American Gods: Come To Jesus   Books Included 
June 18, 2017 7:04 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

On the eve of war, Mr. Wednesday must recruit one more Old God: Ostara, ne Easter, Goddess of the Dawn, but winning her over will require making a good impression, and that is where Mr. Nancy comes in.

Anansi tells a story, Easter has herself a ball, Shadow meets a nice young man with a very bright halo, the new gods make some threats, Laura can't be helped, and lastly Wednesday makes a move...
posted by sparkletone (58 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked this episode, and was very put off by the director wrap up at the end that seemed to be pretty snide about Kirsten Chenoweth's religious beliefs. I am not Christian but I knew going into this episode that KC *is* and I really like how she embodied this modern Ostara.
posted by annathea at 7:10 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]




I like this Kristen Chenoweth interview about the role: http://www.avclub.com/article/jesus-comes-kristin-chenoweth-weeks-american-gods-256646

And since we didn't get nearly enough Orlando Jones this season, I hope they are going to make Anansi Boys.
posted by annathea at 7:56 PM on June 18 [8 favorites]


My name is Parasite Unseen and my sexual orientation is Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane wearing dressing gowns and having drinks in their tailor's parlor.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:35 PM on June 18 [20 favorites]


was very put off by the director wrap up at the end that seemed to be pretty snide about Kirsten Chenoweth's religious beliefs.

I don't understand what you mean ?
posted by Pendragon at 1:28 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


In that interview, Chenowith says Fuller wrote a role for her in Hannibal. Do we know which role it was?
posted by rmd1023 at 3:33 AM on June 19


The Bilquis scenes. My God. The Cleopatra-esque orgy, and then that amazing amazing Tehran disco scene that struck me as being like home in a weird way (I'm not Iranian, but that girl could have looked like someone like me, and I was raised on disco music), and then seeing her temples destroyed in the name of "idolatry" and remembering how big a deal it was in my Islamic Studies classes...

Technical Boy named as The Man in her phone, ahahahaa, how apropo. Damn the Man. I bet she wouldn't be too impressed with Wednesday either.
posted by divabat at 4:08 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of the book and the show. And I get what they're going for, with the off-kilter score. And in a few places, like the screeching horror movie version of jazz behind Mr. Anansi on the slave ship it worked for me pretty well.

But if I'm being honest, there were more moments where the score clanged and honked and detracted from the scenes in this series than in pretty much any film or tv entity I can think of, ever.

The clanging, jarring sounds they lean on feel like a very insubstantial little trick that gets leaned on about seven times more than the concept can support.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:18 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


This adaptation having been a little unhurried with its pacing, I was wondering how on earth they would get to The House on the Rock by the end of the finale, since that was the one show-stopping moment in the early book that seemed like it could support a finale.

Fuller and company kind of blew me away with their solution: create a new jaw-dropping moment instead. I love how the taking of Spring served as a shot across the bow to start the war.

That was terrific.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:32 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


The Cleopatra-esque orgy
The orgy scene was very reminiscent of Hannibal.

"Vagina Nebula" - heh.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:58 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Taking spring was amazing - but under the rules of this universe, wouldn't you expect most prayers begging for it to be fixed to be directed at God and Jesus? And couldn't they then fix it, if they felt like it?
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:54 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I'm with you on the score, DirtyOldTown. It's overpowering, super annoying, and pulls me right out of the story.

As with so many, the highlights for me are the "Coming to America" pieces. The use of SFX & the mythical nature of those stories line up perfectly with Fuller's artistic sense. I'm less in love with everything else, some of which is unavoidable when watching a story where so much of the dramatic tension come from a conning the audience right along with some of the characters, but I already know it's a Con. But some of it is pacing, and what seems like some really repetitive beats. I get it, Bilquis gotta Bilquis (this ep was my least favorite Coming to America), Tech Boy is an asshole, and Mad Sweeny be Mad. I'd sure love it if we could add some depth to more of the characters.

But I'd watch this cast read the preverbal Phone Book, so I'm in for the long haul, and hoping it'll come back for season 2.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:37 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Who is the person voicing the narration during the myth sections?
posted by blurker at 10:35 AM on June 19


I believe that's Demore Barnes/Mr. Ibis. Anubis' partner at the funeral home.
posted by rewil at 10:50 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Something snapped into place for me with this episode, and I'm not sure if it's something I glossed over in the book or if it's something new to the show - but I had never had a real sense of what the old gods winning would actually look like, from a human perspective. This episode suggests it would look like all our modern post-apocalyptic fears - post-peak-oil collapse, environmental devastation, plagues, etc. Which, of course it would, because post-apocalyptic stories are about losing all our technology. It's so much the obvious endpoint of this fight that I have no idea why I did't put it together before.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:32 PM on June 19 [15 favorites]


For me, there's no question the tv adaptation spends more thought and energy on the actual war than the book did. There's more ramp-up, there are better established stakes, etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:39 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I freaking love this bit from the AV Club review: When Wednesday spits out unwelcome truths about Easter’s subordination to the many Christs, Jesus Prime takes the moment to make it all about him. “I feel terrible about this,” he said, his voice breaking, as he martyrs himself once again.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:46 PM on June 19 [17 favorites]


Disco Bilquis is so perfect.

