A Prayer for Mad Sweeney is the penultimate episode of American Gods’ first season (my goodness the past seven weeks have flown by) and in this episode, we follow the Leprechauns story through his dealings with lookalike characters Laura Moon and Essie MacGowan (A coming to America character from the book, although called Essie Tregowan).
We begin the episode in the Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor, and I don’t know about you but I could totally watch a tv show just about these two characters. The premise of the show would be that each episode they get a new body to fix up and prepare for a funeral, but while they do that Thoth tells the deceased person’s life story. I mean the prose that he spills is amazing “Malice draped in pretty can get away with murder” is just one example of the poetic narratives Thoth narrates. Make it happen.
Essie MacGowan is also played by Emily Browning which works quite well as it hints at ancestral ties that are in repetition. Essie was a thief and a liar and in equal measures so is Laura. Also, it’s interesting to see that both characters have a connection with Mad Sweeney who is the namesake of the episode. Here we explore his connection to these two women that is nothing short of intriguing.
Essie steals and whores herself around so that she can get what she wants in life but the lesson to be learned is that “The more abundant the blessings, the more we forget to pray”, essentially she became too used to a life of getting what she wanted she forgot to make the time to be thankful. This causes another sentence and she, therefore, resumes her thankfulness in the form of offerings to the leprechauns. Essie lives to a ripe old age but the America she now calls home has no need for magic and stories of Fae, and in her last moments she is visited by Mad Sweeney who is also rather forlorn that he has ended up in a land without the need for him. Mad Sweeney also expresses that he is someone that offers ‘good and ill’ so for each good deed he balances it out with a bad one which then reveals that he was the cause of Laura Moon’s death as he stands over her dead body. Back in the present Mad Sweeney has his coin back as it has literally fallen out of Laura once again dead body, he curses in his ancient mother tongue and surprisingly puts the coin back into her body, which proves that under all the layers of his ‘Arsehole’ persona he has a heart of gold.