American Gods Season 2 finale recap: Fear inspires imagination

American Gods -- Courtesy of STARZ -- Acquired via STARZ
American Gods -- Courtesy of STARZ -- Acquired via STARZ /

Shadow Moon makes a shocking discovery just as the Gods finally prepare for war in the season two finale of American Gods.

“Fear is order. Fear is control. Fear is safety. Fear is fiction”, are the words Mr. World utters as he explains how the world turns. Love does not influence society, as so many people would like to believe. It is fear that drives our decisions and rules our lives, fear is what controls us and as Mr. World explains, a fear, which was once fiction, will become a reality when enough faith is put into it.

We’re shown a moment in the past when Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater On The Air broadcasted H.G Well’s “War Of The Worlds” on the radio in 1938 and gave birth to the first alien scare in modern American history. People feared an alien invasion so much, that they started “seeing” UFO’s and believing they were being abducted well into the 1980s.

We then go to another moment in time where Mr. World sits in a director’s chair before a film set displaying an alien horror movie, further spreading the little green men illusion. We’re shown the fear overtaking America as their imaginations overtake them.

As Mr. World narrates this outcome in his raspy intoned voice, a little boy who had previously been watching an alien movie gets beamed up by a spacecraft; his fear had become a reality.

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American Gods is a story that really makes you wonder about the power of the human mind. In the world the series is set in, humans seem to have an almost god-like ability where imagination is involved.

Everything they believe in comes to life, but is this true for everything? The Gods, Jesus, and aliens were born from imagination, faith, and fear, but does that also mean Santa Claus is real? Are supernatural creatures real? Is the ghost of Elvis Presley really hanging out in Memphis, TN because people believe it is? As it’s later said in the episode, “you are not made in God’s image, we are made in yours”, giving weight to the power of a human’s imagination that ultimately becomes their prison.

American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ
American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ /

The Moon’s part ways

Following the events of last week’s episode, Shadow Moon finally begins to regret his position among the Gods. He runs Sweeney’s death through his mind, remembering the plea the leprechaun gave him before going for Wednesday’s life, “don’t get in the way”, and how he ignored the plea and became a murderer in the process.

After an entire season of separation, Shadow and Laura are finally reunited, and…it’s a bit underwhelming, not the sweet reunion either hoped for. This is really the first time the couple has been alone together since their motel talk in “Lemon Scented You” from Season 1, but now that so much time has passed neither has much to say anymore.

Laura finally offers up an apology for her behavior during their marriage, but it’s too late for it. Shadow doesn’t believe her anymore and he halts her attempts with the news of Mad Sweeney’s death, promptly ending any hope Laura had at salvaging their relationship while also giving her yet another reason to gun-hoe for Wednesday’s one-eyed head.

Their scene together gives some insight into their relationship from before, revealing the origin of Shadow’s nickname. It’s exactly the kind of mindless silly happy moment that makes up the best parts of a relationship, where just being together feels magical, but the memory has become tainted by their new world and the knowledge of Laura’s infidelity and he asks her not to call him “puppy” ever again.

Though Laura promises to always have her husband’s back, she pronounces her intention to kill Mr. Wednesday and asks if he plans on standing in her way. Shadow, with a set grim expression, responds, “free country”, and the two part ways for what feels like the last time.

American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ
American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ /

The only limit is their imagination

There’s some good news for Technical Boy and Bruce Langley fans, Tech Boy is back and better than ever. I for one am glad because even though he was a millennial prick with the worst hairstyles in existence, I really enjoyed his character. Earlier in the season, Mr. World seemingly ordered Tech’s death when the young god became obsolete, but, just as we saw with Media, Technical Boy returns with an upgrade that’s the equivalent to a futuristic iPhone replacing a flashy flip phone covered in rhinestones.

He’s returned when the CEO of the Xie Comm company (the same guy who “forgot” the old version of Tech earlier) makes another technical advance and programs a cleaner version of his “old friend”, and gone are the old defects marring Tech’s systems.