Ian McShane's recitation of a few of Odin's names was everything I'd hoped for. His lightning strike against the droogs? (minions? what are they?) was a good way to show how much more powerful he's become as a result of killing Vulcan. And how much more dangerous he has the potential to be… that was just one death. Of a god, true, but just one. And those sacrificed droogs, dedicated to Eostre, give her the power to wither the land, and take back the fertility of Spring from the earth for herself. That made you instantly grasp why people would pray to a fertility goddess for more reasons than babies.
posted by culfinglin at 1:07 PM on June 19 [8 favorites]


I have A LOT OF THOUGHTS but I also have limited time so let me just say the changing of Easter and the whole deal the New Gods provide is GREAT and so TIMELY.

AND ALSO the whole the New Gods demand less and give less, the media and technology and neoliberalist globalism trade off passive worship for small rewards but the old gods are like literal blood and death gods and they WILL take back the Spring and raise the stakes. It's a slow decay by inches and tweets vs Catacalysm.

Like that feels uh. Super timely . To me.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on June 19 [13 favorites]


Also the kings getting uh

Crowny
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Have you guys noticed how, despite Shadow being hired partly as Wednesday's driver and being explicitly told by Wednesday "don't get used to me driving you around because you'll be doing the driving" when he woke up in Wednesday's car that first time, Shadow is almost never the one driving? Feels metaphorical.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:47 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


I kinda want Bilquis and Ex-Selim to meet up just so Bilquis can go "THE GOD YOU LOVE DESTROYED MY TEMPLES HOW DARE YOU"
posted by divabat at 7:02 AM on June 20


My name is Parasite Unseen and my sexual orientation is Ricky Whittle and Ian McShane wearing dressing gowns and having drinks in their tailor's parlor.

That scene was the only time I have ever had to fan myself because of a dude lavaballing.
posted by romakimmy at 7:57 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Terrific Chenoweth bit from an interview:
What were the challenges in having to swoon over Ricky Whittle in the episode? That must have been tough!

Let’s be honest, on a scale from zero to ten, it was zero challenge for me to swoon. Absolutely none, nada, nein. You don’t want to become that woman where you’re always like, “Oh, your arms.” I have an inner voice problem that just comes out on set, I’d be finding myself saying, “Hey, would you run the lines with me and could you remove your shirt?”
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:02 AM on June 20 [9 favorites]


This interpretation of Easter/Ostara was interesting -- I appreciated it, even though it was not the way I pictured her at all. The only thing I thought was a bit of a shame is that she's so skinny, and I liked the idea of Easter being a more lush-figured woman. But that may just be because I am yearning to see more types of bodies represented in TV anyway.

It seemed exceptionally dim of Shadow to have reached this point and STILL not have figured out which god Wednesday is. It was easier for me to suspend disbelief on this matter when reading the books.
posted by desuetude at 8:47 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the whole "Shadow is struggling to believe" storyline was kinda mishandled, considering way back in episode 2 he believed it all enough that he decided he was cool with maybe getting his head smashed with a hammer because he couldn't deal with this reality. I never got a sense that he was struggling with any of it except in the times where they explicitly talked about it - other than that, he just seemed to be along for the ride.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:54 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]




I kinda want Bilquis and Ex-Selim to meet up just so Bilquis can go "THE GOD YOU LOVE DESTROYED MY TEMPLES HOW DARE YOU"

As the show demonstrated with Jesus this episode, there can be a lot of different gods with the same name and all of the gods seem to understand any be comfortable with that. Which is to say that I doubt that Bilquis would view the god of the radical militant Islam and the god that Salim/Not-Salim loves as being the same dude.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:13 AM on June 20 [10 favorites]


I thought was a bit of a shame is that she's so skinny

Absolutely desuetude. iirc, in the book Oester is voluptuous; in the show, I think the thinking might be along the lines of how worshipers' beliefs in America end up shaping the gods re: Vulcan being a hatemonger.
posted by porpoise at 12:02 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


My guess is, Fuller just really wanted to work with Kristin Chenoweth again and they made it work.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:57 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


I loved the starry look in Shadows eyes when they step in the house, he says "I love Easter!" and then turns and sees Kristin.......
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 1:57 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


The gold rimmed champagne flutes at Mr Nancy's are the same as the ones at Easter's.
posted by annathea at 2:11 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Among the confections at Easter's were the type of cookie where it's really two cookies sandwiched with a filling, and with a hole in the top cookie so you can see the filling. Kind of like these. Except hers were in the shape of hands.

