Gilbert Speaks on “American Gods” S01 E07

13 Jun

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The Rolling Stones once asked us in song to have “Sympathy for the Devil” but I’ve yet to hear a song for the gods. Don’t they deserve our sympathy, too? Able to control the heavens, they are helpless against men’s mischief. On tonight’s episode of “American Gods” we are asked to pray for a rather pesky leprechaun. What do we know about Mad Sweeney? Find out after the jump

Prayer for Mad Sweeney

We are told in the episodes and in the book by Neil Gaiman that gods only exist because people have created them. As soon as people stop believing, the gods are consigned to a dusty shelf in a library. In modern times, people are too busy living their lives, playing video games and tweeting to even offer up a Halleluiah or two. But, it wasn’t always this way. Before Facebook and Google, belief was all there was to keep people on a steady course.

Essie

How did the little people (fairies and leprechauns) make their way to the New World? Essie McGowan was a young girl living in Ireland. Her grandmother regaled her with tales of leprechauns as Essie waited for her father’s ship to return from sea. Children believe the tales told to them by their grandmothers and wisely so because many of the myths are true. Essie’s (Emily Browning) story takes place between the scenes of Laura’s trip with Salim and Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), and is told by Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes) as Mr. Jaquel aka Anubis (Chris Obi) prepares another body for a funeral.

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Essie dutifully leaves gifts for the leprechauns with hopes of their blessing and a good life, but she gets in trouble with the law and back then the punishment was servitude in America. After wooing the Captain of the ship and becoming his wife, Essie robs him and takes off to make her way back to Ireland. All this time, she still leaves gifts for the leprechauns. When Essie is caught a second time stealing, she is thrown in jail to await her hanging.

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Sweeney is in the next cell and they strike up a friendship and a bit of wee folk luck that saved Essie from the hangman? The jailer takes a liking to the pretty Irish lass and has his way with her. This indiscretion saves Essie’s life. You can’t hang a pregnant woman! White European criminals were either hung or sent to the American colonies to work off their debts. Immigration is always about escaping a worse scenario. Essie is transported once again to America.

Laura

Laura is getting pretty ripe and the flies keep coming. After stopping at a roadside attraction, Laura tells Salim that he is free to go after she tells him where the gods will be meeting. Laura robs an Ice Cream truck, and Sweeney has time to tell his story. Sweeney up to this episode has been somewhat irritating in a fun way, but still irritating because we didn’t know his story. We learn all about him tonight and all I can say is, “Wow!”

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Laura questions Sweeney about his service to Wednesday. Sweeney tells her he was a king, but he was afraid of dying. He turned into a bird and deserted the war. Now, with the war brewing between the old and new gods, Sweeney has reached the point where he is too tired to run. Sweeney always does what Wednesday tells him to do. It was Sweeney who caused the first accident that killed Laura and it is Sweeney that causes the bunny to hop in front of the Ice Cream truck. Sometimes, leprechauns can hurt you.

Conclusion

If I had to pick my favorite episode of American Gods, it would have to be this one. Essie’s grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan) told her that the leprechauns would protect her if she left them gifts.

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Essie arrives in America with a newborn son and is assigned as a wet nurse for a widower that lost his wife after she delivered a baby girl. Essie eventually marries the farmer and she has his child. She tells her children and grandchildren all about the wee folk and the importance of leaving them gifts. When it is time to die, Sweeney comes for the elderly Essie. This is a touching moment that is also carried over in the present with Laura and Sweeney.

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Sweeney was told to get rid of Laura. Wednesday doesn’t want Shadow distracted from the upcoming war. The accident that Sweeney caused not only kills Laura a second time, but releases his magic coin from her torn flesh. Sweeney could have taken that coin and walked away. He didn’t. Sometimes, Leprechauns take a liking to you. Just ask Essie.

See you next week for the season finale and don’t forget to leave some milk and bread for the wee folk.

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