REVIEW: American Gods, S2 Ep7 – Treasure of the Sun

American Gods, S2 Ep7 - Treasure of the Sun

The penultimate episode of American Gods season two explored the tragically noble origins of Mad Sweeney as he makes a significant decision.

During the TCAs, the cast had previously expressed their excitement about this episode and I can see why. This is easily one of the strongest episodes of the season, one with compelling writing, action-packed sequences, and powerful performances. Mad Sweeney has also been one of the MVPs of American Gods, along with Laura Moon, and we have become very invested in his journey which is what made his episode so effective. The Sweeney we meet in this chapter has lost much of his swagger and seems even more lost after that bitter parting with Laura.

American Gods, S2 Ep7 - Treasure of the SunSweeney tells his story to several people in this episode (Ibis, Bilquis, Salim, Shadow), sometimes getting his memories muddled and getting confused. We have fractured glimpses of his past as a warrior god-king, Lugh, of ancient Ireland, whose status and power get reduced to a comic figure by the church. We are treated to a spectacular series of flashbacks showing Sweeney in his prime, refusing to compromise his values, and fiercely fighting to defend his homeland against invaders.

He also nurtures a tender relationship with his wife, Eorann, and daughter, Moira. Their loss drives him to his madness and grief, as well as the destruction of his own identity. He feels this even more acutely when he moves into America, a land that sees him only as a leprechaun and not the deity that he was.

American Gods, S2 Ep7 - Treasure of the SunPablo Schreiber delves into all this in an interview with EW, saying:

“Well, the beauty of it all now is that we’ve seen his mythology and backstory and we know the truth, that in fact, he was never a leprechaun at all. When I was approached to play what was being called a leprechaun, and he was only ever a self-described leprechaun, and now we know that him describing himself as a leprechaun was a bit of irony. The show is about cultural appropriation, about stories that are told that change things from what they were, and Mad Sweeney was never a leprechaun, he was a god of the sun in ancient Ireland, and it was only after the church came and changed that mythology into something resembling what people call leprechauns now, that people started calling him a leprechaun. When he came to America, the damage was done and as he says in season 1, General Mills [maker of the Lucky Charms cereal] did the rest. He was an incredibly powerful character who was reduced to this tiny little cartoon in everybody’s mind in this new country that he’s come to. So that played a huge part towards his bitterness and apathy towards our current culture, so it was fun to finally show where he came from and who he was initially, and dispel the ugly leprechaun rumors.”

American Gods, S2 Ep7 - Treasure of the SunHe also has a grave conversation with Shadow, whom he warns against the treachery of Mr. Wednesday. He confronts the old man, who is standing by a growing Yggdrasil, and severs ties with the old trickster. But Shadow intervenes, driven by some sense of loyalty to Wednesday, and Sweeney falls on his spear. Even Shadow seems saddened and shocked at the sight of a fallen Sweeney, but the latter, despite his impending demise, is triumphant. He managed to get one over Odin himself, and he welcomes his own death, if only to put an end to the paltry existence he had been enduring for who knows how many centuries.

I’m not too worried about Sweeney’s fate despite the end of the episode because he is a god after all and in a world with so many mythological powers at play such as that of American Gods, resurrection is never off the table. And Laura still has that potion from Baron Samedi that supposedly brings the dead back to life. I am looking forward to Laura’s reaction to his death. For all their constant bickering and physical assault, they have forged a unique bond with each other, one that the dead wife is not likely to forget. There’s still a chance for Sweeney.

But if this is truly the end for the character, he bowed out gloriously, taking a stand against Wednesday and, in true mischievous fashion, hiding the old man’s spear in the Sun’s horde. He went down on his own terms and with no debts to anyone.

With one episode left on this uneven season of American Gods, I’m curious to see how all the conflicts will be addressed and what big revelation will come before we have to wait for the next season.