Chloe as Ariel: Is there more toil? Let me remember what thou hast promised.
Rachel as Prospera:
How now? What is’t thou canst demand?
Chloe as Ariel: My liberty.
Rachel as Prospera:
Thy liberty? Nay, this of most of all I will not grant.
Chloe as Ariel: But thou assured my freedom…didn’t thou?
Rachel as Prospera:
I never said how dearly I hold thee; my habit’s been to keep my soul well-draped. Most loyal spirit, companion and friend, is acting in my service not replete with excitement, amusement and delight?
Chloe as Ariel: Of course, mistress. Most truly it is so.
Rachel as Prospera:
Then why, I pray you, wish to be free?
Chloe as Ariel: Excitement’s a mere counterfeit of bliss. These storms and these adventures? I prefer to know thou still cared for my plainest self.
Rachel as Prospera:
I have thee in my grasp; I will not bend. I will not see thee flying forth alone! The envy would be more than I could bear.
Chloe as Ariel: So come with me! Is that not in thy pow’r?
Rachel as Prospera: Spirit, take my hands, most faithful friend. For but a little longer I beseech; continue in thy service to my schemes. And when they are complete, I swear to thee we shall fly beyong this isle, – the corners of the world our mere prologue. I will seek to make thy happiness so great that e’en the name of liberty’s forgot. What sayest thou to my most hopeful wish?
it’s really funny reading the two great pillars of the western horror canon next to each other because frankenstein is like, “oh fuck, this was a really sad enlightenment-era philosophical allegory the whole time?” and then dracula has a cowboy stabbing the titular character with a bowie knife
Chronos is the personification of Time in pre-Socratic philosophy and later literature. Chronos governed linear, chronological time. The identification became more widespread during the Renaissance, giving rise to the allegory of “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe. He was depicted as a man turning the Zodiac Wheel.
I feel like we only just began this magical journey together, but here we are at the end of season one of American Gods! You can go ahead and cancel that Starz subscription now, I’ll wait here.
This final episode told the stories of two goddesses and how they have learned to adapt in America. And as much as I am enjoying Laura Moon, there haven’t really been any other female characters with meaningful emotional arcs. Similarly the gods we have gotten to know (with the exception of Bilquis) have been overwhelmingly male. So I was v pleased to see that this episode attempted to delve into the power wielded by female icons (ya know just the small stuff like life and creation) and the often violently adverse social (and male) reactions to women who wield that power, as well as their continued attempts to control that power for themselves.
Like the previous episode about Mad Sweeney, the finale also boasted a more “integrated” Coming to America story where instead of having a vignette separate from the main storyline, the Coming to America tale oozed over to mingle with the main proceedings. Instead of Ibis and his big book o'stories, this week featured a welcome return from Mr. Nancy who took over the storytelling duties. This also marks the first time we have seen Mr. Nancy in the modern world where he a) looks as fly as ever b) is clearly an ally of Mr. Wednesday and c) tailoring bespoke suits for Wednesday and Shadow. (PS Ricky Whittle is a man who can wear. a. suit. and it drove me crazy how wrinkled his jacket was all episode! Could no one have steamed that for him? Sorry. But also, infuriating.) But with a captive, bathrobed audience, Nancy proceeds to weave the story of Bilquis.
After seeing the modern “down on her luck” Bilquis it was pretty fucking fabulous to see her in her hey day bedecked in the golden jewelry she longed for in the museum. This is also a good place to shout out Yetide Badaki, a relative newcomer who has found her breakout on this series. Bilquis is a tricky role, she rarely speaks, doesn’t get to play off any of the other heavy hitters in the cast, and often has to act scenes of intense emotional (and physical) vulnerability. She doesn’t get to bounce off Ian McShane, or deliver sweeping monologues. Most of her acting is done through physicality or her impervious gaze. So major worship to Yetide who made this character feel like, well, a goddess. No matter how much she is (or isn’t) wearing it is impossible to look away from Bilquis’ eyes and her unyielding stare that reveals as deep an inner life as any dialogue. This is unique and exceptional acting, and in a show with such a range and breadth of performances, Yetide stands tall. Also I’m sure that role was absolutely batshit to cast, so claps for casting as well. #NeverForgetCasting.
So we finally get to see Bilquis as a Golden Queen, loved, worshipped and equal to any (male) challenger who comes her way. Times change, but passion is immutable and Bilquis continues her reign on the disco dance floors of Tehran in the 1970s. By the way Disco Queen Bilquis was everrryyttthinnng. Everything. But after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Bilquis is forced to travel as a refugee to Hollywood, California just in time for the AIDs crisis of the 1980s. The loss of worship after these two events leads to Bilquis’ decline and she finds herself wandering the streets of LA. Bilquis is stripped of her power because nothing is scarier to an American (white) culture than a confident black woman fully in control of her sexuality and power. But when all seems lost, Tech Boy rolls up on Bilquis, Tinder in hand, and shows her how to use technology to get her groove back. Now, however, it seems that Bilquis is under Tech Boy’s thumb, but is she really just a tool for the New Gods, or is this just another misguided King that thinks he can conquer her? Hopefully Bilquis is a character we will get even more of in season two, the entirety of her material from the book has already been exhausted so I am excited for a fresh Bilquis story, especially with such a capable actress at the helm.
