If you’re behind, here’s where you can catch up:
Episode 1: The Bone Orchard
Episode 2: The Secret of Spoons
Episode 3: Head Full of Snow
Episode 4: Git Gone
Episode 5: Lemon Scented You
Episode 6: A Murder of Gods
Episode 7: A Prayer For Mad Sweeney
This week, We learn Bilquis’ origin story, Mr. Wednesday recruits himself a queen, Laura finds out why she died, and the war between the new Gods and the old gets off to a roaring start.
“Once upon a time…see, it sounds good already! You’re hooked!”
We open in Mr. Nancy’s spider-filled abode, where Wednesday and Shadow await some custom-tailored clothes. It is apropos that Nancy should be a skilled tailor. He stops mid-stitch. “There’s too much going on here. We should start with a story.” “Aw, Jesus, Nancy!” Wednesday protests, claiming there is no time for stories. Nancy, however, has a good one.
“The place where she was worshiped? That was the place to be. That was the goddamned shit.”
We are transported to the Temple of Bar’an in Yemen, 864 B.C., where Bilquis is queen. There is an orgy happening in her honor. “It was good fuckin’ times”, Nancy narrates, permitting himself a pun on the nature of the festivities. He describes kings coming one after the other to knock her off her throne, and we see one such man make love to her, and instantly disintegrate into a blackish goo, along with the rest of the worshipers. Bilquis absorbs them all. It’s not quite being eaten alive by her vagina, but we get the idea. The moon is red in the distance. “Worse ways to go,” Nancy remarks.
“Clothes and hair change with the time, but this queen kept the party going…”
We cut to Bilquis, ca. 1979, holding down the party as a disco dancer in Tehran. “Our queen’s power, which is the power of all women, the power of rebirth, and creation, it makes some men kneel in awe and give gifts, but it makes other men angry. And you know it: Anger gets shit done.”
The disco is broken up by armed men, who snatch Bilquis’ power. We next see her on a plane to the United States. “She told herself she was playing the game by staying in it.” She seduces a man on the plane, just to keep her hand in.
This ain’t no disco
Thanks to the HIV epidemic, indiscriminate sex has become harder and harder to come by. We see Bilquis brought low, pushing a shopping cart through the streets of Hollywood, in her ragged clothing. Her face is pockmarked with age. “After a while, even she forgot there was a queen inside.” She sees on the news that her temple has been attacked and ripped down.
“What’s a queen to do?”
Technical Boy approaches Bilquis as she is sleeping on the street. “I hear they blew up your altar. I have a new one to offer you.” He hands her a smart phone with a Tinder equivalent loaded onto it – “Sheba.” Her profile is pre-loaded. “Wanna play?” he sneers. Helloooo, indiscriminate sex. Bilquis is back.
Shadow doesn’t get the moral of the story. “Don’t compromise? Don’t cut deals with treacherous motherfuckers?” Mr. Nancy is annoyed. “Fuck no! The moral is…” “Get myself a queen!” Wednesday crows, interrupting. The two discuss the death of Vulcan, and how it won’t be taken lightly, and what the next steps are. I don’t know about you, but ‘don’t cut deals with treacherous motherfuckers’ seems like solid advice to me. Sadly, if Shadow heeded his own advice on this one, he’d be out of the job.
As he is wont to do, Shadow hilariously flips out, and Wednesday is nonplussed. “Do not confuse confusion for anger,” Wednesday says. Shadow is pretty sure he’s pissed off, but concedes that he is also very confused. “Angry gets shit done,” Nancy repeats.
“Be nice to the lady we’re visiting, but not too nice. She might take a fancy to you, and that would not be good.”
As Shadow awakens from another dream about the buffalo with the flaming eyes, he and Wednesday are making their way through Kentucky. “We may not be welcome at first,” Wednesday smirks, as he purposely plows the car through a herd of rabbits, to Shadow’s horror.
The two pull up to Easter’s house in the midst of a full-on Easter gala. “I love Easter,” Shadow remarks, as they pass a rabbit literally pooping candies onto the floor. Easter (played impeccably by Kristin Chenoweth), is as stunning as expected and Shadow is entranced by her. She is far less happy to see them.
“Why do they call you Shadow, sweetness?”
A Jesus says hello to Shadow. “Do I know you?” Shadow asks. “Yes.” Jesus looks exasperated. “You do,” he sighs. Jesus storms off, inasmuch as Jesus would ever storm off. Easter spots Wednesday and Shadow and glares. “You look divine,” Wednesday flatters. “How the hell else should I look?” Easter snaps. She seems quite taken, however, with Shadow.
“Happy Fuckin’ Easter!”
Easter, Wednesday, and Shadow chat and Wednesday reminds her that she’s still one of them – a God. “You’re as forgotten, as unremembered, and as unloved as any of us.” She snaps that she’s doing just fine. Wednesday points out that she WAS doing fine, until Jesus Christ came along. Before that, people worshiped HER. As if on cue, the multitudes of Jesuses gather around, and Wednesday loudly berates them, to everyone’s horror. Easter demands a private word.