However, if the CEO was expecting Tech to grovel for his affection the same as before, he’s disappointed. The popular saying of man-made in God’s image has been reversed here, for the Gods are made in man’s image but they act as if the opposite were true. Just as humans are greedy and corrupt, so are the gods, and just as humans rebel from their parents, so do the gods.

Tech hacks Xie Comm’s unbreachable systems, bringing the national banking system to a halt as he rejoins World and Media in creating a national terrorist threat, for the only limit in their powers exists within human imagination, and fear influences a stronger imagination.

American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ
American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ /

Terrorist attack

Media controls the media to make literal fake news naming Shadow, Mr. Wednesday and Salim as dangerous terrorists as people on the street begin arguing over gas, water, and their inability to use ATM machines. The Old Gods hang around the funeral parlor playing a game of chess, unconcerned with the chaos happening outside.

It is during this time where Laura enters the parlor and steals Sweeney’s body from the mortician’s table, but not before taking a step in his spilled blood by the doorway (blood for the resurrection potion?) and making a half-hearted attempt to talk Bilquis into joining her side. The sight of a tiny Laura Moon carrying Sweeeney’s huge body on her shoulders is hilariously adorable. There’s hope for Sweeney’s resurrection yet!

The madwife relationship is one of the smaller yet stronger moments of this episode. Laura gives her best at feigning indifference towards Sweeney’s death, but the second no one’s looking, she flips over a table and scrunches her face in near tears.

The stories of Laura Moon and Mad Sweeney are two of the rare few that are actually getting built up over the course of the series. If anything, their paths are consistently drawn out as if to prolong their progress because two people so damage would never get somewhere so fast without a long battle of self-reflection. I hope to see more of them in Season 3.

Speaking of personal growth, the time has come for Shadow to finally, finally blow that creepy parlor with its sexually aggressive cat and the riddle spewing Gods living in it. He packs his bags just as an army of police officers and S.W.A.T. men surround the parlor. Salim is freaking out, and Shadow is frantically packing, but Nancy and Ibis calmly sit as if the police outside are nothing but a swarm of hungry birds impatiently pecking at the window.

American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ
American Gods — Courtesy of STARZ — Acquired via STARZ /

The slightly disappointing finale climaxes the moment Shadow makes a break for it, running out the backdoor only to be pulled back inside by the tree of life when it wraps a branch around his ankle and hauls him up inside it.

Trapped in an unknown world somewhere among the tree’s branches, Shadow relives his first memory of Wednesday alongside all the clues leading him to the shocking though very obvious truth, that he…long dramatic pause…is Odin’s son. A demigod and most likely a version of Baldr, God of light judging by the light people keep saying he has.

Shadow chops himself loose with an ax, imagining himself as a little boy sweeping a slate of men and cars clean off a board. When’s he free, both he and all the S.W.A.T. members are gone.

In the final moments left, we’re greeted to a despondent Shadow on a bus headed somewhere unknown. The police, searching for the alleged terrorist Shadow Moon, stops the bus and checks the I.D. of every possible suspect, and that’s when Shadow comes to discover that his I.D. has magically changed to show the name Mike Ainsel. Likely a sorcery Wednesday had a hand in performing.

Just because he left doesn’t mean Shadow’s is out of Wednesday’s grasp because if there’s one thing we have learned from mythology, it’s that the Gods love keeping somewhat close taps on their children.

This episode felt like Thanksgiving, in that it was the pre-war to the real war the same way a lot of people feel that Thanksgiving is a pre-Christmas. Everything was a gear up, a preparation for what’s to come and because of that, it feels a bit out-of-place. This is an episode that would have fared better if placed in the middle, with a much more moving or anxiety-ridden story stationed in the finale.

I think most viewers already figured out who Shadow was, or at least realized he wasn’t 100% human early on in the series, so the not so shocking revelation that he’s Odin’s son didn’t feel as big as it probably should have been.

Next. American Gods Season 2, Episode 7 recap: Mad Sweeney’s true identity. dark

American Gods has been renewed for a third season and will return most likely sometime next year with yet another showrunner. What did you think of the American Gods Season 2 finale? Was it what you hoped or were you disappointed?