We sacked off Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday in this week's episode of American Gods and instead focused on another fan favorite duo: the drunken leprechaun, Mad Sweeney, and that asshole ex-wife, Laura Moon. We learned of Essie McGowan's theft, her beliefs, and her nauseating ship-ride across shores; her story swam through the best part of Sweeney's "Coming to America" tale and lay the groundwork in understanding his real-time, shitty situation.
Yet while this episode's cup didn't exactly runneth over in terms of moving the plot along, there was one particular jaw-dropping moment that really flipped the ice-cream truck; one that revealed how ruthless Mr. Wednesday really is — alongside the occasional dick joke, sex scene, and flappy ribcage, of course.
So join us as we pick apart #AmericanGods "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney," and discuss the five biggest Easter Eggs — never has that term been more on point — Episode 7 had to offer. And as always: There are SPOILERS ahead.
1. Rogue Rabbits, A Dead Wife And Mad Sweeney's Gaelic Guilt
If hints in previous episodes already had you peeking down the rabbit hole, squinting down at Mr. Wednesday and his dastardly plans of getting Shadow's "dead wife," Laura Moon, out of the way, then "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney" shoved your head right into the burrow and revealed the bigger picture. This installment not only proved that the big OG was behind Laura's death, but it brought his accomplices into the spotlight, too. Namely, his ravens, Sweeney and — I'm fairly confident — Easter.
There are two pretty major flashbacks this episode that show Sweeney standing over Laura's — first time — dead body and telling Odin's wingmen that the deed has been done; yet it's what happens in real-time that reveals Easter's involvement. Remember when the ginger-topped fellow throws a bunch of golden coins out of the truck's door? It's seems likely that he was paying the white rabbit — a.k.a. the bunny, a.k.a. the Easter bunny — whom we'd just seen, to run across the road and send Laura spinning through the windshield for a second time. And given that the trailer for next week's episode indicates that we'll be meeting Easter next Sunday, it makes sense that they'd tease her arrival in its predecessor:
As the episode explained, Sweeney is carrying out Wednesday's errands to pay back a debt owed after fleeing a previous war, yet he's deeply unhappy about it, as his Gaelic ranting proved. I'll let this aptly named Redditor, Go Irish, do the translating:
Based on this and what I know of Modern Irish, it translates to something along the lines of:
"Haven't I believed enough in your bullshit? Haven't I suffered enough? Isn't that enough itself? I'm not evil! I'm not!"
Edit: After following along with a couple of other translations in these threads, I think an alternative reading of the first phrase might be "Why does this bullshit keep happening to me?" It all hinges on the word "Créd," which is cognate with either "Créid" meaning "believe" or "créad," meaning "why?" Make of this what you will.
Also, if you think back to the first episode, what this means is that Wednesday not only hired Sweeney to off Shadow's wife, but he then instructed him to come to a bar and beat him up hours later. Dick move!
2. 'They're Always After Me Lucky Charms'
Now for a short, fun one that touches upon the power of capitalism Mr. World addressed during his rainbow laden nuke speech in the police station in Episode 5. When sourly trotting down memory lane, Sweeney reveals that he was a king before moving to America and "then Mother Church came along and turned us all into saints and trolls and fairies. General Mills did the rest."
And who is General Mills? The creator company behind Lucky Charms cereal, of course.
3. 'A Prayer For Owen Meany'
Major props to Redditor RabbitHoleNetwork for pointing out the inspiration behind this episode's title, "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney." As it turns out, here we have an homage to a novel penned by John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, a piece that seemingly mirrors the themes we explored during this installment. The Reddit post explains:
In Owen Meany, the protagonist John narrates his past and present while also telling the story of his friend, Owen, who believes that he is an instrument of God and must fulfill his prophesied fate, while John transforms from a non-believer to a believer. It explores themes of friendship, war, and faith, and is constructed with interwoven timelines.
Without teaching you how to suck eggs by pointing out all the ways in which those themes were touched upon (heavily) here, the major takeaways are the transformations in Mad Sweeney, who places the coin back in Laura's open chest, and Essie McGowen, who continually spreads tales of belief to a foreign land.
4. We Blow Both Ways A.K.A. The Benefit Of Belief
As we've learned throughout every episode so far, in order for gods to exist they need followers; dedicated, pious believers who keep their essence alive. In return, these gods reward their worshipers. With the story of Essie McGowen (who, you no doubt noticed, is played by Emily Browning too), the happenings of her life are directly correlated with the sacrifice she makes to the leprechauns, whom she states "can make real trouble un-minded."
When she leaves out cream, milk or bread she is rewarded with a rich husband and successful crimes. When she forgets, she's arrested and thrown in a puke-filled boat for years. And, as thanks for teaching a younger generation tales of the old ways, Sweeney is there to meet her as her life comes to a close.
5. Tatanka Ska: The Legend Of The White Buffalo
Before Sweeney punches the ice-cream seller in the face and makes off with his truck, you'll recall that he, Laura, and Salim were hanging around in a depressing parking lot that centered around a statue of a white buffalo. The voice-over clarified this creature is a sacred symbol of the Lakota tribe, and is known as Tatanka Ska. In Native American folklore, the buffalo is a symbol of hope, purity, life and respect, a holy man of sorts who ensures prosperity for its people as long as they abide by certain rules.
An excerpt of the legend, courtesy of Lakota Ranch reads:
Along the way, a beautiful young woman dressed in white appeared to the warriors and said, "Return to your people and tell them I am coming." This holy woman presented the Lakota people with the sacred pipe which showed how all things were connected. She taught the Lakota people the mysteries of the earth. She taught them to pray and follow the proper path while on earth. As the woman left the tribe, she rolled upon the earth four times, changing color each time, and finally turning into a white buffalo calf. Then she disappeared. Almost at the same time as her leaving, great herds of buffalo could be seen surrounding the camps. It is said that after that day, the Lakota honored their pipe, and buffalo were plentiful.
You may have noticed that surrounding the buffalo statue in the episode were many dead crops, parched corn that came into focus during one panning shot directly after Sweeney says, "That's what you get for sticking a god in a petting zoo." So though the shot is short, it's another direct relation to the point made in No. 4 — once you stop treating your god with respect, its gifts cease to keep giving.
Did you notice any other Easter Eggs in Episode 7 of American Gods?