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TV Review: American Gods - Season 1 Finale "Come To Jesus"

06.18.2017

American Gods, TV Review, Fantasy, Drama, Starz, <a  data-cke-saved-href=

EPISODE 8: "Come To Jesus"

SYNOPSIS:  Her brief reunion with Shadow over far too quickly, Laura turns to an unlikely travel companion to find her way back to life, and back to Shadow. Mad Sweeney’s long, winding, and often tragic past is explored.

American Gods TV Review, American Gods, TV Review, Bryan Fuller, Starz, Fantasy, Gillian Anderson, Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Kristen Chenoweth, Orlando Jones, Crispin Glover

REVIEW: American Gods stormed onto the airwaves with a mixture of fantasy and drama unlike any other show on television. Over the course of a limited eight episode first season, Bryan Fuller's show has been brilliant and maddeningly frustrating, sometimes in the same episode. The first half of the season was a revelation of storytelling that set up a massive and diverse mythology that seemed too ambitious for such a short run of episodes. By the end of tonight's season finale, the show has proven that to be true with an episode that feels incomplete and will keep us waiting for an entire year before we see what happens next. Many shows on cable have left viewers hanging between seasons, but they have done so with a sense of completion that at least wraps up the narrative arc of the year and posing questions for the next round. American Gods ends with a strong and deep episode but one that doesn't have any sort of ending. It just stops mid-story and sours what was otherwise one of the best series on TV.

Converging in Wisconsin at the estate of Easter (Pushing Daisies veteran Kristin Chenoweth), Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon are there to try and recruit the ancient Goddess by convincing her that her holiday has been watered down thanks to it's association with Jesus Christ. While we saw a Mexican version of Christ gunned down in a prior episode, we find that the mythology of American Gods makes room for countless iterations of the Christian diety. The central Jesus here is portrayed by Jeremy Davies who imbues his take on the Son of God as a bit of a hippie. Needless to say, Shadow is dumbfounded by what he is seeing. For the entire season, Ricky Whittle has played Shadow as a skeptic who is going along with Mr. Wednesday but never quite believing what he was seeing. Now, as we reach the season finale, Shadow has transformed from a skeptic into a wide-eyed believer and it all seems to be a part of Wednesday's master plan. At the big Easter celebration, Wednesday tries to flirt with Easter into joining his side of the impending war, but she is soon called away by Mad Sweeney and the quickly decomposing Laura Moon.

American Gods TV Review, American Gods, TV Review, Bryan Fuller, Starz, Fantasy, Gillian Anderson, Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Kristen Chenoweth, Orlando Jones, Crispin Glover

Of course, things go awry because Media and Technical Boy show up with their minions in tow. Mr. World also makes an appearance using one of the faceless goons as an avatar. With all of the major players on site at the same time, the show wants you to think a major showdown is coming. Instead, what we get is a lot of talk between the old and new dieties about who has a right over the modern world with Easter caught in the middle. Shadow, having seen more and more inexplicable things, demands to know who Mr. Wednesday truly is. In a raging storm of thunder and lightning, Ian McShane's character is finally revealed as none other than Odin, himself. Fans of the novel will surely be pleased that this first twist is out in the open, but it feels underwhelming. McShane is a damn good actor, but the reveal just doesn't feel as monumental as it should. Still, it is enough to convince Easter who unleashes her full power in the form of a wave of energy that saps the color from the landscape. What the implications are of this act remain to be seen, but it does represent enough for Shadow to finally acknowledge that he believes in all of the magic of the gods he has witnessed to date. The episode comes to an end as Shadow sees Laura is at the house and they exchange a loving glance.

And it pretty much just stops there. Sure, we get the New Gods vowing revenge before they scurry off and we see Bilquis, who has been given virtually nothing to do this season, as she rides a bus towards the Wisconsin home of Easter. But, beyond that, there is not much else to report. Like I said earlier, as a chapter in the overall American Gods saga, this was a very good episode. Not as good as the prior episodes, but good nonetheless. All of the main cast get time to shine, especially Kristen Chenoweth and Orlando Jones, both of whom have a love/hate relationship with audiences but are very deserving of recognition for this show. Ian McShane feels like he had more that was cut from the episode which was too abrupt and should have been at least half an hour longer. Overall, this was an incredibly underwhelming way to end the first season of American Gods. 

American Gods TV Review, American Gods, TV Review, Bryan Fuller, Starz, Fantasy, Gillian Anderson, Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Kristen Chenoweth, Orlando Jones, Crispin Glover

From the outset, American Gods was poised to be like nothing else on television and it came through on that promise loud and clear. This entire first season raised the bar like Fargo and the first season of True Detective. By throwing caution to the wind, this show has instantly brought Starz original programming into the same vicinity as AMC, FX and HBO. American Gods should absolutely have at least a thirteen episode season each year moving forward. I would never dip below ten episodes as there is just too much story to tell and 8 episodes is nowhere near enough to wrap each arc satisfactorily. Fans of the novel know this season covered about a third of the book which makes a lot more room for future seasons, but a third of a novel also is incomplete. Over the eight episodes, the quality began to waiver about halfway through with the second half never living up to the first. I blame that on the two flashback/standalone episodes focused on Laura Moon. While good hours, they just pulled away from the series' momentum and left me feeling unsatisfied with the final overall run. Still, the problems that I am pointing out regarding this series are great problems to have and easily fixed by more hours. I cannot wait to see season two.

Key Observations From "Come To Jesus":

  • Mr. World wasn't that easy to defeat, was he?
  • Kristen Chenoweth may be annoying to some, but Bryan Fuller makes her sexy as hell.
  • Where the heck are Salim and the Djinn? Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel? Czernobog?
  • Jeremy Davies was a very underwhelming Jesus. Good thing we have more options for next season.
  • Knowing about the Mr. Wednesday reveal in advance, I felt let down by how they unveiled it on screen.

NEXT ON AMERICAN GODS: Season 2 premieres in 2018 on Starz

Source: JoBlo.com

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