The Season 1 finale of American Gods, Episode 1.8, aired this weekend, and you can check out the episode of our podcast, The Dominant Paradigm, about it. But for now we’d like to go over the details of Episode 1.7. Below you’ll find a written recap of the episode, followed by some salient points regarding Mad Sweeney’s history and Laura’s newfound shame.
For followers of The Dominant Paradigm Podcast, please hop over here to listen to podcast Episode 7, A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.
The Dominant Paradigm is a weekly podcast where Geeks of Doom Podcast hosts Dwayne D, Andrew Sorcini, and Tosin Onafowokan discuss STARZ’s TV series American Gods, the works that inspired it, and the larger questions about the lenses in which we see our world, AKA, the paradigms.
This is the story of Essie McGowan,
Who, in the book, was Essie Tregowan.
A young, beautiful, and free-spirited lass
Who spirited freely until the law caught her ass.
Her fate would’ve been gallows, as were the laws of those days
But a smile, and guile, commutes death and she’s sent away.
Essie’s transportation sentence has her off to the New World,
But Captain Clark, who runs the ship, can’t resist those red curls.
And so, he takes her home, to jolly old London to wed
When he sails again for work, wife Essie steals from him instead.
She takes his trinkets and toys, and his gold and artefacts
But she gets caught quickly, and is sentence to death, in fact.
But Essis McGowan, O so clever was she,
A tryst with the warden sets her bonnie head free.
When the magistrate says she’s to hang, she pleads her belly
And when the claim is tested, it’s clear she’s a mother to be.
And so she’s sent again to Transportation, across the green sea.
[John Richardson makes an honest woman of Essie McGowan on American Gods.]
When Essie arrives in the Americas, she’s far from free- indentured
by a widower, John Richardson, who needs his newborn girl nursed,
So Essie’s own babe shares the breast with his master – it could’ve been worse.
And as time flowed, so did affection, between Essie and her master.
But Essie would not entertain a casual affair, which could lead to disaster.
So John Richardson freed Essie, and made her his wife
And a new son was born to them, and they shared a happy life.
All the while long, Essie would regale the children with tales,
The ones she’d learned from her grandma, across the little Irish Sea from Wales.
And even before then, she’d sacrificed to her many Irish gods,
Sharing bread and locks of copper hair with spirits and leprechauns.
Ten long years passed with happiness for Essie, John, and the children
And then John was called home, to the forever sleep, to lay still in
the ground, deep beneath the Richardson farm
But Essie McGowan-Richardson, kept pushing on.
Her children all raised, and her stories unfurled,
The three tots grew to adults, with Irish Spirits in their world
And Mad Sweeney like so many others, were incarnated here
as American Gods, born of far away tales of hope and fear.
And in the here and now, Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon,
Move toward Wednesday’s Shadow, hoping to catch him soon.
An Ice Cream truck their vessel, preserving the dead wife’s body,
Crashes and throws her through the windshield, making her look shoddy.
With a broken breast and a missing coin,
Mad Sweeney takes pity and has his coin rejoin
Laura Moon’s carcass with the force of life
And unlucky choice, to be sure, but Mad Sweeney enjoys strife.
And so the two soldier on, missing their friend Samir,
And come to the place where they know Shadow is near.
Will Laura achieve resurrection?
Or perhaps Shadow’s affection?
We’ll just have to wait
Until episode eight.
Will American Gods Please us
When it shows us “Come to Jesus?”
Salient Themes and Imagery: Laura and shame and Mad Sweeney’s history
The Title: Why’s it called “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.” It seems to be a reference to A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, a writer well known for other breakthrough works, like The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp.
Laura and Shame: Last week on the show, we spoke about how Laura had no hangups about shame. This was made clear when Mad Sweeney made his comment about taboos surrounding anal sexual intercourse and Laura rebutted with a clear and unabashed enjoyment of the activity. This episode shows Laura’s confidence waning as she’s reminded that she’s not the being she once was. The strongest indication of this change happened when Laura realizes that, after the car crash, she’s splayed open — her skin is separated from her muscle and so much of the work that Ibis and Jaquel had performed to give her living human form is dismantled. We see that she’s shy about this change when she awakens and tells Sweeney not to look. The irony there of course, is that Sweeney is familiar with her predicament: he inserted the coin back into her body in order to reanimate her again.
Mad Sweeney’s history: We spoke about our assumptions surrounding Mad Sweeney during Episode 1 of The Dominant Paradigm podcast, but this episode solidifies those guesses. A good chronicle of the character’s historical origins can be found here, in The frenzy of Suibhne, an Irish tale that’s quite a bit more colorful than a history lesson.
That’s a wrap! Join us each week for an intelligent, entertaining discussion of STARZ’s latest hit series. Leave comments below, or on our very likable Facebook page, tweet us @GodsPodcast and send us email or voice memos at [email protected].
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