American Gods, episode 1×07, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” aired June 11, 2017
The season’s penultimate episode, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” switched gears this week and took a different approach. This Ibis had a “Coming to America” story to tell that actually linked to one of our favorite supernaturals. Our mighty, ginger leprechaun, Mad Sweeney. This week’s episode took a break from Shadow’s roadtrip with Wednesday and the old God’s mission to take down the new. Instead, Ibis’ story told the tale of a young girl turned woman who honored tradition and paid tribute to the leprechaun’s on the mound. Laura Moon portrayer, Emily Browning, pulls double duty as the also plays the indomitable and wily, Essie MacGowan.
The title of this week’s episode, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” left this viewer initially expecting to see a full hour all about the origin and colorful life and times of Mad Sweeney. It actually turned out to be an episode about Essie MacGown. An Irish girl who believe in love until it broke her heart one too many times. This same girl had the devil’s own luck when it came to getting herself out of trouble. Devil’s own luck or the luck of a leprechaun. More than not she honors tradition learned as a child, by leaving crumbs of bread and bowls of milk on window sills as a tribute. Even during hard times, she honors the tradition. Her small sacrifices are met with great bouts of luck. Essie’s first trip across the Atlantic to the New World ends with her escaping life as an indentured servant and her sentence of “transportation”. A victim of a cowardly lover, Essie wasn’t guilty of the thievery charge the first time she faced the magistrate, but she certainly made up for it in the years to come. The Irish woman was an expert shoplifter and she married the ship’s captain from that first trip across the sea, only to turn around and steal every single item of value in his home the minute ol’ captain shipped off again. Essie got really good at stealing. Unfortunately, the better her luck was, the more the forgot tradition and failed to pay tribute to her guardian leprechaun. Soon enough, Essie’s luck ran out. She ended up getting tossed in prison again. Before she could be transported to the New World as an indentured servant again, Essie met up with someone quite interesting.
Who? Mad Sweeney himself. It seems that Essie’s life is continually touched by the ginger leprechaun who has landed himself in jail as well. It’s at this time that the Irish woman talks to him about the possibility of going to America. A place that he’ll one day end up, thanks to Essie and others who still paid tribute to the once king. For as long as she lives, Essie never fails to leave a bit of crumbs for the old supernatural and a saucer of milk. She finds love in the New World and makes a life for herself there. She keeps the tales of the fairy folk and leprechauns alive in the hearts of her children and grandchildren to come. Even when the children no longer cared to hear the old tales, Essie kept them alive for herself. It should be no surprise that when the time came, it was Mad Sweeney who came to collect the old woman’s soul upon her death.
The story of Essie MacGowan was spliced interplayed with Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon’s time together in the present. Surely it means something that Essie MacGowan was the very image of Laura Moon. Is Laura an old soul? She’s connected with Mad Sweeney yet again. Could Laura be a descendent of Essie’s? The ancestor who believed in the magical until the very end and the descendant who believed in nothing until her own end. No matter, Laura and Mad’s connection takes a few interesting turns in the episode. Laura takes pity on Salim and gets the information of where he can find them Jinn. Mad Sweeney doesn’t appreciate losing their ride, but goes along with she who holds his lucky coin when she steals (buys?) an ice cream truck. I’m a little bummed that we didn’t get to see her hanging out in the freeze for a while. The repairs to her body were definitely only temporary and Laura appears to be rotting away as time passes.
While on the road, the very unlucky Mad Sweeney ends up getting into another accident. He gets away with only a few scratches, but Laura’s body takes the brunt of injury when she goes flying through the windshield. Her stitchings rip away along with flesh and we see her ribs and meat exposed. Mad Sweeney’s lucky coin goes flying out and that’s all she wrote for Laura Moon’s resurrection. Mad comes awake and finds Laura lying there and the coin not far away. Then things get crazy. Turns out that Mad Sweeney met Shadow’s dead wife long before she got so dead. Looks like, Mr. Wednesday has been pulling strings for quite some time and Mad Sweeney was in the other car that Laura and Robbie crashed into. The accident was not an accident after all. Mr. Wednesday’s part in Laura’s death has been fairly evident for a few episodes at least, but this new bit of information about Mad Sweeney was definitely unexpected. Was it guilt over his part in her death or the memory of that old soul, Essie MacGowan that made Mad Sweeney say effe it all and use the coin to bring Laura Moon back again? Only time and more story will tell. Here’s hoping for even more of Mad and Laura’s great dynamic. Salim was missed for sure after he left them to go search for the Jinn, but something really interesting happens when these two assholes are alone together. Layers not seen before get a chance to really shine through.
How cool was it that Essie’s scenes were set to Golden oldies? It was a strange choice but still fit perfectly. How will Shadow react when he finds out that his new boss had his cheating wife taken out? How is it possible that there is only one episode left in this season? Am I the only one picturing Mad Sweeney as I walk pass boxes of ‘Lucky Charms’ in the grocery store? How cool are Ibis and Jacquel? Can we get an entire episode with them one of these days? Oh, well. Might have to wait until next season. Hit the comments to let us know what you thought of the episode.
American Gods airs on Starz on Sundays at 9/8c
Photo Credit: STARZ/American Gods