A Prayer for Mad Sweeney is another very clever, well-written, fun episode, and a pleasant detour from the main story that still furthers the plot to some degree.
Emily Browning plays both Laura Moon and Essie Tregowan, with the episode bouncing between Laura’s journey with Mad Sweeney and the origins of how Mad Sweeney came to be in America- by way of Essie’s beliefs, her crimes, and how she had both good and bad fortune thanks to her leaving frequent gifts to a certain leprechaun.
The tales are paralleled perfectly, casting Laura as a modern-day Essie of sorts. The interactions between Browning’s Laura Moon and Pablo Screiber’s Mad Sweeney are commanding of audience attention, with their tension balanced by surprising moments of camaraderie. The end of the episode was surprising in all of the best ways, even if the build-up to it made it feel somewhat predictable.
Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon have been further developed that their novel-bound counterparts- to the show’s advantage. American Gods the series succeeds largely because it is such an evolution of the source material, allowing more focus to shift from Shadow and Mr. Wednesday to other established characters while incorporating new ones of the show’s own design. This means there’s a great offering for new fans but also something new for fans of the novels.
Overall Rating: “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” is worthy of days of worship and praise, and one must wonder with so many great, grand episodes back-to-back what the season finale will have in store for audiences. (Please, oh please, let House on the Rock happen.)
By Phil Gorski