American Gods A Prayer for Mad Sweeney Review
Starz‘s American Gods: Season 1, Episode 7: A Prayer for Mad Sweeney held to three segments of import: 1.) the tale of an Irish woman from the old world, 2.) a pivotal Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) flashback, and 3.) the present day road trip of Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon (Emily Browning).
The old world segment of A Prayer for Mad Sweeney was one of the most hackneyed episode segments of the series. When viewing an old world scenario like the one presented in A Prayer for Mad Sweeney, previous old world TV shows, special episodes, and segments were brought to mind. The individual and over-arching narratives of Outlander and Taboo were four of them. Though an unfair comparison given the brevity of A Prayer for Mad Sweeney‘s old world segment, Outlander and Taboo‘s story-lines are now the gold standards for old world TV narratives. In that regard, under that comparative lens, the old world segment of A Prayer for Mad Sweeney was flat and relatively dull. I didn’t care about any of the characters (or their narratives) that I was watching, whether good things happened to them or bad. It was the same plight that befell the characters and narratives in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The old world segment of A Prayer for Mad Sweeney comprised the majority of the episode. Because of that fact, I found the majority of A Prayer for Mad Sweeney to be lackluster. The value of the old world segment was singular. They showed Mad Sweeney’s latent, previously noble personality. He wasn’t the drunken idiot that the viewer had previously assumed. There were layers below what the viewer saw on the surface. It took being in the extended company of someone whose past was tragically intertwined with his to bring those facts to the surface.
The big reveal in A Prayer for Mad Sweeney was truly a surprise. It was totally unforeseen. The viewer could see the guilt on Sweeney’s face as he remembered that key event. Seeing the other character in the scene dying and Sweeney standing over them drove Sweeney’s guilt home. It explained Mad Sweeney’s later act of overwhelming kindness in A Prayer for Mad Sweeney. The viewer could see it coming as Sweeney as looked down on his victim for the second time. He wanted to undo the murder that he had committed. He wanted to set things right, though on some level he must have known that there was no giving back what he had taken. This was shown with a well-delivered punch to Sweeney’s face after his selfless act i.e. no good deed goes unpunished.
What the aforementioned scene in A Prayer for Mad Sweeney also revealed was that Mad Sweeney was Mr. Wednesday’s toady. It was unrevealed what Mr. Wednesday had on Mad Sweeney but it must be substantial to get Sweeney to do what he had done. The clandestine murder and other assignments that Mad Sweeney had executed, in addition to his lickspittle status, showed that Mr. Wednesday had been manipulating Shadow Moon’s life before he ever set foot out of prison.
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