“They will worship you if you make them pray.”
Easter scolds the crap out of Wednesday for “uncorking” all over the Jesuses. She is livid. She doesn’t seem to mind sharing her day with them. Wednesday reminds her that it’s HER day, not theirs, and it always will be. They’re not Gods, they’re sons of God(s.) He pulls out his sword (literally, not metaphorically), and starts talking Easter into joining the fight against the new Gods. Shadow says something fawning over Easter and Wednesday immediately dismisses him from the room. “Go get yourself a drink. Two, tops.”
“You’re wishing you had no business with me. But you do. You owe.”
We cut to Bilquis, looking much better as she walks through a museum. Her phone rings. It’s Technical Boy, but he’s labeled in her phone as “The Man.” She ignores the call, but he gets her attention from across the room. He looks particularly ridiculous, even for Technical Boy. Basically, it’s time to pay the piper. She crosses to him and grabs his thighs. “I can take care of you…” she purrs. He looks uncomfortable and vaguely disgusted. Not that kind of favor, Bilquis.
Welcome to the party, pal
Meanwhile, Laura and Mad Sweeney pull their busted-ass ice cream truck up to Easter’s house. Laura looks like shit.
“Even if you don’t believe, you cannot travel on any other road than what your senses show you.”
Meanwhile, Shadow comes upon Jesus literally sitting in Easter’s pool, helping himself to a drink. “Goddammit,” Jesus mutters as his glass sinks to the bottom of the pool. “Did you always believe?” Shadow asks. “I AM belief,” Jesus replies. Shadow has a bit of an existential meltdown and Jesus listens dutifully, setting him straight-ish.
“Make them pray. Make them remember that it was a queen that gave them the harvest.”
Back in the house, Wednesday is laying it on pretty thick with Easter. “She withholds, she returns. Prayer, reward. The ancient contract.” A rabbit hops in and whispers in Easter’s ear. “Oh shit,” she snaps out of her reverie. “Hold that thought.”
“Hi. You have a lovely home.”
Easter is less than thrilled to see Mad Sweeney and Laura, too. “I have a houseful of guests and you brought me a dead girl!” I guess dead girls are gauche at parties, no matter how strange your guests are. Easter inspects Laura and pins a section of her chest together with a butterfly brooch.
“I didn’t bring Jesus back to life. He was dreamed back to life on my day.”
Sweeney says that Easter owes him a favor, and Laura lets on that she was married to Shadow. Easter says she wouldn’t normally do such a thing, but today isn’t a normal day. She further inspects Laura and finds that she can’t “re-life” her, as she puts it, because Laura was killed by a God. Cue the sad trombone. One of Easter’s rabbits whispers another message. “Oh, shit,” she whispers, and excuses herself. “Good luck!” she chirps.
Laura isn’t taking the news well. “I was killed by a God. WHICH. FUCKING. GOD.”
More party crashers
Media shows up, accompanied by a faceless goon. Despite her penchant for pop culture costumes, I couldn’t figure out who Media was disguised as, this time. Anyone? She appears to be a generic southern Belle, but I wasn’t sure if her character was more specific. Easter greets them.
“You weren’t murdered. You were sacrificed.”
We cut back to Laura, who has Mad Sweeney quite literally by the balls. He admits that he killed her and Robbie, but she’s not buying it. “You are a lot of things, but you are not a God.” He’s reluctant to say the name aloud. “Wednesday,” he gasps, finally. “Fuck that guy!” Laura exclaims, as she drops Sweeney and he crumples to the ground.
“He’s just a nobody, who happens to be ‘the guy.'”
Laura figures out fairly quickly that this is about Shadow, not her. “When we robbed the casino, did you fuck up my perfect plan?” She asks. “Wasn’t a perfect plan,” Sweeney smirks. “Didn’t account for divine intervention, did you?” Sweeney explains that they needed Shadow in a position where he had nothing left to lose. Laura narrows her eyes. “What does Wednesday have to lose?”
“A God has to be exotic. She has to be a peach. And Mr. Wednesday? I suppose he’s a lemon.”
Media asks Easter where Wednesday is. She denies that he’s still at the party, and admits he was trying to enlist her in a scheme. Media continues her questions as the faceless goons multiply behind her in a creepy mime-type display. “I dismissed him before hearing him out,” Easter claims. Media reminds her that she’s been on the receiving end of favors from the new Gods. “Do you feel you’ve been treated unfairly?” Media asks. “I feel I’ve been…misrepresented in the media,” Easter smirks, pointedly. Zing! Media basically tells her to shove it. “St. Nick took the same deal you did.”
“You can’t fight progress.”