Stigmata cookies.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:39 PM on June 20 [17 favorites]


Given the general society's lack of ability to differentiate between the types of Islam, I wouldn't expect Bliquis to necessarily make that distinction. It would seem odd to me for the show to sidestep that discussion given IRL discourse.
posted by divabat at 9:02 PM on June 20


I was disappointed that Salim/Not-Salim didn't make it to Kentucky and meet Muslim Jesus. That would have been cool. But hey, it was another great episode and I love this series. I can't wait until next year for more so I plan on reading the book sometime this summer.

> It seemed exceptionally dim of Shadow to have reached this point and STILL not have figured out which god Wednesday is. It was easier for me to suspend disbelief on this matter when reading the books.

Yeah, the whole "Shadow is struggling to believe" storyline was kinda mishandled, considering way back in episode 2 he believed it all enough that he decided he was cool with maybe getting his head smashed with a hammer because he couldn't deal with this reality. I never got a sense that he was struggling with any of it except in the times where they explicitly talked about it - other than that, he just seemed to be along for the ride.


Yeah, this has been the one big, glaring flaw of the series so far, imo. Thankfully, it's no longer an issue.
posted by homunculus at 10:07 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Called it: Chinese Jesus!

And Black Jesus too!
posted by porpoise at 11:24 PM on June 20


Given that we haven't seen "evil Jesus" as the embodiment of all the nastiness self-labelled Christians get up to in his name, I have no idea why Bilquis would see the destruction of the Yemeni temple as the act of another god instead of simply an act of destructive men (or kings, as the narrative gave us to understand). Also, we haven't seen the Abrahamic God at all, and wouldn't that be the same deity (in multiple guises, like Jesus, yes, but the "same") for Muslims and Christians? The djinn is like Mad Sweeney - not a god, but a demi-god - a creature forged of belief. Completely unrelated to the destruction of Bilquis' temples.

Also, having a passing knowledge of Norse mythology, if I was randomly hired by a one-eyed man to cause mischief on his behalf, then introduced to a leprechaun, an Eastern European family that supposedly embodied deities I'd never heard of, a really terrifically dressed tailor with a penchant for stories, and a weapons maker in a town named after a Roman/Greek god, I would not then look at the one-eyed man and think "Yep, must be Odin."

Most of the really crazy shit he's seen has come from the new gods. He doesn't really have a framework to play guessing games as to who's embodying which deity when things keep getting more and more fantastic. So his ignorance and disbelief are, to me, very believable.
posted by annathea at 8:20 AM on June 21 [6 favorites]


Yeah, most people are not super educated on the gods of all pantheons. There's no reason he would learn the signs of Odin beforehand.

I'm really, really interested in how they're going to handle the famine, though.
posted by corb at 9:50 AM on June 21


Taking spring was amazing - but under the rules of this universe, wouldn't you expect most prayers begging for it to be fixed to be directed at God and Jesus? And couldn't they then fix it, if they felt like it?

Just as Ostara couldn't return Laura to life because it would interfere with another god's act to kill her, I would say God/Jesus would be similarly unable to make spring return.

Then again, maybe she was just limited at that point in time due to lack of belief, and a god with more belief/power could undo it?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:33 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


> Yeah, most people are not super educated on the gods of all pantheons. There's no reason he would learn the signs of Odin beforehand.

Shadow knows Wednesday's a god, knows he's a very old and powerful big deal, and knows he's not a major part of American culture and lacks real followers. Norse gods were never really my thing (I was all about Greek mythology) and the first time I read the book, I didn't recognize Wednesday from the earliest hints, but a little deductive reasoning, please? C'mon, if asked to name "top 10 powerful old gods" most people would include Odin just on name recognition.
posted by desuetude at 11:34 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The fashion blog Tom and Lorenzo has been doing analysis of the costuming on American Gods (as well as writing regular reviews), and they are really worth a read! In particular, their analysis of Bilquis in the most recent post is really interesting. They point out several specific references in her hair and costuming to notable iconic and powerful black women (Nefertiti, Grace Jones, Angela Davis), and then:

Note how, in all her appearances since making the deal with Technical Boy, Bilquis has sported straightened hair and minimalist, solid, dark colors. We hesitate to make this connection, since the discussion of black women’s hair choices is a real thing out in the real world, but it would seem to us that whatever power she has right now is illusory and totally dependent on the Technical Boy, which is reflected in her hair, which has been used to make so many other statements about her in the story so far. She has youth and beauty restored to her, but modern, western versions of them; glossy straight hair and minimalist-chic dresses. An old power repackaged by a new one, the old world colonized by the new. She’s surviving, but she’s not thriving. She’s nothing like the goddess we saw earlier.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:04 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


I didn't recognize Wednesday from the earliest hints, but a little deductive reasoning, please?

