sacrificed in their name. Though, that does make me wonder if whatever the new god of war looks like is far more powerful than Media or Technology.
#3: A Jesus for every day of the year
In the book: Jesus never makes an appearance, though someone heard he was hitchhiking through Afghanistan.
On the show: I really enjoyed the way the show handled modern-day Christian belief. Having multiple Jesus (Jesuses? Jesi?) keeps it from becoming too preachy or condemning of any particular denomination but still manages to account for the variety of American belief. It also fits in nicely with the great American Gods mythology which has yet to be explored in the show — that the old gods of America are themselves mirror images of the original gods that still reside in their home countries.
#4: Laura Moon is not resurrected
In the book: She is also not resurrected, but because she eventually chooses not to be. She certainly never meets Easter.
On the show: The reasoning behind keeping Laura Moon dead is endlessly fascinating. She wasn’t killed or murdered. She was sacrificed. And as we see in the final moments of the season, dedicating a human sacrifice to a god boosts their power like a battery. I have to wonder if yet another ulterior motive of Mr. Wednesday’s was to give himself enough juice to perform a human sacrifice in Ostara’s name. Odin is playing the long con, and there’s no way he didn’t know Media was involved in the rise of Easter. He was surely betting on the new gods showing up to Ostara’s feast day. Laura being sacrificed to Odin adds another wrinkle as discovering this will no doubt be the thing that “actually” pisses Shadow off. And as the series’ reminded us, Shadow being angry at Odin is one of the few ways to break their accord.
#5: The gods go to war
In the book: Easter definitely doesn’t steal the spring. It isn’t until Wednesday is killed that the gods decide it is time to settle things once and for all.
On the show: Odin may be king, but watch the Queen conquer. Seeing a fully powered Easter steal spring from the entirety of the United States of America was something powerful to behold. Thunder and lightning may be dangerous on an individual level, but a lack of harvest can devastate millions. Society is only 24 hours and a missed meal away from chaos, and we all know the first thing to go in a dystopia are our technological advances. The new gods better figure out how to appease Easter before a trigger-happy country starts nuking everyone back to the Stone Age.
Odd & Ends:
– The show gives no explanation, but Shadow still climbs the mountain skulls. The skulls which belong to him.
– The rise and fall and rise again of the Queen of Sheba is one of the most fascinating stories this season. She embodies the idea that men forever think they can lord over women only to find they are ultimately wrong. The idea that Sheba came to America late in the game, and at the behest of a woman she met in a club in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution was familiar to all women. Who among us hasn’t at some point fled the company of violent men for the safety of female friends? Having Sheba beholden to the new gods also adds layers to her relationship with the Technical Boy. I truly hope the fate of her television counterpart is different than that of hers in the novel, because the Queen of Sheba takes orders from no man.
– On the flip side, watching the Technical Boy’s mixture of fear, lust, and disgust when the Queen of Sheba began seducing him was the avatar of how puny boys have felt about powerful women since the dawn of time.
– I was shocked the season ended where it did. Months ago, Bryan Fuller posted an image from the Carousel when they were scouting locations. I have to wonder if there was a different ending planned in case American Gods wasn’t picked up for a second season. I can’t imagine it ending where it did and the show not going on.