American God‘s “Prayer for Mad Sweeney” cemented my love for the tall and foul-mouthed leprechaun and made me wish for more moments of him standing in gentle candle light with his shirt half open. His appearances in Essie’s vignette and the remorse he showed for Laura Moon has given me a new appreciation for this character, the weight he carries, and the chip on his shoulder.
The penultimate episode also has made me want to rewatch the entire season to track down and mark moments where Mr. Wednesday was especially suspicious. He doesn’t appear in this episode, his raven does, but his presence was felt. He’s behind a lot of the trouble and turmoil in Shadow and Laura’s life and I can’t wait for the former to figure that out.
Let’s talk about “Prayer for Mad Sweeney”!
An Asshole with a Heart
Mad Sweeney could’ve left Laura on that road. He could’ve walked away and never seen her again, his Sun coin safe in his possession. But he stayed. He walked up to her and gave her the thing he was so desperate for because, in his own words, leprechauns blow both ways.
He plays angry most of the time he’s on screen, as if there were nothing more to him than a leprechaun pissed off that General Mills made him into a funny cartoon on a cereal box. He’s so much more. He’s a creature that feels anger, gratitude, and guilt. One day he might be trying to uselessly drown you in a bathtub and the next he might be giving you a chance at life for the 2nd time.
Mad Sweeney isn’t perfect, no where near it in fact, but I loved that this episode let us take a glimpse at different dimensions of this character. He’s still an asshole, but he’s one with a heart that knew what he did to Laura Moon by Mr. Wednesday’s command was wrong. (Sweeney works for Mr. Wednesday and talks to his ravens aka the ones seen my Laura’s house. Of course Mr. Wednesday planned her death.)
If American Gods hoped to make me utterly invested in Mad Sweeney’s journey after this episode, then they succeeded.
The Life of Essie Tregowan
Move aside Anansi’ vignette, Essie Tregowan’s story just took your spot in my ranking of favorite vignettes on American Gods.
In the span of one hour I got to see the life of a complicated dreamer who did plenty of good and plenty of bad. She suffered, she fought, she felt every bit of this world. There were moments when she forget the old ways, where she fumbled and ended up in the worst situations imaginable. And yet…she kept going. It goes to show you that not everyone is good or bad. We make decisions fueled by our desires and needs, and suffer the consequences of those choices when they clash with others.
The twist to Essie’s story is that she believed in something greater than herself, the Gods of Old. She had faith in them and they returned it, leaving her alone to bad luck only when she forgot about them. And it was this vignette that finally showed me how linked the Gods and mortals are to each other. Our beliefs are carried with us from childhood to old age and it’s our choice to hold on and not forget. Essie fought to hold onto the leprechauns, telling her children and grandchildren tales of them.
And since belief is power, she was essentially fighting to keep Sweeney alive. That’s why he repaid her by coming for her in her final moments. And that’s why the Gods feel such disregard and love for the humans. They remember how things used to be and want it desperately back.
Did Wednesday Send That Bunny?
The more time that passes, the more suspicious I become of Mr. Wednesday. Seeing things from Shadow’s perspective kept us in the dark, unaware of what was really happening. But the more time we spend in flashbacks and vignettes, the more obvious it becomes that this is a disaster of his own creation.
That’s why I think Mr. Wednesday sent that bunny to throw Mad Sweeney off his game and get rid of the dead wife.
Laura Moon could be the one thing that sets Shadow Moon off the path he’s barreling into. Not because he’s still in love with her but because a part of him with always love her. And when you love someone you take their opinion and counsel into account. Mr. Wednesday doesn’t want that. He wants to isolate Shadow and make it so he depends on no one but him.
Mad Sweeney trapezing across the Mid-West with his dead wife is a problem. Mr. Wednesday tried to warn Sweeney through his raven but he didn’t pay attention. And if we remember correctly from preview photos before the show started, Mr. Wednesday visits Easter, keeper of all those cute little bunnies.
What’s to say that Mr. Wednesday doesn’t have her on his side and that she sent the bunny to kill two birds with one stone? With one more episode to go, I’m ready to get some answers, what a little mayhem ensue, and finally meet Easter.
Favorite Scene from Prayer for Mad Sweeney:
Is it just me or is this version of Mad Sweeney kind of hot? The open shirt. The chest hair. Those eyes and the little hit of a smile. That’s enough to make a girl swoon! I petition American Gods to give me more of this Sweeney!
American Gods airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.