Honest question - is the etymology of "Wednesday" as, literally, (w)Odin's Day, uncommon knowledge?
posted by coriolisdave at 10:45 PM on June 22


The Wikipedia entry is informative.

Personally, yes, I've been aware that Odin/Wednesday was 'a thing' since I was a child and curious about such things (naming of days) but I can't pinpoint where I picked up on it (other than, in general, reading stuff).

I did forget that Wednesday was associated with Mars, but I think I was aware of that at some point.
posted by porpoise at 4:09 AM on June 23


I did forget that Wednesday was associated with Mars

What? I thought Mars was Tuesday, Mercury Wednesday. Per the French names, for example, mardi and mercredi respectively.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:40 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Definitely my bad. Jet lag/sleep deprivation. Posted 4am my time, 7am local - after a layover-laden (but not long enough to be worth leaving and re-entering security for smokes), insomnia at the hotel, hard alcohol, running into a bachelorette party and invited for drinks while having a smoke outside at midnight - before rushing out the door to grab a conference-sponsored breakfast before it closed.

Yes, Mars is the second day and Mercury the 3rd, even according to the Wikipedia page I linked.

Maybe that's why I didn't think Wed/Mars had an association - it doesn't.
posted by porpoise at 7:10 PM on June 23


I mean, Mr. World's sales pitch to Wednesday was to make a weapons guidance satellite literally called Odin.

To be fair, Shadow was probably a little distracted in the moment, but you'd think he'd piece it together on the trip to Vulcan.
posted by JDHarper at 7:56 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Just having watched this I was struck by the 'pray for spring' scene by several nearly simultaneous thoughts:

  • The book has a passage IIRC about the war coming in the spring. This seemed like a great way to put a natural 'season' break in the series that could be called back to.
  • This imagining of Easter didn't need to rely on the kinda cringe-y 'pagan' girl from Seattle that the book did.
  • One of my favourites ever from Gaiman was his collaboration with Pratchett - Good Omens which did a marvellous job with the horseman. Thinking of Pollution (and Chaos) also brings to mind The Hogfather.


  • I really really liked this episode in this context.
    posted by mce at 1:07 PM on June 25


    > Honest question - is the etymology of "Wednesday" as, literally, (w)Odin's Day, uncommon knowledge?

    Surprisingly uncommon knowledge, yes. I mean, common knowledge in my circles of language geeks, history geeks, sci-fi/fantasy geeks, sure. But generally, most people just parse the names of the days as self-contained proper names, and haven't stopped to wonder whether they refer to something else. (Similarly, most people don't stop to wonder why our twelfth month is named for the number ten.)
    posted by desuetude at 7:12 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


    As soon as I saw Ostara's feast I recognised the handiwork of Janice Poon, previously the food stylist for Hannibal. Her blog entry on this episode.
    posted by Major Clanger at 1:54 PM on June 27 [2 favorites]


    Finally got to see this ep. Did anyone else notice that the Corvette pulling into House on the Rock had a tail light out? Wondering if it means anything...
    posted by notsnot at 6:23 PM on June 28


    I don't usually promote fanworks here, for reasons, but I absolutely must share this artist with you, so please be gentle with her. The artist is euclase.tumblr.com and among her many many arts she has done beautiful portraits of Shadow, Media-as-Marilyn, Salim, and Easter.

    The Easter one is just absolutely stunning. You can feel the weight of history, and how weary she is. I don't think I've ever seen Kristin Chenoweth from this angle. Her art floors me in general but this is something truly special.
    posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:03 PM on June 28


    I was very unhappy with the KC as Easter/Ostara casting choice based on body type....until I watched the episode. She played the hell out of that, and her transformation from controlled Christian woman to all powerful Goddess was sublime.

    In other words, she made me a believer.
    posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:12 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


    I finished the book a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it, and at the same time I can now really appreciate how the show has improved on the book as far as Laura and Mad Sweeney are concerned.

    I've already ordered Anansi Boys and I'm debating whether or not to get the collections which include Monarch of the Glen and Black Dog. Are those two stories as good as the rest?
    posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


    ostara sounds a lot like austerity
    posted by sixswitch at 7:52 PM on September 17




    WHUT
    posted by showbiz_liz at 3:56 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


    Deadline Hollywood is saying it's because of budget. Why can't we have nice things?
    posted by rewil at 3:58 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


    This being the umpteenth time Bryan Fuller has abruptly left a show still in production, it may be high time that even those of us who adore his writing admit it may not just be bad luck. It may be Fuller himself who is the problem.
    posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:49 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


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