American Gods Come to Jesus Review
Starz‘s American Gods: Season 1, Episode 8: Come to Jesus was an episode of introductions and reveals, varying in degrees of impact on the overall narrative of the series and on its individual characters. Some of the reveals the viewer saw coming, some were impossible to see.
One of American Gods‘ strengths has been its ability to craft stand-alone scenes and segments that have high production value. The Mr. Nancy / Anansi (Orlando Jones) tailor scene and the Temple of Bar’an 864 B.C.E. / Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) scene were two such scenes in Come to Jesus. In this particular episode, the former scene (the affluent sitting as they had their suits handmade) prefaced the latter scene (worshipers, sex, and death). Unlike how Mad Sweeney’s past was explored in A Prayer for Mad Sweeney, Come to Jesus explored Bilquis’ past in an effective and entertaining way. The American Gods viewer may have wondered why Bilquis only had a thrall here and a thrall there in modern times. Come to Jesus detailed why that was but also how Bilquis slowly became relevant again in the modern era, enough so that she could acquire and consume new sacrifices.
After Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) called in his marker with Bilquis and she began heading towards the nucleus of most of the drama in Come to Jesus, what exactly was her mission? When she got there, what would she do? Was her mission Shadow? The viewer will have to wait until next season to have those questions answered.
One question that was answered in Come to Jesus was the true identity of Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). If the viewer had paid attention to Media’s pitch to Mr. Wednesday during Lemon Scented You, they would have noted Mr. Wednesday’s true name on the side of the rocket. That name on the side of the rocket, Mr. Wednesday’ glass eye, and the Northmen scene in The Bone Orchard all made sense when Mr. Wednesday revealed himself to be the Old God Odin.
The “come to Jesus” moment in Come to Jesus was two found. The first was when Odin revealed himself and Shadow said out loud that he completely believed in Odin. How many people alive in the world at that time still believed in Odin? Not many. Possibly just a handful. Probably less than that. My guess, by the end of the episode, only one true believer still existed in the world (a new believer) but as Odin had probably planned from the very beginning, that was a start.
The second “come to Jesus” moment in Come to Jesus was what Easter / Ostara (Kristin Chenoweth) did to the vegetation of the world. It was devastation of a massive scale.
The New Gods were powerless, impotent, in the face of the power of Ostara. The New Gods might have been in the now when it came to worshipers and relevance but that did not mean that they were more power than the Old Gods. Come to Jesus showed the viewer that this assumption was inaccurate. The New Gods could do noting but watch as Ostara’s power ravaged enumerable crops and forests alike.
Ostara’s introduction into American Gods illuminated a gigantic fallacy in Mr. World’s stratagem up until that point. If Ostara was that powerful, strong enough to wilt, damage, and kill vegetation for miles around, maybe even throughout states and the world, why would you not make sure that particular deity was firmly on your team, satiated, and content?
When Odin showed up, Odin should have been faced with an elaborate network of mental brick walls that Ostara had erected. Instead, Ostara was open to talking, listening, she was pliable, and able to be persuaded by tales of the glory days and how the Old Gods could have them again. It was effective pitch, with no rebuttal by Mr. World or Media already in place to counter it.
Not only was Ostara the focal point of much of Come to Jesus, she drove forward multiple plotlines in the episode. One of the best script / acting moments in Come to Jesus was when Ostara looked into Laura Moon (Emily Browning)’s eyes and saw the last thing that Laura saw when she was alive. Ostara then looked at Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and secret knowledge passed between the two of them. It was a very telling moment, especially since Ostara didn’t speak of what she had learned in totality. The Gods obviously had each other’s backs when it came to certain things.
What came after that moment between Laura Moon and Mad Sweeney was one of the biggest reveals not only in Come to Jesus but in the series. Odin had been manipulating Laura and Shadow Moon’s life for years. The reason for that manipulation was not revealed but its results were: 1.) Shadow Moon was now a true believer in Odin, and 2.) Laura Moon, through Mad Sweeney, now knew what Odin wanted. Because of that reveal and the knowledge that came from it, Laura wanted to disrupt and destroy Odin’s plans, like Odin destroyed the Moons’ lives.
If Laura Moon is clever, and Media is watching, Laura could enlist the help of the New Gods. Through them Laura could hurt Odin, his machinations, possibly get Shadow back, and achieve what she wanted more than anything. A chance at living again. I don’t see the New Gods having a problem with any of that, especially if they get what they want in return.
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