So with their new (wrinkly) suits Shadow and Wednesday make a pit stop on their way to Wisconsin in Kentucky. At a palatial estate, during a full swinging Easter Sunday party, we meet Easter herself (human carbonation Kristin Chenowith). Easter (or Ostara) is an old pagan goddess of Spring who has had the good fortune of having her namesake tied to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though the masses might not know who she is, her name is widely celebrated (both secularly and liturgically) every year. Like Bilquis she has found a way to adapt and thrive, even if it may not be in the way she is accustomed or would prefer.
In attendance at Easter’s fabulously over-the-top Easter blowout is almost every Jesus! Literally 14 unique Jesus. JC doesn’t appear in the novel (well he does sort of) but it is impossible to deny his influence in modern (esp American) religion and so it makes sense for the show to utilize him more frequently, or 14 of him. Unlike the other gods on the show, Jesus is pretty chill and doesn’t seem to have any hidden agendas besides spreading the JC love. He’s sweetly benevolent and gets drunk and drops things in the pool. Classic Jesus.
Wednesday has come to Easter’s party to enlist her help in the war between old and new gods, and hopes she will starve the people into praying for mercy (the goddess of Spring giveth but she can also taketh). He brazenly lies to her about the death of Vulcan, and promises her worship of her own in exchange for her alliance.
Also crashing are Laura and Sweeney (who I have started to develop weird feelings for after last episode? Ugh I know, I know, I hate it too) who hope that Easter will bring Laura back to life. However no luck for Laura as she has been killed by the will of a god (Wednesday), and that kind of miracle is above Easter’s pay grade. So we leave Laura worse for wear, and more than a little maggoty, but she has finally been reunited with Shadow at least.
Also rolling up on what is fast becoming the party of the year is the entire contingent of new gods: Media (as Judy Garland in Easter Parade obvi), Tech Boy and Mr. World, reminding Easter she is in their debt for popularizing the Easter holiday in (you guessed it) Media. As all of our characters converge Mr Wednesday reveals himself to Shadow to be none other than the All Father Odin of Norse mythology (all around viking god and papa of Thor and Loki). Odin/Wednesday does some good old fashioned lightening smiting, which rallies Easter to his cause, and she proceeds to render Kentucky into a barren wasteland (chalking up a temporary win for the OGs.) After witnessing stepping Fred Astaire henchman, a baker’s dozen Jesus’, and a woman made up of flower petals, Shadow finally submits that he believes. In everything.
The season ends with a procession of various transports journeying to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, which was the ultimate destination for all of our road trippers this season and honestly where I thought the season would break but I guess they ran out of episodes..
So now that the dust has cleared, what happened this season?
Shadow Moon lost everything, got picked up by an old god on a serious recruiting mission, went on a road trip and learned to believe.
We met a whole bushel of old gods: Mr. Wednesday/Odin, Czernebog, the Zoryas, Anubis/Mr. Jacquel, Ibis/Thoth, Mr. Nancy/Anansi, Bilquis, Vulcan, Easter, and Jesus.
We also met a few new gods: Media, Technical Boy and Mr. World.
Also some mystical creatures: Zombie!Laura, Mad Sweeney, the Djinn and the White Buffalo.
And a couple plain old humans in over their heads: Salim and Audrey.
American Gods was a breath of fresh air in the jungle of peak TV. It was bold, crazy and naked. It was brazen, unapologetic, and borderline nonsensical. It managed to exceed the promise of its original material and was a frighteningly timely allegory. It had a festival of unique characters backed up by some of the best actors in television. Also it looked gorgeous. While this first season sometimes struggled with pacing and the rate of exposition, there were moments and episodes that were unlike anything else currently on TV. I was a particular fan of the Coming to American openers across the board, as well as both Laura Moon episodes. So did American Gods make you a believer? Who is your favorite scheming deity? Love it or hate it, you can’t say that this wasn’t a wild ride.
A vanity is the allegory of death, passing time and how passion and human activities are useless.
How to differenciate vanities from other works?
- Books, scientifics instruments and/or art are knowledge vanities.
- Money, jewels, collection pieces, weapons, crowns and/or sceptre represent power and wealth vanities.
- Smoking pipe, wine, musical instruments and/or games illustrate delight vanities.
Adding to these symbols, we can find skulls, skeletons, time instruments as hourglass or watch, extinguished candles or lamp, dying flowers. Most flowers on vanities are narcissus or hyacinth. It means life is temporary.
Vanitas is linked to knowledge, power and passing time so I added these symbols on the piece. Narcissus is a flower that represents kinda well Vanitas: it means selfishness (simply says), isn’t Vanitas a little bit selfish when he says he doesn’t want Noé to protect him when he doesn’t want it?
Oh and Noé’s hand and arm mean: “…I would kill him with my own two hands.” Sorry.