The first season finale of American Gods (Starz, Sundays, 9/8C) is the kind of flourish that has been set up from the opening moments of the series premiere when we learned how Odin became aware of the New World.
There are key moments for virtually every key character and several plot arcs converge in unexpected ways. It is a towering achievement television.
American Gods has explored the existence of gods – old and new – in terms of belief, in terms of the Old Gods being immigrants; in terms of the concept of agency and even in terms of honor/ethics.
Come To Jesus is, as the series has been to this point, a deliberately paced, beautifully shot hour that opens with a story by Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) – told to Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) – that tells us about Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) and the events that led to her journey to the New World.
It’s a story about power and loss of power; the rising and falling of a powerful female, and adaptation to deal with change. It begins with an orgy and winds up on a Greyhound-like bus in America – though the journey is what matters.
From there, we join Wednesday and Shadow in Kentucky, at the home of Easter (Kristin Chenoweth) – on her day. She’s throwing an Easter party of course – complete with bunnies, brightly decorating eggs and a houseful of Jesuses.
We are also joined by the leprechaun, Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura (Elizabeth Browning) – not to mention everyone’s favorite New Gods, Media (Gillian Anderson) and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley).
At stake is an alliance by one side or the other with Easter.
Written by Bekah Brunstetter and Michael Green & Bryan Fuller, Come To Jesus is directed by Floria Sigismondi with a palette that really reminds of Pushing Daisies – bright, bright, bright, and an almost polar opposite darkness.
Wednesday reminds Easter of her past glories as Goddess of the Spring, Ostara. While he attempts to persuade her to join his side in the upcoming war, Shadow wanders off and comes upon Jesus (Jeremy Davies) – sitting of the surface of a filled swimming pool – and asks Him about belief and whether He ever has problems with believing.
Shadow and Laura are given answers to questions they have, but neither is what they expect (or want).
There are arguments made for and against the worship of the Old Gods (or, for that matter, the New) and a conclusion that plays out powerful on both the god and mortal levels – setting the stage for a second season that could well provide considerably more action than season one.
Come To Jesus is an eye-opener even if you’ve seen the first seven episodes. Power speaks to power in it to a level that qualifies as awe inspiring.
Final Grade: A+