After quite a speech by Media, she whispers “What if they all decide that God doesn’t exist?” Before Easter can answer, Mr. Wednesday enters the scene, with Shadow in tow. “What if they all decide God DOES exist?” he bellows. Two of the faceless goons divide into Technical Boy, who joins the argument.
Wednesday points out exactly why he matters in the grand scheme of things, and Mr. World appears suddenly. “You only matter in matters of war,” he says. “And there’s not going to be a war.” Mr. World points out that weapon-wise, the old gods are far outclassed. Dark clouds begin rolling in. “It’s either going to be a bloodbath, or we’ll wait you out,” Mr. World says. “My message to you? Don’t fight.”
“I have as many titles as there are ways to die.”
“I don’t have to fight,” Wednesday says. “I have faith. I dedicate these deaths to Ostara (Easter),” he says, grandly. Easter curtsies reflexively. He fells all of the faceless goons with a bolt of lightning. “Do you have faith?” He asks Shadow. Wednesday spectacularly reveals himself as Odin, then turns to Easter. “SHOW THEM WHO YOU ARE.”
“Tell them we’ve taken the spring.”
Easter raises her arms and brings light back to the dark sky. She clears the clouds. Then, she slowly blackens the earth until it is barren, lifeless; withering crops on their vines. “What have you done?” Media breathes. “You wanted a war?” Mr. World asks, as he fades away. “It will be the war you die in.” “Tell the believers, and the nonbelievers, that we’ve taken the spring,” Wednesday says triumphantly. “They can have it back when they pray for it.”
Over his shoulder, Wednesday asks “And what do you believe, Shadow?” “Everything.” Shadow replies. Wednesday grins. Above them, Laura clears her throat. “I’d like to have a word with my husband.”
- I love everything about Mr. Nancy. He’s a snappy dresser, and nobody begins a story better. “Once upon a time, there was a fucking queen…”
- The real temple of Bar’an, also known as the Moon Temple was (relatively) recently excavated and is an active archaeological site, and was home of the legendary Queen of Sheba, as you know. It was built originally between the 7th & 5th century B.C., making the “864 BCE” labeling in the show a tad early, perhaps. Arsh Bilquis is the Arabic name for the Queen of Sheba. The site has been open to the public since 2000.
- I enjoyed Easter’s rabbits giving her messages like Wednesday’s ravens do him. I thought of the previous episode, where we see rabbits on the side of the road, and Mad Sweeney dropping gold coins out of the car as he and Laura travel. A rabbit also caused the second car accident. Clearly, Sweeney has been in communication with Easter. Or, at least, he knows how to get rabbits to do favors.
- Until we find ourselves in Kentucky, the episode is letterboxed, normally indicating that we are either in flashback or dream sequence. This indicates to me that visiting Mr. Nancy requires one to not fully exist in reality, at least temporarily.
- Amongst the goodies at Easter’s party were hand-shaped cookies with jelly-filled centers. Hilarious touch. The visual of jelly beans falling through the holes in another Jesus’ hands before he can eat them was nicely done as well.
- Mr. Wednesday usually says “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” when asked who he is. In this episode, he says “you wouldn’t believe IN me if I told you.”
- There are many versions of Jesus in the episode, representing every culture and ethnicity, but the white traditional American version is referred to in the credits as “Jesus Prime.” Hysterical.
- Laura throwing up maggots was a visual I could have done without.
- Media saying she had a standing date with Easter for their “Marshmallow Peep Show” was very funny. Where’s the deleted scene of THAT?
- Mr. World’s appearance was quite pixelated and forced, this time. One wonders if he has a harder time manifesting in the presence of so many of the old Gods.
- I’m not super clear on why Easter changed her mind and joined Wednesday, but at the very end of the show after the fade, we see Bilquis on a bus to Wisconsin herself. Once an old God, always an old God, I guess, even if they have made deals with treasonous motherfuckers. Either that, or she’s going to try to carry out that favor for Technical Boy, at least until Wednesday inevitably turns her.
- I know that if Shadow had believed all along, we would have been robbed of the big “I believe in everything” reveal, but damn, Shadow! You’d seen enough to have clued in just a LITTLE, hadn’t you?
Quoth Mr. Wednesday:
There were so many good lines in this episode, I couldn’t limit them to just Mr. Wednesday. Here were a few of my favorites.
“Did you get this one off the discount rack?” – Nancy to Wednesday, about Shadow.
“You just cut off your friend’s head and now you’re going to get a suit, like you’re the goddamn godfather?”
“Who the fuck did you think he was?”
“You’re getting a suit, too…” – Shadow, Nancy, and Wednesday
“They’re here.” – Wednesday’s homage to Poltergeist when the new Gods arrive at the Easter party.
“Gods? I’ve got a gaggle of ’em. One of them’s got a baby dinosaur.” – Easter on her distinguished guest list.
Wow, what a great season! Join us next year!
All images: Sweatpants & Coffee / Emily Parker